Friday, November 22, 2013

Bye Bye.....Blackbeard

The short version of this post is today in 1718 Edward Teach was shot & stabbed multiple times while battling his majesty's navy.  Edward Teach might be better know to you by his rock'n'roll sobriquet: Blackbeard. 

Last things first:  yes, I said sobriquet.  I have been working this one into conversation ever since I first heard Amelia Peabody use it in reference to a certain smuggler of Egyptian antiquities.  I do mean listened, despite Amelia being no doubt long dead.  Also fictional.  Because I listened to those books on disc.  Also, in this case sobriquet may well be the very word that Teach would have used himself, unlike nickname or handle.  So I said sobriquet & I meant sobriquet.  I encourage you to work it into your weekend, perhaps one of those descriptive nicknames favored by football players, but that is just a suggestion. 

The thing about pirates, as any student of naval history knows, is that piracy is in the eye of the beholder.  Pirates & privateers were often one & the same, privateers being the word for seafaring folk who loot the enemies of the crown & the crown turns a blind eye. 

So.  Captain Teach.  Born in England, very likely in Bristol, one of the largest seafaring towns of the day.  Raised in same & almost certainly able to read & write, a novelty for his day, Edward Teach joined the navy while quite young & helped plague the Spanish in the western Atlantic.  When peace was reached between Great Britain & Spain, Teach was left unemployed...with one very specific skill.  & no reason not to take any ship he could; certainly no reason to limit himself to just Spanish ships.  Peace, like so many things, is relative.

You don't need me to tell you about Blackbeard.  I could write a longer-than-usual post listing just the titles of books & articles about him, so I am going to skip it entirely.  Chances are excellent you did not make it through today without running into a single news story about the anniversary of a famous death.  Speaking of pirates, Clive of India died today in 1774, not of a gunshot but a stabbing.  Probably.  Maybe even self-inflicted.  Today is also the official death day of Robin Hood. 

Lastly, in 1963 both Aldous Huxley & C. S. Lewis died.  So did someone else.  History has done interesting things to all of these men, so I am going to leave you with one of my favorite death songs.  Yes, I know people say its about a prostitute leaving the profession & returning to her mother.  Maybe it is. 

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