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Friday, February 7, 2014

Pirate ships and the Queen Anne's Revenge

During the golden age of piracy, most pirate ships were of the smaller variety, such as the sloop and the schooner. These vessels were built for speed and could easily sail in shallow water—an advantage when evading larger warships that required deeper waters. However, when I wrote my pirate regency romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, I patterned my hero’s ship after the vessel sailed by the nefarious pirate, Blackbeard.
Blackbeard’s flagship was a 300-ton English frigate built in England in 1710 christened Concord. A year later, the French captured her, modified her for larger cargo capacity, and gave her a new name, La Concorde de Nantes.
About six year later, she was captured and found herself the property of the widely feared and certainly fearsome pirate known as Blackbeard. It is commonly believed that the true identify of Blackbeard was Edward Teach, although I've read enough experts who question this theory that no one appears sure who he really was. Regardless of his real name, the pirate Blackbeard added additional cannon, since he preferred to attack with the power of a warship rather than with stealth and speed preferred by most pirates. All these modifications changed her silhouette to more closely resemble ships built by the Dutch during that era. Once again, she was given a new name—this time, she became know as the Queen Anne's Revenge a feared name indeed. 

Different theories circulate as to the reason for this unusual name. It might have come from Edward Teach's reported years of service in the Royal Navy during a war known as the War of the Spanish Succession, which the American colonies called the Queen Anne's War, in which Blackbeard had served. Perhaps he felt some sympathy or loyalty to the last monarch of the Stuarts. After studying him, I doubt sympathy was in his nature; it was probably some kind of cruel joke.

While in command of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard terrorized the seas from the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean and he took 18 ships as his prizes. The Queen Anne's Revenge is the largest known, and certainly the most infamous, pirate ship that sailed the Spanish Main and played the staring role in the historical stage of piracy in the Americas. 

Because my hero, Jared Amesbury, was such a feared and well-known pirate in my Regency romance novel, The Guise of a Gentleman, I decided to pattern his ship after Blackbeard’s. In fact, Jared, known as Black Jack, and his crew spread many rumors of his cruelty to those to defied him to instill fear and inspire surrenders. Some of these atrocious tales which Jared invented were in fact those that Blackbeard and his crew reportedly committed. My hero never commits those acts he claims to have done, and, in fact, has a high code of honor regarding the treatment of prisoners and the protocol of boarding ships. After studying pirates, I doubt many pirates actually held to such high ideals. Still, pirates have always captured my imagination. Arrgh, matey!

1 comment:

Shelley said...

At first glance I thought that "Queen Anne's Revenge" was some kind of disease....