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Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge

Image of a 20 gun French light frigate

There’s a lot of confusion out there about pirates and their vessels. Most were regular merchantmen, sometimes up-gunned and slightly modified, often in terrible condition and shape. The romantic Hollywood version of pirates really does hold no water, most were disillusioned ill-fated miscreants with nothing to lose. Not he chivalrous champions of democracy modern tales would have you believe. Even though Wikipedia as a source of nautical information is dreadful, the internet is flooded with the erroneous information contained within. The lumbering black-sailed giants seen all over the internet may be great to one's imagination, to a pirate they may even have been great prizes to be sold quickly, not the preferable means of making a profitable living.

What do we know? We do know that Blackbeard’s flagship was the former Concorde, a vessel of 20 Guns. Just like in WWII a battleship was defined by the size of her guns, in the 18th Century a vessel was often simply defined by the number of guns she was designed to carry. If you’d have mentioned a vessel of 20 guns, most nautically inclined people would immediately have been able to picture her in their head. Around this time, the early 1700’s, a vessel of the size described (200 to 300 tons) could easily have carried 6 pounder cannon. We do know from the wreck-site that many of the guns are exactly that; 6 pounder guns from a variety of nations and manufacturers. Quite common in those days to lose a cannon or two, or even more, either thrown overboard in a storm or lost to battle. Guns weren’t manufactured at the same standard as today, a hair-crack in the barrel would not have been detected, a sailor with a bit of a hangover may not have cleaned the bore as well as he should have.

There is an account of one of the captured pirates stating he’d thought the vessel was Dutch. Possibly explained by the fact that the Dutch, coming out of their Golden Age, had an influence on French shipbuilding at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Many of the features were identical, especially when it comes to masts and rigging. Often described in English literature as 'in continental fashion'. They were different from British built ships, something the sailor may have immediately picked up on.  A vessel like the one shown above would definitely be of interest to a pirate, they were fast, sleek, and could intimidate all but the most heavily armed merchantman into quickly surrendering without a fight.
The length, beam and tonnage of the above drawn-up vessel closely fit the dimensions of the wreck believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge.  I may have to lengthen her by a couple of feet.

This post first appeared on The Art Of Age Of Sail - Engineering History, please read the originial post: here

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Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge


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