His actual name is believed to have been Edward Teach, Thatch, or Thach. Little is known about his early life, though it is believed he was born in Bristol in 1680. His career probably began as a privateer in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), after which he turned pirate.
In 1716–18 he acquired a fearsome reputation for cruelty after repeatedly preying on shipping and coastal settlements of the West Indies and the Atlantic coast of North America. Blackbeard kept headquarters in both the Bahamas and the Carolinas. The governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden, received booty from Blackbeard in return for unofficial protection and gave him an official pardon. Despite this Blackbeard was killed by a British force from Virginia in 1718.
Legend has romanticized Blackbeard, and he has been the subject of movies and documentaries. His ship was discovered near Beaufort, North Carolina in 1996, and is now part of a major tourist attraction.