Who was Blackbeard?
Notorious pirate's life is open for interpretation
"He explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley," said Westley, Cary Elwes' character in the film.
Babits and Ewen believe historical data suggest Blackbeard operated with a terrifying "Dread Pirate Roberts" reputation.
"I think that was the strategy of many pirates," said Ewen, co-editor of "X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy." "You wanted to scare whoever you were after so they just give up. You really don't want to sink their ship or blow them up; you just want to steal all their cargo. If you have an incredible reputation that people give up when you show up, that works well. The less you had to fight, the less you had to lose."
There have been a few Blackbeard movies produced since the 1950s. "Blackbeard, The Pirate" in 1952, "Blackbeard's Ghost" in 1968 and the made-for-TV "Blackbeard" in 2006.
Ian McShane plays Blackbeard in "Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides." The 68-year-old actor also played off Blackbeard's evil, merciless reputation.
"Blackbeard is probably the most infamous pirate who ever lived," McShane told reporters last November. "He's one of those characters for which most of your work is done before you start."
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