Jack Sparrow Meets Blackbeard: A Few Pearls

Jun. 6, 2017

In "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), Blackbeard and the Queen Anne's Revenge shared the spotlight with the entirely fictional Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Here's a view of Disney's creations through the lens of history, which brought Blackbeard to the North Carolina coast.

  • To fashion the Queen Anne's Revenge, Disney repurposed the ship that served as the Black Pearl in earlier "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. Blackbeard repurposed the real Queen Anne's Revenge from a French frigate called La Concorde, which he seized near Martinique.
  • Disney's ship is sheathed in the skulls and bones of Blackbeard's victims (or moldings shaped like skeletal parts). The white oak hull of the real Queen Anne's Revenge was sheathed in pine.
  • Disney's Blackbeard (Ian McShane) had to kill a lot of people to get enough bones to cover his ship. The real Blackbeard apparently relied on his frightful image instead of force to get his way.
  • The Disney ship's figurehead pays homage to Blackbeard's flag: a horned and cloven-hoofed devil hoisting an hourglass in one hand and a spear in the other as drops of blood spill from a heart. Blackbeard's movie flag depicts Jolly Roger in an arc of fire as drops of blood spill from his mouth.
  • King George II (Richard Griffiths) and Lord John Carteret (Anton Lesser) join Blackbeard on the roster of historical figures represented in the film. In real life, Blackbeard lost his head in 1718, almost nine years before King George II was crowned. The screenwriters found an escape clause and rewrote history.
  • As the film indicates, Lord Carteret was part of King George II's court, though Britain's National Archives has no record of him hiring Jack Sparrow to seek the Fountain of Youth. In the North Carolina history book, Lord Carteret stands as the only heir of the Colony of Carolina's eight Lords Proprietor who refused to sell his interest back to the crown. Beaufort, home port for artifacts from the Queen Anne's Revenge, is part of the county that bears the Carteret family name.



Eleanor Talley