20 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Pirates

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3. Blackbeard used to set his head on fire

Notorious pirate Edward Teach, much better known under his alias of Blackbeard, was one of the most fearsome buccaneers terrorizing the waters around the Caribbean in the early 1700s. He’s said to have terrified his victims by sticking slow-burning fuses under his pirate’s headgear, making it look as if his head was alight.

Image: Howard Pyle

4. Pirates didn’t wear earrings just to look cool

In modern times, wearing earrings is simply a fashion statement, but pirates didn’t habitually sport them because they wanted to look good. Inexplicably, pirates believed that wearing an earring could make your eyesight better or cure seasickness. Another superstition was that a man wearing an earring wouldn’t drown. Obviously, that last one could easily be disproved.

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5. Pirates had gay partnerships 400 years ago

Many countries around the world have formally recognized gay partnerships in recent years. But if you think that’s only a modern phenomenon, think again. Male pirates, especially on long voyages, would partner up and there was even a specific term for this kind of union – matelotage.

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