Monday, May 4, 2009

Blackbeard vs. The Highlander??

Back in the day, one of my favorite movies - and later a television series - was Highlander. The basic plotline was that there was a race of humans who could not die except by beheading. Over time, these immortals would meet one another in combat by sword with the ultimate goal of being the last one standing. There's more to it than that, obviously, but basically it was an excuse for a lot of gratuitous sword fighting. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

The only other thing that you need to know about Highlander was that both the movie (as far as I'm concerned there are only two worth watching - the first one and Highlander: Endgame) and the television series have as their main characters members of the McCleod family - Conner in the movie and Duncan in the show. They are from the highlands of Scotland, hence the name.

Well, in a case of life imitating art (or vice versa), I just finished reading a biography of Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard. As you may or may not know, Teach was killed during a pitched battle off Ocracoke, North Carolina. He had sustained over 20 wounds from swords, and 5 musket wounds. His head was removed from his body and displayed on the bowsprit of one of the British ships that had tracked him down.

According to an article in the Boston News Letter, written shortly after the fight, though, things happend slightly differently:

One of Maynard's (the lietenant leading the British forces) men, being a Highlander, engaged Teach with his broadsword and gave Teach a cut in the neck, Teach saying, "Well done lad." The Highlander replied, "If it be not well done, I'll do it better." With that he gave a second stroke, which cut off his head, laying it flat on his shoulder.
- qtd. in Blackbeard by Angus Konstam, pg. 257
One can almost hear that Highlander saying, "There can be only one!" right before the killing blow! : )

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