There are different versions of the story of Bluebeard; however, one thing they agree on is that Bluebeard was not actually a pirate but the title character in a fairytale. The story of Bluebeard is the story of a violent man who killed his former wives.
According to the tale, after Bluebeard convinces a young girl to marry him, he leaves her responsible for the keys to the estate. She may have free reign of the house, but she is forbidden to enter one tiny room. Temptation gets the best of her, and she looks inside; there she finds the bodies of his former wives. In a frenzy, she drops the keys, which then become stained with blood. The next day when he returns, he sees the bloody keys and knows what she has done. He then decides that he must kill her as well. She begs for time so that she may say her prayers, and he agrees to give her half of an hour. During this time, her brother comes and kills him. She then inherits his fortune and helps her poor family.
Some historians claim that the tale was based on a murderer named Gilles de Rais who lived in the 1400s. Gilles de Rais was a wealthy national hero who amused himself by decapitating young children. He was hanged and burned simultaneously on October 26, 1440.
Bluebeard is often confused with Blackbeard the pirate due to the similarities in their names.