We have all heard the stories of pirate. In fact, we have read books about them, seen movies about them, and know people like Captain Hook and Jack Sparrow very well. One of the distinctive characteristics of pirates is the large ships with their sometimes scary flags.
The answer to the question of whether pirates actually had flags is that neither pirate stories nor their flags are legendary. They were not introduced in Hollywood movies, they were not a figment of the imagination of writers like Robert Louis Stevenson who created Treasure Island, but they actually existed in the real world. Today we are talking about the colors of the flag and the symbol of pirates.
History of the pirate flag
In the past, in order to distinguish friendly ships from enemy ships, flags were used on them. For example, the English ships of the Elizabethan era sailed with flags on which the national emblem, such as the Tudor rose, was painted. And the Spanish ships sailed with flags that had the Catholic cross on them.
On the other hand, pirates also had certain behavior, traditions and laws that led to the adoption of the flag for them. This was considered a natural progression in pirate culture and history. Pirates used flags to wage psychological warfare against their enemies. In fact, pirates used flags to scare and threaten people they encountered.
The color of pirate flags
The two most commonly used colors in pirate flags are black and red.
Red Flag Pirates
The first pirate flag was red. The color red was a symbol of bloodshed and warning. Warning that there is no mercy and forgiveness. Because by scaring others, the pirates intended to surrender and conquer them early. The French called this red flag Jolie Rouge.
Black Flag Pirates
Black quickly replaced red in the flag. Black is a symbol of death and warning. In plague ships, black flags were hoisted as a warning to other ships. Its other name is the flag of the king of death.
Types of pirate flags
Jolly Roger pirate flag
Well, this flag is the most famous flag among pirates. It includes a black background with white graphics. There is a picture of a white skull, under the skull there are also two crossbones. Another name of this flag is skull and crossbones.
There are several sources for choosing the name of the Jolly Roger flag. According to one source, Jolly Roger is derived from the English slang term “Old Roger” meaning devil. Some believe that this name is derived from the word Rogue and means beggar and thief.
John Avery Pirate Flag
This flag has a red background with white graphics. There is an image of a profile of a skull and two crossed bones under the skull on the flag. The skull is decorated with an earring and a bandana, which was associated with pirate costumes.
Flag of the Blackbeard Pirates
One of the most notorious and famous pirates is Blackbeard. The flag of this pirate has a black background and shows the image of a white skeleton with an hourglass in one hand and a spear in the other near a red bleeding heart.
Jack Rackham’s Calico Pirate Flag
Indeed, this flag has a black background with a white design of a white skeleton with two crossed swords below the skeleton. This flag was used as the Pirates of the Caribbean flag in the movie.
Pirate flag symbols
I said earlier that the pirate flag was meant to scare and threaten ships that encountered pirate ships. So it is natural that the symbols that symbolize death have been used in these flags. Symbols such as skulls, skeletons, crossbones, spears, swords, cutlass, captain’s initials, clothing associated with pirates, and an hourglass symbolizing the end of life for enemies.
Still, the skull and crossbones symbol is a symbol for warning of something deadly, poisonous, or dangerous.
Despite the constant fear that pirates have created. But one cannot deny their popularity among people. We all remember pirates with big black ships, strange clothes and hats and black and red flags with skull and bone shapes. Symbols that all symbolize death!