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Jolly Roger Pirate Flags

Pirate Flags symbols Jolly Roger
Pirate Flags symbols Jolly Roger

Originally, the word “Jolly Roger” applied to any type of flag hoisted by pirates and privateers (state-sponsored pirates). Since then, the term “Jolly Roger” has developed to refer to a specific form of pirate flag: a black backdrop with a white human skull positioned above two crossed bones, also in white. The origin of the name is not known. It may be originated from the term ‘Roger’ which in that era denoted the Devil, a figure commonly referred to as ‘Old Roger’. Although pirates and other seafarers may have used skulls and bones on flags much earlier in history, the earliest known usage of a Jolly Roger ‘black flag’ is on the ship of Emmanuel Wynne, a Breton pirate who employed a skull, crossbones, and hourglass design in a battle near Santiago in 1700.
A pirate’s flag’s most popular background was black or crimson, and the pictures on it warned captives of the terrible consequences of resistance. Flags frequently included skeletons, skulls, a bloodied heart, an hourglass, and wings (one’s time was flying away). Because many of these symbols were also regularly found on gravestones of the time, everyone recognized what they represented. Weapons, like swords, curved-bladed cutlasses, blazing cannonballs, and spears, were also popular symbols.

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