The real pirate flags were customised for a
specific pirate captain and crew such as the real pirate flags flown by Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham. Every pirate ship wanted to fly its
own version of a pirate flag.
Pirate Flags History
The most famous of the pirate flags was the
'Jolly Roger' but there were many other different designs and pirate
flags. Flags were used by legitimate sailing vessels. During the great
age of exploration it was imperative to be able to distinguish enemy
ships from friendly ships.The Elizabethan English
ships sailed with flags showing the National emblem such as the Tudor
Rose whilst the Spanish ships were distinguished by Catholic crosses.
The history of flags developed and National flags were adopted. Pirates
had their own Code of Conduct and their own traditions. Adopting their
own pirate flags was a natural progression in the pirate culture and
The pirate flags were used to wage 'Psychological warfare' on their
enemies. Pirate flags were designed to threaten, intimidate and spread fear
dread amongst all that encountered the pirate. Pirate flags history was
an important element in building the fearsome reputation of the pirate
The Colors of Pirate Flags -
the Red Pirate Flags and the Black Pirate flags
The background colors of
real pirate flags were either red or black. Although black is most
associated with pirate flags, the very first pirate flags were in fact
red. The colors of red and black both held symbolic significance. The
early pirates sailed under the Red Flags. The color red in pirate
flags symbolised bloodshed. Red pirate flags also symbolised a warning.The red pirate flags were a symbol that little or no quarter ( mercy )
would be given. The pirates were looking for an early surrender and an
easy conquest through fear and intimidation. The French name for the red
flag was the Jolie Rouge ( a cynical term translated as Pretty Red ).
The red pirate flags were quickly replaced by black pirate flags. It was
a natural progression for the pirates. The color black symbolised death.
Black flags were traditionally flown on Plague ships as a warning to
other ships. The pirates flew under flags called the 'banner of King
Death'. The black and red pirate flags were further embellished with
more graphic symbols of death...