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Old 01-07-2012, 06:56 AM
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Flags In Piracy

Pirate Flags
Pirate flags served two purposes. To declare their intention, and to frighten opponents. They were usually run up when the pirate drew close to a prize and declared their intentions, hoping just the sight of the flag alone was enough for captains to surrender. Where a gun battle ensued, the blackflag came down and was replaced by a red one, often called a bloody flag, denoting no quarter.

Early flags were red, to declare no mercy. I feel that it is more likely that the name Jolly Roger is an anglicisation of the French Joli Rouge (pretty red), rather than any other explanation. Also used were plain black flags, probably to denote death. These evolved in time to become black with skulls, a common symbol on tombstones of earlier times. The first black flag of the "pirate" type was flown by Emanuel Wynne. The black flags with skull and cross bones was soon to flourish and were more prevalent in British pirates than those of other nations, who often simply flew the flag of their nation, or sponsor. Pirates often also flew a friendly nations flag to entice prey within their range. Flags were just another method of lulling the enemy into a false sense of security. Once it was too late, British pirates would fly their black flag and the game would be up.

Symbols used were the skull and crossed bones to denote death, skeletons (called anatomies) to also denote death, an hourglass to indicate the victims time was runing out, an arm with cutlass to denote battle was coming and hearts to indicate blood would be spilled. At times, plain flags were also used, either blood red or black.

Individual pirates employed their own version of the flag, using symbols that represented their style of piracy. Remember the flags were home made, on the ship as time permitted, and were not great works of art such as the flags of chinese and malay pirates. For the most part they were very plain, simple, and often faded.

Henry Avery had a black flag with a white skull looking sideways, a bandana on its head with a large hoop earring. Below this was a set of white crossed bones.

Samuel Bellamy flew a great black flag with a deaths head and bones a cross (same as Edward England)

Stede Bonnet flew a black flag, with a central skull above a single bone. To its left a short dagger, to the right a heart. All symbols in white.

Christopher Condent had a long black penant with 3 sets of white skull above white crossed bones.

Edward Cook - Red and yellow stripes with a hand and sword device

John Coxon - Red flag

Howell Davis used a plain black flag.

Edward England had a black flag with white skull above white cross bones.

Petr Harris - green flag

Walter Kennedy had a black flag, on the left a skull above cross bones, on the right a pirate swinging cutlass in one hand with an hourglass in the other. All symbols in white.

La Bousse used a plain black flag.

Edward Low. Late in his carrer, in July 1723, he flew a black flag with a red skeleton. Mention is made of a flag in his early career called the Green Trumpeter, which is a geen silk flag with a yellow figure of a man blowing a trumpet on it, used to signal his other ships that the captains of the pirate fleet were to meet on his ship. It was hoisted on the mizzen peak. Initially he used the same 'pirate' flag as Teach, with a red flag run up if a fight ensued.

Christopher Moody had a red flag, with a gold hourglass with blue wings, an arm with cutlas in white, and a yellow skull overlaying yellow cross bones.

Captain Napin - flag included deaths head and hourglass

Captain Nichols - flag included dart and bleeding heart

John Phillips flew a black flag with skeleton in the middle, to one side red heart pierced by an arrow with 3 drops of blood, and to the other side an hourglass.

Thomas Pound flew a "bloody flag" (red).

John Rackham had the traditional pirate black flag, with a white grinning skill above white crossed swords.

Bartholomew Roberts flag had two flags after initially flying a plain black flag, the first was black with a picture of him toasting a skeleton in white. This was a large flag flying on the stern. Written records describe the skeleton holding crossed bones, with a dart (spear) nearby, early drawings showing differently as depicted in the link. The second flew on the spritsail, and depicted Roberts with a flaming cutlass standing on two skulls, the left marked with the letters ABH (A Barbados Head) and the right with the letters AMH (A Martiniques Head), showing off his particular dislike for people from these two towns, whose governors were pro active in hunting him.

Richard Sawkins - Red flag striped with yellow

Bartholomew Sharp - Red flag with a bunch of white and green ribbons

Francis Spriggs - Used the same flag as Low and Teach.

Edward Teach had a black flag, set off by a white horned skeleton holding an hourglass in one hand, and the other pointing a spear at a blood red heart with drops of blood.

Thomas Tew had a black flag with a white arm holding a cutlass.

Richard Worley had a black flag with a skull overlaying white crossbones (same graphic as Wynne but without the hourglass)

Emanuel Wynne flew the first recognsied black flag with skull overlaying crossed bones, below which was an hour glass also in white.

Another example, not recorded for a specific pirate, is a red heart pierced by an arrow.

Your Source For Death Pictures and Death Video
1_1220985360_bateau-du-film-pirate-des-caraibes.jpg  

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Old 01-07-2012, 07:53 AM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

So we don't get to see a example or pictures of the flags then??

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Old 01-07-2012, 08:36 AM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

Very Interesting read.

Good shit, appreciate this thread.

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Old 01-07-2012, 09:25 AM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

interesting blewey i never knew that

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Old 01-07-2012, 12:27 PM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

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Originally Posted by RedneckR0nin View Post
So we don't get to see a example or pictures of the flags then??
There was supposed to be a link on each name showing an example of what their flag might have looked like but it didn't work on the post, and i'm too lazy to fix it or add the pictures manually.

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Old 01-07-2012, 03:44 PM
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Re: Flags In Piracy


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Old 01-07-2012, 09:50 PM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blewvane View Post
There was supposed to be a link on each name showing an example of what their flag might have looked like but it didn't work on the post, and i'm too lazy to fix it or add the pictures manually.
Dirty jerk...other than that great post man!

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:18 PM
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:07 AM
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Re: Flags In Piracy

good read, thanks

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Old 01-08-2012, 06:06 PM
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