Home » Uncategorized » Pirates often stocked a variety of flags and usually flew false flags, only raising the Jolly Roger when they had their prey vessels within firing range.

Pirates often stocked a variety of flags and usually flew false flags, only raising the Jolly Roger when they had their prey vessels within firing range.

Jolly Roger

For other uses, see Jolly Roger (disambiguation).

A typical Jolly Roger

A red “Blood Flag”.

Jolly Roger is the traditional English name for the flags flown to identify a pirate ship about to attack, during the early 18th century (the later part of the Golden Age of Piracy).

The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today—the skull and crossbones symbol on a black flag—was used during the 1710s by a number of pirate captains including Black Sam Bellamy, Edward England, and John Taylor. It went on to become the most commonly used pirate flag during the 1720s, although other designs were also in use.

Name

Use of the term Jolly Roger in reference to pirate flags goes back to at least Charles Johnson’s A Genera… Continue Reading (19 minute read)

8 thoughts on “Pirates often stocked a variety of flags and usually flew false flags, only raising the Jolly Roger when they had their prey vessels within firing range.”

  1. fuck_your_worldview

    I’ve heard that there were far more privateers than true pirates – sanctioned by one state to attack the shipping of other states, but with a level of plausible deniability. Presumably they would swap between respectable and non-respectable markings?

  2. notagoodboye

    That was common with warships as well, both to lure in prizes and to confuse the enemy. It’s the origin of the “False Flag” trope.

  3. topcat5

    The best pirates didn’t look like pirates.

    They often went after armed ships because that is where the real loot was found.

  4. orcasiocortez

    Ummm if they didn’t hide who their true intent they wouldn’t be very good pirates, would they?

  5. Warpig1983

    The flying of false flags was not limited to only pirates. It was a somewhat common among many naval forces.

    Naval traiditions are weird.

  6. In-Jail-Out-Soon

    Want a good series to watch, watch Black Sails

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