Pirate Flags

Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Pirate Flags


Unlike all other types of flags that have been used in the country throughout history, pirate flags are the ones that display some kind of aggression. 

These flags symbolize aggressiveness and are meant to induce fear in the enemy to surrender without putting up a fight. 

While you may call these flags pirate flags, they are also commonly known as Jolly Rogers. This flag depicts the skull, with crossed bones beneath it, over a black background. 

This Pirate flag is a common flag that pirates used during their voyage and plunder. The skull and bones symbol was meant to display that the pirates were willing to kill. 

However, the flag with skull and bones was not the only flag used by pirates to scare off their enemies; instead, they customized their flags. One common trait of such a flag remains the black background. 

Here are some interesting facts about a pirate flag that you might not have known. 

  • Skull and Bones Flag Was Not Mainstream

While the media has made the skull and bone flag highly popular, it was not as popular back in the day. Most pirates operating on a big scale did not use this flag; instead, they used flags with the image of the pierced heart or an hourglass over a black background. 

  • There are No Pirate Flags Left From the Age of Piracy

The Golden Age of Piracy is known as the period during which piracy was at its peak. This age was recorded between the 1650s to 1730s. During this time, most of the ships sailing through the west were getting robbed by pirates. French and English ships were amongst the top targets as both the countries had set up ports and had merchant ships. So, the pirates would usually attack these merchant ships. During this time, the pirates completed their task without any trouble and were never caught. This means there is no documentation regarding the flag they were using to identify themselves as pirates in the Golden Age of Piracy. 

Astonishingly, there are no sketches or even eyewitness accounts to confirm if the pirates were using any kind of flag. 

  • Plain Black Flag

Just like the stars and stripes flag of the nation evolved over the years, so did the pirate flag. Initially, pirates used only a black flag to warn other merchants or ships. Subsequently, after a series of warnings, if the opposition did not surrender, the pirates were known to raise a red flag signaling the attack on the crew. 

  • Pirates Were Sneaky With Their Flag

Well, the first code of being a criminal is following a disguise. Pirates would often be sneaky with their flag and would not hoist it further. Upon seeing the black flag from afar, a merchant ship would simply steer away from the route. 

Once their next victim was nearby, only then would the pirates raise the flag to sneak up on the victim with a surprise attack. 

  • They Were Handmade

Back in the day, most people did not have access to any machines, so everything was handmade. But common people had tailors or artisans to sew the clothes or other pieces of clothing. Meanwhile, the pirates would often sew their flags. Some nations globally legalized piracy, but these flags were not mass-produced. These flags were not made on synthetic fiber but rather on a simple cotton cloth. 

This goes on to show the importance of a pirate flag. 

  • Pirate Flags Were Not the Only Flags They Used

Pirates were not a huge fan of violence since it can often prove expensive. So their best option was intimidation and to bring their victim to surrender. This is why often pirates would fly a British or French flag to trick merchant ships into surrendering to their whim. 

Besides, if any patrolling or any government ship came along the way, the national flag hoisted on the ship would help the pirates sneak past the authorities. 

Pirates have portrayed themselves as slave ships by hoisting other countries’ flags. 

While you may not be a pirate, these flags are commonly used in today’s world to display aggression. People have often used this flag in political rallies and during other types of political gatherings. Besides, you can also use it for its aesthetics, as the flag looks splendid when teamed with a theme on a wall. Moreover, the flag can also be used to display your rebellion against aggression or oppression.