Today we are going to change the subject of our usual posts and we are going to make a more historical-oriented article about Flags. The initiative behind this article is the Ecency's Discord Posting Topic, Week 31, also props to @beeber for this great idea! Before we proceed with the main article I would like to share my thought process about approaching this topic. My first take on this would be to write about my national Flag, its history, origin, etc but I believe that would be pretty interesting for a couple of sentences and afterward kinda boring, to be honest, and then I thought about my favorite criminals through the history and this is when this bright idea came to my mind; PIRATES. When I thought about it I realized that my favorite series/animes are related to Pirates like One piece and Pirates of the Caribbean. So the inevitable question comes to my mind; What is the origin of the first Pirate Flag? Let's find out together.
The First Pirate flag ever fluttered
In order to understand what this flag represents we must examine the facts from the beginning, the first time that the black flag with the white skull and bones ever appeared in books is in 1700 by Emmanuel Wynne a French pirate. Also, the traditional name for this flag is Jolly Roger and it doesn't come out only black but the most common color at this time was red. The last sentence needs a couple of more details and I will explain further now, the truth is that the black flag was raised only at the last minute when the pirate ship was closing another ship as a symbol to surrender peacefully and a quarter will be given but when the pirates faced resistance a red flag was raised and that meant that no one would survive the attack. There are other reports of flags similar to the Jolly Roger in mid-1600 but there are not confirmed or associated with piracy.
This is the first Jolly Roger flag by Emanuel Wynn, we see the white skull, the crossed bones, and an hourglass which meant that the time was running out and only by surrender could the enemy crew could evade death. Pretty wild stuff and I believe that the psychological impact on whoever encountered these strong symbols was pretty big.
The meaning behind the name Jolly Roger
That part was pretty difficult because I found countless sources that state different things about the origin of the name Jolly Roger and its meaning. I would try to showcase a couple of theories and you are welcome to do your own research and tell me in the comment section your favorite/best version of it.
Theory number 1
Our first theory is based on the fact that most pirates in the early stages of the Golden Pirate period were using red color instead of black and white. So there is the view that the name Jolly Roger comes from the French phrase "joli rouge" which means pretty red.
Theory number 2
The second theory is that the name derived from Roger or Old Roger which many believe meant devil at that time. There are reports from 1723 and 1703 that pirates referred to their flag as Old Roger. In 1723 a group of Pirates referred to their flag showing a skeleton holding an hourglass and a bleeding heart as Old Roger. In 1703 a naval report mentioned that a pirate named John Quelch was sailing under an Old Roger.
Images used in this post are from pixabay and edited by me except if stated otherwise.
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