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The Origins of the Jolly Roger Flag

The Jolly Roger flag is one of the most recognizable flags in the world. Consisting of a white skull and crossbones against a black background, it’s commonly associated with pirates. In the past, pirates flew the Jolly Roger flag on their ships as a form of identification. While pirates have since faded over the years, the Jolly Roger flag remains.

When Did the Jolly Roger Flag Originally Appear?

Like with other historical flans, the origins of the Jolly Roger flag are shrouded in mystery. It’s unknown who designed the Jolly Roger or when it originally appeared. With that said, some of the first documented reports of the Jolly Roger flag can be traced back to the early 1700s.

In 1724, British author Charles Johnson published a book on pirates. Titled “A General History of the Pyrates,” it specifically mentioned two pirates who flew the Jolly Roger. One of these pirates was Bartholomew Roberts. The other pirate was Francis Spriggs.

Both Roberts and Spriggs referred to their flag as “Jolly Roger.” However, they didn’t use the same design. There were nuances in their respective flags’ designs. And neither of them used the same design as the modern day Jolly Roger flag.

Origins of the Skull and Crossbones Design

The modern day Jolly Roger flag, of course, features a skull and crossbones. It’s believed that naval flags have featured a skull and crossbones ever since the 16th century. However, it wasn’t until the Golden Age of Piracy when the modern day Jolly Roger flag emerged

The Golden Age of Piracy is a period of piracy from the 1650s to the 1730s. During the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates began to display the Jolly Roger flag as a signal to other pirates and potentially as a warning to merchants.

It’s unknown who designed the modern day Jolly Roger flag, but some historians credit Samuel Bellamy with its design. Bellamy was an English pirate. He was regarded as one of the richest pirates in the world. Bellamy displayed the Jolly Roger flag, and as other pirates discovered it, they too began displaying the Jolly Roger flag.

In Conclusion

If you search for images of pirates online, you’ll probably come across the Jolly Roger flag. It features a white skull and crossbones against a black background. The Jolly Roger flag emerged during the Golden Age of Piracy. Since then, it’s been commonly associated with pirates.

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