The origins of the Pirate Flag : The Jolly Roger

The origins of the Pirate Flag : The Jolly Roger

The pirate flag, also known as the Jolly Roger, is a symbol that has been closely associated with pirates for centuries. The flag has undergone many changes and variations over the years, and its origins are shrouded in mystery and legend.


Origins of the Jolly Roger

The first recorded use of the term "Jolly Roger" was in 1723, when it appeared in Captain Charles Johnson's book, "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates." According to Johnson, the term "Jolly Roger" was derived from the French word "jolie rouge," which means "pretty red." This name was given to the pirate flag because it was said to be made of red cloth and decorated with a skull and crossbones.


However, there is some debate over the true origin of the pirate flag. Some historians believe that the flag was actually inspired by the flags used by the Knights Templar, a medieval military order that fought in the Crusades. According to this theory, the skull and crossbones on the pirate flag represent the death and resurrection of Christ, and the red color represents the blood of the martyrs.

Other historians believe that the pirate flag may have been influenced by the flags used by the Barbary pirates of North Africa. These pirates, who were known for their ruthless attacks on ships in the Mediterranean Sea, were believed to have used a red flag with a white crescent moon as their symbol. This flag was known as the "Flag of the Crescent," and it was said to be a symbol of the pirates' religious faith.


Pirate-VesselDespite these theories, the true origin of the pirate flag is still unknown. It is possible that the flag was a combination of different symbols and influences, or that it was created entirely by pirates themselves as a way to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.

Use of the Pirate Flag throughout the history

One thing that is certain is that the pirate flag was used as a psychological weapon by pirates. The sight of the Jolly Roger flying on a ship was meant to strike fear into the hearts of the crew of any vessel that saw it. Pirates would often fly the flag before attacking a ship, in the hopes that the sight of it would cause the crew to surrender without a fight.


The pirate flag has undergone many changes and variations over the years. In the early days of piracy, the flags were often simple designs, with a skull and crossbones being the most common symbol. Later, the flag began to incorporate other symbols, such as hourglasses, swords, and bones.

Edward Teach or Blackbeard

One of the most famous variations of the pirate flag was the "Blackbeard Flag," which was used by the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. This flag featured a horned skeleton holding a spear and an hourglass, with the words "Abeen, Abin, Abess" written below. It is believed that these words were a coded message, but the meaning of the message is still a mystery.


Today, the pirate flag is still a popular symbol, and it is often used as a decoration or symbol of rebellion. It can be found on everything from T-shirts and hats to tattoos and home decor. The pirate flag will always be remembered as a symbol of the reckless and lawless spirit of the high seas.

Our Pirate or Skull Items

At Skull Factories, the same codes of yesteryear are taken up in trendy and worked Pirate Jewelry. They exist in all styles, like for example this Steel Pirate Bracelet or this sublime Silver Pirate Ring.You will also find our collection of pirate flags, true symbol of these bandits of the seas.

Back to blog