What was the purpose of the pirate flag ?

The pirate flag was not just a symbol. It was a real communication tool with which the pirates intimidated and threatened the targeted ships. There were many pirate flags, but the Jolly Roger was the most famous. Historically speaking, it was the image of the famous expression "memento mori". Learn more about the importance of pirate flags in this article.

The Jolly Roger, a formidable weapon of intimidation

Pirates in the Caribbean used the Jolly Roger to steal treasure and plunder ships. Their goal was to intimidate their targets, but in a very cunning way. Indeed, if you thought that this legendary flag was flown all the time, you should know that this was not the case at all. They only hoisted it when they wanted to take action: that is, to attack the coveted ships to steal their booty. You will find my response to all your concerns here. 

To do this, the pirates had put in place very effective stratagems in order not to give their victims time to flee. They usually displayed a flag similar to that of the target ships in order to put them at ease. And when they did, they were able to get closer to the target. When they could no longer flee, that was when the pirates would hoist their ill-fated emblem, the Jolly Roger.

The Jolly Roger flag, a means of communication on the seas

On the seas and oceans, the use of a flag by ships was highly regulated. Flags had their meaning and were even a means of communication. Each country had its own flag. When the crew of a privateer or buccaneer ship wished to salute those of another, they would lower it and then raise it. 

Some practices were also codes that only sailors knew. For example, when a pirate ship nailed its flag to the mast, it meant that it wanted to fight to the death. And no one in the crew was allowed to lower it. On the other hand, when a ship accepted its defeat, it lowered its flag and the opponent understood the message and stopped fighting. It should also be noted that the color of the flag had a meaning. In general, the sailors of the past used the colors red, black and white.