Why did pirates fly the skull & crossbones?

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies portray buccaneer crews as likable bands of high-seas misfits, but real-life “freebooters” were ruthless thieves who relied on their cutthroat reputation to frighten ships into surrendering without a fight (after all, a ship plundered in one piece was worth more than a cannon-blasted wreck). No one knows who flew the first pirate flag, also known as the “Jolly Roger.” It was most likely a simple red or black strip of cloth hoisted above the ship’s tallest mast to send a message to merchant ships: “Surrender or we’ll sink you.” Pirates during the golden age of piracy (from the late 1600s to the early 1700s) decorated their flags with images of skeletons, swords, skulls and crossbones, drops of blood, and other scary symbols to instill as much fear as possible, turning their flags into weapons that messed with the merchant sailors’ minds.


Picture Credit : Google