Absurd Pirate Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies)4. All Pirate Ships Had Skull Flags. Getty. The Myth: The classic Jolly Roger is so representative of pirates that we shouldn't even have to type the word .
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The flag has been used in virtually every movie where pirates appear, ever, from the really old ones with Errol Flynn .. Sometimes the skull is replaced with two cutlasses, like in Barbossa's flag in Pirates of the Caribbean, but other than that and how expertly or crappily it is drawn, it's always pretty much the same thing. Flag- printing technology was surprisingly great in Barbossa's day. But this makes sense, right? The purpose of the flag was to intimidate sailors and steal their loot while they were too busy shitting their pants, so it makes sense that they should all choose something ominous like a skull on a black background.
The Truth: Actually, if there was a pirate ship approaching and you saw a black flag waving, you were in luck: It meant the pirates were willing to give quarter. On the other hand, a pirate that you may have actually heard of, Blackbeard, used a bizarre flag with a skeleton holding an hourglass and stabbing a bleeding heart: Which was also the cover of a My Chemical Romance album, we're pretty sure. The hourglass was actually a common element in many pirate flags, since it symbolized the inevitability of death (more so than a freaking skull, apparently). Captains Walter Kennedy and Jean Dulaien also incorporated the hourglass, except in their case it was being held by a naked guy swinging a sword at a perplexed floating face: Olek Remesz. His lack of genitalia was meant to represent the inevitability of your dick being cut off.
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And some of them didn't give a shit, like Thomas Tew and his magnificently lazy flag of an arm holding a cutlass: His original design was simply the words . Also, all these designs are only recreations of the real thing based on descriptions like this one, so there's a huge chance that they all looked completely different in reality. For example, a museum in Florida has one of the only two authentic Jolly Rogers that remain, and it looks pretty far from the detailed skull drawing that we're used to. It's almost like it was shoddily put together by some sort of uncultured .. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. It was actually supposed to be a little guy dancing, but no one got it.
Sailors Became Pirates to Live a Life of Crime. The Myth: Based on what we've learned from the singing pirates on Peter Pan, the life of a pirate was all about stealing, fighting and collecting booty, and therefore the decision to become one must have depended entirely on how much you enjoyed those things.
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Pirates of the Caribbean adds . Look at any pirate song and you'll see the same basic ingredients repeated over and over. Above: Roughly three- tenths of a pirate.
In fact, the entire twist of movies like The Princess Bride (we're assuming you've either seen it by now or don't care) depends on people taking for granted that the only way to become a pirate was by being a complete wreck of a human being - - not even Westley's own crew knows he sort of stumbled upon his . The overwhelming majority of pirates were honest sailors who ditched their jobs because the conditions were awful. Only a small minority became a pirate because they actually enjoyed being an outlaw. Being a sailor during pirate times was one of the shittiest jobs ever, and if they lived under British rule, most of them didn't so much . If they didn't have enough money to pay off these thugs, they were suddenly sailors.
As a result, 7. 5 percent of men who were press- ganged ended up dead within two years. So when a pirate crew captured their ship and offered them an alternative to certain death and constant humiliation, a lot of them understandably replied, ? We've told you about Black Bart, the sailor who was captured by pirates and six weeks later became their captain - - kinda like Westley's story in The Princess Bride, except for the fact that his crew knew exactly where he came from and didn't give a shit. He should be captain!