Matthew Leigh Embleton

Musician, Composer, Producer, Language and History Enthusiast, and Author

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Pirates and Their Flags, The Jolly Roger and The Golden Age of Piracy

From the portrayal of piracy in popular culture, whether based on fact, fiction, romanticised legend, (from evil antagonist to anti-hero to loveable rogue) or a combination of all of these, we have inherited a set of images conjured up in the mind's eye when we think of pirates, the wooden leg, the parrot perched on the shoulder, the stylised accent from the south west of England, and also the Jolly Roger or the Skull & Crossbones, a powerful image of mortality whose origins can be traced as far back as the late middle ages. The use of these symbols by pirates on their flags was designed to strike fear into their prey and encourage them to surrender without a fight. They were also a form of brand identity that would carry with them the power of the reputation that preceded them. The fact that the Jolly Roger or Skull & Crossbones has been adopted by various military and sports teams around the world, and also as an internationally recognised symbol of danger or poison is testament to the effectiveness of this image. This book examines the origin and evolution of these flags and their common themes and variations, with 67 flags in full premium colour over 96 pages. NOW IN 8.5" X 11"!

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