Source: Wikipedia Commons
Historically, the Jolly Roger flag was flown to frighten pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement—and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated (since captured pirates were usually hanged, they did not have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated). The Jolly Roger came in a number of different designs, but the skull and crossbones on a black background was the most popular.
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