The Elizabethan English ships sailed with flags showing the National emblem such as the Tudor Rose whilst the Spanish ships were distinguished by Catholic crosses. The history of flags developed and National flags were adopted. Pirates had their own Code of Conduct and their own traditions. Adopting their own pirate flags was a natural progression in the pirate culture and history. The pirate flags were used to wage 'Psychological warfare' on their enemies. Pirate flags were designed to threaten, intimidate and spread fear & dread amongst all that encountered the pirate. Pirate flags history was an important element in building the fearsome reputation of the pirate vessels.
The Colors of Pirate Flags - the Red Pirate Flags and the Black Pirate flags
The background colors of real pirate flags were either red or black. Although black is most associated with pirate flags, the very first pirate flags were in fact red. The colors of red and black both held symbolic significance. The early pirates sailed under the Red Flags. The color red in pirate flags symbolised bloodshed. Red pirate flags also symbolised a warning.