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Stede Bonnet's Flag

Surrender or Die!

Death Head

Pirates were know to fly flags to intimidate their prey into surrendor. The red flag universally symbolized "no quarter" was to be given in battle, meaning none would be left alive should they fight. Each vessel flew an ensign for the country which they were from. Pirates had no country. So they flew whatever they wanted.

The flags were used as a symbol of their intentions. Their intentions were clear, plunder or death. Pirates were known to create their own ensign so when sailing in a flotilla with other pirates or coming to attack a ship they would be recognized. 

The "Death Head" is the most common early iteration of a pirate flag. It was mentioned in numerous early sources. 

The Jolly Roger

The Jollly Roger is the most popular of the pirate flags. We recognize it immediatly as a skull and crossbones and we still use it today as a warning of possible death.

The pirates made the jolly roger famous and set about adding their own touches to them. An except from the 1724 A General History of Pirates regarding captain Worley reads:
"He made a black Ensign, with a white Death’s Head in the Middle of it, and other Colours suitable to it."

Each captain added their own style to their flag.  

What did Major Stede Bonnet Fly?

Major Stede Bonnet's Pirate Flag

Major Bonnet is known to have flown a solid red flag symbolizing no quarter, a "death head" and some iteration of a jolly roger. The flag depicted to the right and at the top of the page has been long associated with the Major though the sources are limited at best.

The meaning of flag seems to suggest that he holds the power of life and death in his hands. Seemingly suggesting there is no choice for you. Surrender or Die!