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Life as a pirate was as thrilling as you can imagine, but it wasn't all gold coins and drinking. Piracy was a very dangerous calling. Many died from disease, accidents, battle or shipwrecks. Others were caught and paid the ultimate price: to be hanged by the neck 'til dead, dead, dead. In the museum, you'll learn the risks and retributions pirates faced when they were tried for their crimes - including the thrilling story of Blackbeard's final hours.

JOLLY ROGER FLAG

The original Jolly Roger is one of the prized pieces within the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum collection. Dated 1850, this Jolly Roger is only one of two pirate flags ever recovered. Its condition is amazing and the design is primitive and eerily haunting. Pirates and other sailors were very skilled in sewing and repairing cloth because of the constant upkeep of the ship's sails. When you see the flag in person, be sure to look closely at the perfectly tight stitching. The name Jolly Roger probably came from the French words jolie rouge, meaning 'pretty red', and refers to the days when the first buccaneers flew bright, blood-colored flags to frighten their prey to speedy surrender. It meant 'no quarter will be given' and that any resistance would result in a fight to the death.

Pirate of the Month

Luis Aury was a French Corsair, who operated in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean during the early 19th century.

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Did you know?

  • In 1671, when Henry Morgan sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica to sack and plunder Panama, his fleet consisted of 37 vessel, ranging from 4-gunners to 22-gunners.

  • Captain Kidd received a letter of marquee from King William III to seize any French ships during his search to capture pirates. Instead, he captured an Indianman resulting in the beginning of his pirate career.

  • The cook onboard a pirate ship was usually a disabled pirate who was allowed to stay on the ship if he could make food that didn't kill the pirate crew.

  • In September 1718, following months of successful plundering raids, the pirate crews of Blackbeard and Charles Vane rendezvoused on Ocracoke Island (North Carolina) for a wild, weeklong bacchanal.

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