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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

He was captured by the Spaniards in Italy and forced to serve them while chained to their galley.

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Did you know?

  • In 1684, the pirate Andrew Ranson was found guilty of piracy and sentenced to death by garrote. The rope around his neck broke and the town's friar believed his near-death experience was a miracle and demanded he be spared.

  • The pirate motto for going into battle was "iron and lead first, followed by steel." Start with cannon and musket fire and proceed to close fighting with cutlasses and boarding axes.

  • Pirates had workman's comp! Each captain took care of the injured by compensating crewmen for being maimed or losing a limb. And each captain had his own "rates:" loss of right arm, 600 pieces; left arm, 500 pieces; right leg, 500, etc.

  • The Castillo de San Marcos was built immediately after Captain Robert Searles sacked St. Augustine, Florida in 1668. Sir Francis Drake razed the city 82 years earlier.

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