Watch yer Back
While I am safely away, a friend will post this information about pirates that may help prepare you for your, er … confinement. Most of the modern images of pirates and buccaneers are Hollywood fictions, with little basis in fact or tradition. Privateers are a different matter all together, with many of the greatest atrocities committed under ‘license’ of one king or another. The foundations of pirate myth mostly stem from the actions of Corsairs in the Mediterranean after the Crusades --not the actions of the Muslim or North African tribes, but of the ‘esteemed’ Knightly Orders driven from the Holy Land by Saladin. Both the Templar Knights, and the Knights of Saint John took to the seas from island bases to attack and pillage Muslim trade – and all merchants who would not submit to their will. The ‘skull and cross bones’ is based on Templar Priest placing a scull on the mast – a relic to be placed in Jerusalem. The red flag (Jolly Roger) if the "Joile Rouge’" – eith a red flag with white cross that later became the flag of Switzerland, or the reverse that became symbol of the Red Cross. Sadly – in those grand pirate times, it was a symbol of death. The OofSJ acquired the secret to ‘Greek Fire’, and any merchant ship not instantly surrendering was burned to the water-line from a distance.
I wrote this ballad about these events that you might enjoy – even with me singing it.
With Acre now seized by Saladin's hand, no knights upon the Holy Land,
Bold Falcon leads a corsair band to thwart aside the Sultan's plan.
Giant ships guided by Templar might, festoon an awful flag of black,
Known by all as Gonfalon Beauceant, sure sign they cold fear do lack.
Look to a skull of ancient Gagatha, carried on mast for passion's sake.
Merchants and Arabs do quickly row from pirates these fine knights do make.
But terror and dauntless courage hold, these fine ships are put to shame,
By the fleet of Maltese Corsairs bold, whose dread flag Saint John proclaim.
On swift ships with sail cut trapezoid, do fierce banner bright red display.
No quarter give, nor prisoner bind, cries out the flag called the Jolie Rouge'
For they carry the secret of awesome powers, a fire that belches across the sea.
At helm, a priest dressed all in black, not guided much by golden wealth.
At the ropes Syrian sailors dark, sail a thousand years of stealth.
Together they tack unto the winds and hopeless merchants cannot flee.
They do not need to grapple close, nor arm with axe or blade,
For even water will not quench this fire that spreads on deck and wave.
With bones from the Temple of Solomon a source of Templar faith.
But for Turks 'tis the red they flee, or meet a Hell born fate.
They are the curse of the Inland Sea, only destruction in their wake.
The fluttering flag of the Jolie Rouge' does warn of a hungry flame.
But notice sure the cross of white, on both flags it is the same.