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Secret Symbols: Skull and Bones Symbol and the Templar Flag

The ancient secret symbol of the skull and bones can also be found in the Knights Templar history. Specifically, this ancient symbol was found on the Knights Templar flag, where it had a very unique meaning.

The Jolly Roger was the name given by the French Templars to the red flag that was flown by the Templar warrior ships. This flag, derived from the French jolie rouge (pretty red), often featured the ancient symbol of the skull and bones. The Jolly Roger flag was originally used by pirates who wished to communicate their ruthlessness with regard to victims who would not surrender.

The Knights Templar began to use the Jolly Roger flag featuring the emblem of the skull and crossed bones after the organization disbanded in the early fourteenth century. Upon the dissolution of the Knights Templar, many of the knights were forced to become brigades and pirates in order to make a living. These occupations were often the only feasible options for knights who had little technical skills while those who did have such skills had the option of becoming masons or craftsmen, for example. Pirates who had been Templar knights were usually descendents of upper class families, as is the case with the Knights of Malta and the Teutonic Knights. Therefore, the occupation of being a pirate provided a method of financing the knights’ former expenses.

Chosen by the ex-knights long after the final Crusades of the late thirteenth century, the skull and bones symbol had a distinct meaning for the Knights who had become pirates. While the emblem represented death for pirates, the former members of the Knights Templar associated the icon with resurrection. In fact, the symbol was considered to be an allusion to the Crucifixion; in particular, the skull alluded toGolgotha, which Aramaic for the “Place of the Cross” (Matthew 27:33), where Jesus was believed to have been crucified, while the crossed bones represented the method in which Jesus died.

This symbolic association put the Knights Templar at odds with the Church. While the Roman Catholic Church instructed that the resurrection was a bodily one, the Templars believed that only the skull and two bones needed to be buried for resurrection. This belief, depicted in the Templar flag, is also evident in the unearthing of Templar tombs in which skulls of the deceased have been found with the legs removed and crossed. As such, the raising of the red flag with the skull and bones symbol demonstrated a break with the Pope in Rome.

In comparison, the flag used by the Knights Templar during the Crusades typically featured a red, narrow cross on a white background, or some variation of this religious motif.


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