Crossbones: Yo-ho! The history of the Jolly Roger, a Pirate story.

The ominous skull and crossbones has a much deeper past than being a warning sign that "thar be pirates aboard."

Sumeria and Egypt
The skull and cross bones is no other than a morphology of the Chi-Rho (Labarum). The Chi-Rho however goes back as far as 2500BC Sumeria as a combination of the two sun symbols. The Sun God and the ascension of the Conquering King. Chi for the Great Fire (Sun) and Rho for the Pater (Father). The term labarum (chi-rho) yields everlasting Father & Sun.

It is not a great leap to see from Sumeria/Meopotamia; the belief in Re, the Sun God, Horus, the son of Re and the Ka, man, ruler, god, father; the earthly representative of the God. Enter the idol King Tutankhamen; buried under the crook and flail; the herdsman of humanity. KaRe. Chi-Rho. XP. The Oracle of God is mummified and entombed as the good Shepard of his Flock.

Therefore, Chi Rhocomes from early Egyptian Sun-God beliefs and further reinforcement of Greek Pagan symbology of fifth century BC Herodotus, Aeschylus and later via Plato's Timaeus. This image seeming to combine the solar elliptical path with the celestial equator, or X; and Rho the earthly manifestation of the prophet Horus or P. The resulting etymological combining body of the diviner with the celestial universe. Deeper etymology results in descriptors like: good, anointed, auspicious, soothsayer. Keep in mind, we are talking a morphology over 2500 years Before Christ. (Celestial Chi Rho)

Emperor Constantine's Labarum (272 - 337ad)
It is recorded that Emperor Constantine dreamt of theas a divine symbol on the battle shield against Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge for which he won. Argument continues as to whether this use of the Chi-Rho during battle is accurate. Regardless, many loyal Christian historians believe there was a miraculous conversion by Constantine at this time (while other scholars argue he "converted" on his death bed). But, as we have seen, the Chi-Rho was considered a symbol for the Sun-God up until this time, the implementation of using Christos (Chi-Rho) with the similarity of the image of the crucifixion seems too convenient and I would put forth was advantageous to bring pagan followers into the flock. Nonetheless, the labarum is forevermore associated with our Favorite Son.

Enter the Templars and the Legend of the Skull of Sidon.
The first templar was Godfrey of Bouillon c. 1099. The subsequent Order of the Knights Templar were believers of Christ and supporters of Rome and the Crusades. However, over time and via multiple (and expensive) Crusades, the Papacy lost much power and became intimidated by the ascendency of the Templars. The Poor Knights of Jesus Christ were savy businessmen, prosperous sea merchants, politicians, leaders in the church, founders of the first banking system and represented some of the wealthiest families in Europe. The Knights Templars became too powerful for the comfort of the corrupt Papacy. In the 12th Century, Walter Mapp recounted the Legend of the Skull of Sidon, and this was used against the Templars. This history is recounted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and many pro-catholic sites would like you to read only the legend and no other analysis. Very oft is Mapp discredited as a biased supporter of the church and is heralded as a man of the cloth. This Sidon Tale by Mapp was known at that time but up until the trials not associated necessarily with the Templars.

As the Legend of the Skull of Sidon may be traced to the Knights Templar, I would suggest it is more esoteric allegory then fact. Maraclea is the named women within the legend. This name means Shining One or Illumination, the number 9 is the original numbers of first Knights Templars and the skull and crossbones (more specifically the skull) are reinforced as a symbol of the Giver of Good things. Arise the Good, Anointed, Soothsayer.

Nonetheless, out of this trial the Legend of the Skull of Sidon and Baldwin, King of Jereuselem, brother to Godfrey, were established in Catholic infamy. Submission of the W. Mapp story at the Trials of the Templars is very real and very historically accepted. Further, Sidon was a pirate port in Armenia and a hotbed for Cathar Gnosticism. Let's also note here that one King's pirate is another King's privateer by letters of marque.

Jacques Demolay (1244 - 1314)
History tells us that Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar was defiantly burned at the stake. And while loosely supported, it is told that only his skull and femurs survived. These were then laid for burial in the Templar tradition of skull and crossbones/Legend of Sidon.

The Red Cross:
No history would be complete without examining the contemporary Popes conferment of recognition of the Knights Templar's White Mantles with Red Crosses. This too has it's history within the Sun God and the Assyrian King Shamshi-Adad V (824-811 BC) Nonetheless, in 1129 AD, in the early formation of the Order, they were favored throughout Christendom and officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, the red cross indicating martyrdom.

The color red is now the color of our beloved Knights. Enter King Roger II of Sicily. Remember Baldwin? Brother to the first Grand Master Godfrey, King of Jerusalem? Well, he married Adelaide Del Vasto, from this marriage they produced no heirs. At this point, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was transferred to Jolly King Roger.  It is highly suggested by many sources that King Roger and his expansive flotilla sailed under a version of the Jolie Rogue. 

After Demolay's death, the Order of the Knights Templar was disbanded; however, the skills, seamanship and privateering did not evaporate, the need for commerce and banking was never destroyed. The ex-Knight privateers morphological progression of the flag is noted to be a red flag with black skull and crossbones and then progressed to a black flag with white crossbones into the 1700's and the heyday of pirates and privateers. Eventually being co-opted by very disturbed seamen. Templars were so vilified by the church the symbolism of the Jolly Roger struck fear in the hearts of opposing fleets. Further readings at this point are abundant on the internet. May ye have red skies at night.