1/600 Laurent de Graff privateer flags

Sheet showing several textured paper historical flags of Laurent de Graff, a renowned French privateer between 1675-1695. Sizes: ensign W12 x L18 mm, mast flags W8 x L12 mm, jack W6 x L9 mm, pennant W4 x L48 mm.

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03NAC634

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French Merchant ensignKing Louis XIV issued in 1661 a decree determining merchant ships should fly a blue ensign with a white cross, charged with the royal arms. A white cross on blue field had been common from long ago, but by the end of 17th century started declining into disuse, because merchant ships favoured white flags like those of Royal Navy. Despite all prohibitions, this usurpation had become generalized around 1760 and officialized by the Order of 25 March 1765.

In the case of Laurent de Graff, however, it's quite likely he constrained himself to fly a regulation merchant ensign, so as to masquerade as an innocent trader. What is attested indeed is his use of yellow-red striped, and white fleurdelisée flags (these latter, with either one or three fleurs-de-lis), at least in his 1683 attack on Veracruz (Mexico). These were apparently used on land but I've also guessed their hypothetical use at sea as jacks or mast flags.

Sources: Gustave Desjardins, «Recherches sur les drapeaux français», Paris 1874 |Flags of The World (FOTW) website:Kingdom of France: flags at sea | Veracruz Antiguo website:1683, banderas en el ataque pirata a la Nueva Veracruz

Sizes: ensign W12 x L18 mm, mast flags W8 x L12 mm, jack W6 x L9 mm, pennant W4 x L48 mm.

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