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This article is about the phrase. You may be looking for the musical cue "Parley".

Parley aboard the Black Pearl.

"Parley. I invoke the right of parley. According to the Code of the Brethren set down by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew, you have to take me to your captain."
"I know the Code."
"If an adversary demands parley, you can do them no harm until the parley is complete.
Elizabeth Swann and Pintel[src]

Parley, often stylized as parlay, was a negotiation conference, especially one between enemies over terms of a truce or other matters. The root of the word parley is parler, which is the French verb "to speak"; specifically the conjugation parlez "you speak", whether as imperative or indicative. The term written as "parlay" on the Pirata Codex was known as a right in the Code of the Pirate Brethren, set down by Morgan and Bartholomew, that allowed any person to invoke temporary protection and brought before the captain to "negotiate" without being attacked until the parley is complete.


The pirate flag of parley.

"Parley? Damn to the depths whatever muttonhead thought up 'parley'!"
"That would be the French.
Pintel and Jack Sparrow[src]

Beginning in the High Middle Ages with the expansion of monarchs, a parley, or "talk", was a meeting held between kings and their Chief Retainers. Parleys were part of the many changes in Europe, especially regarding governments. These meetings can be attributed to the formation of parliaments, which are derived from a similar root, parliamentum, simply meaning "talking".

Parley on the sandbar.

In the Golden Age of Piracy, the term "parlay", as written in the Pirata Codex, was known as a right set down by Morgan and Bartholomew in creating the Code of the Pirate Brethren that allowed a pirate or any other individual (i.e. Elizabeth Swann) to be taken by a crew member to the captain of their ship to discuss a treaty, negotiation, etc. without being attacked until the parley is complete. Parleys generally ended successfully, but often pirates, like Hector Barbossa would bend the rules of the Code as "guidelines" to uphold their own ambitions.[1]

Sometimes, to call for parlay on the open sea, pirates would hoist the white flag with the black skull and crossbones, the typical Jolly Roger with the reversed colors. However, by the time of Jack Sparrow's quest for the Heart of Zerzura, the flag wasn't used so much as before, as many pirates just used a white flag with no symbols at all.[2]

Notable Parleys[]


The following occurred after an individual invoked the right by saying "Parley".

  • Jack Sparrow invoked the right of parley when the Venganza's attack on his ship, the Fair Wind, resulted in death of his Captain, Nathaniel Bainbridge, at the hands of the pirate captain, Esmeralda Maria Consuela Anna de Sevilla. Jack negotiated with Esmeralda in the captain's cabin and she agreed to take from the Fair Wind only one third of its cargo of rum, half of the spare canvas, ten hogsheads of fresh water, a quarter of the bosun’s stores, half of the fresh fruit, two bags of biscuit, a cask of salt beef, and half of the gunpowder. Esmeralda also required that Jack joins her for a dinner in her cabin on the Venganza.[3]
  • When Jack Sparrow's ship, the Wicked Wench, encountered La Vipère, the ship of the infamous rogue pirate Christophe-Julien de Rapièr, Jack called for a parley with Christophe. They met in boats, halfaway between their ships, and Jack told Christophe about the treasure-filled Zerzuran labyrinth on the island of Kerma, and the three magical wristlets that were needed to enter the labyrinth. Since Jack had two of the wristlets in his posession, and Christophe had the third one, they agreed to work together to find the treasure.[2]
  • Elizabeth Swann, threatened by Pintel and Ragetti, invoked the right of parley during the attack on Port Royal and was taken aboard the Black Pearl to meet with Captain Hector Barbossa. Both Barbossa and Elizabeth (introduced as "Elizabeth Turner") agreed that if Elizabeth handed over her medallion, which Barbossa's crew were searching for, then Barbossa would have the Pearl leave Port Royal. This concluded with the pirate crew leaving Port Royal, but having taken Elizabeth with them.[1]
  • When he was spotted at Isla de Muerta, Jack Sparrow, with the assistance of Ragetti, invoked the right of parley to Barbossa's crew. This led to a meeting of Jack and Barbossa, who haven't seen each other for 10 years, after Barbossa left Jack to die on a desert island. This concluded with Jack entering failed negotiations aboard the Black Pearl, which ended with Jack being thrown into the Pearl's brig.[1]
  • After the crew of the Black Pearl returned from Davy Jones' Locker, Cotton's parrot said "parley" to Jack the Monkey when Jack pulled out a pistol on him. This occurred after when Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, Elizabeth, Will Turner and Joshamee Gibbs had their pistols pointed on each other. The details on his parley are uncertain, as it was merely Cotton's parrot who said it.[4]
  • The great parley on the sandbar between the high representatives of the Brethren Court's fleet and the East India Trading Company armada, called upon by Captain Jack Sparrow. In this parley meeting, the leaders of the pirates and Company met to discuss an ending to the on-going war. During the parley, Jack Sparrow was traded with Will Turner in order to supplement his debt to Davy Jones. The direct result of this parley would be the battle of Calypso's maelstrom, in which the pirates achieved victory over the Company's armada as well as the death of Lord Cutler Beckett.[4]


The following occurred between individuals, but without the use of saying "Parley".

Behind the scenes[]

  • The term is spelled "parlay" in the Pirata Codex, apparently a mistake, though this may simply have been intended as a non-standardized, in-universe spelling.
  • In the non-canonical game, Kingdom Hearts II, there was a parley between Luxord and Sora, Donald, Goofy and Jack Sparrow at Port Royal. Another parley would occur between the same characters in Kingdom Hearts III.
  • In real life, the parley is a discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of a truce or other matters, and it was also common in shipping. However, unlike the movies' parley, it was not included in any of the preserved ship's articles, the real life inspiration for the Code of the Pirate Brethren; therefore it is unknown if it was observed by pirates.


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