Come Out You Cuckold: The History & Meaning Behind the Horatio Cary Cuckold Flag
A historical flag dating all the way back to the 1600s has regained popularity lately.
If you’ve seen a red and gold flag featuring the image of a small animal in a barrel and the words “Come Out You Cuckold” displayed, you’ve caught a glimpse of a flag that was historically used during the English Civil War, carried by the Royalist horse regiment commanded by Sir Horatio Cary in an effort to taunt their adversary, the Earl of Essex.
But what does the flag mean? Who was Horatio Cary? And why are people flying this flag nearly 400 years after it was first used?
Read on to find out!
About the Come Out You Cuckold Flag
The Horatio Cary cuckold flag can be identified by its distinctive red and gold colors, and particularly by the image of a small animal (a fox or perhaps a dog) in a barrel alongside the words “Come Out You Cuckold.”
The flag was originally carried by Horatio Cary’s Royalist military unit during the English Civil War, which began in 1642.
The History of the Horatio Cary Cuckold Flag
While little is known about Horatio Cary himself, the flag of the men he led into battle featured the Come Out You Cuckold motto as a way of poking fun at their enemy, the Earl of Essex, who was a general in the Parliamentarian army.
In his time, the Earl of Essex, also known as Robert Devereux, was widely recognized as “the great cuckold.” He had been married as a teenager to a young woman. It’s said that before consummating their marriage, the Earl of Essex was sent off on a tour of Europe.
During his time away, his young wife began an affair with another man, Robert Carr, the First Earl of Somerset. When the Earl of Essex returned, his wife wanted nothing to do with him. Ultimately, she decided to seek an annulment for their marriage, claiming that the Earl of Essex was impotent. This claim stirred up some significant drama surrounding their separation, which ultimately resulted in his reputation as a cuckold.
The Earl of Essex’s reputation was not improved during his subsequent marriage to a woman named Elizabeth Pawlett. He was married to her in 1630, but she didn’t bear a son until 6 years later. The son, who died of the plague at just one month old, was said to have been the product of adultery, further establishing the Earl of Essex’s reputation as a cuckold.
When the English Civil War began, the rallying cry of the Royalists led by Horatio Cary capitalized on the Earl of Essex’s unfortunate reputation. Their flags showcased that they regarded him and, by association, the Parliamentarian troops he led as cuckolds and losers.
The flags served to rally and unite the troops, while also effectively insulting and demeaning their adversaries in battle.
Come Out You Cuckold Flags Today
In this day and age, the Horatio Cary cuckold flag is often displayed as a way of insulting or challenging one’s rivals – albeit in a somewhat less literal and specifically-targeted way. It can be used to make a statement about what one thinks of those who think differently from them.
Not surprisingly, in addition to being flown in its physical form, the Horatio Cary Cuckold flag and iterations of it have also made their way around the internet, featured by users on various social media platforms.
It turns out that some insults still carry a sharp sting, even centuries after they were first used!
Get Your Own Come Out You Cuckold Flag
Looking to fly your own Horatio Cary cuckold flag to challenge your enemies? We’ve got you covered! Order your very own Come Out You Cuckold flag here.
Interested in other flags steeped in history? Be sure to check out our wide selection of historical flags here, including Revolutionary War flags, Civil War flags, historic American flags and more!
Planning to make history with your own flag? We can help you with that too! Learn more about designing a custom flag with Gettysburg Flag Works here.