History of Flags


In all armies of all nations the flag is revered as a symbol, as an object of the greatest respect and honour for which even life is sacrificed, and it is considered a normal thing like capturing or the conquest of enemy´s flag is considered the most heroic act. Organization in the use of flags by regiments was introduced by Maria Theresa by the regulation in 1743, when it was ordered to use a single type of the flag, so called „Hungarian“.

This type was not popular and in1745 amodel with two-headed imperial eagle on a yellow background was re-introduced. In the following years the form of an eagle was based on a reigning monarch, and was closely tied to the official form of the royal emblem. Initials on the flags were changed, and also applied emblems of the province were changed depending on whether the Monarchy gained or lost the territory in the wars. The changes also concerned the number of battalions in the regiment. Since 1768 only two battalions for a regiment were introduced. Further reduction of the number of battalions was introduced in 1808, when a regiment had only one battalion.

Great changes in the representation on the flags took place during the Napoleonic wars, when three different models of the flags were gradually used during this period. After the Napoleonic wars in 1816 anew regulation, which improved the identification of the regiment flags, was introduced. In the upper corners of the flags gold labels with the abbreviations of a type of regiment and its number were painted.
Other changes were gradually made ​​in the representation of provincial emblems in 1836, 1859 and 1866.
An important milestone was the year 1857, when new flags began to be pruduced laboriously. Production was encouraged by the Viennese silk weaver Wojtech and it led to the production of embroidered – white or yellow flags and standards designed by the painter Leopold Kupelweiser. These flags M1859 are the final model for k. u. k. (the abbreviation of ´Imperial and Royal´) military forces.

The painting of flags and standards was performed under a contract with a skilled painter, who had to carry out the craft for at least 8 years. They painted with oil colours on silk. The sizes of flags were given to 170 x140 cm.

The pricelist from 1742 says that regimental Leibfahnen cost 81 gold and 44 kreutzer and regimental standard cost 43 gold and 26 kreutzer.

The pricelist from 1774 sets regimental flag (Leibfahne) at a price of 33 gold and 35 kreutzer, General flag (Batailonsfahne, Ordinärfahne) at a price of 3 gold lower, regimental standard at a price of 27 gold and 5 kreutzer and a general one at a price of 27 gold and 35 kreutzer.

French flags

Until the French Revolution of 1789 royal regiments used flags painted on silk of size 160 x160 cmor more. Royal lilies with a different combination of crosses and colors were depicted on them. Many times the images of key war events or the saints were used – within the national guard flags.

The changes of flag patterns after Revolution came in the years 1791, 1792 (+ regulation to burn all of the former flags of units), 1794 and 1796.

After this rapid changing of flag patterns the flags M1804 were introduced in 1804, and together with them female eagles were awarded on a flag pole by the Emperor Napoleon. The sizes of the infantry flag were 80 x80 cm, of the standard 60 x60 cm. Cavalry guidons of 60 x80 cm(waving part is divided into two points) for cavalry units of hunters, gendarmery and artillery had a special shape. The model of flag of 1804 was painted on silk. In 1812 more sumptuous type of the flag of the sizes 80 x80 cmwas introduced. It was embroidered with a gold and the French colours already made three vertical stripes. The embroidery consisted of Napoleonic symbols (wreath with the initial „N“, bees and garlands) along with the signs of major battles of the regiment.

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