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Principality of Serbia (1830-1882)

Knjaževina Srbija

Last modified: 2006-08-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: serbia | ocila | firesteel | stars: 4 (white) | cross (white) | star: 6 points (yellow) | civil ensign |
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[Flag of Serbia, 1830-1882]

Flag of Serbia, 1835-1882 - Image by Jorge Candeias, 30 January 1998

See also:

National flag, 1835

In 1815, an uprising was led by Miloš Obrenović, who was recognized Pasha in 1829 and short after prince (1830). In 1835, the prince adopted a national flag similar to the current flag of Serbia.

Jaume Ollé;, 30 January 1998

Flag prescribed in the 1835 Serbian Constitution

[Flag in the Constitution]

Serbian flag according to the 1835 Constitution - Image by Ivan Sarajčić, 17 February 1999

The flag of 1835 is from the First Serbian Constitution (known as Sretenjski ustav), written by Dimitrije Davidović. Description of the flag in Chapter II says:

The colour of the flag is red, white and steel dark. Coat of arms : cross on red background, with four firesteels (ocila). There are two crescents: oak leaves right, and olive leaves left.

Source: Serbian Military Flags up to 1918. Belgrade Military Museum, 1983

This flag is the only Serbian flag with red-white-blue stripes.

Ivan Sarajčić, 17 February 1999

The text of the Constitution can be found in the book Rodoslovne tablice i grbovi srpskih dinastija i vlastele, Nova Knjiga, Belgrade (1987).
However, I have a problem with the term translated above as "steel dark" (celikasto-ugasita), not finding it in 1851 either 1935 V.S. Karažić dictionary, though from it I got notion that it should have something to do with steel (celik). Anyway, what colour would be dark steel? I would rather connect it with dark gray or black rather than blue, but I guess only some colour representation from the time could help us definitely (or even better the real flag). On the Karađorđe House website, the flag is presented with the blue stripe, that is true, but I am wondering if the color could have been corrected by latter historians to better match the latter national pattern. Some sources give the third stripe in some latter flags as dark grey or brown.

I believe that this first Constitution was never officialized by Turkish rulers (though it was considered as legal by Serbian leaders and used as much as possible). The Turkish government issued a new Constitution in 1838 (Turski ustav), but I do not know how this reflects flags.

The description of the flag in the 1835 Constitution has the Cs (firesteels) described to be turned towards the cross. This is different from the usual practice, but it may only be a bad description of the usual position of the firesteels. Also, I believe that they were meant to be of the same steel dark colour as in the flag .
Finally, oak is set in description on the right, and olive on the left. Either these are non-heraldic description, or was misunderstood, as all images that I have seen have oak on sinister (heraldical left) and olive on dexter (heraldical right).

Željko Heimer, 18 February 1999

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign]

Serbian civil ensign, c. 1838 - Image by Mario Fabretto, reconstructed after CISV archives, 30 September 1998

The civil ensign, from c. 1838, added the coat of arms in the centre; this because it was necessary to distinguish the Serbian flag from the Russian one when the former was hoisted upside down to signal a danger. Because the coat of arms of the Serbian principality was adopted only in 1838, the flag could not be earlier. The only image we have of the civil ensign of that period is the uncomplete/incorrect one in the book of Le Gras [leg58].

[Civil ensign, 1869]

Serbian civil ensign, c. 1869 - Image by Mario Fabretto, reconstructed after CISV archives, 30 September 1998

The Constitution of 1869 describes the civil ensign as red-blue-white with the shield (without crown and mantle) in the center and three yellow six-pointed stars on the red stripe (for the Ottoman sovereignty, as it was the case for Moldavia and Wallachia). The dates of use for this flag could be June 1869 - c. 1872.

Mario Fabretto, 30 September 1998

Military flag

The Guide of the Military Museum in Belgrade (no date indicated) [gmb8x] mentions, for room 22, showcase 9A: Banner of Russian volunteers, participants in the Serbian-Turkish war of 1876. No description of the banner is given.

Željko Heimer, 31 January 1998

Dubious flag reports

[Dubious Serbian flag]         [Dubious Serbian flag]

Dubious Serbian flags - Images by Jorge Candeias, 30 September 1998

Some sources (for instance Deppermann, c. 1848) report very intriguing flags for Serbia: red-white-black (or maroon) with a coat of arms in the center and four white stars in the canton (2 + 2). These flags are very dubious.

Mario Fabretto, 30 September 1998