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Municipal Flags and CoAs in Czechia

Last modified: 2004-04-29 by jarig bakker
Keywords: coat of arms | guidelines |
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Guidelines for Czech municipal flags

1. The width to length ratio must be the same as of the State flag, i.e. 2:3

2. The surface of a new flag must not be the same as that of an already existing flag belonging to any community either in the Czech or in the Slovak Republic.

3. A new flag should not have become with any current State flag.

4. The surface of a newly introduced flag ought to be derived from the coat-of-arms of the respective community and its colors may be limited to the basic ones. It is possible to approve a flag in colors completely different from the ones in arms, if such a flag explesses any relation to the community history. Another case is if the flag had already been used in the past authentically and the respective community wishes to continue this use.

5. Such a flag is not approved on principle if its surface would be charged with a shield from the municipal coat-of-arms; the double utilization of the communal symbols is excluded. However, the sole heraldic convention found in the arms may be used freely, the letter as a "mirror image" including; the other letters are not recommended.

6. It is not allowed to use the inscriptions, motto and realistic illustrations or everything what makes the the flag recognizable with difficulty.

7. In case of a few variants of the flag those possessing more vexillological qualities are preferred (i.e. they should meet requirements of being expressive, simple and/or in accordance with the principle of fluttering).

8. Obverse and reverse sides of the flag must be identical. If the heraldic flag is adopted, the postion of the heraldic animals' head etc. must be described on the reverse side extra, when embopdying part of the whole coat-of-arms.

9. The surface of a banner is always identical with that of a flag both in its shape and proportions.

10. The surface of the flag must be simply descriptionable in words in the way that enables its manufacture without any graphic design.

Source: "Flags over Czech towns" (September 2000); an article by Zbyšek Svoboda: Czech municipal and civic flags, in which the new guidelines of the Heraldic Committee of the Czech Parliament are explained, as formulated in 1991.
Jarig Bakker, 22 Apr 2004

Status of cities

Except for the capital City of Prague (Hlavni mesto Praha) there are 16 cities (cities with special position) in Czechia (Act. Nr. 128/2000, Paragraph 4) - Kladno, Ceske Budejovice, Plzen, Karlovy Vary, Usti nad Labem, Liberec. Hradec Kralove, Pardubice, Jihlava, Brno, Zlin, Olomouc, Ostrava, Opava, Havirov and Most.
Other urban municipalities are simply Towns.
The City mayor is Primátor, the City authority is Magistrát. Plzen, Brno and Ostrava are Urban Districts - there are no District Offices (e.g Okresni urad Brno - Mesto) there. Those three cities plus Pardubice and Usti have subdivisions - Obvody (Borough - Mestsky obvod Ostrava- Krasne Pole) or Mestske casti (may be translated many ways. - e.g. official Brno Internet presentation speaks of City districts).  The town Mayor is Starosta.
Aleš Křižan, 4 Dec 2000

These Czech flags are certainly interesting. While not every one is very atractive (but many are) they are certainly many of them are quite unusual and "experimental" towards new variations in vexillography. I believe that the "rounded hoist triangles" are such an example - I don't think it's been seen before, but still quite striking, simple and "vexillologically correct" design. There were shown some others that would deserve to be pointed out, too. Is there any overview (I'm sure there is, vexillology seems to be quite strong in Czech Republic; but could we get it on FOTW, at least a summary) over the Czech local flags? There seems to be very little uniformity or system in Czech local flags - some are bi- or tricolours, with or without COAs or heraldic devices directly on them, others are banners of arms while others are quite original vexillographic works.
Zeljko Heimer, 10 May 2001

The Czech municipal flags represent two historical layers: the traditional pre-1990 flags are usually horizontal bi- or tricolors, often identical for several towns (e.g. Prague = Ceske Budejovice, many WB bicolors). After 1990, most new flags are officially assigned to the towns (and villages) by the chairman of the House of Representatives of the Czech Parliament, after thorough expert discussion by the subcomitee for heraldry and vexillology of the Parliament. This monumental flag-making
activity is step-by-step overviewed by Petr Exner (a subcomitee member) in his 'Vexilologicky lexikon', as well as in the journal Vexilologie.
The vexillological subcomittee insists that several vexillographical criteria should be followed: a new flag should not include the whole COA and that the flag must be of 2:3 ratio.  Moreover, most of flags are more or less derived from the municipality's
heraldical colors (exceptions - e.g. Tabor and Dvur Kralove nad Labem).
Jan Zrzavy, 10 May 2001

Arms as a source of municipal flags in Czechia

Many flags of Czech municipalities are less or more derivations from its Arms and these are in many cases (in fact) the arms of its Feudal Lords. In medieval Lands of Bohemian Crown there were only two possible noble titles: Lords/Páni (Liber Baro in Latin) and knights or yeomen /rytíri, vladykové - not to be confused with vladika in Montenegro - or zemani (Eques - Am I right? All the Czech terms for them were used). Only exemptions were different princes and dukes in Silesia, dukes of Opava (bastard branch of Premyslides Dynasty) and titles of Margrave (marquis, in Czech Markrabe) of Moravia and Count of Kladsko. These were for appointed for Sovereign and for members of the dynasty respective. The first (Imperial) Count in our Lands was Schlick in 15. Century. Before his ennoblement he was a bourgeois in Cheb. He became Chancellor of Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia and Hungary. His arms could be admired as Nejdek town flag (Karlovarský kraj), if hung vertically. Even after 1618 were the European system of titles installed. Many old families were made counts (Sternberg, Zierotin, Czernin, Kinski).

Some practical examples:

Lords (Counts) of Sternberg (Šternberk) - Their Arms (Azure an eight - pointed Star Or) we can see unchanged in Coat of Arms  of Benešov Town and differed in Symbols of Šternberk Town in Olomoucký kraj. The CoA of this town is canting - Azure a Mount Vert (Berg in German), surmounted by eight - pointed Star Or (Stern). The mount was added in 18th century.
That's also the reason for use of the green stripe in the flag.

Lords of Rosenberg (Rozmberk) - Argent a Rose Gules barbed Vert and buttoned or. This sign we can see on flags of Ceský Krumlov, Cernovice, Deštná (District Jindrichuv Hradec), Radnice (District Rokycany), Třeboń etc.

Lords of Hradec (and their ancestors Slavata of Chlum and Košumberk) bore Azure a Rose Or, (sometimes buttoned Gules , barbed Vert). This rose along with Sternberg star we can see in the flag (and in vertically divided Arms) of the Pocátky Town. Alll the composition is a "signature"  of landlords - Adam Wratislav of Sternberg and Anna Lucia Slavata of Chlum.

In North Moravia there are few flags and arms with the same strange composition -  a black lion with yellow tongue against red background. This lion used to be part of the Arms of rich Moravian family of the Counts of Zierotin (Zerotín). It was Gules a Lion rampant sable armed Or queued forchée. The lion is issuing from the triple Hill Argent in base. The family came from Bludov (see: the Bludov website - differed with silver letter B, held by the lion). Other examples - Branná, Roznov pod Radhoštem, Sobotín, Velké Losiny (last two only Coats of Arms).

The Lords of Dietrichstein came from Carinthia (Kärnten), but especially Cardinal Francis of Dietrichstein left many traces in our heraldry and vexillology. This Bishop of Olomouc could be called "Moravian Richelieu". He was Governor of Moravia during the Thirty Years war. He led all the country to Catholicism, defended it fighting and leading armies against many foreign invaders. The arms of his family were: Per bend Or and gules two vinedresser knives Argent with Handles Or. Almost unchanged (only with wooden handles) we can see it on the flag of town Nové Mesto na Morave, one knife and letter F  for Franciscus on the flag of town Budišov nad Budišovkou. (BTW - the colour shade chosen by Mr. Delgado Ortiz is probably correct, since in the grant of arms is described as greenish - yellow). His Arms with arms of his office/bishopric makes together the arms of Kromeríz town. Other beautiful example of Arms (no flag is known) of Zdár nad Sázavou town.

But if you can see silver "cones" /triangles against red background, it is not necessary trace of Cardinal Dietrichstein. For instance Osoblaha Arms was granted by Bishop Václav Králík of Burenice in 1415.

And other about arms only few words:
In Konice town flag canton there are four arrows of Lords of Švábenice.
"Zavinutá strela" of Bílovec and once of Kravare, these were Lords of Kravare.
Black wing in silver (Kurim, Lomnice) was once symbol of mighty Moravian nobility, Lords of Lomnice and their branches "of Krizanov", "of Tasov"and so on.
Lords of Kunštát arms are modern symbol of Vizovice.
Ales Krizan, 11 Sep 2001