Buy State Flags from Allstate FlagsBuy US flags from Five Star Flags
This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Principality of Moldavia

Last modified: 2004-07-03 by rob raeside
Keywords: moldavia | wallachia | romania |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

Principality of Moldavia

Alternative local name: Moldovia

The principality of Moldavia was located in what is now Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. At its peak, it reached from the Dniester River to the Siret River and from Bukovina to the Black Sea.

The principality emerged as a distinct and independent principality in the mid-14th century. By 1512, it was a part of the Ottoman Empire and the object of occupation by Russian forces for parts of the 18th and 19th century. In 1812, Bessarabia was acquired by Russia, but southern Bessarabia was restored to Moldavia in 1856 under the Treaty of Paris.

Moldavia merged with Wallachia in 1859 and the name Romania was applied to the country in 1862.

The Bessarabia portion of the principality was integrated into the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became the countries of Moldova and Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Princely standards, XIV-XIX Century

[Princely standard] by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

[Princely standard] by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

Princely standards, XIV - XIX c. - We have very little information on ancient Moldavian and Wallachian flags. For Moldavia the most important symbol has always been the wild ox head, which is still to be found on the flag of the new Moldavian republic (Moldova). In early times the red prevailed on other colours: on standards, the wild ox head appeared on the recto, while the verso represented St George killing the dragon. It seems that this standard was adopted by Bogdan I and maintained by Stephan the Great and successors. In the following century (XIX) the blue was added. According to an 1813 document, under prince Scarlat Calimachi the princely standard was red, yellow and blue on the recto (without any symbol), while on the verso was St George riding a horse on a blue field. Another document, dated 1814, again reports a red standard. Michael II Sutu (1819-21) had a blue flag with the wild ox head on the recto and red with St George the verso. The two Moldavian flags above from the XV-XVI c. are in Bucharest museum.

Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

War flag and naval ensign, 1834-1859

[War flag and naval ensign] by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

The Treaty of Adrianople (1829) between Russia and Turkey, besides recognising Greek independence and Serbian autonomy, also established free trade for Moldavia and Wallachia with the reopening of their ports to the shipping of all nations. At the same time the creation of a Moldo-Wallachian fleet (both mercantile and military) began. Colours were stated for the two principalities, and at the beginning they were mainly used as lance pennons (red and blue for Moldavia and yellow and blue for Wallachia). This induced some authors to assign horizontal bicolored flags to the two countries (Deppermann and Ruschke, Hamburg, circa 1840), but there is no evidence for their existence. By imperial decree, Sultan Mahmud II allowed Michael Sturdza (1834-49), prince of Moldavia, to adopt a flag for the army, one for merchant ships and one for the navy. On 8 November 1834 the army got the first flags: a blue field with red squared cantons, each with a white 8-pointed star. In the center was a wild ox head with an 8-pointed white star between its horns, surmounted by a princely crown, all flanked by two green olive branches joined in base. This flag was also used by the navy and must also be considered as the princely standard and state flag.

[War flag and naval ensign, 1849] by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

After the 1848 revolution, with the new prince Gregor V Ghica X (1849-53 and 1854-56), the previous flag was modified. In 1849 the stars in the cantons become gold and six-pointed. In the center the head, silver, and the star (6-pointed and silver), were placed on a gold-bordered blue shield and flanked by two silver dolphins. A princely crown and two branches of laurel and oak joined with a red ribbon completed the whole.

[War flag and naval ensign, 1856] by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

After 1856 the flag was further modified. The cantons become triangles, so the central blue field become a lozenge; the arms were placed on a purple mantle lined with ermine and gold crowned between two golden oak branches. This flag had a very short life.

Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

Civil ensign, 1834-1861

[Civil ensign, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

This flag had a longer life than the other Moldavian flags. Following original models, the flag was blue with a white shield on which was a wild ox (or sometimes a bison) head, surmounted with a five-pointed star between its horns; over the shield a princely crown and the whole flanked by two dolphins as supporters. The flag had a red canton bearing three white stars (5- or 8-pointed) placed 2-1. This canton stood for Ottoman sovereignty. At first, this flag was also flown on government buildings on land together the Turkish one.

[Civil ensign, 1858] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Although we don't have any official documentation, it seems that the flag changed over time: in the Le Gras album of 1858 the shield had disappeared, as well as the star, the crown and the dolphins, while the stars in the canton were placed in fess.

After the union of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1859, the Wallachian and Moldavian merchant vessels provisionally retained their old flags. This was due to the fact that the joining of the two principalities was initially realized in the form of a personal union under Prince Alexander John Cuza, each country retaining its own council of ministers, army and institutions.

Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996