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Principality of Wallachia

Last modified: 2004-07-03 by rob raeside
Keywords: wallachia | moldavia | romania |
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About the Principality of Wallachia

Located on the lower Danube River, the principality of Wallachia was founded in 1290 by Radu Negru (Ralph the Black). Initially dominated by Hungary, Charles I Robert was defeated in 1330 by Basarab in 1330, securing the independence of Wallachia.

In 1391, the kingdom was forced to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire and later Turkish suzerainty was acknowledged by Prince Mircea the Old in 1417. This allowed Wallachia to keep its own dynasty, territory and religion, even though domestic and foreign policy was handled by the Ottomans.

Resistance continued over time, resulting in an unstable political structure that caused the Turks to select Greek administrators (Phanariote) to govern. Increasing influence by Russia resulted in the principality to be placed under Russian protection in 1774, despite the Turkish suzerainty.

In 1821, an uprising caused the end of the Turkish Phanariote. The area was under Russian protectorate until 1856 and in 1859, Wallachia voted to unite with Moldavia to form the state of Romania.

Princely standards, XIV-XVIII c.

There are few documents which describe the ancient standards of Wallachia. It is known that Michael the Good(?) (~1593) used a yellow flag with a black raven standing on a green juniper branch, with a silver and gold cross in its beak. Some sources say that he added to the yellow also the red for Moldavia and the blue for Transylvania. Radu Serban (1688-1714) used a white flag with an eagle having a cross in its beak. Costantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714) around 1700 had a standard with eight yellow and red horizontal stripes with a round blue medallion with a black eagle in the canton.

Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

War flag, 1834-1859

[War flag, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

By the imperial decree of 24 June 1834, Sultan Mahmud II conceded to Alexander Ghika, prince of Wallachia, freedom of commerce and navigation for Wallachian shipping and a flag for its vessels as well as one for its army and navy. The flag of the principality's army (that has to be considered also the princely standard and state flag) consisted of three horizontal stripes, red, blue and yellow, the uppermost red stripe was wider than the other two (2:1:1). The red stripe was charged by eight white 8-pointed stars representing the upper Wallachia districts; in the blue stripe there was an eagle with a sword and a sceptre; the yellow stripe was charged with seven white 7-pointed stars representing the seven lower Wallachia districts (proportions circa 1:2).

[War flag, transposed colurs] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Soon after its adoption the colours of the flag were transposed (as seen on actual flags which have survived until now) resulting in red, yellow and blue.

[War flag, c.1840-1859] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Around 1840 Ghica modified the war flag to differentiate it from the war ensign (until then the same as the war flag). The new army flag was red, yellow, blue, in three equal horizontal stripes. The eagle was placed on a white shield with a golden border made of laurel leafs (proportions circa 4:5). After the period of the 1848 revolution the flag survived until 1859.

Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

War ensign, 1834-1859

[War ensign, 1834-1859] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Until 1845 the war ensign was the same as the 1834 war flag - it hadn't been changed in 1840 - but in a document of 8 June 1845 it was changed, being now a yellow field carrying the Wallachian eagle depicted in light blue; the fly was divided into two squares, red over blue.

Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

Civil ensign, 1834-1861

[Civil ensign, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

The official description said that the civil ensign was "...yellow and red, with stars and a light blue bird...". The flag had a yellow field on which was placed the Wallachian eagle, crowned, with a cross in its beak, holding a sword and a sceptre; the canton was the same as for the Moldavian civil ensign, red with three white stars.

[Civil ensign, 1858] by Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

As was the case for the Moldavian civil ensign it seems that the Wallachian civil ensign changed slightly with time: the Le Gras book shows the stars in fess instead that 2-1, and the eagle is a little different. Quite common are reproduction of the flag with a strange white and yellow paly field on which the eagle, often depicted as a white dove, sometimes appears on a yellow rectangle. These are erroneous interpretations of the correct design.
Mario Fabretto
, 10 September 1996

Merchant Flag, 1834-1861

Like the Civil ensign, 1834-1861 (lower image shown above) except: Canton smaller, stars drawn as six-pointed, the eagle in the centre, yellow outlined black, and like the eagle on War ensign, 1834-1859, but even less ascending; most of all, though, 14 narrow hoist-wise stripes of yellow across the yellow (only recognisable from the black outlines).
Source: Norie and Hobbs (1987 reprint)
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

National flag, 1848

[National flag, 1848] by Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

The revolutionary government of Wallachia adopted, on 14 June 1848, an horizontal tricolour blue, yellow and red, with, in the central yellow stripe, the words DREPTATE ('justice' in the Wallachian language) and, in Cyrillic characters, FRATIE ('brotherhood' in the Moldavian language). But in July of the same year "...because until now it was not clear how to make national flags..." the same government stated that "...the national flag is a vertical tricolour dark blue, dark yellow and carmine red: the blue at the hoist, the yellow in the middle and the red at the fly.". This flag become very popular in Moldavia and Transylvania too and was the origin of the Romanian tricolour. In September 1848 Russia and Turkey re-established the previous order and the flag temporarily disappeared.

Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996