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Historical flags of Uruguay

Last modified: 2004-12-28 by francisco gregoric
Keywords: uruguay | oriental | artigas (josé gervasio) | patria vieja | stripes: 9 | stripes: 17 | stripes: 19 | canton: sun | sun: 16 rays | sun: 8 rays |
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Patria vieja

[Flag of Artigas]
by Jorge Candeias, 08 Jun 1998

The celeste color (light blue) had been suppressed from the Uruguayan flag because it was associated with the colours of the Argentinian flag, in times when our national hero Artigas was fighting for our independence, and instead of being helped by the Buenos Aires government, he had to fight against them. This happened around 1815.
Jorge Cajarville, 14 Jun 2000

The red, blue and white colours were used by Artigas to establish a clear difference between the flag of the Eastern Province. This "Eastern" adjective was kept when the Independence of our country was achieved in 1828, but with a different meaning. From then on it was known as the República Oriental del Uruguay, i.e. The Republic East Side or the Uruguay River. This is still today the official name of Uruguay.
Jorge Cajarville, 16 Jun 1999

It is true that this "Oriental" refers to the Eastern bank of the river Uruguay, hence the official name (before the country was known as Uruguay, it was refered to as "Banda Oriental"= the eastern bank), but for this matter, oriental has also that meaning of far east: if we Argentinians talk about orientales, we think more about Chinese than Uruguayan, so the translation is quite good, in my humble opinion.
Nicolas Rucks, 14 Jun 2000

The official name of this country since the second constitution of 1917 is "República Oriental del Uruguay" (in the first constitution of 1830 was "Estado Oriental del Uruguay"). The flag of Patria Vieja used by Artigas and his supporters, was in use between 1814 to 1817. At this time, Artigas was the national leader. By then the country was known as Provincia Oriental, associated with Argentina (then called Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata). The Portuguese army invaded the country in july, 1816, and Artigas was defeated by them. Uruguay was part of the Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves (United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves) since july 1821, at the Congreso Cisplatino (Cisplatine congress), which decided the incorporation. At the Brazil independance, Uruguay become a Brazilian province from february 1824 to october 1828, as a same name by Portuguese ruling: Província Cisplatina.
Rodolfo Tizzi, 10 Jul 2002

About first flags of independent Uruguay

In 1825 the movement of the 33 Orientales disembarked in nowadays Uruguay. In those times the Province was occupied by the Empire of Brazil. The 33 Orientales enrolled more people of the zone and started the attack against Imperial forces. Soon after they declared Independence of Brazil and a sign a declaration of joining Argentina. When Argentina accepted the reunification, a war started against the Empire of Brazil. The war continued from 1825 to 1828. The 33 Orientales allied with the Argentine Army fought against Imperial Brazilian troops. The war ended when British diplomacy told Juan Antonio Lavalleja (the 33 Orientales leader) that the Eastern Province could become an independent country. That is how Uruguay was born as an independent country in 1828.

1828 Flag Law

As an independent country Uruguay could not use the Argentine flag as its own. So in 1828 the Asamblea General Constituyente y Legislativa del Estado (State's Constitutional and Legislative Assembly) decided that a new flag was needed. On 18 December 1828 it was passed a law that said:

"El pabellón del estado, será blanco con nueve listas de color azul celeste, horizontales y alternadas, dejando en el ángulo superior del lado del asta, un cuadro blanco en el cual se colocará el sol".

(English translation: "The State Flag will be white with nine light blue horizontal alternated stripes, leaving a white square in the superior angle next to the staff, where the sun will be located")

this design the Artiguist traditional colors (blue, white and red) were left outside the new flag. And the colors of the Argentine flag (light blue and white) were chosen. The sun also reflected the link just broken with Argentina.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

Possible first stripped flag without sun? (1828.08.27)

[Hist. flag of Uruguay]
by Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

Uruguay had its first stripped flag in 1828.08.27. This flag was simply 9 blue stripes and 8 white stripes.
Jaume Ollé, 08 Feb 2000

I don't know this flag. I think this is an error.
Rodolfo Tizzi, 10 Jul 2002

This is a possible first flag. However apparently it is not known nowadays in Uruguay (according to the opinion of Uruguayan Teacher of History Rodolfo Tizzi). If this flag existed, that only could had happened before the Flag Law of 18 December 1828 (that included a white canton with a sun). For the color of this possible flag, I chose celeste (light blue) instead of azul (blue) because the previous flag used in nowadays Uruguay (the 33 Orientales Flag was defined "celeste" (light blue) by the law of 1825. And the next Uruguayan flag (the 19 stripes flag with canton with sun) was also defined "celeste" by law of 1828.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

First Uruguayan flag with sun canton (December 1828)

[Hist. flag of Uruguay]
by Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

Almost immediately [after the adoption of the previous flag] the sun was added to the canton.
Jaume Ollé, 08 Feb 2000

Uruguay's previous flag had the same sun, but it had 9 light blue stripes representing each department.
Edward Kovach, 03 Dec 2000

Apparently the first flag made had 9 light blue stripes and 8 white stripes. It also has the sun in the white canton. This design appears in a drawing in an allegoric women's fan preserved in the National History Museum in Uruguay.

However this flag did not follow the 1828 law correctly, so it was changed soon after that to the correct design.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

Second Uruguayan flag with sun canton (December 1828)

[1828 flag of Uruguay]
by Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

The first flag was changed in short time to the correct flag (10 white stripes and 9 light blue stripes) regulated by the law of December 1828.

The stripes represented the nine original Departments (the subdivisions of Uruguay), an idea taken from the USA flag. However in this original 1828 Uruguayan flag, the logic was different than the one used in the USA flag. In this first Uruguayan flag you only have to count the light blue stripes.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004

9-stripped flag with sun canton (1830)

[1830 flag of Uruguay]
by Zeljko Heimer, 14 Jul 2004

In 1830, the stripes were reduced to nine (5 white and 4 blue). For many years, the order of the stripes and the shade of blue changed according to the political situation.
Jaume Ollé, 08 Feb 2000

The 1828 flag was changed by the law of 11 July 1830 to a 9 stripes flag (5 white+4 blue) using since that moment the same logic used in the USA to count all the stripes to represent the subdivisions of the country.

Another important change was made in that 1830 law, when the light blue color was changed to blue. The new 1830 law said "cuatro listas azules en campo blanco" (four blue stripes in white field). This 1830 law left other details as in the 1828 law (the canton with a sun).

Since that moment (1830) the Uruguayan flag has always been white and blue (not light blue). At least legally talking.

During the 19 Century there were different designs of the sun. However a "geometric rays" sun was widely used.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Jul 2004