Page created: 7th June 2004|
Last updated: 19th June 2004
This page is under construction! Links and images might be missing!
Data presented on this page may be entirely incorrect!
The FAME is site devoted to systematic and scientific study of flags and coats of arms. Such symbols often bear strong political and other messages. Inclusion of those symbols here does not mean that the author support or approve the ideas they may stand for.
In the earliest days of the flagging at seas the flag design were very much up to the captain or whoever was providing the flag for the ships. It is hard to talk about uniform designs and numerous variations are reported. The common elements were often only vaguely reminiscent to the prescribed design. It is therefore not unusual that almost every contemporary source (flagchart) shows a different set of flags. The flagcharts are further unreliable due to a rather big leeway that the authors were giving to the factual faithfulness, introducing variations and patterns that were not to be found elsewhere. Such flagcharts were then copyed ad infinitum and each introducing further modifications. With the centralization of the state in mid-18th century the unfiormity was gradually made wider, but still there were significant differences in flagging practices between ships way unto 19th century.
Much of materials for the preparations of this page was kindly provided by Marcus Schmöger.
The so called Ordonnance (or the See-Artikel) that Emperor Maximilian I signed in Brügge on 8th January 1487, that remains the basis of the European and international maritime laws until today, already determines that each war ship should fly a flag, a pennant and an admiral’s standard if he is on board.
However, until the time of Emperor Carl VI (1685-1740) no description nor depiction of these flags exists. A copper plate drawing by Romain de Hooghe of the Turkish siege of the Ofen Fort (so Lehnert, 1886, but Baumgartner, 1977, says it shows the siege of Buda) in year 1686 shows imperial galleys on the Danube flying the ensigns with double-headed eagle without any breast shield, holding a sword and a sceptre in his claws, with circular nimbuses behind the heads and the Imperial crown above. A copperplate drawing by J. Balzer in the Archducal Collection that is also dated to the end of the 17th century showes the same flag.
Horizontal bicolour of yellow over black with the imperial eagle in the canton.
In 1730 Emperor Carl VI issued a marine regulations named “See-Articuli und Kriegsgerichts-Instruction für die Marine Seiner kaiserlichen und katholischen Majestät Carl VI.” with description of flags. The flag to be hoisted at the main mast of a ship commanded by an Admiral is yellow with a black double-headed eagle with escutcheon impaled Austria and Habsburg, wearing a collar of the Order of Golden Fleece, nimbuses behind heads and imperial crown above. The flag is bordered with black triangles. The same flag is hoisted on the fore mast by a Vice-Admiral and on the rear mast by a Rear-Admiral.
The Carl’s See-Articuli also define a “Stendard” or a “breite Wimpel” to be hoisted from the main mast by a commander of a squadron consisting of at least three ships.
Beside the above the See-Articuli also define a “Wimpel” or a “Flamme” to be hoisted from the main mast. It was bicolour black-yellow trinagular long pennant.
A special flag different from the naval ensign was introduced at this time for the merchant ships, consisting only of black and yellow stripes.