Last modified: 2003-01-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: austrohungarian empire | austria | hungary | f iii |
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Source: Johnson's New Chart Of National Emblems (1863)
The flag, shown above, is the Austrian triband, with the initials F III in yellow on the white bar. These initials also
appear in the centre of the shield on the Austrian naval ensign, which is otherwise similar to the
'War Ensign of 1897'.
One of the things I do not understand is how the initials "F III' related to Emperor Franz Jospeh, whose reign ran from 1848 to 1918, if my history is correct.
Devereaux Cannon, 2 June 2001
This is a semi-educated guess, but "F III" may stand for "Francis (or Franz or
Franciscus) III." The Holy Roman Emperor, Franz Joseph's great-uncle (I believe), during the Napoleonic era was Francis II.
Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire, I think, was also Francis I of Austria. If Franz Joseph was Francis II of Austria, "F III" might stand for "Francis II Imperator."
Phil Cleary, 3 June 2001
I have my reservations. At least my encyclopedias do not name the Francis I (of Austria) as Francis II of HRE, though that does not
mean that he was not so. However, why he would use his HRE title on the Austrian flag is not quite
On the other hand, your guess gave me an idea for an other guess - the ruler of Austria at the time of the chart was Francis Joseph and he was of course Francis Joseph I therefore F III might actually stand for "Franz Josef I Imperator". But as I have discussed with Devereaux, it may well be that this was more or less the generic look of the merchant flag and that each of the particular flags at the time was unique and with slightly (or not so slightly) different motive set in the middle of the Austrian triband.
Certainly there's lot of mystery here yet to untangle.
Zeljko Heimer, 3 June 2001
Except for a two year transitional period (1804-1806), he was not both [Francis I (of Austria)
and Francis II of HRE]. That is, he was Franz II of the old empire until it was abolished in
1806. In the meantime, correctly predicting (probably with French help) the forthcoming abolition of the empire, he promoted Austria from
Archduchy to Empire and became Franz I of Austria.
Norman Martin, 3 June 2001
I'm not sure that Zeljko's will guess will work. As I understand it (unless the
Austrian convention is different), a monarch doesn't become the first until there's a second of the same name. E.g., Elizabeth I was simply Elizabeth
until Elizabeth II ascended the throne.
Phil Cleary, 3 June 2001
Apparently Austrian (and not only Austrian as it seems) convention is different. It
can be seen on coins (quoting from memory: Franc Ios(eph) I D(ei) G(ratia) Avstriae Imperator) as well as on the
official style ("title"). See our friends at www.heraldica.org for a
list of all (for this period) relevant Austrian rulers. I can't see any better candidate
for FIII, though I am not at all convinced that Francis Joseph is really what the author of the chart indeed meant.
Zeljko Heimer, 4 June 2001
There was of course the Emperor nobody noticed, Franz I, consort of Empress Maria Theresa. Franz II was the first emperor of Austria (that
is: Franz I), but Franz II of the Hapsburg emperors. In Wilson's "Flags
at Sea"(1985) there is a flag like Devereaux sent, inscribed FII "Austrian merchant", on the
flag chart of Laurie (dated 1842, during the reign of Ferdinand (the Idiot) - 1835-1848. The same flag is in
Norie/Hobbs (1848). Franz Joseph insisted on restoring all monarchic
values, and though he lived very long, he failed utterly. He had to use Devereaux's flag, or had to make something like FJ, which doesn't look
very imperial. To me it seems logical that Devereaux's image is the Austrian merchant
flag during Franz (III) Joseph's reign (1848-1916).
Jarig Bakker, 3 June 2001