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Principality of Serbia (1830-1882)

Last modified: 2001-12-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: serbia | ocila | firesteel | stars: 4 (white) | cross (white) | star: 6 points (yellow) | civil ensign |
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[Principality of Serbia]by Jorge Candeias

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National flag, 1835

In 1815, an uprising was led by Milos Obrenovitch, who was recognized pasha in 1829 and short after prince (1830). In 1835 Milos adopted a national flag similar to the current one.

Jaume Ollé, 30 January 1998

Flag in the 1835 Serbian Constitution

[Serbian flag in the 1835 Constitution]by Ivan Sarajcic

The flag of 1835 is from the First Serbian Constitution, made by Dimitrije Davidovic. Description of the flag in the chapter II says:

"The colour of the flag is Red, White and Steel Dark. Coat of arms : cross on red background, with four firesteels [ocila]. There are two crescents: oak leaves right, and olive leaves left.".

Source: Serbian Military Flags up to 1918.Belgrade Military Museum, 1983

It is an interesting flag, the only one Serbian flag with red-white-blue stripes

Ivan Sarajcic, 17 Febuary 1999

I got the text of the Constitution from the book Rodoslovne tablice i grbovi srpskih dinastija i vlastele, Nova Knjiga, Beogra 1987.
However, I had trouble with translating the term translated above as Steel Dark (celikasto-ugasita), not finding it in 1851 either 1935 V.S.Karadzic dictionary, though from it I got notion that it should have something to do with steel (celik). An,yway, what colour would be Dark Steel? I would rather connect it with dark gray or black rather than blue, but I guess only some colour representation from the time could help us definitely (or even better the real flag). On the Karadjordje House website, the flag is presented with the blue stripe, that is true, but I am wandering if that the color could have been corrected by latter historians to better match the latter national pattern. Some sources gave the third stripe in some latter flags as dark grey or brown (see below).

I believe that this first Constitution (so-called Sretenjski ustav) was never officialized by Turkish rulers (though it was considered as legal by Serb leaders and used as much as possible). The Turkish government issued a new constitution in 1838 (so-called Turski ustav), but I don't know how this reflects flags.

The description in 1835 Constitution has the C's described to be turned towards the cross. This is different from the usual practice, but it may only be a bad description of the usual position of the firesteels. Also, I believe that they were meant to be of the same Steel Dark colour as in the flag .
Finally, oak is set in description on the right, and olive on the left. Either these are non-heraldic description, or was misunderstood as all images that I have seen have oak on sinister (heraldical left) and olive on dexter (heraldical right).

Zeljko Heimer, 18 Febuary 1999

Civil ensign, c. 1838

[Civil ensign of Serbia, c. 1838]by Mario Fabretto

The civil ensign, from c. 1838, added the coat of arms in the centre; this because it was necessary to distinguish the Serbian flag from the Russian one when the former was hoisted upside down to signal a danger. Because the coat of arms of the Serbian principality was adopted only in 1838, the flag couldn't be earlier. The only image we have of the civil ensign of that period is the uncomplete/incorrect one in the book of Le Gras [leg58].

Mario Fabretto, 30 September 1998

Civil ensign, 1869

[Civil ensign of Serbia, 1869]by Mario Fabretto

The Constitution of 1869 describes the civil ensign: red-blue-white with the shield (without crown and mantle) in the center and three yellow six-pointed stars on the red stripe (for the Ottoman sovereignty, as it was the case for Moldavia and Wallachia). The dates for this flag could be June 1869 - c. 1872.

Mario Fabretto, 30 September 1998

Military flag

The Guide of the Military Museum in Belgrade (no date indicated) [gmb8x] mentions:

"Room 22 Showcase 9A: Banner of Russian volunteers, participants in the Serbian-Turkish war of 1876." [Description of medals for the period, no description of the flag.]

Zeljko Heimer, 31 January 1998

Dubious flag reports

[Dubious flag of Serbia]by Jorge Candeias

[Dubious flag of Serbia]by Jorge Candeias

Other sources (e.g. Deppermann, c. 1848) report very intriguing flags for Serbia: red-white-black (or maroon) with a coat of arms in the center an four white stars in the canton (2 + 2). These flags are very dubious!

Mario Fabretto, 30 September 1998

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