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Kingdom of Romania - Military flags and naval ensigns 1867-1921


Last modified: 2013-06-01 by alex danes
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Army flags

These flags were used as military colours and naval ensigns.
Alex Danes22 September 2008

1872 Model

[Army flag, 1872] 1:1, by Alex Danes

These were the first flags that should have followed the provisions of the 1872 law for establishing the coat of arms (and the flags) of Romania. All of them were manufactured at Collani & Co. House in Berlin. Alltogether, there are three subtypes/issues of these flags, each bearing small differences:

  • Flags manufactured in 1873. The ordering decision was taken in 1872, but only one year later were actually ordered the first 24 infantry flags and 10 cavalry standards. They were handed to the military units on 14 October 1874, on the field at Băneasa, near Bucharest, in front of over 50 000 people. The cloth on the flag is square, measuring either 150 cm (infantry flags) or 45 cm (cavalry standards). It is made of double silk, with both sides identical. In the corners of the cloth are the golden monograms of prince Carol Ist, surrounded by silver laurel branches, and in the middle of the flag is the middle coat of arms of Romania, on a purple circle, surrounded by a silver laurel wreath. The ornaments are painted on infantry flags and embroided on cavalry standards.
  • Flags manufactured between 1877 and 1882. Ten more flags were handed to new military units on 17 July 1877. Except a slightly different design of the coat of arms, the dimensions and ornaments of the flags were identical to the 1873 one. All the flags and standards described until now were used in the Romanian War of Independence (1877-1878) and today are very worn-out (see an exemplary here). Many of them have no cloth left (except the monograms and coat of arms); others are badly cut and pierced by bullets. Few new flags with identical design were handed to other units until 1882.
  • Flags manufactured between 1882 and 1897. The third issue of these flags had some other differences in the design of coat of arms (e.g. the lions' claws are Or and not Gules; the royal arms are surrounded by a fringe Or, the scroll isn't lined with Gules anymore etc.). The cloth of infantry flags measures 156 cm.
All these flags (except the ones issued after 1880) were replaced in 1902, at the 25th aniversary of the War of Independence. Until 1928 they stood in the throne room of the royal palace in Bucharest, then they were transfered to the National Military Museum in Bucharest. They are all sewn in tulle, for better preservation.
Alex Danes, 22 September 2008

1897 Model

[Army flag, 1897] 3:4, by Alex Danes, supporting lions after Răzvan Pala's outline

On 17 December 1896, the Minister of War sent an order to general Argetoianu, member of the Joint Comission and general inspector of the engineer corps:

"For many years, the flags and standards of our Army were provided by Collani & Co. House in Berlin, but the way they were manufactured, as well as the materials used leaves much to be desired, because the cloth breaks and tears easily.
Because it is needed to order new flags for the 5th and 6th battalions of mountain corps, we've asked through our military attachés about the procedures of manufacturing and obtaining these flags for the foreign armies. The information received were presented in the documents attached below, which can be partially used for the description of the material, shape and coat of arms needed for our flags and standards.
Until now we didn't have a complete description of the flags and standards so that we could have imposed conditions to the contractor house.
I have the honor of asking you to take measures that the Joint Comission which you preside over will make a fully detailed description of the flags and standards, of the materials used for manufacturing them, of their dimensions etc.
In this matter, the Comission will take into consideration the law from 8 March 1872, published in Monitorul Oficial, nr. 57, page 714, which established the coat of arms and flags of Romania. [...]"
Therefore, the flags handed in 1897 were more closed to the provisions of the mentioned law than the previous models. The cloth was a rectangle with an approximate proportion of 3:4. In the middle of the yellow stripe there was the coat of arms of Romania (without any wreath around it) and in the corners the golden monogram of king Carol Ist, surrounded by silver laurel branches.
Alex Danes, 22 September 2008

1902 Model

[Army flag, 1902] 2:3, by Alex Danes, supporting lions after Răzvan Pala's outline

In 1902 new flags were handed both for new units and as a replacement for the ones granted in 1874 and 1877. Unlike the 1897 ones, the coat of arms was surrounded by a silver laurel wreath. More flags of the same pattern were issued between 1908 and 1914. The last ones that shared this pattern were handed on 10 May 1914.
Alex Danes, 23 September 2008

1914 Model

[Army flag, 1914] 2:3, by Alex Danes, supporting lions after Răzvan Pala's outline

On 10 October 1914 king Carol Ist died and his nephew, Ferdinand Ist, became the second king of Romania. On late 1914 were issued the first flags under his reign, which were virtually identical to the 1902 ones, except the monogram in the corners and the wreath in the middle, more rich and almost closed (similar to the one of 1872 flags). The flags manufactured in 1915 used an laurel wreath identical to the 1902 one, surrounding only half of the coat of arms.

In 1916 Romania joined the Allies in the First World War with the flags issued between 1884 and 1916. More flags were granted during the war. The flags manufactured between 1914 and 1918 had different dimensions (between 90 cm by 65 cm and 115 cm by 73 cm) and sometimes the wreath in the middle was golden rather than silver, but the materials and meanings of fabrication were very scarce in those years, because of the war. All these flags were replaced in 1929.
Alex Danes, 23 September 2008

Civic guard flag

[Army flag, 1867] 5:6, by Alex Danes

The civic guards were city militia units with defensive missions established in 1866 and disbanded in 1882. Each one of these units received a specific flag in 1867, which followed the provisions of the 1867 law for establishing the coat of arms (and the flags) of Romania. The flags are vertical blue-yellow-red tricolours, 114 cm by 95 cm, usually surrounded by a golden fringe. In the corners, surrounded by oak wreaths, it's the unit's number in Roman numerals, and in the middle of the yellow stripe - the coat of arms of the city, crowned with a mural crown with five towers Or. All the shields have the "modern French" shape. They are divided into three fields: blue, yellow and red, and overall is the symbol of the city. Under the coat of arms there is a blue ribbon with the motto "Patria şi dreptul meu" in golden letters (meaning "The Homeland and my right"), with two exceptions: the flag of Focşani city has the motto "Unirea face puterea" (in English: "The Union makes the strength") and the flag of Craiova city has the motto "Patria şi libertatea" (in English: "The Homeland and freedom"). These flags were handed by king Carol Ist to the civic guard units on 22 September 1867.
Alex Danes, 22 September 2008

Unused or erroneous war flags and ensigns

[Pre-1922 ensign] 2:3, by Željko Heimer, based on National Geographic (1917)

The national tricolour with the coat of arms in the middle. As differing from 1922(?) pattern shown in Flaggenbuch, here there are the full arms, with crowned mantle, in the middle. I used the image of the arms from Christian Siemer's site (of course, for the royal flags as well).
Željko Heimer, 28 December 2002

The flag above was drawn according to the law provisions. I don't think it was ever used as such; the Army and the Navy had different flags, presented above in this page.
Alex Danes, 23 September 2008

[Erroneous flag] by Alex Danes, 23 September 2008, supporting lions after Răzvan Pala's outline

I've met the erroneous flag above in several sources as the war flag (or Army flag) of Romania:

  • Le Petit Journal, Supplement Illustre of 17 September 1916
  • Die rumänische Armee in ihrer gegenwärtigen Uniformirung, Leipzig, Werlag von Moritz Ruhl.
Most certainly, the flag was drawn after an oral/written description of the 1872 model. This flag was never manufactured or used by Romania or the Romanian Army.
Alex Danes, 23 September 2008