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Vojvodina (Serbia): Flags used during the 1848-1849 revolution

Last modified: 2018-02-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Voivode Stevan Šupljikac

On 23 June 2002, the newspaper Dnevnik presented the flag granted in 1848 by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Serbian Duke Šupljikac.
The replica of the 1848 flag, made after an exhibition in the Museum of Vojvodina where the original is kept, was used "for the last two months", and presumably, some time afterwards the article was written, as a "decorative element" (say some) in the Assembly Hall of the Vojvodina Parliament, beside the flags of Serbia and Yugoslavia of the period.

Milan Jovanović & Željko Heimer, 18 May 2007

Two flags with this design were accidentally found in 1975 in the bell tower of an Orthodox church in the city of Pančevo and purchased by the city museum. One of these is presented at the museum website. There is no information about the other flag; it is stated above that it is now in the Museum of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, which might be true, since that museum would have certainly wanted to include it into its collections, and since there were two of these, it would have made acquiring one of them easier, the other having remained at the place of discovery.

The flag has the sinister hoist. The obverse is yellow, with the "wolf teeth" border in black and yellow all around except along the hoist edge; in center, on a pale blue oval, there is the Habsburg black double-headed eagle with its complete regalia, bearing on its breast the complete arms of the Serbian Voivodeship; beneath the arms, along the oval edge, there is a ribbon with inscription "Zastava C. K. Vojvodstva Serbskog 1848.", which translates as "Flag of I[mperial and] R[oyal] Serbian Voivodeship 1848", which provides the flag dating. The reverse is blue, with the similar border composed of red, blue and white triangles (Serbian national colors), and the depiction of St George standing in a landscape, with a white inscription in Church Slavonic which translates as "St Grand Martyr George".

The arms of Serbian Voivodeship are actually those of the Principality of Serbia, as those were adopted in 1848, having been considered the symbol of entire Serbian nation, not just the state of Serbia. Here, they are depicted as the complete achievement, draped in the mantle issuant from the princely coronet, which is technically incorrect, since the whole device is additionally placed on the breast of Habsburg eagle - the shield should have been placed directly on the eagle's breast, then they should be placed together within the mantle. Another error is the additional coronet atop the shield which, however, reveals that the erroneous depictions of the contemporary flag of Serbia which repeat the same error, might actually be correct in this regard, inasmuch as the arms they carry might have repeated this detail from some real-life examples, whether those were correct or not themselves.
An additional detail, still unexplained, is a red cross beneath the shield, hung on a red ribbon, which looks like the badge of an order (Order of Leopold is the one whose badge and ribbon resemble the most). The devices on both sides of the flag were said to look like the works of an amateur painter [szd83]. As shown above, their author was certainly not a heraldic expert either.

The attribution of the flags to Voivode (not Duke) Stevan Šupljikac is probably correct, since his headquarters was in Pančevo. The unlikely place where the flags were found suggests that they were hidden there after the end of the revolution, out of fear that they might be carried away and/or destroyed, for although the Serbian Voivodeship was recognized in 1849 as the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banate of Temesvar, the post-revolutionary crownlands were not allowed to have their own flags. Another possible time of hiding is 1860, when the Voivodeship was abolished and the flags would have been in even greater danger than in 1849.

Tomislav Todorović, 1 January 2018

Flag of the Sombor volunteers

The flag used by the volunteers from the city of Sombor in the 1848-49 revolution is kept in the Military Museum, Belgrade. Most of the original fabric is lost, especially the white field, of which only a small piece remained.

The flag is a Serbian tricolor with a variant of the arms of the Voivodeship which appeared later during the revolution, with the shield of arms of Serbia placed directly on the breast of imperial eagle, as is heraldically correct. Above the eagle, there is inscription ZA CARA ("For the Emperor") and there was inscription ZA NAROD ("For the People") in the lost part of white field. The arms are visible through the fabric on the reverse side, which actually bears the icon of the Three Holy Hierarchs in its place. Above the icon, on the red field, there is inscription SOMBORSKI DOBROVOLJACA ("of Sombor Volunteers"), which is visible through the fabric on the obverse side; this is obviously the last remaining part of a longer inscription, which is now lost. Along the edges, except at the hoist, the flag is bordered by golden brocade ribbon, most of which is now lost as well.

Tomislav Todorović, 6 January 2018