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Greece under Ottoman rule

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: ottoman empire | civil ensign | smyrna | free greek republic | velestinlis-fereos (rigas) | mace (yellow) |
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Greek merchant ensign

[Greek merchant ensign]         Smyrna civil ensign

Greek merchant ensign under the Ottoman rule (left) and its variant used in Smyrna (right) - Images by Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001

There were only three flags in the Ottoman Empire that were official and so-called national flags: the red with crescent and star as the national flag, the plain red as the merchant flag, and a special merchant flag for those who had done the pilgrimage to Mecca, a red flag with a green central stripe.
That there might have been regulations on flags in Turkish possessions is the fact that Greek ships had to fly a red flag with a blue central stripe.

This flag is shown in Colton's Delineation of Flags of All Nations (1862) [clt62] (colour plate reproduced by Znamierowski [zna99]) and captioned: "#141. Ottoman Greek".
Smith [smi75c] says: "The Christians of Greece used a blue stripe through their red civil ensign."

Ralf Stetler & Ivan Sache, 10 March 2001

The book Hellenic flags [k7k97] mentions a variant of the merchant ensign used in Smyrna, red with two horizontal blue stripes.

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999

Use of the Russian naval ensign by Greek merchant ships

Since the Treaty of Kioutsouk Kainartzi signed in 1774, Greek merchant vessels could (and did almost to the exclusion of any other flag until 1821) use the Russian naval ensign (St Andrew's cross). They even continued so throughout the 19th century when in Turkish waters.

Constantine Plakidas, 16 April 2003

Free Greek Republic

Rigas flag

Rigas' flag - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 6 May 2009

The flag of the Free Greek republic was designed by Rigas Velestinlis-Fereos in his revolutionary manifesto for the liberation of Greece (1797). The manifesto contains a Proclamation, a Constitution (strongly inspired by the French Constitution) and a revolutionary song called "Thurios". The only copy of the manifesto's manuscript, which has this flag on its last page, is found in the Library of the Romanian Academy, in Bucharest.

The flag, in proportions c. 3:5, is horizontally divided red-white-black with the yellow mace of Hercules in the middle.

Alex Danes & Paraskevas Renesis, 6 May 2009

16th-17th century flag found in Souda Bay

The Naval Museum in Hania (Creta) shows a 16th-17th century flag found on an island in Souda Bay; the flag is blue with a white cross (the arms of the cross are one-third the width of the flag), with a green and brown laurel wreath in the middle of the cross.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1996