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Croatia in the Habsburg Empire

Last modified: 2014-03-01 by ivan sache
Keywords: habsburg | landesfarben | kingdom of croatia slavonia and dalmatia | triune kingdom of dalmatia croatia and slavonia | dalmatia | slavonia | rakovica |
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Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia (1848-1867)

Tricolor flag

[Tricolor flag]

Flag of the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia - Image by Marko de Haeck, 8 April 2005

In 1848 the tricolor, based on the colors of the coat of arms, was first used as a flag. The coat of arms was often set in the middle, in various artistical renditions. This flag remained the Croatian national flag ever since, though it was not unfrequently prohibited by various regimes. For example, it was prohibitied between 1852 and 1860.

A drawing representing the Slavic barricade in Vienna, 1848 (image), Croatian Historical Museum), is considered to be the first documented use of the Croatian tricolour.

A painting by Dragutin Weingärtner (photo), 1885, entitled "The Session of the Croatian Assembly in 1848", is kept in the Varaždin Town Museum. The flag hoisted there is a tricolor with the coat of arms of the Triune Kingdom. A postage stamp issued on 25 March 1998, of face value 1.60 HRK, shows the painting.

The Varaždin Town Museum keeps a rare example of a preserved Croatian tricolor from 1848 or some years afterwards. The flag (photo) is a simple, almost square tricolor without any additional symbols. It may be one of the flags used in 1848 to ornament streets when Viceroy Jelačić visited Varaždin on 7 September 1848, on his way from Zagreb towards Hungary to quell the uprising there.

Željko Heimer, 20 December 2009


Landesfarben, 1852-1860

[Croatia]     [Slavonia]     [Dalmatia]

Landesfarben of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia (from left to right) - Images by Željko Heimer, 18 September 2003

The tricolour was strictly forbiden in 1852, and Landesfarben for each of the lands were prescribed on 10 September 1852 by Imperial Decree. The Decree was valid in Croatia and Slavonia only and lists only those two flags. Around 1860 the tricolour was again introduced.

Željko Heimer, 18 September 2003


Triune Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia, 1867-1918

[Triune Kingdom]         [Triune Kingdom coat of arms]         [Triune Kingdom coat of arms]

Flag and arms (left, as prescribed; right, as mostly used) of the Triune Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia - Images by Janko Ehrlich Zdvořák, 16 September 2001

The flag of this design was mass produced (manufactured by printing on textile) in Zagreb around 1894. A copy is preserved in the Croatian Historical Museum. In use since 1867, the flag was adopted in 1868.
The flag was prescribed with more detail on 19 June 1876, by the Croatian-Hungarian Agreement of 1868, and by an Edict of 16 September 1876. The crown above the shield should be the St. Stephen's Crown. The Edict of 20 December 1899 detemines an inverted order of the Croatian and Dalmatian coats of arms in regard to the 1876 Edict, stating that the worlds "left" and "right" should be understood in heraldic manner.

The Croatian-Hungarian Agreement (Nagodba) that followed a similar agreement between Austria and Hungary (Ausgleich) says:

61. In the autonomous affairs within the borders of the Kingdoms of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia should be used the united colors and coats of arms of these Kingdoms, surmounted with the Crown of St. Stephen.
62. When signifying the affairs common to all the Kingdoms of the Hungarian crown should be used the united coats of arms of the Kingdoms of Hungary and Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia.
63. In discussion of common affairs, on the buildings in which the common Parliament of the Hungarian Crown Lands is held should be flown togther with the Hungarian flag also the united flag of the Kingdoms of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia.

On 21 November 1914, the Vice-Roy of the Kingdoms of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia issued Decree No. 8378, related with the usage of flags and emblems:

Since during the time became a custom in the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia to use flags that are not adequate either in state-juridical or in political sense. So, because except of the Decree No. 231 of 8 April 1885 of the Imperial and Royal High Command in Zagreb, which was naturally issued only for the former military frontier, there are not general regulations for usage of flags, I order:

1. According to 61 Article I from the 1868 Agreement and to Decree No. 18.307 of 16 November 1867 of the Department of the Interior of the Royal Country Government, the red-white-blue tricolor is the civil flag in the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, which with the united coat of arms of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia with the crown of St. Stephen on top is the official flag for usage in autonomous affairs. The aforementioned civil flag may be used by everyone in an appropriate way.
2. Besides, as it was stated in the mentioned Decree of the Imperial and Royal High Command, it is allowed to everyone to use in proper way in public celebration occasions the red-white-green Hungarian tricolour and the black-yellow Austrian flag. Furthermore, at special occasions, the authorities allow usage of recognised flags and coats of arms of County and Town Municipalities, Free and Royal Towns, administrative and noble communities and some noble families.
3. Usage of flags of other countries and of other civil or political flags is not allowed. Exceptionally, local authority may allow usage of flag of foreign sovereigns and countries in special occasions in honor of a sovereign, amember of ruling house or a representative of foreign friendly country, or to that country itself. The same rules apply to every other usage of colors and emblems of foreign countries.
This Decree does not interfere with the right of persons protected by international law to use the flag of the country that they are representative of.
4. Public corporations, civil societies and guilds and private societies must use only flags that are approved by authority.
5. Police authorities shall punish violations of this Decree with a fine of 2 to 200 K or with arrest from 6 hours to 14 days and confiscate the unauthorized flag or emblem.
6. This Decree is valid from the day of proclamation.

This means that only the coat of arms of the Triune Kingdom with the crown of St. Stephen was an official emblem of the country. This applied only in Croatia and Slavonia, since Dalmatia was at that time in Austrian part (subject to change). The arms were in use until 29 October 1918, when Croatia left from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Croatia and Slavonia this emblem can be seen on many contemporary buildings, mostly for administrative or educational purpose, but also on the roof of the St. Marc parish church located in Zagreb Upper Town, between the Parliament and the Viceroy's Palace.
However, there were many variations of the official version, even with another type of crown, since many people did not liked the Hungarian rule, or without any crown. There were also many types of shields. There were no any extra add-ons, only some times branches of olive and oak were represented on each side of arms.

The unnofficial coat of arms was indeed the prefered design; probably, its widespread use boosted the Viceroy to issue the Decree quoted above. A very similar design can be seen in Mayers Konversation Lexikon from 1897, where the coats of arms are credited to Ströhl, the leading Austrian heraldist of the time.

Janko Ehrlich Zdvořák & Željko Heimer, 19 August 2001


Rakovica Uprising, 1871

[Rakovica Uprising flag]

Flag of the Rakovica Uprising, reconstruction - Image by Željko Heimer, 8 April 2005

The Rakovica Uprising, led from 8 to 11 October 1871, by Eugen Kvaternik (1825-1871) was the first attempt of forming of a modern, national Croats' state. Even if it was unsuccessful, it had a great influence on subsequent history. The reconstruction of the flag is based on contemporary seals and descriptions; it is dubious that such a flag was ever made.

Željko Heimer, 8 April 2005