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Slavonia (Croatia): Historical flags

Last modified: 2011-10-01 by ivan sache
Keywords: slavonia | esclavonia | star:8 points (white) | frankopan | book of all kingdoms |
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Presentation of Slavonia

Slavonia and Baranya occupy the eastern part of today's Croatia, being covered by the territories of five today's Counties: Brod-Posavina County, Osijek-Baranya County, Požega-Slavonia County, Vukovar-Srijem County and Virovitica- Podravina County. Accordingly, Slavonia is the region of Croatia between rivers Sava and Drava, while Baranya is on the other side of Drava.
Historically, Croatia was known as the "Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia" within the Hungarian Kingdom and as "Dalmatia" within the Austrian part of the Habsburg Empire.

Željko Heimer, 4 March 2000

Historical arms of Slavonia

The arms of Slavonia represent a marten running on a red, or, earlier, also green, field between two wavy lines of white, all on a blue background and with a mullet or in chief. This is the sinistermost coat of arms shown in the crest over the coat of arms used in the modern Croatian flag.

A coat of arms with three martens is shown on some old maps, including one map made in the 17th century, which was popularized in Croatia due to a high-quality reprint made some 15 years ago.

Željko Heimer & Dov Gutterman, 4 March 2000

Flag of "Esclavonia" in the Book of All Kingdoms

[Esclavonia flag in the

"Esclavonia" flag shown in the "Book of All Kingdoms" - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 6 January 2010

The "Book of All Kingdoms" [f0fXX], of 1350, tells the voyages of an anonymous Castilian friar and is illustrated with 113 flag images, referred to (though seldom described) in the text.
The 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription of the "Book" [f0f05] shows for "Esclavonia" a vertically divided flag, red at hoist with a small, white eight-pointed star in the middle, and yellow at fly; the flag is shown in the ogival default shape of this source.
The anonymous author of the "Book" describes the flag thusly: E el rey d'esta Esclavonia á por señales un pendón amarillo a meitades, en la meitad bermeja que está cerca la vara está una estrella blanca, e la otra meitad del cabo es amarilla atal (And the king of Slavonia has for sign a yellow pendon in halves, on the red half which is near to the rod is a white star and the other half at the end is yellow like this).

António Martins, 12 November 2007

"Esclavonia" stands indeed for Slavonia. In medieval period, it was the name used for entire Croatia, excluding present-day Dalmatia but including parts of modern north-eastern Bosnia, more or less. The device shown is the "banner of arms" of the Frankopan / Frankopani / Frangipani family, princes who ruled large parts of (modern) north-western Croatia, with their seat on the island of Krk. Numerous present-day coats of arms and flags of Towns and Municipalities in Croatia refer to this historical important family and their red-yellow coat of arms with a star.
The Frankopan family used an other coat of arms as well, showing two lions rampant breaking bread, reflected in a number of other modern coat of arms and flags, as well.

Željko Heimer, 19 November 2007

Flag of Slavonia on Pieter Schenk's flag chart

[Slavonia flag on flag chart]

Slavonia flag shown on Pieter Schenk's flag chart - Image by Tomislav Todorović, 6 January 2009

The flag chart (shown by P. Allen, The Atlas of Atlases, London, 2005) created by the Dutch cartographer Pieter Schenk in 1711, which was published in the atlas by Guillaume Delisle of France in 1730 (reissued in 1739 as the Nouvel atlas by Covens & Mortier of Amsterdam), contains a yellow-red horizontal bicolor with the title "Slavonien", which is grouped with the flags from the Ottoman Empire.
Schenk's source for this flag is not known to me, so I can only guess about its origins: its design resembles that of the flag of Slavonia from the "Book of All Kingdoms", so it is possible that the 1711 flag was somehow derived from that source, most probably indirectly. Another mystery is how this flag was placed among those from the Ottoman Empire, knowing that Slavonia was liberated from the Ottoman rule by 1699. A possibility, which is yet to be verified, is that the flag was actually meant to represent parts of the Balkans inhabited by the Slavic peoples, which were still under the Ottoman rule in 18th century. This would get along with the "Book of All Kingdoms" as the possible source, because the country of Slavonia described there seems not to include only present-day Slavonia and neighbouring parts of Croatia, but also Serbia, Bulgaria and even Albania ("kingdom of Durres") (A. Solovjev, Južnih Slovena i njihovi grbovi u španskom putopisu XIV veka. Istorija srpskog grba i drugi heraldički radovi Pravni fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu, Belgrade, 2000): "Con esta Narent confina una cibdat que dizen Dulcerno e con los montes de Acerua, una tierra muy viciosa e abondada. Con este reinado de Acervia confina el reino de Burgaria e el reino de Daraze, que son en la provincia de Esclavonia." ([fof05]
These strange geographic ideas might be somehow derived from Hungarian kings' medieval claims to Serbia and Bulgaria, combined with the rule of Angevin kings of Naples over Durres - "Kingdom of Albania" - and their claims to the Hungarian crown, which were temporarily accomplished in 1385-86 under Charles III of Naples (II of Hungary), all of these having been mixed up during the writing of the original book and/or some of its later copies.
Schenk's chart also contains a flag attributed to Greece, which was also under the Ottoman rule at that time. This would also speak in favour of the idea about the flag of "Slavonia" as the flag attributed to all the Balkan Slavs. Still, considering that the present-day Slavonia was under the Ottoman rule almost until the time of creation of this flag chart, the described flag might be freely attributed to it as well.

It was not possible to determine the flag proportions absolutely precisely, because the flag was depicted as if flying in the wind (typical for the flag charts until the end of 19th century), but 2:3 is a very close approximation, if not the very precise value.

Tomislav Todorović, 6 January 2009

Flag of Slavonia in Steenbergen's book

[Slavonia]     [Slavonia]

Slavonia flags shown by Steenbergen - Images by Jaume Ollé, 18 September 2003

Steenbergen [stb62] shows two flags labelled "Slavonia - Principality in the Danube":
- No. 1010: Yellow-red bicolor;
- No. 1011: Yellow-blue bicolor.

Jaume Ollé, 18 September 2003