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Principality of Moldavia, 1834-1863

Last modified: 2008-09-27 by alex danes
Keywords: moldavia | wallachia | romania |
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Colours of Moldavia, 1832-1863

The Treaty of Adrianople (1829) between Russia and Turkey, besides recognising Greek independence and Serbian autonomy, also established free trade for Moldavia and Wallachia with the reopening of their ports to the shipping of all nations. At the same time the creation of a Moldo-Wallachian fleet (both mercantile and military) began. Colours were stated for the two principalities, and at the beginning they were mainly used as lance pennons (red and blue for Moldavia and yellow and blue for Wallachia). This induced some authors to assign horizontal bicolored flags to the two countries (Deppermann and Ruschke, Hamburg, circa 1840), but there is no evidence for their existence.
Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

Army flags and ensigns, 1834-1863

It must be said that all these war flags had a similar red-blue design on reverse, but the red squares contained the golden monogram of the prince (M and A respectively) and the blue field had the icon of Saint George, on a white horse, slaying the dragon, and below it, with golden letters, the name of the military unit. These flags were used as military colours and naval ensigns.
Alex Danes, 13 August 2008

Army Flag, 1834

[War flag and naval ensign]  image by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

By imperial decree, Sultan Mahmud II allowed Michael Sturdza (1834-49), Prince of Moldavia, to adopt a flag for the army, one for merchant ships and one for the navy. On 8 November 1834 the army got the first flags: a blue field with red squared cantons, each with a white 8-pointed star. In the center was a wild ox head with an 8-pointed white star between its horns, surmounted by a princely crown, all flanked by two green olive branches joined in base. This flag was also used by the navy and must also be considered as the princely standard and state flag.
Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

The 1834 flags were made of taffeta. Only two of them have been made, for each of the existing units:
a) The infantry unit had a bigger square flag (144 cm the entire cloth; little red squares: 40 cm each). The text on the reverse is incomplete ("Al Miliţiei Principatului Moldovei..." meaning "Of the Militia of the Principality of Moldavia...")
b) The cavalry unit had a smaller standard (115 cm). The text on the reverse is "Al Miliţiei Principatului Moldovei I-iul de cavalerie Regiment Iaşan 1834" meaning "Of the Militia of the Principality of Moldavia, First cavalry Regiment of Iasi 1834".

The reverse had the monogram M, of prince Mihail (Michael) Sturdza, like here. These two flags have been designed by the prince and approved by the Turkish sultan. They were handed to the Army on November 8, 1834, in Iasi (Jassy). Both of them survive in the National Military Museum of Romania. They had been sewn in tulle in 1930-1934 for better preservation 1.
Alex Danes, 13 August 2008

Army Flag, 1848

[War flag and naval ensign, 1849]  image by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

After the 1848 revolution, with the new prince Gregor V Ghica X (1849-53 and 1854-56), the previous flag was modified. In 1849 the stars in the cantons become gold and six-pointed. In the center the head, silver, and the star (6-pointed and silver), were placed on a gold-bordered blue shield and flanked by two silver dolphins. A princely crown and two branches of laurel and oak joined with a red ribbon completed the whole.
Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996

In 1849 Prince Grigore Alexandru Ghica replaced the old flags with new ones, made of silk:
a) Two square flags for the 2 infantry units (a new one was created before), measuring 135 cm.
b) One square standard for the cavalry unit, measuring 65 cm.

The reverse of the flag had, in the middle of the red squares, the monogram A and below the Saint an inscription like: "Batalionului al IIle Principatului Moldovei. 1849", meaning "[The flag of] the second battalion [of] the Principality of Moldavia. 1849". These flags are preserved in the National Military Museum of Romania, sewn in tulle 1.
Alex Danes, 13 August 2008

Army Flag, 1858

[War flag and naval ensign, 1858]  image by Mario Fabretto, 8 September 1996; modified by Alex Danes, 24 August 2008

After 1856 the flag was further modified. The cantons become triangles, so the central blue field become a lozenge; the arms were placed on a purple mantle lined with ermine and gold crowned between two golden oak branches. This flag had a very short life.
Mario Fabretto
, 8 September 1996

In 1858 three new flags were made. They had a different design (first of all, the cloth was a rectangle, 150 cm width, 126 cm height) and were made of silk. In the Romanian archives is kept the order Nr. 20 from 1858, of defense minister Konaki Vogoride which approved the manufacturing of these flags, meant to replace the flags of Ist, IInd and the newly formed IIIrd infantry unit (the old flags, from 1849, were assigned to other units). This written order established the design of the flags and designated three ladies, wives of high officials, to manufacture them: Ecaterina Konaki-Vogoride, Ecaterina Balş, and Elena Ghica. In addition to the description of Mr. Fabretto above, it must be said that the lozenge has a golden border. Because in 1858 the Moldavian throne was vacant (the country was ruled by a regent), the reverse of the flags did not have any monograms, being identical with the obverse (it had no saint either). These flags were used until 1863. They are preserved in the National Military Museum of Romania, sewed in tulle 1.One of them can be seen here.
Alex Danes, 13 August 2008

1 Source: Enciclopedia Romaniei
Author: collective work under the supervision of Dimitrie Gusti, Constantin Orghidan, Mircea Vulcanescu and Virgiliu Leonte.
Publisher, place: Imprimeriile Statului, Bucharest
Edition date: 1938 - 1943.

Civil ensign, 1834-1863

[Civil ensign, 1834]  image by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

This flag had a longer life than the other Moldavian flags. Following original models, the flag was blue with a white shield on which was a wild ox (or sometimes a bison) head, surmounted with a five-pointed star between its horns; over the shield a princely crown and the whole flanked by two dolphins as supporters. The flag had a red canton bearing three white stars (5- or 8-pointed) placed 2-1. This canton stood for Ottoman sovereignty. At first, this flag was also flown on government buildings on land together the Turkish one.

[Civil ensign, 1858] image by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Although we don't have any official documentation, it seems that the flag changed over time: in the Le Gras album of 1858 the shield had disappeared, as well as the star, the crown and the dolphins, while the stars in the canton were placed in fess.

After the union of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1859, the Wallachian and Moldavian merchant vessels provisionally retained their old flags. This was due to the fact that the joining of the two principalities was initially realized in the form of a personal union under Prince Alexander John Cuza, each country retaining its own council of ministers, army and institutions.

Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996