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Principality of Wallachia, 1834-1863

Last modified: 2009-03-07 by alex danes
Keywords: wallachia | moldavia | romania |
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Colours of Wallachia, 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 [in 1832], 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

These flags were used mostly as military colours.

1834 model

[Army flag, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Around 1840 Ghica modified the war flag to differentiate it from the war ensign (until then the same as the war flag). The new army flag was red, yellow, blue, in three equal horizontal stripes. The eagle was placed on a white shield with a golden border made of laurel leafs (proportions circa 4:5). After the period of the 1848 revolution the flag survived until 1859.
Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

The 1834 imperial decree of Sultan Mahmud II stated that "the Army has a red, blue and yellow flag, with stars and a bird with head in the middle" (apparently the same as naval ensign). For a long time was thought that the Army flags issued in 1834 were identical with the ones from 1849. However, a colour illustration from Annuaire de la Principauté de Valachie, 1842 showed that the eagle in the middle of the cloth was sitting on a white field (see below). Notice the crown on top of the eagle's head, the wings' position and the fact that the central field seems white. The oak wreath is not closed, like in Mario Fabretto's drawing, and has a circular shape, not pentagonal. No exemplaries are known to exist anymore.
Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

[Army flag, 1834] by Alex Danes, 24 January 2009

1849 model

[Army flag, 1849] by Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

In 1849, prince Barbu Ştirbei gave the Army new flags, apparently with an identical design to the 1834 ones. The infantry flag is square, measuring 144 cm, and has the black coat of arms of Wallachia in the middle, holding a mace and a sword, and being surrounded by a golden oak wreath. Each of the extremities of the yellow stripe had a six-pointed golden star. In the corner of the flags there was the monogram of the prince, replaced in 1856 with four small Wallachian coat of arms. The cavalry flags had an identical design but they were smaller (90 cm). All the details of these flags were painted by Romanian paintors Constantin Lecca (1807 - 1887) and Mişu Popp (1827 - 1892).
Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

1852 dorobanţi flag

[Dorobanţi flag, 1852] by Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

The dorobanţi (foot soldiers) units were military formations found in every county. They were not part of the permanent Army of Wallachia, however they made the oath and were commanded by two colonels from the Army. Each of the units received a specific Army flag in 1852. This is a silk red-yellow-blue tricolour, with the red stripe above, measuring about 100 cm by 85 cm. In the middle of the cloth, surrounded by an oak and laurel wreath, there is a crowned black eagle, holding a cross in its beak and a shield with the coat of arms of the county in its claws. In the corners of the flag, surrounded by a smaller oak wreath, is the monogram B of the prince. If I recall correctly, since 1845 there were 14 counties in Wallachia, and thus 14 dorobanţi flags, in use until 1863.
Alex Danes, 19 September 2008

Changes on the Army and dorobanţi flags in 1856

In 1856 prince Barbu Ştirbei ended his 7 years of rule. The throne of Wallachia remained vacant for three years, during which the Ottoman Porte appointed several regents to rule. They were not allowed to put their monograms in the corners of the flags, but since they had to replace the old B with something, they chose a small version of the coat of arms of Wallachia instead. Most of the remaining flags from 1849 and 1852 have these replacements (as the dorobanţi flag above).
Alex Danes, 19 September 2008


Naval ensign

[naval ensign, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

By the imperial decree of 24 June 1834, Sultan Mahmud II conceded to Alexander Ghika, prince of Wallachia, freedom of commerce and navigation for Wallachian shipping and a flag for its vessels as well as one for its army and navy. The flag of the principality's army (that has to be considered also the princely standard and state flag) consisted of three horizontal stripes, red, blue and yellow, the uppermost red stripe was wider than the other two (2:1:1). The red stripe was charged by eight white 8-pointed stars representing the upper Wallachia districts; in the blue stripe there was an eagle with a sword and a sceptre; the yellow stripe was charged with seven white 7-pointed stars representing the seven lower Wallachia districts (proportions circa 1:2).

[naval ensign, transposed colurs] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Soon after its adoption the colours of the flag were transposed (as seen on actual flags which have survived until now) resulting in red, yellow and blue.
Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

The flag above was confirmed by an order dated 2 June 1845. The naval ensign is described as "a flag: half red, half blue and yellow, with stars and a blue bird with head in the middle". The annex of that order shows the image above, in black and white.
Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

War ensign

[War ensign, 1845] by Mario Fabretto, 9 September 1996

Until 1845 the war ensign was the same as the 1834 war flag - it hadn't been changed in 1840 - but in a document of 8 June 1845 it was changed, being now a yellow field carrying the Wallachian eagle depicted in light blue; the fly was divided into two squares, red over blue.
Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

The image above can be found in an engraving from 1845, however that engraving shows the red and blue squares near the hoist and the eagle is perpendicularly on and not paralel with the hoist. His wings are oriented downwards (towards the fly, that is). This flag is either the naval ensign, either the war ensign, however no order of the time mentions it. Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

[War ensign, 1845] by Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

The order from 2 June 1845 shows a different naval ensign (see above) and a different war ensign. The war ensign was a white cloth with Saint George slaying the dragon on it.
Alex Danes, 18 September 2008

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign, 1834] by Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

The official description said that the civil ensign was "...yellow and red, with stars and a light blue bird...". The flag had a yellow field on which was placed the Wallachian eagle, crowned, with a cross in its beak, holding a sword and a sceptre; the canton was the same as for the Moldavian civil ensign, red with three white stars.

[Civil ensign, 1858] by Mario Fabretto, 10 September 1996

As was the case for the Moldavian civil ensign it seems that the Wallachian civil ensign changed slightly with time: the Le Gras book shows the stars in fess instead that 2-1, and the eagle is a little different. Quite common are reproduction of the flag with a strange white and yellow paly field on which the eagle, often depicted as a white dove, sometimes appears on a yellow rectangle. These are erroneous interpretations of the correct design.
Mario Fabretto
, 10 September 1996

Merchant ensign

Like the Civil ensign, 1834-1861 (lower image shown above) except: Canton smaller, stars drawn as six-pointed, the eagle in the centre, yellow outlined black, and like the eagle on War ensign, 1834-1859, but even less ascending; most of all, though, 14 narrow hoist-wise stripes of yellow across the yellow (only recognisable from the black outlines).
Source: Norie and Hobbs (1987 reprint)
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

The 1834 imperial decree of Sultan Mahmud II stated that "the merchant ensign is a red and yellow flag, with stars and a blue bird with head in the middle".
Alex Danes, 18 September 2008