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Ukraine - Historical Military Flags

Last modified: 2012-12-29 by andrew weeks
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Ukraine Cavalry Standard of 1706

One of the treasures of the Swedish State Trophy Collection in Stockholm is of Ukrainian origin. It was captured by Swedish troops near Nieswiez not so far from Grodno (Belarus) in 1706.

One of the leading commanders of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, Colonel Mychaylo Myklashevski, had before the Swedish-Ukrainian alliance of 1708 been attached to Russian troops fighting the Swedes on demand by the Russians. He fell during the skirmish with Swedish troops.

The very large cavalry standard is 176 centimeters high and with a varying width from 99 to 264 centimeters. The cloth is of wine-red silk damask. Of the gilded inscriptions generally only the impressions remain. On the tongue can be seen a golden double eagle, surrounded by the initials of the titles of the two co-reigning brothers, Tsars Ivan and Peter. Down in the lower part is a medallion with the coat of arm of Mazepa, surrounded by the initials of his titles as Hetman of the Zaporozhian Kozaks and another coat of arms, surrounded by the initials M M P (Mykhaylo Mykalevschky Polkovnik (Colonel in Starodub from 1690). Also I M G can be seen (Ivan Mazepa Getman).

The chief motif consists of Archangel Michael - the Colonel's namesake - and a text which in translation runs: "Michael with his sword will aid the Christians, the time is past when the Muslims will be victorious over the Christians. Michael will destroy them as he destroyed the Evil One."

Motifs are painted in different colours, gold and now blackened silver.

On the reverse of the standard the central motif is the Virgin and the Holy Child with Mary standing on the crescent of the moon. The text on this side runs in translation: "The half moon is the sign of the Ottomans. They wish to conquer the Christians and defeat them. Mother of Christ, full of grace, has placed herself above the moon; thereby the hopes of the Turks have been destroyed."

The large size of the standard is originally a type of medieval cavalry standard. It was during the 16th and 17th century replaced by a smaller square standard in Western Europe. This development, however, occurred around a century later in Russia and Ukraine. The text relates to the almost continual state of war between Ukraine, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. The standard was probably produced sometime between 1690 - 1696. The Holy Virgin was the patroness of the Zaporozhian Kozaks of Ukraine.

So it is ironical that a cavalry standard of Sweden's ally Ukraine was captured by Swedish troops just before the alliance. Also it was tragic and ironical that Colonel Myklashevski had to die fighting Swedish troops. The standard and others ought to be of interest to Ukrainian scholars of military history. Due to preservation policies standards and banners of the collection at the Army Museum in Stockholm unfortunately are rarely on display. But Ukrainian scholars would certainly have access to this standard and others.

Bertil Haggman, 4 February 1998

Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (U.S.S.) Legion (1916)

At <>, one can see image of the flag (both sides) of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (U.S.S.) Legion.
There is another image of flag at <>.
Some information in English at </> .
Dov Gutterman, 25 June 2002