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Albania: Historical flags before independence

Last modified: 2002-03-02 by
Keywords: eagle: double-headed (black) | ottoman empire | skanderbeg | star: 6 points (white) | boletin | essad pasha |
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Struggle for autonomy

[Autonomist flag]by Jaume Ollé

Albania has been a Turkish possession since the 15th century. In the 19th century century, the Albanian independentist circles used a red flag with the Byzantine double-headed eagle, supposedly used by the Albanian medieval hero Skanderbeg (a.k.a. George Kastrioti), and never forgotten in Albania. The above image is a reconstruction.
This flag was used by the Albanian chief Isa Boletin in 1910, when he rebelled against Turkey. When the Autonomous Government was proclaimed in Mirditë in June 1911, this was the flag used.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996


Autonomous Albania, 1912

[Autonomous Albania, 1912]by Jaume Ollé

The rebellion increased in 1912 and the flag flew in Pristina. Few weeks later, the flag was seen all over southern Albania and in May 1912 the Albanians took Uskub. Turkey then recognized the autonomy of Albania in June 1912. A white star was added to the flag (reconstruction), symbolizing that Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims shared the same sky. The star on the flag became popular.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996


Provisional Government, 1912

[Provisional government, 1912]by Jaume Ollé

The Balkanic wars (1912-1913) lead to the Serbian and Montenegrin occupation of northern and central Albania and Greek occupation of Epirus. An Albanian chief, Ismail Qemal, entered Durrës before the arrival of the Serbs and from there advanced to Vlorë where a National Assembly representing all the regions of Albania (the valiats of Shkodër, Kosovo, Janina and Monastir) proclaimed independence on 28 November 1912. This flag was formally adopted on that day. The above image is a reconstruction (source: Vexilloteca [vxt], by Mario Fabretto). The original image is from an illustration in the album Shqipëria e Illustruar from 1927.

The independence was not recognized by the great powers, which granted only autonomy (20 December 1912), which was confirmed by the Treaty of London with Turkey (May 1913). The autonomous government kept the flag, though part of the territory was transfered to Serbia and Montenegro, thus ending the use of the flag in these areas.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

In the town centre of Vlorë is the bronze monument of independence, unveiled in 1972. On a high irregular pillar of rock stands a figure of a standard bearer, while below are depicted distinguished figures of the movement of Albania's independence, in first row Ismail Qemal. It is a joint work of the sculptors Kristaq Rama, Shaban Haderi and Muntaz Dhrami. In honour of the Day of Independence, the main square in Vlorë is called "The Square of the Flag" (Sheshi i Flamurit). The monument appeared often on post stamps during the Communist period.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 1999


Provisional government of Essad Pasha, 1913

[Provisional government of Essad Baja, 1913]by Jorge Candeias, after Jaume Ollé's original

On 19 July 1913, the great powers decided to recognize Albania as an independent state, and decided to appoint a sovereign. Almost simultaneously, the Ottoman warlord Essad Pasha constituted a provisional government in Tirana, taking advantage of the Serbian and Montenegrin evacuation, and used a red flag with a white star.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

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