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Serbia: Karađorđe's uprising (1804-1813)

First Serbian Uprising

Last modified: 2005-01-22 by
Keywords: serbia | karadjordje | swords: 2 (blue) | cross (white) | crown (white) | crescent (white) | star: 8 points (yellow) | star: 7 points (yellow) | ocila | firesteel | boar |
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History of the uprising

Karađorđe led the so-called First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813) against Ottoman Turks. It is known that the Hapsburg monarchy provided Serbian forces with weapons and other war necessities, as well as flags. There was a flag embroidery store in Sremski Karlovci in wich these flags were made.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Flags from the Military Museum in Belgrade

The guidebook of the Military Museum in Belgrade [gmb8X] describes flags from the First Serbian Uprising.

On page 45 two flags are shown. The first one is the most famous flag from that period, and it was also showed on several Yugoslav stamps. It is a square banner with painted heraldical emblem consisting of two almond-shaped (mandel) coats of arms - Serbia (cross with four očila) and Rascia (arrow pierced boar's head), Below this on the page, there are some weapons including two different flags (one seems to be monocoloured, the other is red with a wide white cross troughout). The flag is ringed on all sides.

The other flag shown on the same page is a banner for vertical hoisting, roughly in ratio 1:1, swallow-tailed with tongue, where indentations reach some 1/3 into the flag. It seems that the flag was yellow or white, and have painted three 'Teutonic' crosses (red?) 1/3 from the top.

The text beside these pictures does not say anything about them, apart from the caption:

The banners from the First Serbian uprising.

However, on page 48 there is the description of the showcase 9/room 21, which I believe consists of the aforementioned two flags:

Banner from the early days of the Uprising, 1804.

In the beginning of the Uprising, the banners were borrowed from churches or some of the haiduk [partisan fighters of pre-Uprising period] banners were used. Since 1805, Karađorđe and other outstanding leaders ordered banners from Vojvodina. The banners were without any fixed colours or heraldic signs.

Later, on page 49, showcase 13 is described, but unfortunately there are no images with the text:

Banners and clothing of the Serbian regular army from 1809-1810.

The Government Council (Praviteljstvujuči sovjet) decided in 1808 to establish a regular army, although the people's army, which in the middle of 1813 numbered about 50,000 men, remained the backbone of the armed forces until the end of the Uprising. The banners for the regular insurgent army were made in 1809. They were light yellow with painted symbols on both sides of the banner and with an inscription. The heraldic signs, a cross with characteristic symbols and a wild boar's head pierced with an arrow, were taken from the work of Hristofer Zeferović Stematogerfija (Stematography). The cross originates from the Serbian medieval heraldry and the boar's head is an alleged coat of arms of the Serbian Empire (it appears for the first time in the XVth century).

On the same page there is the description of another flag:

Commander's banner.

In 1811, when the rank of voivode was established, red and white banners, probably made in Russia, were also assigned.

Željko Heimer, 31 January 1998

Flag from the Valjevo Museum

[Flag from the Valjevo Museum]by Ivan Sarajčić

This flag was found in the belfry of the Gračaniča church, near Valjevo (Serbia). It is unusual in Serbia, horizontally divided red-blue-red with three tails. The tails are curved triangles. The central emblem contains a cross with four tilted očila, two branches, crown, cross, and saber.

Source: Vojne zastave Srba do 1918 (Military flags of Serbs until 1918), Vojni Muzej, Belgrade, 1983.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Unidentified flag

[Unidentified flag, obverse]Obverse, by Ivan Sarajčić

[Unidentified flag, reverse]Reverse, by Ivan Sarajčić

This flag with different sides was made before 1807. It is another example of unusual colors (blue-red-blue). Besides that, it has white parts, thick red borders and unusual symbols: white crescent with yellow seven-pointed star on the obverse and eight-pointed star on reverse. It is still unindentified, and the only doubtless fact is that it flew with a little Serbian tricolor attached above on the hoist.

Source: Vojne zastave Srba do 1918 (Military flags of Serbs until 1918), Vojni Muzej, Belgrade, 1983.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999