Last modified: 2011-06-10 by
Keywords: emperor | kaisersstandarte |
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Editor's note: larger images, giffed by Martin Grieve, 12 Oct 2008, of the German Emperor's Standard 1871-1890 can be seen when clicking here; an extra large version when clicking here, both after Znamierowski 1999, p. 59, as well as a large version of the 1890-1917 standard here.
Constitutionally, Imperial Germany was a federated empire. When the empire was founded in 1871 the King of Prussia, William I, was proclaimed German Emperor (not Emperor of Germany, be it noted). However, he kept his position as King of Prussia, as did his successors, the short-lived Frederick III and finally William II. The standard [above] is that of the German Emperor. As King of Prussia, he also had a quite similar one with a red field. The central shield [was] surmounted by a crown - the German imperial version for the Emperor's standard and the Prussian royal version for the King's standard. Also the eagles were slightly different - that of Prussia being crowned with the cypher of Frederick the Great ('FR' [for Fredericus Rex]) on its breast and that of Imperial Germany being uncrowned with the Prussian shield and eagle on its breast.
Tom Gregg, 27 Mar 1997
On 3 August 1871 the emperor's standard was adopted, rather similar to the Prussian royal standard. The emperor's standard had from the beginning the words "GOTT MIT UNS" and the date 1870, this one relative to the Order of the Iron Cross (instituted 1813, renewed 19 July 1870), on it.
Mario Fabretto, 22 Aug 1998
Some of the information in Schlawe 1913 - published by Moritz Ruhl, who also published the Flaggenbuch 1905 for the German Navy - differs from the two images we show above by Željko Heimer and Jaume Ollé:
Accurate illustrations that agree [with Schlawe 1913] can be found in Meyers Konversationslexikon 1897, reprinted in Crampton 1990, p. 42 and in Znamierowski 1999, p. 59. The latter also has good versions of the 1871-1890 standards.
Norman Martin, 5 Dec 2001
Ensign with scepter: According to Siegel 1912, this flag indicates "Their Majesties are not receiving (visitors)"
Jaume Ollé, 2 May 1998
Schlawe 1913 says about these flags on page 131 (my translation): The armorial banners on H. M. ships on which the Emperor's standard and grand admiral's flag are flying signify: the blue banner of arms (= insignia of the Arch-Chamberlainship from the Electoral Brandenburg arms): "His majesty is not receiving [visitors]."(...)
Joseph McMillan, 5 Dec 2001
Ensign with black lion: According to Siegel 1912, this flag indicates "His Majesty (or their Majesties) are not on board".
Jaume Ollé, 2 May 1998
Schlawe 1913 says about these flags on page 131 (my translation): The armorial banners on H. M. ships on which the Emperor's standard and grand admiral's flag are flying signify: the yellow banner of arms (= arms of the Burggraves of Nuremberg from the Brandenburg-Prussian arms): "His majesty is not on board."
Joseph McMillan, 5 Dec 2001
It is difficult to explain this topic to English-speaking people who can't distinguish the terms nation and state in their Central European meanings. Somebody styled "German Emperor" does not imply that there is something like "Germany", but "Emperor of Germany" does imply it. The king of Saxony would agree that [the king of Prussia] is actually German Emperor (i.e. German-speaking, German-feeling etc.) because this statement cannot belittle the existence of Saxony as a state, but he would strongly oppose to his claim to be the "Emperor of Germany" because it can suggest that Saxony is only a region within the state of Germany.
Jan Zrzavy, 4 Sep 2000
See Edward Crankshaw's Bismarck (Chapter XVI, Sedan, Paris and the New Reich) for a discussion of this issue. King William I of Prussia had wished to be styled "Emperor of Germany" or "Emperor of the Germans." The King was a Prussian particularist who feared that his kingdom and crown would become submerged in the new Germany. The idea of being first among equals in Bismark's Germany held no appeal for him. To this title, however, the south German states would not agree. Bismarck was willing to give the south Germans their way, and he browbeat William into going along. The King gave in with bad grace, so much so that on the day he was proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles, he refused to shake Bismarck's hand.
Tom Gregg, 4 Sep 2000
This story is also told in Theo Schwarzmüller, Otto von Bismarck, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1998, on page 95 (my translation): In front of a crowd of uniformed people, the Grand Duke of Baden proclaimed Wilhelm I to be German Emperor. The old man did consciously not honour his Emperor-maker [Bismarck] with as much as a look during the ceremony. As late as the evening before they had been fighting about the new title. Wilhelm wanted to be "Emperor of Germany"; he compared the "German Emperor" with a mere "Charaktermajor" (the rank of major, which a captain graciously got when he retired).
On page 96 in the same book is a flag related part: s national colours were chosen black, white and red; the new cocarde was not as the black-red-golden colours of 1848/49 "risen from the dust of the street", said Wilhelm. Bismarck also took any gaudy colours rather than the freedom/democratic symbolism: "As far as I am concerned green and yellow and dancing joy or for that matter the colours of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The Prussian troops just don't want to have anything to do with black-red-yellow."
Elias Granqvist, 6 Sep 2000