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Byzantine Empire: Reconstructed and replica flags

Last modified: 2009-04-24 by
Keywords: byzantine empire | eagle: double-headed (black) | firesteels: 4 (blue) | letters: b (four) | cross (black) | cross (blue) | cross (white) | chrismon | constantine the great | nikephoros ii phokas | constantin ix palaiolo |
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Presentation of the flags

The Byzantine flags shown on this page, unless specified, are displayed in the Cretan Naval Museum in Chaniá. Crete was part of the Byzantine Empire from 395 until 1204.
The flags are square (or nearly-square rectangles), hung from flagpoles projecting at an angle from the museum wall, just like modern flags. I don't know how historically accurate that was - presumably not. The museum didn't depict any Roman-like standards along with them.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1996


Standard of Constantine the Great (323)

[Constantine's flag]

Standard attributed to Constantine the Great - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2000

Constantine the Great (270/288-337) was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. He established Christianism as the official religion of the Empire and founded Constantinople, later the capital of the Byzantine Empire, as the "Second Rome".

Ivan Sache, 25 October 2003

The flag attributed to Constantine is white with a blue couped cross. In each corner of the cross is a B-shaped firesteel; those to the left of the cross are backwards.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1996

[Byzantine naval flag]

Byzantine naval flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2000

A similar flag, but forked, is described in Hellenic Flags [kok97], as "Another flag used by the navy in the same [Byzantine] period. Replica, Hellenic Maritime Museum.

Norman Martin, 26 February 2000


Byzantine flag after 395

[Byzantine red flag]

Byzantine red flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2000

The flag, labelled "after 395", is red with a white couped cross. Thin diagonal rays extending from the upper left and right corners of the cross and the Greek letter Ρ above the cross, all in white, form the Chi Rho chrismon; the symbol is an abbreviation for ΧΡΙϚΤΟϚ, Christ.

Bruce Tindall & Phil Cleary, 22 July 2000

[Byzantine yellow flag]

Byzantine naval flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2000

A similar flag but with different colours is described in Hellenic Flags [kok97], as "Military and naval flag at the time of Constantine the Great. The cross and the symbols of Christianity have replaced the Roman eagle. Replica, Hellenic Maritime Museum."

Norman Martin, 26 February 2000


Standard of Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969)

[Fokas' standard]

Standard attributed to Nikephoros II Phokas - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2000

Nikephoros II Phokas (912-969), Emperor from 963 to 969, conquered Cilicia, Cyprus and a part of Syria, and was eventually murdered and succeeded by his nephew John I Tzimiskes (925-976, Emperor from 969 to 976).

Ivan Sache, 25 October 2003

The flag attributed to Nikephoros II Phokas is like the preceding ones, but with a blue instead of red field.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1996


Standard of Constantine XI Palaiologos (1449-1453)

Constantine XI Palaiologos (1403-1453), the last Byzantine Emperor (1449-1453), was killed during the seizure of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II.

Ivan Sache, 25 October 2003

The flag attributed to Constantine XI Palaiologos is yellow with a black double-headed eagle holding an orb and a sword.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1996

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