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Origins of the current portuguese national flag

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by
Keywords: carbonari | free masons | masonry | error | federalism | saint john | coat of arms: escutcheons | meaning |
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by António Martins
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Origin of the colours

Those who trace the green and red from the 1385 flag or from the (red) Cross of Christ Order over green banner used during the 1640 revolution are wrong (including Crampton and Wh. Smith — oh well, even the Sun has its spots...).

In fact the red and green found in the republican portuguese flag (in early flags usualy reversed, i.e., red near the hoist) were the colors of the iberian federalism (where they came from I do not know but I doubt it that the major influence was same old portuguese flags...), used since 1891 in Portugal by most “republican clubs” and by the Masonry, who replaced the previous blue and white flag in 1910.

António Martins, 4 Jun 1997

The republican revolution of 1910 (and previous attempts and demonstrations) was largely inspired by a radical republican secret society called Carbonária (akin to the Masonry), inspired in an older italian organization of the same name. These called themselves the charcoal-makers (carbonari), who were free to go out of town to the forests get their wood... and conspire at will away from the landlordʼs spys — hence the alias The Forest Masons (Maçonaria Florestal). Being Saint John the patron of charcoal-makers, red and green was also theyer color, both of genuine charcoal-makers guild and of the later secret society, and later the color of portuguese radical republicans... (Other interpretations of the 1910 colors, even the contemporary, official ones, are pure fantasy and wishful thinking — or sand in the eyes of an after all quite conservative, non-radical people...)
António Martins, 19 Feb 1998

I didnʼt know the Carbonari existed outside of Italy. The Carbonari flag was horizontal stripes of blue (top), red and black, representing the burning charcoal.
Dave Martucci, 22 Feb 1998

Portuguese Carbonarians (namely Associação 31 de Janeiro, in Oporto) used a red flag with a green circle and some lettering. I was told these are based on (charcoal makerʼs patron) St. John.
António Martins, 3 Mar 1998

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