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Sombor (Municipality, Serbia)

Сомбор, Zombor

Last modified: 2008-11-08 by
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[Flag of Sombor]

Flag of Sombor - Image by Željko Heimer, 1 September 2007, coat of arms after the International Civic Heraldry website

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Presentation of Sombor

The town of Sombor (Hungarian, Zombor; German, Schomburg; 48,789 inhabitants in 1990) is located in Vojvodina, near to the Danube.

From the XIIIth century to 1541, the town was part of Bodrog County of the Kingdom of Hungary, as Coborszentmihaly. Following the Ottoman conquest, it was the seat of a district of the Ottoman Empire until 1687. Reallocated to Hungary by the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699), Sombor was part of the Military Border Territories from 1702 to 1745, then part of the Bács-Bodrog County, and was eventually granted the title of Free and Royal Town in 1749. The town was incorporated to Serbian Vojvodina and Banate of Temesch from 1848 to 1861 and erected the capital of Bács-Bodrog County in 1884.
From 1918/1920 (Declaration of Novi Sad /Treaty of Trianon) to 1941, the town was incorporated to Yugoslavia. In 1941, the area was occupied and annexed by Hungary. The Treaty of Paris reallocated it to Yugoslavia in 1947.

István Molnár, 8 October 2000

Flag of Sombor

Sombor uses a white flag with the municipal coat of arms in the shape of a "seal", that in the circular shape following the drawing in the Austro-Hungarian grant of arms. This flag was seen hoisted vertically over the balcony of the town hall of Sombor, together with the national flag of Serbia. The municipal coat of arms is shown on the top of the building. A similar flag display was used with the national flag of Serbia and Montenegro, as can be seen on the frontpage of the municipal website.

According to the Sombor on-line Magazine, the flag, arms and town's days of Sombor were adopted by the Municipal Council on 17 February 2002. The coat of arms is the old historical coat of arms while the flag is described to be "silver", that is, most probably, simply white. The town's days are 17 February and 24 April; on 17 February 1749, the town was granted the title of Free and Royal Town, the grant, most probably, including the grant of the arms, while the chart was ceremoniously presented to the town on 24 April 1749.

The coat of arms of Sombor is blazoned in Lašovski's "Kava Hag" book [lsv39], published in 1939, as (my translation):
"Gules, a citadel argent with a gate and circular embattled tower, from dexter to sinister [meaning, obviously, on dexter and on sinister] a small round sentry box roofed azure, from the tower windows in sinister is hoisted a flag azure defaced with a crescent or and number "3", while from the sinister window is embowed a hand clead gules holding a sabre and in chief dexter a six-pointed mullet, in base in front of the gates two guardsmen, one holding a spear and the other a sabre".
There is much inconsistency in this blazon, and one should actually check what the original 1749 blazon stated. I guess Lašovski was working from a drawing and not from the text, and might have erroneously interpreted the elements on the flag. He also forgot to mention the green base.

The seal used on the flag has a blue background. The inscription in the seal is "SIGILLUM REGIAE LIBERAEQUE CIVITATIS ZOMBORISENSIS 1749", meaning "The seal of the Royal and Free Town of Sombor 1749". This is quite in agreement with the practice of civic heraldry in Austria-Hungary in the XVIIIth century.
The flag held by the lion in the crest and hoisted from the tower in the shield is a blue swallow-tailed flag with the golden letter "Z" (in such a font that it looks like number 3) surrounded with a green wreath. This is just an heraldic representation of a flag and not the depiction of a real flag.

The International Civic Heraldry website, quoting Dragomir Acović, gives the year of reintroduction of the seal as 1998, while the official Decision is dated 2002 (see above). It may well be that there was an earlier Decision prescribing the coat of arms, or that it was reintroduced "unofficially". The coat of arms of Sombor is said there to have been used since the 1960s (or a bit later, I would guess), being a simplified version of the 1749, original coat of arms, that is only the shield of arms, without the flag, embowed hand with sabre and without the guardsmen in front of the tower. The eight-pointed star was replaced by a five-pointed mullet. Acović suggests that the number of points of the star was up to the local party's leaders, which I much doubt - if the coat of arms was officially adopted in that design (and it might have been), then the exact number of points (probably five) would have been described in the "blazon" and would be no question. However, it may have been that during the time the design was officially changed, as it happened to the symbols of Zagreb, where the stars were changed, officially, several times in the coat of arms and flags between 1947 and 1990.
Anyway, in Ćirić's Heraldika [cir88], published in 1988, the coat of arms of Sombor of that period is shown. There is as yet no indication that there was a flag to go with that coat of arms, but I would not entirely dismiss that possibility.

Željko Heimer, 1 September 2007

Former flag of Sombor (Zombor)?

[Flag of Zombor]

Former flag of Sombor - Image by István Molnár, 24 September 2002

According to Széll (Városaink neve, címere és lobogója [szs41]), the former flag of Sombor has six red and white horizontal stripes.

Széll's book shows the flags of several towns formerly held by Hungary. The book is our only source of these flags, but it is not clear as to what period these flags were used as claimed by the book. I doubt very much that they were used during the time of Austria-Hungary. It seems very much more like they were designed in 1941 - but it is not even clear weather the designs shown in Széll's book are just proposals or if they were ever prescribed in any formal way and after all whether they were used. At least for the moment, I believe that the former flag was in use at most in years 1941-1944.

Željko Heimer, 9 October 2005