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Poland - Historical flags

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by andrew weeks
Keywords: poland | eagle | crown |
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Banner of 1517

[Banner of 1517] image by Adam Kromer, from his website

XVI century banner

[XVI century banner] image by Adam Kromer, from his website

Banner of Kazimierz Pułaski

[Banner of Kazimierz Pułaski] image from Wikipedia.

Kazimierz Pułaski (full name: Kazimierz Michał Wacław Wiktor Pułaski) of Clan Ślepowron, often written Casimir Pulaski in English (March 6, 1745 - October 11, 1779), was a Polish soldier, member of the Polish nobility and politician who has been called "the father of American cavalry. A member of the Polish landed nobility, he was a military commander for the Bar Confederation and fought against Russian domination of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he emigrated to North America as a soldier of fortune. During the American Revolutionary War, he saved the life of George Washington and became a general in the Continental Army. He died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah"
Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir,_Count_Pulaski

There is a picture of him called "Kazimierz Pułaski at Częstochowa", by Józef Chełmoński, 1875. Oil on canvas, at the National Museum, Warsaw, Poland. It is believed that the flag shown there is the flag of the Bar Confederation (in Polish: Konfederacja barska) 1768-1772 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Confederation ) which was\ an association of Polish nobles (szlachta) formed at the fortress of Bar in Podolia in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against aggression by the Russian Empire and against King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Polish reformers who were attempting to limit the power of the Commonwealth's magnates (wealthy szlachta).

The flag (actually a Standard) in the picture is the Black Virgin or Black Mary, seen here. It shows the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, which is a holy icon of the Virgin Mary, that is both Poland's holiest relic and one of the country's national symbols.
Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna_of_Cz%C4%99stochowa .
Esteban Rivera, 10 Jan 2010

You may also have a look at < http://www.loeser.us/flags/poland.html#17 >.
Pete Loeser, 11 Jan 2010


Polish military flag, 1601

[Polish military flag, 1601] image by Alex Danes, 11 Jan 2010

On 3 August 1601, Prince Michael the Brave of Wallachia, allied with the imperial general Giorgio Basta, defeated at Guraslau (in Transylvania) the army of prince
Sigismund Báthory, who had, among others, help units from the Polish king Sigismund III. The very next day, prince Michael sent the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, at Prague, 88 flags, while general Basta send him only 22. All these 110 flags were painted and described by the Austrian artillerist Georg Puchner on 21 August 1601. The water colour painting is found today in the Library of Dresden, Germany, volume G. 81 (ro_1601.jpg).

The flag depicted here was captured during the battle by general Giorgio Basta. It also appears in one of Hans von Aachen's allegoric paintings, representing the victory of the allied Imperial and Wallachian armies against Moise Szekely (Brasov, 1603).
The flags had nothing to do with the battle as they are clearly copied from Georg Puchner's work; plus, Moise Szekely had no Polish support.
Alex Danes, 11 Jan 2010


Italian origin of the Polish flag?

I am writing from Bari, Apulia, Italy. I have read in a local paper that the colors of the Polish flag were derived from the colors of the city of Bari in 1517, when Bona Sforza duchess of Bari got married to King Zygmunt of Poland, who adopted the colors of Bari in honor of his bride. Could anybody confirm this?
Giovanni Scillitani, 17 Nov 2002

Well, the banner is indeed similar to this one. So it's possible that the vertical layout was influenced by the colors of Bari. However, the white/red colours of Poland are much older, probably since 1295, see eg. this webpage.
Mariusz Borkowski, 18 Nov 2002


The origins of the white eagle of Poland

I asked my family priest about how the White Eagle became the emblem for Poland today to see if he knew anything about it. He told me: "There were 3 guys, one of whom was named Lech. Lech ran upon a wild forest, which was in the shape of a White-Eagle. He thought to himself, this would be a good sign for my nation. From that, he created what was called Lechechi, which later became Poland." He also told me that it was a very long story dealing with the birth of Poland as a Nation, but that was all he told me. And then he said he's never seen a white-eagle. "Perhaps in a special kind of zoo..."
Timothy Boronczyk, 17 May 1998

The legend is that Lech, Czech and Rus were three brothers, each of whom set off in a different direction. Czech founded the Czech nation, Rus the Ruś (i.e. East Slavs) and Lech the Poles. He camped in a spot where he saw a white eagle nesting at dusk in a nest in a tree against the red sunset. Thus, the Polish white eagle on a red field, and thus also the name of the first Polish capital, Gniezno (perhaps an old form of gniazdo, the current word for nest).

Of course, this is but a legend. I have a Polish book on the Polish symbols at home, and it says that in the 13th century, Polish knights were going into battle with a black eagle on a white or yellow field. In fact, prior to the 1 or 2 Czech kings Poland had, there is no evidence of the white eagle. So, in some likelihood, it may well be an adopted symbol.
Robert Czernkowski, 19 May 1998