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Zrenjanin (City, Serbia)


Last modified: 2019-11-02 by ivan sache
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Flag of Zrenjanin - Image by Ivan Sarajčić, 10 July 2008

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Presentation of Zrenjanin

The municipality of Zrenjanin (132,051 inhabitants in 2002; 1,324 sq. km: municipal website) is the largest town in Banat, the third largest town in Vojvodina and the sixth largest town in Serbia.
The municipality of Zrenjanin is made of the town of Zrenjanin proper (79,773 inhabitants in 2002) and of the villages of Aradac (3,461 inh.), Banatski Despotovac (1,823 inh.), Belo Blato (1,477 inh.), Botoš (2,436 inh.), Elemir (4,734 inh.), Ečka (5,172 inh.), Jankov Most (752 inh.), Klek (2,959 inh.), Knićanin (2,034 inh.), Lazarevo (3,308 inh.), Lukino Selo (598 inh.), Lukićevo (2,077 inh.), Melenic (6,737 inh.), Mihajlovo (1,004 inh.), Orlovat (1,789 inh.), Perlez (3,818 inh.), Stajićevo (1,999 inh.), Taraš (1,140 inhabitants), Tomaševac (1,765 inh.), Farkaždin (1,386 inh.) and Šenta (3,119 inh.).

The first name of the town, known in written documents since the early XIVth century, was Bečkerek (or Veliki Bečkerek). Ágoston Bárány (Torontál vármegye hajdana, 1845) claims that the settlement was named by the Pechenegs, a semi-nomadic Turkish people. Jene Sentklarai (1843-1925) believes that the settlement was named after the Bese and Gregor tribes that founded it in the early XIVth century. The Turkish traveler Evlija Celebija (XVIIth century) named the town Bes Telek, lit. "five melons", alluding to five boroughs set up in the meanders of river Begej. Felix Milleker (1858-1942), in his Geschichte der Stadt Veliki Bečkerek (1933), reads the early name of the town as Bece and Kereke, lit. "The Bece's Wood", alluding to the Hungarian lord Imre Bečej, founder of the town of Bečej in 1311 and owner of hunting domains nearby. Yet another, uncredited, etymology reads Bečkerek as Peč - Kereks, in Slovene "The Rocky Church".
On 29 November 1934, Municipal Counciller Toša Rajić proposed to rename the town Petrovgrad, as a tribute to King of Yugoslavia Peter I Karađorđević. The new name was officialized on 18 February 1935.
During the Second World War, the Germans unofficially reestablished the former name of the town, in German Gross Becskerek. On 2 October 1946, for the second anniversary of the liberation of the town, Petrovgrad was renamed Zrenjanin, as a tribute to the revolutionary Žarko Zrenjanin Uča (1902-1942). Leader of the Communists in Vojvodina, Zrenjanin was jailed several times before and during the Second World War. He was killed in 1942 on his way to the AVNOJ meeting, where he should have represented the Partisans of Vojvodina.

Already settled in the early Neolithic (5000 BC), the area of Zrenjanin was successively colonized by several local and migrant tribes. Of particular significance, the Sarmat tribe of Roksolans seems to have developed a main settlement in the area in the IIIrd-VIIth centuries, as proved by a big necropolis excavated in 1952.
In the early XIVth century, King of Hungary Charles I (1301-1342) visited several times Banat with his feudal vassals, including the aforementioned Imre Bečej. The Budim Capitulum, a tithe account, mentions Bečkerek in 1326, 1331, 1332. The village was founded by Hungarian farmers and Serbs, whose number increased during the reign of King of Hungary Louis I the Great (1343-1382). In 1396, the Ottomans won the battle of Nikopolis and threatened the Kingdom of Hungary. King Sigismund (1387-1437) visited Bečkerek on 30 September 1398, which was transferred to Despot Stefan Lazarević., appointed Count of Torontál.
On 15 September 1551, a 80,000-men Ottoman army besieged the town of Bečej and seized it four days later; on 24 September 1551, the fortress of Bečkerek was besieged and surrendered the next day. Bečkerek became the capital of a district of the vilayet of Banat. During the Ottoman rule, the town remained divided into a Turkish and a Serb borough. The Ottoman administration eventually left the town following the Treaty of Požarevac, signed on 27 July 1718. The Turkish garrison had already been expelled from the town in 1717 by Prince Alexander von Württenberg.
As a crown province, Banat was divided into 13 districts by Imperial Decree of 12 September 1718. Resettling of the district started immediatly; Bečkerek was resettled by Germans, Serbs, French, Italians, Romanians and Spaniards. However, life was harsh because of diseases and permanent Turkish raids. In 1738, Count Mersy ordered the draining of the marshes and regulation of river Begej with a canal, which allowed traffic to Temišvar, the capital of Banat. On 6 June 1769, Empress Maria-Theresia granted the status of trading town to Gross Becskerek, boosting the economic, social and cultural development of the town. The Serbs from Bečkerek approved the uprising against the Hungarian authorities and took the control of Bečkerek from 26 January to 28 April 1849.

Ivan Sache, 10 July 2008

Flag of Zrenjanin

The flag and arms of Zrenjanin were adopted by the Civic Assembly on 8 July 2008.
The flag is white with the municipal coat of arms; the flag proportions are not known.
The coat of arms from 1769 was readopted; the shield shows the Assomption of the Virgin Mary and is surmounted by a golden mural crown with five visible merlons.

Ivan Sarajčić, 10 July 2008

Former flag of Zrenjanin (Nagybecskerek)?


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

According to Széll (Városaink neve, címere és lobogója [szs41]), the former flag of Zrenjanin is made of 15 squares alternate red and white.
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