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Austro-Hungarian Empire: Black-yellow Landesfarben

The black-yellow monarchy

Last modified: 2017-01-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: austro-hungarian empire |
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[Austria-Hungary] image by Giuseppe Bottasini, 21 June 1996

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About the black-yellow flag

Austria-Hungary is often referred to as black-yellow monarchy.
Željko Heimer
, 1 December 1995

The black-yellow bicolor was not widely used.  It dates from the 1700's to 1915, but most Austro-Hungarian flags changed in 1915.  It is not clear if the modified flags were used from 1915-1918.
Norman Martin, 11 October 2001

This flag was and remains the colors and banner the Habsburg-Lorraine Dynasty.
Stan Brin, 19 March 2003

The black-yellow colours were "Landesfarben" (or were they called Reichsfarben?) of the Hapsburg Monarchy before the dualization in 1867 and afterwards they remained the dynastic colours. Up to the end of Austria-Hungary there was no concept of the "national flag" as we know it today. The closest thing to the modern flag was the civil merchant ensign, used on the ships but that ensign was not (or was not meant to be) used on land. Each of the halves of the Austria-Hungary had its own flag (Austrian and Hungarian) while some of the lands (notably Croatia, probably also Bohemia and a few others) insisted (and at various times succeeded) to fly their own flags on land. The black-yellow decorations in form of flags in the dynastic colour were then used (only?) on special occasions (like imperial visits, I remember seeing some photos where these are used, as usual in the region, as long hanging flags on the lamp posts and similar, together and beside the similar "local" flags). The state offices (post offices, railway buildings etc.) used the "local" flags (Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian... as appropriate) on their buildings and the black-yellow flag was not usually hoisted on those.

However, according to some reports (of which I can only remember a reference from a Croatian movie, so it may not be quite authentic), the black-yellow flags were used in Dalmatia for flagging on land for holidays (just as the national flag would be used today). I do not know how often this was and if it was regulated somehow. Also, it may be possible that the use of the black-yellow flag on land was regulated differently in different parts of the Monarchy.
Zeljko Heimer, 20 September 2007