Last modified: 2022-08-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: fryslan | pompebledden |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 8 Sep 2013
adopted 9 July 1957.
When I was researching Friesland for one of my Up The Pole columns
I was told that the 1984 Guinness Book of Records credits the Frisian flag
as dating from the 9th century. Apparently no reason is given as to why
I was also told that the Frisian flag was designed by Dutch heraldist Heerke Wenning just before 1897 - is this true?
David Cohen, 20 April 1998
>From <http://members.tripod.com/~redbad/flag.html> Short history of the Frisian flag
The Frisian flag, as we currently know it, probably flew for the first
time in the year 1895. The family De Zee from Jirnsum
(Irnsum) designed it. Around 1897 it was produced commercially by the company
De Leeuw & De Zee in Jirnsum. Mr. Sj. de Zee was inspired for his design
by a historical drawing of a coat of arms. He had found drawings of a Frisian
arms in a book by Hamconius (1620) and by one in a book by Schotanus (1718).
Hamconius took his image of the coat of arms from an elaborate description given by the first official
historian of Friesland, Suffridius Petrus (1527-1597). Suffridius states that a coat of arms was given to the legendary king Friso. It had a blue background and three slanting silver bars. On these silver bars lie seven red waterlily-leaves. The number seven is said to symbolize the "Seven Frisian Sea-lands" that make up Friesland. Suffridius says that examples of arms can be found in old heraldic books and on church windows.
Some of these armorials of the 15th century have survived to date. In a French armorial of around 1475 we find an arms of "Le Roy Frise". It has a blue background, slanting silver bars and nine red hearts.
There is evidence that the Frisian coat of arms originated from Denmark or one of its surrounding countries. Around 1525 Jancko Douwama writes that King Redbad (late 7th-/ early 8th century) borrowed parts of his fathers Danish arms and blended them with the Frisian coat of arms. In the 11th century poems of the Gudrun-song there are lines that indicate that in the regions between the Scheldt and Jutland a blue flag could be found with water lily-leaves on it. Gudrun can be traced back to the 8th century. In the royal arms of the Swedish king Waldemar Birgersson dating from 1252 hearts can be found. These hearts resemble the leaves of the waterlily, and are often interchanged. (Just recently Mr. J. Nicolay, after doing research on gold hoards, has concluded that the aristocracy of Friesland in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th century came from Scandinavia.)
In 1957 the flag with the "pompebledden" (waterlily-leaves) was officially declared to be the Flag of the province Fryslân.
Source: De Fryske Flagge, in It Beaken (Tydskrift fan de Fryske Akademy), April 1956.
Jarig Bakker, 8 October 2000
Jos Poels in [poe90] Poels 1990 mentions
another division of Frisia: West Frisia; the modern province of Friesland;
Hunsingo and Fivelingo (both part of the Ommelanden); East Frisia; Jeverland;
and North Frisia.
Mark Sensen, 20 April 1998
image adapted from horizontal image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 June 2022
The vertical Frisian flag is in a different direction, compared to a
horizontal one. The charges of the Frisian flag are lily leaves, that are
oriented diagonally. As a result, the direction of hoisting the flag plays a
part. The flag as introduced end of the 19th century was a facade flag. It has
the white as the main diagonal. To keep the leaves looking upright, the length
of charges went with the white stripes, with the "notches" to the fixed edge,
the upper fly. When pole flags later on became the rage, it was still possible
to keep the white as the main diagonal. However, this effectively uses the other
side of the flag. As a result, the former upper edge would now become the lower
fly, width the notches pointing down towards the hoist.
J. van Stralen already indicated the solution in 1909: When using a horizontal flag, hoist it from the other hoistwise edge. To keep the white upright, this changes what end of the hoist is the top, thus forcing the "notches" upright once more.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 June 2022
"Azure two lions passant in pale or, between seven billets of the same, placed horizontally two, two and three. The shield is crested by a coronet of four pearls between five leaves or. Supporters: two lions rampant or."
Friesland is a province in the North of the Netherlands. Friesland originally
included a larger area, of which parts are now in Noord Holland, Groningen
and Germany. The Frisians formed an independent state. The German Emperor
Frederik Barbarossa made Friesland a condominium between the Counts of
Holland and the Bishops of Utrecht. The counts of Holland, however, failed
to establish their power in the area. They only obtained West-Friesland,
now part of the province of Noord Holland. At the same time the Counts
of Gelre claimed the eastern part of the area. They also failed to establish
their power for a longer period. To establish their claim they used arms
with two lions on a field with silver coins. The lion was the lion of Gelre.
It symbolized Gelre and Friesland. When the province finally became part
of the Netherlands the arms were continued. In the 16th century the coins
were replaced by 7 rectangles, representing the seven districts of (ancient)
Friesland. The arms haven't changed since then.
Ralf Hartemink 1997
from this page.
These silver coins appear on a banner shown on this page, giving the ‘Chronicles of Brabant’ as a source – about 1/3 down the page, just above the West Frisian flag. This page in Dutch indicates that above version was used by overlords Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, Dukes of Burgundy, intermittently between 1435 and 1473. Also, the ‘Chronicles of Brabant’ and hence the first appearance of the bezants – and in the form of a banner of arms, of a Frisian flag – are placed in the second half of the 14th century.
Jan Mertens, May 16 2011
Jaume Ollé just sent images of Steenbergen's flagbook
(c. 1870) to the Vexillum-list. Among them the flag of Friesland (#765),
consisting of a blue field with two lions passant with on both sides three
This is not mentioned in Sierksma's Nederlands Vlaggenboek, 1962, and neither in van der Laars' Wapens, Vlaggen en Zegels van Nederland (1913), although the last contains an image of a proposed flag for Fryslân with 7 yellow blocks (one below the bottom lion).
Searching a little more I found in Norris and Hobbs (1848) a flag of Friesland (#142), nearly identical to Steenbergen's image, except that the lions are regardant.
Jarig Bakker, 4 Jul 2003
According to Derkwillem Visser's Gemeentevlaggen en wapens Koninkrijk
der Nederlanden (2001) a French book of 1858 contained an image of
the Fryslân flag nearly identical to Steenbergen's image - the blocks
are wider apart and there is a block below the bottom lion. That book is
"Album des Pavillons, Guidons, flammes", Paris, 1858, who apparently
made a thorough search in the Netherlands - some authorities complained
about his inquisitiveness.
(I've slightly altered Jaume's gif.)
The matter becomes more complicated because the Noord-Holland region
of West-Friesland uses a blue flag with two
yellow lions, with three rows of blocks, one left, one right, and one between
the lions. Nine blocks in all. However the number of blocks seems to have
varied. At present there is a discussion about how many blocks should be
on the West-Frisian flag.
Jarig Bakker, 4 Jul 2003
image by Jörg Majewski, 4 January 2021
The flag was first hoisted on 12 June 2009 on occasion of the 24th Peace
Congress, which took place in Leer (Ostfriesland) by members of the Interfrisian
Council, a special interest group all Frisian local councils. In the centre of
the Europe-blue flag is a disc, of if you prefer a cockade, displaying a
yellow-red-blue tricolour in its upper third, a white field charged with seven
red hearts in its lower left third, finally a black-red-blue tricolour in its
lower right third. The three segments are representing Northern Frisia (Nordfriesland)
above, Western Frisia (Westfriesland) beneath left and Eastern Frisia beneath
The Frisians were the first, who were pleading for the spirit of a united Europe in the Frisian Manifesto on 28 August 1955. The three parts within the cockade are ordered by their geographical position, above the North, beneath left the West and beneath right the East. The circle (cockade) is symbolising the closeness of all Frisians. The three parts are stressing the differences of the Frisian parts. A circle is also a symbol of unity and infinity.
Meanings of three sections are:
North: golden like the sky, red like the sun, blue like the sea
West: the red heart leaves (Pompeblätter/ Pompebladen) together with seven blue bends wavy are a representation of the seven sealands on the West Frisian flag.
East: black is representing the Cirksena clan, red the Tom Brook clan and blue the Harlingerland
Sources: DGF-Info No. 38 and „Hamburger Abendblatt“ vom 13/14 June 2009
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 January 2021