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Thurgau canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-06-01 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | thurgau | lion | bend | german |
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[Flag of Thurgau] image by António Martins

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Description of the flag

Per bend vert and argent, two lions passant bendwise proper.

The field is divided diagonally green in the hoist and white in the fly. Each part is charged with a golden lion walking upwards toward the staff. The golden lion on the white field constitutes a major violation of heraldic rules by mixing metals and creating a visibility problem.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

Symbolism of the flag

The golden lions, representing the valiant and fearless soldier, were taken from an ancient liege lord of Thurgau, and the green and white colours were adopted as "revolutionary" in 1803.
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

History of the flag

Thurgau existed as a jurisdiction since the 8th century, when it was a possession of the Counts of Kyburg. They gave their family arms to Thurgau in 1094, which were then "sable, a bend between two lions passant bendwise or" (a diagonal golden band separating two golden lions on a black field). In 1264 Count Rudolf of Hapsburg took over the county and changed the black field in the arms to red. Thurgau was conquered by the Swiss Confederation in 1460 and ruled jointly by the cantons through a bailiff. In 1798 Thurgau became a canton in the Helvetic Republic.

With the restoration of the Swiss Confederation in 1803, and the creation of Thurgau as one of its six new cantons, the local "revolutionary" government tinkered with the old arms, omitting the bend and changing the red field to green and white (Cf. Vaud and St. Gallen). They were not schooled in heraldry, and did not realise that they had violated a major rule by putting metal on metal (golden lion on white field). The lion is normally outlined in black which somewhat reduces the visibility problem. Attempts to correct this error have not succeeded. A proposal in 1938 would have made the whole field green, divided diagonally by a white "bendlet" (half the width of a bend).
T.F. Mills, 2 November 1997

[Flag of 3rd Battalion (formed in 1809) of Thurgau canton. The banner was designed after the regulation of 1805. Location: Historical Museum Thurgau, Frauenfeld (source). Reverse side (b/w photo, source: [b7b42]).
See also book illustration from [ges43]. The painter depicted the reverse side as obverse. –
Coin (1 Kreuzer), Thurgau canton, 1808, with CoA (reverse). Location: Historical Museum Thurgau, Frauenfeld (source). –
Sharpshooters morale flag (1847, b/w photo). Supportive morale flag for the 5th Thurgovian Sharpshooter Company during or after the Sonderbund War, donated by women of Luzern, which is interesting: Luzern belonged to the secessionist Sonderbund, while Thurgau fought with the Confederate cantons against it. What were the circumstances behind the making of this flag? Text on the flag: "Der tapferen Scharfschützen Compagnie Hanhardt No. 5 aus dem Kanton Thurgau von einigen Frauen und Töchtern der Stadt Luzern. 1847." (Transl.: To the brave sharpshooters company Hanhardt no. 5 of Thurgau canton, from some women and daughters of the city of Luzern. 1847.). White inscription on green cloth, with white-blue fringes and white-blue cravat ([b7b42]). –
Stained window pane (1888), by Friedrich Berbig, with Thurgau and Frauenfeld arms. Banner carrier and halberdier with 16th c. outfits and Swiss daggers, the former carrying a Swiss flag whose cross has square arms (one year before the current regulation with longer arms). On top the allegories of agriculture and industry. Location: town hall, Frauenfeld (source)]

Historical Thurgau flags

Based on Todd's excellent texts, here's three historic Thurgau flags:

[The original Kyburg Counts arms] image by António Martins

The original Kyburg Counts arms, granted to Thurgau in 1094: sable, a bend between two lions passant bendwise, all or.
António Martins, 20 December 1997

[Flag of Thurgau 1264] image by António Martins

In 1264, Rudolf of Habsburg exchanged black with red.
António Martins, 20 December 1997

[Proposal flag of Thurgau 1938] image by António Martins

The correction proposal, refused in a 1938 referendum.
António Martins, 20 December 1997

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag TG] image by Ole Andersen

Simple rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Kannik (1956) [So-called colour flag (Farbenfahne in German)].
Ole Andersen, 4 August 2002

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours




[livery colours]

images by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms – not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.

Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.
Željko Heimer
, 16 July 2000

Early 20th century flag design

       images located by Martin Karner
(source)                                                                                (source)

At the beginning of the 20th century, flamed flags were still in use, with the white cross replaced by a (baroque) shield in the centre of the flag. These decorative flags had been used until WWII and then somewhat forgotten in preference of the current cantonal flags. [Today they are being produced again, see right image]
Pascal Gross, 30 June 2002

See also:   - Other examples of "Early 20th century flag design": CH, AG, AI, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, GR, JU, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SH, SO, SZ, TI, UR, VD, VS, ZG, ZH
                 - Modern flamed flags


image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)