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Serbia: Karađorđe's uprising (1804-1813)

First Serbian Uprising - Prvi srpski ustanak

Last modified: 2013-07-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: serbia | karadjordje | swords: 2 (blue) | cross (white) | crown (white) | crescent (white) | star: 8 points (yellow) | star: 7 points (yellow) | ocila | firesteel | boar | cross (red) | disc (white) | sword (red) |
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History of the Uprising

Karađorđe led the so-called First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813) against Ottoman Turks. It is known that the Hapsburg monarchy provided Serbian forces with weapons and other war necessities, as well as flags. There was a flag embroidery store in Sremski Karlovci in wich these flags were made.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Flags from the Military Museum in Belgrade

The guidebook of the Military Museum in Belgrade [gmb8X] describes the following flags from the First Serbian Uprising.

Early flags, 1804

On p. 45 of the guidebook, two flags are shown. The first one is the most famous flag from that period, and it was also showed on several Yugoslav stamps. It is a square banner, fringed on all sides, with painted heraldical emblem consisting of two almond-shaped (mandel) coats of arms - Serbia (cross with four firesteeels ) and Rascia (arrow-pierced boar's head). Below this on that page, there are some weapons including two different flags (one seems to be monocoloured, the other is red with a wide white cross troughout).
The other flag shown on the same page is a banner for vertical hoisting, roughly in proportions 1:1, swallow-tailed with tongue, where indentations reach some 1/3 of the flag width. It seems that the flag was yellow or white, and have painted three "Teutonic" crosses (red?) 1/3 from the top.
The text beside these pictures does not say anything about them, apart from the caption: "The banners from the First Serbian uprising".
However, on page 48 there is the description of showcase 9/room 21, which, I believe, consists of the aforementioned two flags:

Banner from the early days of the Uprising, 1804.
In the beginning of the Uprising, the banners were borrowed from churches or some of the haiduk [partisan fighters of pre-Uprising period] banners were used. Since 1805, Karađorđe and other outstanding leaders ordered banners from Vojvodina. The banners were without any fixed colours or heraldic signs.

Željko Heimer, 31 January 1998

Regular army flags, 1809

[1809 flag]

Regular army flag, 1809 - Image (Click on the flag to see a bigger image) by Milan Jovanović, 25 November 2007

On p. 49 of the guidebook, showcase 13 is described, but, unfortunately, there are no images with the text:

Banners and clothing of the Serbian regular army from 1809-1810.
The Government Council (Praviteljstvujuči sovjet) decided in 1808 to establish a regular army, although the people's army, which in the middle of 1813 numbered about 50,000 men, remained the backbone of the armed forces until the end of the Uprising. The banners for the regular insurgent army were made in 1809. They were light yellow with painted symbols on both sides of the banner and with an inscription. The heraldic signs, a cross with characteristic symbols and a wild boar's head pierced with an arrow, were taken from the work of Hristofer Zeferović Stematogerfija (Stematography). The cross originates from the Serbian medieval heraldry and the boar's head is an alleged coat of arms of the Serbian Empire (it appears for the first time in the XVth century).

An image of this flag is shown in Serbian military flags up to 1918, by Dragana Samaržić [szd83].
Two such flags are still known today, one in the Serbian Historical Museum and the other owned by a private collector in Greece. Both flags are 120 cm x 120 cm, wich means they are too 1:1. Below the coat od arms, a black ribbon bears the writing in church Slavonic: "S'bogm, za veru, iotocestvo".

Željko Heimer & Milan Jovanović, 25 November 2007

Commander's flag, 1811

On the same page (p. 49) of the guidebook there is the description of another flag:

Commander's banner.
In 1811, when the rank of voivode was established, red and white banners, probably made in Russia, were also assigned.

Željko Heimer & Milan Jovanović, 25 November 2007

Flag from the Valjevo Museum

[Flag from the Valjevo Museum]

Flag found in Gračaniča - Image by Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

According to Serbian military flags up to 1918, by Dragana Samaržić [szd83], this flag was found in the belfry of the Gračaniča church, near Valjevo. The design is unusual in Serbia, horizontally divided red-blue-red with three tails. The tails are curved triangles. The central emblem contains a cross with four tilted firesteels, two branches, crown, cross, and saber.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Unidentified flag

[Unidentified flag, reverse]   [Unidentified flag, obverse]

Unidentified flag, reverse and obverse - Images by Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Serbian military flags up to 1918, by Dragana Samaržić [szd83], shows this flag with different sides, as made before 1807. It is another example of unusual colors (blue-red-blue). Besides that, it has white parts, thick red borders and unusual symbols: a white crescent with yellow seven-pointed star on the obverse and an eight-pointed star on the reverse. It is still unindentified, and the only doubtless fact is that it flew with a little Serbian tricolor attached above on the hoist.

Ivan Sarajčić, 15 January 1999

Flag from 1807

[Unidentified flag]

Unidentified flag - Image by Milan Jovanović & Rob Raeside, 21 January 2007

Another flag shown in Serbian military flags up to 1918, by Dragana Samaržić [szd83], is swallow-tailed, with a golden fringe, horizontally divided red-white-red, with the middle stripe slightly higher. The upper red field is charged with a white circle while the lower red field is charged with a moon crescent. The white field is charged with a red cross in the center and a hand holding a sword on the cross' left.

Milan Jovanović, 21 January 2007

Flag on the Yugoslav postage stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Uprising

Nahum Shereshevsky's Heraldry in Philately includes a Yugoslav postage stamp (15 YUD; inscribed "STT VUJNA" and "1804-1954"), showing what seems to be a military flag, with a golden background, a red wolfteeth border and two shields over a black arm holding a scimitar. The shields are: at hoist, or a boar's head sable, at fly Serbia (gules around a cross argent throughout four firesteels.
This is commemorative stamp issued for the 150th anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.

António Martins & Valentin Poposki, 9 January 2006

The Yugoslav stamps overprinted or inscribed STT VUJNA referred to the Yugoslav occupation of Zone B, as the southern portion of the Territory of Trieste was known in the years immediately after the Second World War. Zone A consisted of the northern part of the Territory, including the city of Trieste itself. Zone A was eventually annexed to Italy during the mid-1950s, while Zone B became first part of Yugoslavia and after the breakup of that country it became part of Slovenia. Certain corrections were actually made when the zones were disbanded so Yugoslavia actually got a bit more than just zone B.
STT stands for Slobodna teritorija Trsta, Free Territory of Trieste, and VUJA (later VUJNA) for Vojna uprava Jugoslavenske (Narodne) Armije, Military Government of the Yugoslav (People's) Army.

Ron Lahav & Željko Heimer, 11 January 2006

The stamp is numbered 625 in the Jugomarka catalogue (the main Yugoslav catalogue) and 797 in Zumstein, 656 in Yvert, 751 in Michel and 778 in Stanly Gibbons. The STT overprint is Yu 138, Zu 141, Yv 104 and Mi 135. The Jugomarka catalogue describes it simply as a flag from the period of uprising. Stanley Gibbons desribes it as "Serbian flag".
It is not known if there is an actual flag on which this was based.

Željko Heimer & Richard Mallett, 11 January 2006