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Mecklenburg Historical Flags (Germany)

Last modified: 2020-07-27 by klaus-michael schneider
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[Civil Flag 1863/64-1935 (Mecklenburg, Germany)] 2:3  (1863/4-1918)  (1921-1935 and 1946-1952)
image by M. Schmöger, 3 Oct 2000

See also:

Introduction

The blue-yellow-red tricolour was adopted by Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 23 December 1863, by Mecklenburg-Strelitz on 4 January 1864, by both abolished 1935, readopted 1946, reabolished 1952, readopted as regional flag 1991
M. Schmöger, 3 Oct 2000

In the 16th and early 17th centuries the region was recurrently divided into two duchies, Mecklenburg-Schwerin (the west) and Mecklenburg-Güstrow (the east). (...) By the Peace of Westphalia (1648) Sweden acquired Wismar and its environs, which it held until 1803. With the extinction of the Güstrow line in 1695, Mecklenburg was again reunited but was then permanently divided by the Treaty of Hamburg (1701). Most of the territory went to Mecklenburg-Schwerin, while Mecklenburg-Strelitz comprised the principality of Ratzeburg in the northwest and the lordship of Stargard in the southeast. (...) The Congress of Viena in 1814-15 recognized them as grand duchies (...). The Nationalsocialist government in 1934 merged the two states into one Land. Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica 1981, vol. VI, p. 742.
Santiago Dotor, 3 Oct 2000

The house of Mecklenburg was founded by Niklot, prince of the Obotrites, Chizzini and Circipani on the Baltic Sea, who died in 1160. His christian progeny was recognized prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1170 and duke of Mecklenburg 8 July 1348. On 27 February 1658 the ducal house was divided into two branches: Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Theo van der Zalm, 15 June 2001

The traditional flag of Mecklenburg was the blue-yellow-red one, used by both entities. (...) Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a coastal province and a civil ensign was adopted with the colours blue-white-red, which were the colours of Rostock — thus with a different origin with respect to the colours of the State flag. So the flag for both Mecklenburgs was the blue-yellow-red (and it always had been so), while Mecklenburg-Schwerin had also a blue-white-red civil ensign which is the flag usually reproduced on old charts and books dealing with maritime flags.
Mario Fabretto, 24 Aug 1998

I do not quite manage to see the difference between the flags of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Most flags appear to refer only to "Mecklenburg" — does that mean they were the same for both grand duchies?
Santiago Dotor, 28 Sep 2000

Well, not exactly. In principle, the Grand Duchies agreed to have the same flags, but seem never to get around to deciding which. Of course Mecklenburg-Strelitz without a seacoast did not need sea flags.
Norman Martin, 28 Sep 2000

The flag of both Mecklenburg duchies is traditionally made up of the colours blue, yellow and red. The sequence however changed more than once in the past 300 years. In 1813 the duchies used yellow-red-blue. According to Ströhl 1897, p. 89, the colours blue-yellow-red were adopted on 23 December 1863 for Schwerin and on 4 January 1864 for Strelitz. Mecklenburg-Schwerin however used white instead of yellow for flags on sea by law of 24 March 1855 (Ströhl 1897, p. 86). Siebmacher 1878 gives therefore(?) blue-white-red for Schwerin and blue-yellow-red for Strelitz.
Theo van der Zalm, 15 June 2001


Main Partitions of Mecklenburg (1234, 1621, 1701)

The first main partition of Mecklenburg was executed by the Grandsons of Prince Heinrich Borwin I. As a gavelkind the principalities of Mecklenburg, Parchim-Richenberg, Werle and Rostock were established in 1234.
Johann gained the Lordship of Mecklenburg, Dassow, Klütz, Bresen (Grevesmühlen), Gadebusch, Poel, Ilow, Bug (Bukow), Brüel and Kussin (Neukloster);
Pribislaw gained the Lordship of Parchim [in the Southeast] incl. Parchim, Sternberg, Brenz (Neustadt), Ture (Lübz), Quetzin (Plau-Goldberg); [since 1248 Parchim-Reichenberg / divided in 1255 bneneath other parts and the County of Schwerin].
Nikolaus gained the Lordship of Werle incl. Werle, Bisdede (Güstrow), Teterow, Laage, Krakow, Malchow, Vipperow (Röbel), Turne, Liese and afterwards from Pomeranian possessions Dargun, Malchin, Tucen and Gödebant-TLützen and Gädebehn (Stavenhagen), Sone-Schlön (Waren/Müritz), also Wustrow (Penzlin). Most of it later became parts of Mecklenburg by further gavelkinds until 1436.
Heinrich Borwin III gained the Lordship of Rostock incl. Kessin (Rostock), Kröpelin, Doberan, Ribnitz, Marlow, Sülze, Tessin and afterwards also Gnoien and Kalen, between 1300 and 1323 as a Danish fiefdom.
All parts were reunited in 1471 by Duke Heinrich the Thick by inheritance.

Mecklenburg-Stargard (1352 - 1471) was parted between Albrecht II of Schwerin and Johann I of Stargard.

By the second main partition of Mecklenburg acc. to the Treaty of Fahrenholz (1621) the Duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Güstrow were established, again as a gavelkind.
Except minor interruptions these duchies de facto already existed since 1477 after the death of Heinrich the Thick and again since 152O after the Treaty of Neubrandenburg between Duke Heinrich V and Duke Albrecht VII, sons of Duke Magnus II. The treaty only apportioned authorities in order to create exclusive usufructs for both, but the supreme control over a few cities and the common affairs of both was practised collectively. The partition was made due to income and not to territories. E.g. the Boizenburg district as the most western part with his Elbe toll became a part of Güstrow, because Schwerin already had the privilege of the Elbe toll in Döömitz.
In total Duke Adolf Friedrich I received Mecklenburg-Schwerin, his brother Johann Albrecht II received Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The cities of Rostock, incl. Warnemünde and the monasteries of Dobbertin, Malchow, Ribnitz and the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Rostock remained condominions. Also the courts, the consistory, the parliament, border disputes, costs for the Imperial High Court and others remained common affairs of both states.

By the third main partition of Mecklenburg acc. to the amicable settlement (German: Vergleich) of Hamburg (1701) the duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (with altered territories) and Mecklenburg-Strelitz were established. The settlement ruled the inheritance after the dissolution of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. Both entities existed as semi-autonomous parts of the State of Mecklenburg and survived as souvereign free states in the German Empire since 1918/1919. Due to NS-pressure both wer forced to unite themselves in 1934. Source: German WIKIPEDIA
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 27 July 2020


Civil Flag 1863-1935, 1946-1952 and since 1991
Landesfarben

Horizontal tricolor blue-yellow-red. Adopted officially by Mecklenburg-Schwerin 23 December 1863, by Mecklenburg-Strelitz 4 January 1864. Used as Landesflagge by both states 1921-1935. Readopted 1946, but abandoned 1952, with the abolition of states in the German Democratic Republic. Readopted as flag of Mecklenburg portion of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania 1991.
Norman Martin, 3 Mar 1998


Mecklenburg Flags 1918-1935

Znamierowski 1999 labels this flag "Mecklenburg civil flag 1863-1935".
Santiago Dotor, 3 Oct 2000

Mecklenburg after 1918:
blue, yellow, red flag adopted 24th May 1923.
Mecklenburg-Schwerin: from November 1918 to 1919: blue-white-red.
Later blue-yellow-red.
Mecklenburg-Strelitz: from 1919 to 1923: blue-yellow-red.
Jaume Ollé, 24 Aug 1998

The history of flags of Mecklenburg is quite complex. After the proclamation of the republic in 1918, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz became two separate entities, for the first time with different coats of arms. The traditional flag of Mecklenburg was the blue-yellow-red one, used in the past by both entities, and kept in use by both after 1918 (approved 24th May 1923 for Mecklenburg-Strelitz). In 1933 they were unified again. Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a coastal province and, as in the past, a civil ensign was adopted with the colours blue-white-red, which were the colours of Rostock — thus with a different origin with respect to the colours of the State flag. So the flag for both Mecklenburgs was the blue-yellow-red (and it always had been so), while Mecklenburg-Schwerin had also a blue-white-red civil ensign (...).
Mario Fabretto, 24 Aug 1998


Mecklenburg Flag History

My oldest source is "Flags of the world 1669-1670", a manuscript published by Kl. Sierksma in 1966. In  it Mecklenburgs harbour town of Rostock has a red-white-blue flag. There seems, however, according to Sierksma to exist an older drawing of the town of Rostock by Vicke Schorler (from 1578-1586) in which the flag is shown.
"Der Geöffnete See-Hafen, Hamburg" 1705 shows a flag for the Mecklenburg harbour of Rostock which is blue-white-red. This would follow then the Rostock arms which show a shield with a blue upper half (with a golden griffin in it) and a lower half parted in white and red. This same flag is shown on "Flaggen aller seefahrenden Potenzen und Nationen in der gantzen Welt" by Johann Baptist Homann (Nurenburg, mid-18th Century)
Three hundred and six Illustations of the Maritime Flags of all Nations, J.S.Hobbs FRSG, London, 1848, gives for Mecklenburg a blue-white-red flag with the Mecklenburg bull's head in the white stripe.
"Flaggen und Banner. Landesfarben aller zivilisierten Staaten der Erde" (Band I 6. Abteilung von Siebmacher Grosses Wappenbuch) von A. Maximilian Gritzner, Nürnberg 1878 gives four flags of Mecklenburg.
The Standard of the Grand Duke of M-Schwerin (3.75m high; 5.625m long) is blue-white red. In the middle is a white quadrant (1.75m high and 2.00m wide). In it are the middle arms of Mecklenburg (so the shield with crown and supporters, looking out in the drawing).
The "Landes- und Handelsflagge" of M-Schwerin and as it seems of M-Strelitz is given as plain blue-white-red. Gritzner remarks however that it is now (1878) only used as Landesflagge by M-Strelitz. For M-Strelitz he gives a standard blue-yellow-red with just the Mecklenburg shield in oval shape in the yellow stripe, somewhat to the left. As Landesflagge of M-Strelitz he gives plain blue-yellow-red.
According to "Die Orden, Wappen unf Flaggen aller Regenten und Staaten" published by Moritz Ruhl Verlag, Leipzig 1887, the Flag of both duchies is blue-white-red. The "Landesfarben" however, are blue-yellow-red. While as cockade he gives yellow-red-blue (from the outside in).
Hugo Gerhard Ströhl then gives a granddukal standard as the arms. For other members of the grandukal house there exists an official standard laid down in a 'Verordnung' from 23-12-1863 blue-yellow-red with the arms in the yellow stripe. It was according to Ströhl never used however.
According to Ströhl the " 'Seeflagge" for the Grand Duke and the members of his house was blue-white-red with the middle arms in the white stripe. It was also used on inner waters.
The Grand Duke of M-Strelitz according to Ströhl used a standard blue-white-red with a white quadrant in the middle showing the middle arms. Further Ströhl states that by decree of 25 March 1855 the Seeflagge (naval flag) of Mecklenburg is blue-white-red.
As cockade Ströhl gives blue-yellow-red (from the outside in). Then he states that the colours of Meckleburg have been changed many times. In 1813 both duchies united their soldiers with cockades of red, blue and gold, later gold, red and blue, he says.
The Landesflagge for both duchies was laid down in a decree (German: Verordnung) (23 December 1863) for M-Schwerin and 4 January 1864 for M-Strelitz) as being blue-yellow-red.
Theo van der Zalm, 21 July 2002


Mecklenburg Grand Ducal Coats of Arms

Greater State Arms of Mecklenburg-Schwerin


[Mecklenburg-Schwerin gCoA] -- image by Hugo Gerard Ströhl, located by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 July 2020

Shield twice parted per fees and once per pale with centred inescutcheon (0) parted per fess of Gules and Or; 1) above right Or a bull's head caboshed Sable, crowned Or, armed Argent and tongued Gules; 2) above left Azure a griffin passant Or; 3) middle right parted per fess above Azure a griffin passant Or and beneath Vert an orle Argent; 4) middle left Gules an impending cross Argent crowned Or; 5) beneath right Gules a woman's arm Argent with puff sleeve and laces of the same, holding an annulet Or with diamond Argent; 6) beneath left Or a bull's head caboshed Sable in bend sinister, crowned Or, armed Sable and tongued Gules, shield crested by a coronet Or and five riveted plate helmets Argent, crested as follows from dexter to sinister: 1) scarves of Azure and Or issuant from a coronet a griffin Or tongued Gules; 2) scarves of Gules, issuant from a coronet two buffalo horns parted per fess of Or and Gules; 3) scarves of Or and Sable, issuant from a Wendish Crown an inescutcheon turned to right 90° (anti clockwise) displaying the lesser arms of Mecklenburg under a bunch of peacock feathers proper; 4) scarves of Azure and Or issuant from a coronet Or a wing Or and a wing Azure; 5) scarves of Gules issuant from a coronet Or seven lances Argent topped by flags Gules in fan.
The elements are related to the following titles (quarter first and helmet second):
Duke of Mecklenburg (1/3)
Count of Schwerin (0/2)
Lord of Rostock (2/4)
Duke of Lauenburg (4/5)
Lord of Stargard (5/none)
Lord of Werle or Prince of Wenden (6/none)
The shield is surrounded by a chain of the Home Order of the Wendish Crown (German: Hausorden der Wendischen Krone), endowed on 12 May 1864 by both Mecklenburgian Grand Dukes, on a red ribbon in golden letters the motto: "per aspera ad astra" (through hardships to the stars). The shield is supported by a bull rampant Sable armed Argent and tongued Gules at dexter and a griffin rampant Or tongued Gules at sinister, behind all is a mantle Gules ornamented Or lined ermine, on its top another ducal coronet.

Greater State Arms of Mecklenburg-Strelitz


[Mecklenburg-Strelitz gCoA] -- image by Hugo Gerard Ströhl, located by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 July 2020

The arms were basically the same as those of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (see above).
But they were different in minor details:
a) the crown in the Ratzeburg arms is impending
b) the woman's arm in the Stargard arms comes out of a cloud
c) the helmet of the Dukes of Mecklenburg is crested with a coronet, not a Wendish Crown
d) the supporting bull isn't tongued, the supporting griffin is rampant cowed
e) order and motto ( "avito viret honore" = it flourishes (literally becomes green) in hereditary honour) are not part of the arms
f) the mantle is simply red

Both Grand Dukes were cousins. Both considered themselves as parts of an unique body. The partition of Mecklenburg was made due to income and not to regions, like the royal and ducal portions of Schleswig-Holstein.
Source: Hugo Gerard Ströhl: "Deutsche Wappenrolle", Stuttgart 1897, pp.43-45


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