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Zagreb (Croatia): Historical flags until 1896

Last modified: 2014-03-01 by ivan sache
Keywords: zagreb | gric | kaptol | castle: 3 towers (white) | star: 8 points (yellow) | crescent (yellow) | eagle: double-headed (black) | letter: c (yellow) | fire warning |
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See also:

External sources:

  • Ž. Heimer Grbovi i zastave grada Zagreba (Leykam,2009) (presentation)
  • I. Bilić, I., H. Ivanković Zagrebacki leksikon 2, M-Ž (Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krleža, Zagreb, 2006)
  • E. Laszowski Zastava grada Zagreba, in Prosvjeta (1896)
  • R. Horvat Prošlost grada Zagreba (Zagreb, 1942)
  • A. Gulin Srednjovjekovni pecati Zagrebackog kaptola, in Starine JAZU, Vol. 58 (Zagreb, 1980)
  • J. Borošak-Marijanović Zastave kroz stoljeca, Hrvatski povijesni muzej (Zagreb, 1996) [bor96]
  • D. Peić Caldarović Heraldicki Zagreb, Hrvatski povijesni muzej (Zagreb, 2004, online edition)
  • P. Čimbur Natjecanje za grb (Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1985) [cim85]
  • N. Premerl Vodić Muzeja grada Zagreba (MGZ, Zagreb, 2002)

Zagreb until 1850

The oldest settlemenst in the region of Zagreb predate the Roman era, but they are located mainly along the Sava River. The first settlements on the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountain were made on the hill of Gradec (also named Grić) with the arrival of Croats in the 7th century.
At least since the 9th century, there are traces of the first settlements on the nearby hill latter known as Kaptol (Chapter). There the Croato-Hungarian King Ladislaus I (Ladislav I) established a diocese in around 1094; in a document from 1134 named Felitian's Charter (Felicijanova povelja), in which the Esztergom (Ostrogon) Bishop Felitian recounts on the first Bishop of Zagreb, Duh. This is also the oldest preserved mention of the name Zagreb.
Beneath Kaptol, south of it, a settlement of foreign (initially Italian) merchants was created in the 12th century under the name Vicus Latinorum (Latin Street, in Croatian, Vlaška ulica, still bearing the same name) under the auspices of the Bishops of Kaptol. The merchant town of Zagreb on the hill of Gradec was granted the privileges of a Royal and Free Town by the Golden Bull issued by the Croato-Hungarian King Bela IV in 1242, for the services rendered in his retreat from the Tatars hordes.
Also on the north side of Kaptol, a settlement was granted the Free Community status in 1344, under the name Nova Ves (New Village), under the diocesan auspices.

These four communities were united in 1850 into the Free and Royal Capital City of Zagreb.

Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007


[Flag of Gric]         [Flag of Gric]

Flag of Grić, obverse and reverse - Images by Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007

Grić has been using seals since the early Middle Ages (14th-15th centuries); sources confirm that Grić used a red town flag in about the same time. Alben, Bishop of Zagreb, mentions in a document of 1422 that from a belfry of the St. Marcus church a "bloody flag" (vexillum cruentum) was hoisted, so it must have been red, but regarding to its details we may only speculate.
These seals were the base for the coat of arms of Grić preserved since 1499.

The oldest preserved flag of Grić was made in the first half of the 18th century (between 1711 and 1740). It was made of dark red damask silk fabrics in shape of a rectangular flag with split tongues. The overall proportions are about 3:4. On its obverse is painted the town coat of arms in a cartouche, "Gules on a hill vert three towers argent between a crescent and a star". The reverse pictures the Habsburg black double-headed eagle displayed, topped with a crown and holding a sword and a sceptre, bearing an escutcheon "Azure with a cipher 'C' or", for Carolus VI, the Croato-Hungarian King Charles VI (Emperor Charles III). The worn-out tails of the flag were renewed with red damask in 18th century.

This flag was kept in the Town Hall on St. Marcus Square, although it seems not always with the best care. Namely, in 1896, when it was discovered in some odd corner of the Hall, it made quite a sensation in the local journals.
It was then again given a place of honour in the Town Hall, where it stood until 1907, when it was layed down in the Town Museum (Inventory No. 5430).

This flag was hoisted in ceremonial occasions. In processions it was carried in front of the representatives of the Town Council. It is noted that in some ceremonial circumstances it was hoisted from the belfry of the Church of St. Marcus - where from it was also displayed from when the town was to be defended from enemies.
It is not clear whether it is the same flag that is mentioned in a receipt from 1740 where the town tax officer Franjo Fabijanec noted on expenditures: "I have ceded - with the knowledge of the Lord Captain - 10 pennies to the silversmith who repaired the finial of the town's flag."
J. Borošak-Marjanovic [bor96] writes:

The first mention of the flag of the town of Zagreb is connected with the descriptions of the civic government from the 15th century (1422) by I. K. Tkalčić in "Historical monuments of the Free and Royal City of Zagreb", page L: 'The civic flag vexillum communis'. It is the flag of the municipality under which, in ceremonies is gathered civic council. It was hoisted as a sign in time of armed conflicts on a belfry of the church of St. Mark. It was coloured red, but regarding the design we can only guess.

Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007


[Flag of Kaptol]

Flag of Kaptol - Image by courtesy of Jelena Borošak-Marijanović, Croatian History Museum (website)

Flag of the Zagreb Chapter 1753, made to welcome Maria Theresa on her visit to Zagreb
Multicolored silk, appliques, wood, gilt bronze. 244 x 244 cm, staff length 344 cm, finial 27 x 10 cm.
A rectangular flag made of three parts of blue silk, edged with interchanging white and red flame-like shapes. In the centre of the flag field on both sides there is an iconographic depiction of the Immaculate Virgin.

Source: Jelena Borošak-Marijanović, Zastave kroz stoljeca [bor96]

Fire warning flags, 1871

Quoting the text next to the rule book in room 36 of the Zagreb Municipal Museum:

Namely, in 1871 the Municipal Government of Zagreb issued regulations for information in case of fire. The town was divided into five fire districts. The location of the fire was designated with a certain number of rounds shot from a cannon, by bell ringing and by hoisting of a red flag - if the fire broke in the town, or a white-red flag - if the fire emerged in a village. If the fire broke in the night, a red light was lit on the tower, or, if it was in a village, a white one.

Željko Heimer, 23 July 2006