Vexillology Ireland: Brateolaíocht Éireann
VIBE Winter Newsletter 2017
Vol. 1 No. 7
Welcome to Vexillology Ireland’s Winter Newsletter! We are very happy to be bringing out our Winter Newsletter right now. Spring is already upon us, at least here in Ireland. While the weather remains chilly, the daffodils are about to bloom and there is a sense of new beginnings all around. This is probably more to do with politics than nature, but we will pretend it’s because St. Brigid’s Day on 1 February has just passed. This day marks the traditional beginning of spring in Ireland and “heralds” longer days and therefore more daylight hours for both heraldry and vexillology. The last couple of months around the world have been very “colourful”, in all senses of the word. For this reason, we have decided to publish and equally colourful newsletter. In this edition we have two wonderful contributions from our Milanese friend Gianluca Lentini - Buona lettura a tutti!
Happy Year of the Rooster from Ireland! Happy Chinese Year of the Rooster! The year began on 28 January and will last until 15 February, 2018. Ireland has a considerable Chinese population and there were a number of events organized to celebrate the New Year. For those who are familiar with neither the Chinese calendar nor Chinese astrology, the rooster is one of 12 zodiac signs, which unlike in Western astrology, last a year instead of a month. The other zodiac signs are a dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat and monkey (the year that has just passed). It is safe to say that all 12 have been used in heraldry and perhaps in flags as well. Above you will find our half-hearted attempt at replacing the eagle on the flag of Connacht with a rooster. Below you will find a small history of the iconography of the rooster, more so in the case of France. France has historically been symbolised by the Coq Gaulois (Gallic rooster). While Marianne, the female personification of France represents the state (as in the Republic), the rooster stands for the nation and recalls the “Gallic” origins of country. Interestingly, in Latin the word Gallus means both “an inhabitant of Gaul” as well as “rooster.” For anyone who does not know, Gaul or in Latin Gallia, was essentially ancient France but also included parts of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Italy. The area was inhabited by Gauls who were a Celtic group. In the Middle Ages the rooster was used widely as a Christian symbol in French churches. The morning crowing of the bird symbolised the overcoming of darkness and represented faith and hope. Its national associations with France began during the Renaissance when subsequent kings adopted it for its Christian and manly symbolism. For obvious reasons, the rooster traditionally represented vigilance and alertness and was placed on top of weather vanes or “weathercocks” in order to show the direction of the wind. Interestingly for vexillologists, the word vane comes from the Old English fane, which meant “flag”. This can be compared to the modern German Fahne, which along with Flagge means “flag.” 1
The French Revolution established the rooster as a French national symbol, the same time when the concept of nation was being created. Napoleon however did not take a liking for the bird and replaced it with his own emblem – an eagle. This was symbolic as he became Emperor of France and famously said: “Le coq n'a point de force, il ne peut être l'image d'un empire tel que la France” or “The rooster has no power, he cannot be the image of an empire the likes of France.” After Napoleon’s downfall, the eagle was brought back again only during the reign of Napoleon III as the symbol of the Second French Empire from 1852 until 1870, when France was defeated by the Prussian-led German Alliance in the FrancoPrussian War. Ironically, the rooster became a symbol of French resistance and gallantry during both World Wars against the German eagle. (It is but a great coincidence that the words gallantry and gallus look and sound almost the same). In 1912 the current French national emblem was adopted (France sadly has no national coat of arms) which depicts a wide shield with the heads of a lion and an eagle. The rooster is however illustrated on the Great Seal of France (highlighted, left) which dates back to 1848, to the Second Republic (If you were wondering, France is now on its “Fifth Republic”). It has one claw on a globe which can easily be interpreted as French world domination and today can still represent remnants of French colonialism around the globe. Today the rooster is most visible in the area of French sports. It appears on many logos, including the French National Olympic and Sports Committee, the national rugby team and the national football team (below). The latter shows the bird inside a hexagonal-shaped shield which stands for the notion that France is in the form of a hexagon or l'Hexagone. When France hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1998, their mascot was a rooster named Footix. Although the German clothes brands Adidas and Puma do not display any national symbols on their logos, the French Le Coq Sportif, as the names suggests, use a Coq as their symbol.
Belgium provides some other examples of the rooster. Officially the country is trilingual, but German is put on the side-lines in the language divide between Flemish (Dutch) and French. Flanders is the Flemish-speaking region, the capital Brussels is officially bi-lingual, while Wallonia is the French-speaking part. Due to the linguistic and cultural connections to France, Wallonia also depicts the Coq Gaulois on its flags. Belgian flag with a rooster include Wallonia, Waloon Brabant , the French Community Commission and Rattachism, a small movement that calls for the Wallonia to become part of France. (shown below, left to right).
Napoleon’s Green in Flags By Gianluca Lentini The similarity between the flag of France, Italy and Ireland is well known and denotes a clear common origin. In fact, the three flags were born following the revolutionary inspiration of France, that dismissed all royal symbols of the Ancien Régime and chose a vertical tri-colour bearing the colours of the Coat of Arms of Paris, and adding white. If blue and red were (and still are) the colours of the arms of Paris, in fact white was added to create a national tri-coloured cockade to be worn by revolutionaries, in defiance of the then classical bi-colours denoting monarchies. The military expansionism of France during Napoleon’s era caused not only the French revolutionary ideals to be spread all over Europe, but also the tri-colour pattern of the flag to be either imposed or adopted by states falling under the French military (Italy, Switzerland) or romantic and cultural influence, as is the case for Ireland or Romania. Napoleon’s invasion of Italy dates back to 1796: at the time, like for best part of the latest 13 centuries, Italy had been divided into several independent states, either actually independent, like the Papal States or the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, or dependent from Spain (the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) or from Austria-Hungary (Lombardy-Venetia). The ideal of a political unification of Italy had been always part of the aspirations of one Italian state or another, and the French invasion ended up creating a vexillological symbol for it, the first Italian Tricolore, adopted as a state symbol on January 7th 1797 of one of the Napoleon’s inspired “sister republics”, the Cispadane Republic, in the town of Reggio Emilia, nowadays known as “la città del Tricolore/the city of the Tricolour”. The Cispadane tricolour was a horizontal red-white-green tri-colour, bearing at its center a quiver with four arrows for the four provinces making up the republic: Modena, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara and Bologna. From that moment on, the Italian national aspiration to unification was to be symbolised by various incarnations of a green-white-red tricolour. If the tricolour was chosen in a clear attempt to emulate France and its revolutionary prowess, why the choice of colour green? Green is a rather rare colour in Italian heraldry: the main Italian cities display generous amounts of red (Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Palermo) often accompanied by white or yellow (silver or gold), a somehow rarer blue (Venice and Bologna again, Turin, Parma, Catania), but green is indeed much rarer and used in far less prominent cities and towns. The legend has it that green was Napoleon’s favourite colour, and a colour that the soon-to-be emperor of the French associated with liberty. Also, it is argued that green was the main colour of the uniforms of the Milanese militia (in the Milanese dialect adequately known as remolazzit, or the “small radishes”, and i verdi, “the green ones”) that Napoleon had met and re-organised in an anti-Austrian Lombard Legion (flag left). Curiously enough, another national movement with a green-white-red tricolour, the Hungarian one, was soon to come to represent another important worry for the Habsburg monarchy. The green-white-red tricolour offers itself to a beautiful, if completely spurious interpretation: green, white and red are in fact the colours associated to the three theological virtues of the Christian faith (Faith, Hope, and Charity). These very same three colours are worn by Beatrice when she appears to Dante in the Purgatory of the Divine Comedy, the first masterpiece written in the modern Italian language, in the XIII century. Beatrice is described as “a woman appeared to me, dressed in flame red, wreathed with a candid white veil, and cloaked in olive 3
green.” Beatrice appears to Dante in Purgator (right) dressed in the colours of the Italian flag (not). The alleged favourite colour of Napoleon was to be adopted also by newly created or liberated cantons in Switzerland. Napoleon is in fact responsible for the last successful foreign invasion of the Swiss Confederation that was subdued in less than one month by the French troops, and reorganised into the Helvetic Republic (17981793). The French allegedly intervened at the request of the paysans of Vaud, a French-speaking population of a large territory that was a dependency of the powerful (and largely German-speaking) Canton of Bern. The flag chosen for the Helvetic Republic was, once more, a tricolour of… green, red and yellow, with Helvetic Republic written in French (left). The Helvetic Republic represented a closure with the seven-century old tradition of the Old Swiss Confederacy, in which big and powerful cantons (such as Bern, or Uri, or Zurich) held bailiffs on other Swiss territories that paid taxes and lent soldiers to the more powerful cantons. Napoleon’s invasion led to the liberation and sovereignty of several of these dependent territories, and oversaw the creations (or set in motion the creation) of the modern cantons of Vaud, Thurgau, Neuchâtel and Sankt Gallen (below, left to right). All these cantons incorporate Napoleon’s green in their modern flags.
Interestingly, Neuchâtel displays the green-white-red tri-colour that is also characteristic of Italy: the canton itself did so in order to underline its republican stance after it was snatched from the king of Prussia, Frederick William the III, who held nominal fealty over the territory before the creation of the Helvetic Republic. Out of the 26 modern cantons that make up Switzerland, only these four incorporate green in their arms or flag, a perennial memory of the Napoleonic origin of their modern sovereignty.
Pink in Flags By Gianluca Lentini (with his personal flag on the left) The six most common colours in world flags are red, white, blue, yellow, green and black, with the red/white/blue trio dominating the lot, especially when it comes to national flags. This fact originates from the six main heraldic tinctures, with purple, the seventh, having been absorbed into vexillological red most of the time. Orange comes in seventh place, while other colours (grey, brown, and heraldic purple) make extremely rarer appearances. In fact, most people would probably struggle to name a single flag containing grey, brown or purple. Pink is even rarer. If we consider the general idea people have about pink, then only a couple of flags might come to mind: the flag of the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo and the traditional tricolour of Newfoundland, with the first being the official flag of the State, and the second being traditional but not official in any shape or form. 4
The flag of Espírito Santo (above), a state lying to the North of the Rio de Janeiro State, owes its colours to the clothes of a statue of Our Lady of Victory, a statue of the Virgin Mary, clothed with a light blue and pink dress, that is venerated in some areas of the Lusophone world, including the state of Espírito Santo. The motto “Trabalha e Confia”, meaning “Work and Have Trust” is also a Catholic-inspired motto, coming from the Company of Jesus of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Of similar origin is the traditional tricolour of the Canadian island of Newfoundland (left), although there are at least a couple of main competing theories for it. According to a probably spurious hypothesis the three colours stand for the three nations that form a relevant part of Newfoundland’s European heritage: green for the Irish, white for the Scots (yes, allegedly coming from the white St. Andrew’s cross of Scotland’s flag), and pink for the English. A local folk song to the flag of Newfoundland, in fact, recites: “The pink the rose of England shows, the green St. Patrick’s emblem bright, and in between, in spotless sheen, of Andrew’s cross displays the white”. Actually, the likeliest explanation of the “Pink White and Green” flag is, again, of a religiously inspired emblem: it was probably born as the emblem of a Roman Catholic fraternal group called the “Star of the Sea association” in St. John’s, the island’s main town and now capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, appearing sometime in the early 1870s. The origins of the unusual tricolour are however debated in shrouded in legend: it seems however likely that the pink-white-green tricolour might have been competing with a more orthodox (inevitable pun) red-white-green tricolour of a Protestant society and fraternity group. Curiously enough, red white and green are the colours associated with the three traditional theological virtues of mercy, faith and hope, and red itself is a more appropriate colour denoting the rose of England, with the current Tudor red rose being one of the emblem of the country. When it comes to darker shades of pink, a so-called raspberry pink colour is prominent in all flags inspired by the Cossacks. In fact, raspberry pink was considered the battling colour of the Cossacks, and is proudly displayed in historical and present flags. One fine historical example lies in the short-lived (1918-1919) of the Kuban People’s Republic, located on the Western shores of the Black Sea in historical Cossack territory, an anti-Bolshevik republic that was to be quickly absorbed into the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. The Kuban PR’s flag is a Spanishstructured tricolour of blue, pink and green, with raspberry pink in the central and more prominent position (above). In the same geographic area can be found flags incorporating raspberry pink, association, both in terms of geographical a remarkable number of Ukrainian army prominent example of which is found in the Forces itself (right).
several modern examples of displaying the same Cossack area and of battling spirit. In fact, flags incorporate pink, a flag of the Ukrainian Armed
Several administrative subdivisions of Ukraine also incorporate pink, with the most important example in first level oblast of Zaporizhia, with an all-pink flag and the emblem of a Cossack fighter (below). Pink, or raspberry pink, might seem the most unlikely fighting colour we might think of, and yet Eastern Europe has a very strong opinion to the contrary. If we were to debate even darker hues of pink, we would probably enter the cognitive realm of “purple” or “violet”, where flags from Spain’s Autonomous Communities and Provinces would play a remarkable role, with a fine add of some Japanese prefectures. But that’s for another time. 5
Maroon Flags What do the Irish counties of Galway and Westmeath have in common with Qatar? You would be surprised to hear the flag and not the weather. All three have technically been using a maroon and white flag since around 1936. In the Irish case, both GAA teams of County Galway (Connacht) and County Westmeath (Leinster) began wearing jerseys in these colours in 1936, which subsequently became the de facto colours of both counties. The flags shown below are an example of a number of flags that are used by the respective county teams. Sadly, as with most US state flags, both the name and emblem are placed on most Irish county flags, defeating the purpose of a flag.
In the 19th century the Qatari flag was a simple bicolour of red and white (like County Cork), a colour combination that is still found on many flags in the region today such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. Due to the richness and flags of these places, a comparison can be here with the flags of the Hanseatic cities of northern Europe, like Tartu (Estonia), Elbląg (Poland) and the most famous Lübeck (Germany). Due to the immense Qatari heat, it is said that the red dyes used for the flag of Qatar would darken and turn maroon. As a result the maroon began to replace red as the official colour in the 1930’s. To most, this would remind of the Dutch case where red replaced orange for similar reasons. In any case, around 1936 a maroon flag, very similar to the current one began to be used, albeit with the addition of diamonds and an inscription of the country in Arabic - ﻗﻄﺮ. In 1916, during the First World War, the same year as the Irish “Easter Rising” and the infamous Battle of the Somme, Britain signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani making Qatar a British Protectorate. The nine serrated edges on the current flag derive from this treaty, as Qatar was the ninth member of the “reconciled Emirates.” The treaty ended in 1971 when Qatar declared independence and officially adopted their national flag. The ratio of the Qatari flag is a strange 11:28, if it helps, 1128 is the year that Belgian city of Bruges was found.
Harp Research and Presentations Stan Zamyatin, once again, represented the Society abroad, this time at the annual Winter Meeting of The Flag Institute in Birmingham, England, on 19 November 2016. For those who may not know, the Flag Institute is a British charity that is one of the leading flag research and documentation centres for flags in the world. Since the Conference in Georgia in September 2016, Stan has carried out further research on the “history of the harp in Irish iconography.” While in England, he presented his new findings in a paper that was very well received. In addition, other presentations were given that included, Graham Bartram (Chief Vexillologist of FI) on the new flag and emblem of The Flag Institute, Philip Tibbetts (Community Vexillologist) on his work in 2016 on “Community Flags around Britain” and Tim Marshall (Former Sky News journalist) on his latest book “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags.” We were saddened to hear on 17 November about the passing of the great Whitney Smith, the “father of vexillology” who also coined the term back in 1957. Amongst many things, he helped to establish many vexillological organizations including in 1965 the International Congress of Vexillology (ICV), which we hope to bring to Ireland in 2021. In honour of Whitney, a minute silence was held during the Winter Meeting and a toast was raised to him at the President’s Dinner in the evening. 6
On 13 December 2016, Stan gave a lecture on the “Evolution of the Irish harp emblem” at Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute. A considerable amount of people attended and for the first time in GSI’s history, a presentation was recorded and uploaded to YouTube. If you would like to see Stan’s presentation simply search for "Evolution of the Irish Harp" or just follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvLuTyV_Pow. Stan’s research on the harp will continue until the summer, when we hope to publish another booklet on all his findings just before the ICV in London. We would also like to use this opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable assistance received from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for the campaign to have the prestigious international conference come here in 2021. A number of people noted the incorrect use of “right-facing” harps on the cover image (left). It should be noted that this was done for stylistic purposes. While it is true that the harp has traditionally been depicted as “left-facing” (like heraldry usually dictates) in Irish iconography, the Western concept of progress and evolution has traditionally been depicted going from left to right, see – The March of Progress. Incidentally this direction comes from the movement of the Sun from east to west, as perceived in the Northern Hemisphere. This is why clockwise was originally “sun-wise”, as it was also based on the sun’s movement. As this article comes to a conclusion, you should note that this is why it was written and read from left to right. So there you go - some illumination for the final days of winter.
Closure of GSI's Archive and Research Centre We are saddened to announce the closure of GSI’s Archive and Research Centre in a couple of days, following the decision of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to acquire the premises for commercial letting. The Society received a ‘Notice to Quit’ by 14 February 2017 after six years in the small premises at the Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire which was totally refurbished by the Society in 2010. The Society’s facility has been open to the public and indeed, was used by all sections of the community, including retirees, students, local history researchers and, of course, many overseas visitors. The closure of the facility will be a huge loss to the cultural, heritage and educational assets of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown. A new location has still not been found and all our material is going into storage until a new Archive and Research Centre can be open.
VIBE Spring Newsletter 2017 The VIBE Spring Newsletter will be out in May 2017. We are now looking for people to contribute to this issue. If you would like to write a short piece on something related to flags and emblems, please send an email to email@example.com. Go raibh míle maith agaibh!
Further Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Genealogical Society of Ireland, 11, Desmond Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland. A96 AD76 Vexillology Ireland : Brateolaíocht Éireann Website: https://flagsireland.wordpress.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Flags.Ireland Twitter: https://twitter.com/flagsireland
Heraldry Ireland : Araltas Éireann Website: http://heraldryireland.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Heraldry.Ireland/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeraldryIreland
Published on Feb 5, 2017
Occasional newsletter of Vexillology Ireland : Brateolaíocht Éireann (VIBE) - Edited by Stanislav Zamyatin, MGSI, MVI, MHI. Vexillology Irel...