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Electorate of Brandenburg 1356-1701 (Germany)

kurfürstentum brandenburg

Last modified: 2015-04-17 by pete loeser
Keywords: brandenburg | electorate | kurfürstentum brandenburg | germany | eagle (red) | crown: royal | stripes: 7 | eagle (gold) | eagle (black) |
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Late 17th Century Ensign

[Brandenburg African Company c.1680-1701 (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Mario Fabretto, Source: CISV archives

On this page: See also:

Introduction:

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"The lands extending eastward from the Elbe to the Vistula, once inhabited by Germans, were invaded by Slavic tribes who, during the sixth century of the Christian era, pushed their way as far as the Elbe and the Saale in Thuringia. Charlemagne was the first to check their advance; later, Henry I attacked them, captured Brennabor [Brandenburg], the stronghold of the Lusatians, and to safeguard his conquests established the North Mark. In 939 Otto I brought the country of the Hevelli under his power [and] placed the Slavic races as far as the Oder under tribute, and (...) founded the dioceses of Havelberg and Brandenburg (948) (...). In a great uprising (983), the Slavs pressed on as far as the Elbe [and] conquered Brandenburg and Havelberg. Emperors Henry II and Conrad II (...) again brought the Lusatians under the power of the German Empire (...).
Count Albert of Ballenstadt, founder of the Ascanian line, who had been made Margrave of the North Mark by Emperor Lothair II (1134), entered into friendly relations with the Wendish prince, Pribislav, at that time the ruler of Brandenburg, was chosen by him as his heir, and in 1150 took possession of the land, assuming at the same time the title of Margrave of Brandenburg. He brought colonists from the Lower Rhine and Utrecht, who (...) reclaimed the swamp lands of the Mark for agricultural purposes; the cities were peopled anew; (...) and the Wendish population soon won over to Christianity and the German Empire.(...)
When the Ascanian line had become extinct, Emperor Louis the Bavarian annexed the Mark to his own territories (1320), but as early as 1373 the House of Wittelsbach was forced to relinquish Brandenburg, which in 1356 had been raised to the rank of an Electorate, to Emperor Charles IV, who made it a dependency of the Bohemian Crown. (...) Charles's son, Sigismund, mortgaged the Mark (1388-1411) and in 1411 appointed as Statthalter (Governor) Burgrave Frederick of Nuremberg, who took possession in 1412, and, having overcome the opposition of the nobles, was solemnly invested with the Mark of Brandenburg as an elector of the German Empire (1417). In this way Brandenburg passed into the possession of the Hohenzollerns, who have since held it without interruption [until 1918]."
Santiago Dotor, 29 June 2000

When in 1660 the Duchy of Prussia became independent of Poland the way was opened to union with Brandenburg and thereby also the foundation of the Prussian state. In 1701, Prussia became a kingdom and from then till 1871, it was in a continuous stage of expansion until it came to be by far the largest German state, almost as large as all the others together.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

Frederick III, Prince Elector (Kurfürst) of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, proclaimed himself King of Prussia in 1701, with the acceptance of the Emperor and other German powers, partly in exchange for his support in the forthcoming War of the Spanish Succession. Thereafter all Brandenburg-Prussia possesions were generally known as "Prussia".
Santiago Dotor, 29 June 2000


Sources:

The flags listed below mostly come from one or more flag charts or books, either directly, or taken from them from Siegel 1912. Where I can I will cite the date. Note that my citing a date does not imply that the flag was adopted then; indeed, in almost every case, it was adopted sometime earlier, since it takes some time for it to get to a chart. I never deliberately cite a flag after it ceased to be used, but since I will only "overrule" a source if I feel confident I can do so, it would surprise me if there were not several such cases. In all cases, the eagle's head is pointed towards the hoist unless otherwise stated. Since most of the data come (directly or indirectly) from flag charts, it is sometimes difficult to be certain whether a minor difference is due to inaccuracy of the source or not. The result is that some of the flags listed as distinct may in fact not be.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

Even well documented flag charts (as the one from Bellin dated 1756) show flags [which had] disappeared many years before their publication. For example flags for Brandenburg are present even in the beginning of the 19th century, when all its flags were replaced since 1707 with the Prussian ones.
Mario Fabretto, 5 August 1998

Unfortunately, I do not have the detailed information about 17th and 18th century flags that I often have about later ones. In most cases, all I know is that they appeared in flag charts on the date cited. In a few cases, there is reason to believe that the chart entry is outdated although it is difficult to be certain in some cases. In certain cases (e.g. the Brandenburg West Indies Company or early Memel), there is reason to doubt the real existence of the flags. This is especially true due to the habit of flag chart makers of simply copying data from earlier charts, so that mistakes, once made, can be continued for years. Similarly, flags can continue to be cited long after they are no longer used.
But even in the cases where we have flag decrees, there are some cases where we have reason to believe they have still been used without or contrary to the decrees (e.g. Schleswig-Holstein and Hannover in the late 19th century, the Imperial naval ensign during 1919-1921). In this case, when I did not have information I believed on dates of adoption, I cited the dates of the flag charts. In addition, many flag charts only have the national title like "Brandenburg" or something like "Pavillon de Brandenbourg" with no indication as to the use.
Norman Martin, 28 June 2000


Brandenburg 1340

[Brandenburg 1340 (Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with a red eagle.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998


Brandenburg 17th-19th Centuries
Adopted 1657, reported 1848

[Brandenburg since 1657 (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with a red eagle crowned with the electoral cap, inescutcheon a blue shield with the golden scepter of the Reichserbkämmerer (Imperial hereditary chamberlain).
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

[The above image is wrong in that it] should be crowned with an electoral cap, rather than a royal crown. [For an example of the electoral cap, see Mario Fabretto's image at the top of this page.]
Norman Martin, 5 January 1999


Brandenburg 17th-18th Centuries
Reported 1695, 1716 and 1756

[Brandenburg 17th-18th Centuries (Prussia, Germany)]Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with a red eagle crowned (red and gold) and with a gold sword and sceptre. Basically, this is the banner of arms of Brandenburg. The crown raises doubt as to whether this flag is as early as 1695.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998


Brandenburg 1737

[Brandenburg 1737 (?) (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

Norie and Hobbs 1848 shows under "125: Brandenburg" the above flag, except black and white.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001


Brandenburg 1660-1707
Reported 1695, 1716, 1750

[Brandenburg 17th-18th centuries (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

Seven horizontal stripes, white-black, towards the hoist a white square field 3/7ths the height with a red eagle (without crown or regalia).
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

All the versions I have seen have the rectangle only covering the center 3 stripes. Likewise all of the flags of this type have the rectangle biased to the hoist.
Norman Martin, 28 June 2000

Editor's note: see also Königsberg Historical Flags, specifically the Introduction and the 17th-18th Centuries, 17th-19th Centuries and 1805 ensigns.

Variant

[Brandenburg 17th-18th centuries (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

In my source the stripes show green
Jaume Ollé, 9 August 1999


Brandenburg 1695, 1700 and 1716

[Brandenburg 1695, 1700 and 1716 (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with, somewhat toward hoist, a black eagle (uncrowned) head pointed towards fly somewhat towards fly. In the fly the blue shield with the golden scepter of the Reichserbkämmerer.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

Although all other Brandenburg and Prussian flags and arms have the eagle facing the hoist, the only version I have of the flag (Tafel 18 in Siegel 1912) with eagle with separate Arms in the fly has the eagle facing the fly (as above). It would not surprise me though if there were ones facing the usual way.
Norman Martin, 28 June 2000

Siegel 1912 labels this flag Kurfürstentum Brandenburg 1695 [i.e. Electorate of Brandenburg]. The date (1695) probably refers to C. Allard's Nieuwe Hollandse Scheeps-bouw, Amsterdam.
Norman Martin, 2 July 2000


Brandenburg 1716

[Brandenburg 1716 (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with a black eagle (uncrowned) head. Inescutcheon: the blue shield with the golden scepter of the Reichserbkämmerer.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

The shield should be [an] inescutcheon (like Brandenburg 1737, but not diagonally oriented).
Norman Martin, 5 January 1999


Brandenburg 18th-19th Centuries
Reported 1716, 1737, 1750 and 1848

[Brandenburg 18th-19th Centuries (Prussia, Germany)] Image by Jaume Ollé

A white flag with a gold crowned two-headed pelican.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

Norie and Hobbs 1848 shows under "124: Brandenburg" the above flag, except a larger crown, underside of the wings red and in general slightly more detail.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001


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