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Dictionary of Vexillology: B (Background - Banner of Victory)

Last modified: 2022-05-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) The circumstances which led to the adoption or amendment of a flag.
2) In vexillology see ‘field 1)’ and the note below.
3) In heraldry see ‘field 2)’.

[background] [background]
Flag and Arms of Nova Gradiška, Croatia (fotw)

Please note with regard to 2) that the word is occasionally used to indicate a colour within, or of, a charge.

The material or surface upon which an old flag is placed for the purposes of stabilization or preservation.

1) Generically, any emblem sometimes derived from the symbols contained in a full set of armorial bearings, but which does not contain a shield (see also ‘anti-heraldry’, ‘armorial bearings’, ‘emblem’, ‘charge’ and ‘shield’).
2) Specifically see ‘badge in heraldry’ and the note below.
3) In UK usage, that emblem formerly placed in the fly half of a defaced Blue (or Red) Ensign in order to distinguish between British colonies, and used in place of a full set of armorial bearings, or the shield from those arms (see also ‘blue ensign’, ‘colonial flags’, ‘deface’, ‘disc’ and ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’).
4) The insignia of a military or naval unit often incorporated into the design of its cap badge, arm flash/patch, colour or other organizational flag - but see ‘emblem, military and governmental/departmental’ (also ‘camp flag’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘grommet 2)’, ‘rope grommet’, ‘military crest’ and ‘ship’s crest’).

[badge illustration] [badge illustration] [badge illustration]
Badge/Emblem of the Belarussian SSR (fotw); Camp Flag of the Training and Development Branch, Canada (fotw); Badge of British Ceylon 1825 – 1948 (fotw);

Please note with regard to 1) however, that with a large degree of heraldic justification, some sources propose the charge to be an integral part of a flag’s design and generally not used separately, whereas, in general a badge may. It is, therefore, suggested that the entry ‘badge in heraldry’ below and a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted.

Badge in Heraldry
A mark of distinction somewhat similar to a crest, though not placed on a wreath, nor worn upon the helmet. Badges are rather supplemental bearings quite independent of the charge of the original arms; they are borne on various flags, and formerly upon the breasts - or more frequently the sleeves - of servants and followers (see also ‘badge banner’, ‘badge pennon’, ‘pinsel’ and ‘heraldic standard’.

[badge illustration] [badge illustration] [badge illustration]
Badge of the Royal House of Plantagenet 1154 – 1399, England (Wikipedia); Badge of the Royal House of Tudor 1486 – 1603, England (Wikipedia); Badge of HRH Prince Charles, UK (Wikipedia).

a) In Scottish heraldry, the crest on the wreath may be used as a badge.
b) It is suggested that the badge fell out of general use in personal English heraldry during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603).

The term for a small square flag showing a person’s badge, probably against livery colours, and particularly (but not exclusively) for use at that person’s funeral – a practice now largely (if not entirely) obsolete (see also badge in heraldrybannerole’, ‘great banner’, ‘grumphion’ ‘livery banner’ and 'livery colours').

[badge banner]
Badge Banner of the Royal House of Tudor, England c1530

The term for a medieval lance pennon (usually carried by those mounted men-at-arms who were non-armigerous) that displayed a heraldic badge against livery colours – but see ‘pennoncel’ (also ‘armigerous’, ‘banneret 2)’, ‘Badge in Heraldry’, ‘lance’, ‘livery colours 1)’, ‘pennon 3)’) and ‘pennoncier’.

[badge banner]
Badge Pennon of the Earls of Warwick, England c1450

Alternative medieval terms for the standard bearer of the Knights Templar (see also ‘bauceant’ and ‘enceniator’).


An accurate but seldom used translation (balken meaning a “balk, “bar” or “beam” of wood) of the German term balkenkreuz - see ‘balkenkreuz’.


An often used, but incorrect, translation (balken meaning a “balk, “bar” or “beam” of wood) of the German term balkenkreuz - see ‘balkenkreuz’.


Please note that this cross (in essence a simplified form of the Iron Cross) was originally introduced as a German aircraft marking in April 1918, and has no connection with the Balkans.

The German term that is used to describe a black Greek cross fimbriated white, and employed from 1935 - 1945 by German forces as a mark of national identity on their military vehicles and aircraft – a Balkan, balk, bar or beam cross – but see the note below (also ‘fimbriation’, ‘fuselage marking’, ‘Greek cross’ and ‘iron cross’) .

Balkenkreuz  Balkenkreuz  Balkenkreuz
Flag of the German Sailing Union 1912 – 1934 (fotw); Example; Aircraft Recognition Drape of the Army c.1944, Germany (fotw)

Please note that this cross (a simplified form of the Iron Cross as referenced above and illustrated below) was originally introduced as a German aircraft marking in April 1918, and has no connection with the Balkans.

Aircraft Recognition mark c1917 and in current use, Germany (Wikipedia)

1) In vexillology see ‘disc’ (also ‘balls of difference’).
2) In heraldry see ‘roundel 3)’ .

Ball Ball Ball
Aboriginal Flag, Australia (fotw); Lt Admiral’s Rank Flag c1858, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Grafschaft Bentheim, Germany (fotw)

In British Royal Navy usage and some others, the disc or discs of distinction carried by the command flags of those flag officers who rank below the grade of full admiral - see ‘boat flag 3)’ (also ‘disc’, ‘flag of command 1)’, ‘flag officer 1)’, ‘flag officer 2)’ and ‘marks of difference 1)’.

UK Vice Admiral UK Rear Admiral India Rear Admiral
Flags of a Vice Admiral and Rear Admiral Royal Navy, United Kingdom (fotw); Flag of a Rear Admiral, India (fotw).

Please note that in British usage the present design dates from regulations of 1898. These regulations reduced the width of the red cross, increased the size of the balls and moved their position on the flag of a rear-admiral (as illustrated below).

Rear Admiral boat flag Rear Admiral boat flag
Boat Flag of a Rear Admiral of the White ca.1702-1864 (fotw); Boat Flag and then Command Flag of a Rear-Admiral 1864–1898, UK (fotw)

See ‘bauceant’.

A conjectural image of the Balzaus/Bauceant (fotw)

See ‘stripe(s)’.

[example of stripes]
National Flag of the Central African Republic (fotw)

See ‘indoor flag’.

[bandera de ceremonia]
National Flag of Argentina in Bandera de Ceremonia/Indoor Format (official website)

See ‘war flag’.

[bandera de guerra] [bandera de guerra]
Bandera de Guerra/War Flag, and National Arms of Peru (fotw)

See ‘crown colours’.

[bandera de guerra]
Banderas Coronelas/King’s Colour of the Barcelona Regiment of Light Infantry 1810, Spain (fotw)

Alternative medieval terms, now obsolete, for a standard bearer.


A medieval term, now obsolete, for a military unit serving under the banner of a feudal lord (see also ‘banner 1)’, ‘banneret 2)’, and ‘vexillation’).

1) Alternative medieval terms, now obsolete, for a small banner (see also ‘banner of arms)’).
2) A streamer or ribbon – often with an inscription – normally used alone (as on a crosier) rather than as an accessory to a flag – an orarium (see also ‘scarf’, ‘pencel’ and ‘streamer’).
3) Alternative heraldic terms for the streamer attached to a helmet or crest (see also ‘crest’, ‘pencel’ and ‘helm’).
4) A small flag flown as an accessory to a larger one.

Please note - not to be confused with ‘bannerole’.

1) A medieval term, now obsolete, for a small banner (see also ‘banneret’ and ‘bannerette’).
2) The Latin form of the Greek bandon which was a Byzantine military flag.

Please note, that banderia is a plural form of bandum, and that it has been suggested 1) may have been Latinized from a Celtic original.

Medieval terms, now obsolete, for a banner.

[banera]  [banera]
Banera/Lance Pennon, English c1360; A Banera/Banner from Hungary 14thC (fotw)

The heraldic term for that flag which is a square or rectangular version of the shield from a set of armorial bearings – an armorial banner or heraldic banner – but see ‘armorial banner 2)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘armorial flag’, ‘blazon’, ‘coat of arms 2)’, ‘heraldic standard’, ‘lance pennon 1)’, ‘marshalling’, ‘quarterly’, ‘shield 2)’ and ‘heraldic standard’).

[banner of arms] [banner of arms] [banner of arms]
Flag and Arms of Gruna, Czechia (fotw); Flag of Horní Benešov, Czechia (fotw)

In English, then British and some other naval usages, now obsolete, a flag (often the Royal Standard) that was used prior to the invention of a signal code to summon a council of war aboard the flagship – but see notes below (also ‘flagship’ and ‘signal flag’).

[badge illustration] [badge illustration]
English Royal Standards 1340 – 1603; plus 1603 – 1688 and 1701 – 1714 (fotw)

A banner of council first appeared in English sources during the first half of the 14th Century (dates of between 1337 and 1351 are suggested), and had ceased to be recorded by the 18th Century.
b) Use of a flag with this meaning was by no means limited to England’s navy, with instructions for a combined Mediterranean galley fleet of 1366 being just one example.

A translation of the Dutch “rijksvaandel” and proposed translation of the Norwegian term “riksbanner” - a royal banner - but see ‘coronation flags’.

Rijksvaandel of the Netherlands
Rijksvaandel of the Netherlands (fotw)

1) Specifically, the flag which (traditionally) was first raised by victorious Soviet forces over the Reichstag, Berlin on 20 April 1945, and which is preserved in the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, Moscow with a reproduction being displayed in the annual Victory Day Celebration – but see note below (also also ‘red flag 3)’).
2) Generically, the flag of any combatant who is victorious in a battle or in a war (see also ‘banner 8)’).

[Russian banner of victory] [Russian banner of victory]
Banner Raised Over The Reichstag, Berlin 1945 (fotw); Banner According To Current Practice (CS and fotw)

a) With regard to 1), the Cyrillic wording on the flag – 150 стр. Ордена Кутузова II ст. идрицк. див. 79 С.К. 3У.А.IБ.Ф – means “150th Rifle Idrickaâ Division (Awarded Order of Kutusov, II Degree), 79th Joint Corps, 3rd Shock Army, 1st Byelorussian Front”
b) From 2005 any such flags officially displayed at the Victory Day Celebrations will not show the hammer and sickle.

Special insert page: BANNER

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