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Dictionary of Vexillology: Additional Notes

Last modified: 2020-11-14 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The information on this page is provided as supplemental information to the Dictionary of Vexillology. It originated with an older version of a vexillological glossary produced by FOTW. Some terms below may have additional information at FOTW.

Battalion ring
In the Imperial German Army, one ring bore the battalion and regiment designation; others were added to commemorate a colour bearer who was killed in action.
Ian Sumner, 27 January 2006

In addition, bands with battle honors engraved on them were placed in chronological order below the unit designation band on the regimental color. The Army abandoned the battle honor bands when streamers were introduced following World War I. The last use of silver bands in the US Army was abolished in late 2004, and they were replaced with streamers.
Joe McMillan, 27 January 2006

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Color 2)
  • French - drapeau
  • Spanish - bandera (de regimiento)
  • German - Fahne or Truppenfahne
  • Italian - bandiera
  • Russian - znamya
  • Danish - fane
  • Dutch - vaandel (Netherlands), vlag (Belgium)
  • Swedish - segerfanan
  • Romanian - drapelul de lupta

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Commission Pennant
  • French - flamme de guerre
  • Spanish - gallardete
  • Russian - vympel
  • Portuguese - flãmula

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Cross of Lorraine
The cross of Lorraine is so named as René de Vaudemont duke of Lorraine used it during his victory on Charles Le Temeraire duke of Burgundy who died in front of Nancy in 1477.

Before this, this cross was used by the family of his grandfather, René le Bon, count of Anjou, Provence and Lorraine.

The house of Anjou carries this cross on them war banners since 1360 and it is this family which carried it in Hungary.

At this time, this cross was known as cross of Anjou.
Dominique Cureau, 10 March 2007

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  • French - pavillon
  • Spanish - pabellón, enseña
  • German - flagge
  • Russian - flag, kormovoi flag
  • Italian - bandiera
  • Dutch - natievlag
  • Polish - bandera
  • Danish - flag
  • Portuguese - pavilhão

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In a quartered banner-of-arms, for instance, the dexter chief (i.e.. top hoist) quarter would be described first.
  • In a gyronny of eight banner-of-arms, one should
    • (a) take only the top hoist quarter
    • (b) consider it is divided "per bend" and hence describe first the top (chief) triangle.
  • If it were a gyronny of sixteen, on top of the "bend" would be two triangles, so the one dexter (i.e.. to the hoist) would go first.
  • If the gyronny is such that one of the gyrons fits the top hoist corner, that one goes first.
In practice, the first gyron is the one which occupies the area immediately to the right of the top hoist corner -- whether such gyron starts there or occupies also the contiguous area below the top hoist corner.

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  • French - pavillon de beaupré
  • German - Gösch
  • Spanish - torrotito, bandera de tajamar
  • Russian - gyuis
  • Dutch - gues
  • Polish - proporzec
  • Portuguese - jaco, jaque

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Most non-rectangular flags of whatever shape in English-speaking countries. The caveat is necessary because the naval ensigns of a number of northern European countries are not rectangular.
Joseph McMillan, 23 January 2006

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Paying off pennant
Since before the Napoleonic wars it has been the custom for HM ships to fly a paying-off pennant at the main truck when they leave their fleet to return to their home port to pay-off. Custom ordains that the length of the pennant should equal the length of the ship if she leaves her station at the end of a normal period of foreign service. If however a commission has been extended, the length of the pennant is increased in proportion to the extra length of service (e.g. ship 480 feet in length that had it's 2 year commission extended to 2 years and 2 months would have a pennant 520 feet long). It is similar to, and flown in place of, the masthead pennant, and is displayed by a ship from a foreign station when entering or leaving harbors during her passage home, and by a ship of the Home Fleet on leaving for and arriving at her home port." Admiralty Seamanship Manual 1951. A hydrogen balloon was sometimes attached to the end of the pennant to keep it flying.
David Prothero, 25 June 1997

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Pilot flag
  • German: Lotsensignal

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Roundel 1)
  • French - cocarde (cockade)

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Standard 2)
  • French - étendard
  • Spanish - estandarte
  • German - Standart
  • Russian - shtandart
  • Portuguese - estandarte
  • Italian - stendardo
  • Danish - estandart
  • Dutch - standaard (Netherlands), vaandel (Belgium)

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"Vane. A piece of bunting extended on a wooden stock, which turns upon a spindle at the masthead; it shows the direction of the wind. A distinguishing vane denotes the division of a fleet to which a ship of the line belongs, according to the mast on which it is borne."
A Sailor's Word-Book by Admiral W.H. Smyth, 1867.

"In addition to the pennant, warships often flew vanes at empty mastheads. These were short, blunt pennants, sometimes on a rigid framework, which were used by merchant ships as well as warships. The vanes of warships were generally of the squadronal colour, though some late-18th-century fleets were equipped with sets of different vanes in more than one colour which were used to distinguish individual ships."
p.27 Flags at Sea [wil99] by Timothy Wilson.

"Eighteenth-century merchantmen were forbidden to fly pennants, but instead often flew short vanes at the masthead. Paintings of the period usually show them as being plain red."
p.34 ibid.

"... at the battle of Lowestoft in 1655 there were seven squadrons in the Dutch fleet, three distinguished by the masthead at which their pennants flew, the other four by the use of special variously coloured small masthead flags or vanes."
p.57 ibid

Memorandum Respecting Colours to be Worn, by Robert Calder, Victory, 3 January 1796. "The Van Squadron to carry their Vanes at their Main topmast heads, the Rear at their Fore topmast heads, and the Centre and all other Ships, Frigates, Sloops etc. etc. at their Mizzen topmast heads. The Vanes are to be three breadths or about thirty inches broad and six feet long (76cm x 1.8m), the upper part of the frame to run nearly the whole length of the Vane, the under part to be one quarter shorter. The colours to be of equal proportions whether vertically or horizontally divided. The Vanes of frigates to be proportionally less."

Quoted by Hilary Mead in the October 1937 Journal of the Society for Nautical Research from an MS in the Duckworth Papers, National Maritime Museum. Mead commented that, "The memorandum appears to throw some fresh light on the composition of vanes; instead of being ribbons or wisps of bunting as may have been supposed, they were evidently of substantial size and visibility, as was of course their function. Perhaps they are not more conspicuous in contemporary pictures because the artists were not sure of the colours, which at times were extremely complicated."
David Prothero, 30 March 2007

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