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Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998

Last modified: 2013-11-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag 1992-1998]         [Flag 1992-1998]

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998, horizontal and vertical versions - Images by Željko Heimer, 29 January 2005


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Specifications of the flag

An official construction sheet shows the flag as vertical, in proportions 1:2 with the coat of arms set in the middle. The width of the coat of arms is 56% of the flag's width.

Željko Heimer, 29 January 2005


Laws on the flag

The first flag of independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted on 6 April 1992 (temporarily) and on 20 May 1992 (permanently).

The Decree with Statutory Power on the Establishemnt of the Temporary Coat of arms and the Flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was issued on 27 March 1992 in the official gazette Služ,beni list Bosne i Hercegovine , No. 7, with effect on the same day.

Article 1. The coat of arms of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is of a shield shape coloured blue divided into two fields by a diagonal bend coloured white and with three stylized fleurs-de-lis coloured golden- yellow in each of the fields.
Article 2. The flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is rectangular with the coat of arms of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the middle on a white field. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is one to two.

In his book Državno-pravni razvitak Bosne i Hercegovine, Omer Ibrahimagić writes that the Decision on the symbols was published on 20 May 1992 in Služ,beni list Bosne i Hercegovine , No. 4, while the Decision on the use of these symbols was published on 5 September 1992 in Služ,beni list Bosne i Hercegovine , No. 15.

Željko Heimer & Adi Mirojević, 6 January 2008


Adoption of the flag

According to Mirza Hasan Ćeman, a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Flag and Arms 1991-1992 Expert Committee (see his article Grb i zastava Republike Bosne i Hercegovine, Muslimanski glas, 25 August 1992, quoted in Safet Halilović's Restitucija bosanske državnosti, Zenica, March 1993), the colors of the flag were proposed by the Committee in four steps:

Step No.1, 1991.
The Committee could not reconstruct the color of the medieval Bosnian flag and they supposed it was white.

[Proposal]

Flag proposal, 1991 - Image by Veldi-aga Jerlagić, 2 January 1998

Step No. 2, 1991.
The Committee decided to reduplicate the color of the shield and Royal blue became the color of the flag.

[Proposal]

Flag proposal, 1991 - Image by Jaume Ollé, 2 January 1998

Step No. 3, 1991.
The Committee decided to separate the color of the flag and to make it light blue (sky blue).

Step No. 4, May 1992.
Because of the similarity with the UN flag color, the Committee decided to use white color and the flag was finally accepted.

Amer Sulejmanagić, 23 May 2009


Coat of arms

[Coat of arms]

Coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998 - Image by Željko Heimer, 29 January 2005

The official coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted in the same time as the flag, but unofficially used before that date, most often by the Bosniaques.

Velid-aga Jerlagić, 13 April 1998

Enver Imamović published in Duh Bosne / Spirit of Bosnia (1:2, April 2006) an article entitled "The Bosnian fleur-de-lis" (text) discussing the origins of the fleur-de-lis as a symbol used in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as a symbol of Bosniak people in the pre-Turkish period and during the 1990s war. The most interesting part is probably the description of the circumstances of adoption of the fleur-de-lis symbols for the independent Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990, to which the author had significant personal engagement.

Željko Heimer, 15 November 2008

The arms "Azure, a bend argent between six fleurs-de-lis or", used in 1992-1998 by Bosnia and Herzegovina, are in fact the arms of the Kotromanicć family, which ruled Bosnia in the 14th-15th centuries. Other arms have also been attributed to Bosnia in the 19th century.
The origin of these arms can be tracked using a numismatics book by Ivan Rengjeo, Corpus der mittel-alterlichen Münzen von Kroatien, Slavonien, Dalmatien und Bosnien (Graz, 1959) and an article by Pavao Andelćc on medieval seals of Bosnia and Herzegovina published in the monograph series of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, 1970), as well as a few encyclopedias.

Bosnia was dominated alternatively by Serbia and, from the 12th century onward, by Croatia (in personal union with Hungary) until the early 14th century. Typically, the King of Hungary and Croatia appointed ban, or local governors, and, in typical medieval fashion, these ban took advantage of any weakness of the central monarchy to carve out territories for themselves.
In the early 14th century, the ban of Croatia was Pavao (Paul) Subić of Brebir or Breberio (a town in Dalmatia which was given to the family in 1222): his father and grandfather were counts or Trau or Trogir, his cousins were counts of Spalato or Split. This powerful man titled himself ban of Croatia and dominus Bosniae, and appointed his brother Mladen I Subić (1302-1304) and later his eldest son Mladen II (1312-1314) as ban of Bosnia. His second son Georg was count of Trau and Split, his third son Pavao was count of Trau. By the third generation, however, the family had lost its power. This first dynasty of ban issued Byzantine-styled coins, with no heraldry. Their seals, however, show the Subić arms: an eagle wing displayed, and five flowers with stems as crest (misread by Siebmacher as ostrich feathers). The style of the arms is very German, with the shield tilted to the left, a German helm, lambrequins, and a crest. There are no tinctures, but a junior branch issued from Pavao count of Trau, the Subić de Zrin, bore "Gules, two wings sable" (an interesting violation of the so-called tincture rule).

Pavao Subić was forced to cede control of Southern Bosnia to Stjepan Kotromanić (died 1353), and, in 1314, Mladen II ceded the banate of Bosnia to him. This established the Kotromanić dynasty in Bosnia. Stjepan styled himself dei gratia Bosniae banus, which asserts a fair measure of independence. Stjepan's brother married Helena, daughter of Mladen II Subić, and his son Stjepan Tvrtko (1353-1391) succeeded Stjepan. In 1377, Tvrtko assumed the title of King of Racia and Bosnia. His seals show the following arms: a bend between six fleurs-de-lys, the helm is a hop flower on a long stem issuant from an open crown of fleurs-de-lis. The Kotromanić were close to the Hungarian kings, and Stjepan's daughter Elisabeth married Louis I of Hungary (reigned 1342-1382).
Trvtko I was succeeded by Stjepan Dabiša (1391-1398) and Stjepan Ostoja (1398-1404, 1409-1418). The latter's seal shows different arms, namely an open crown of fleurs-de-lis and the same helm and crest as before. Tvrtko's son Tvrtko II (1404-1409, 1421-1443) used a seal similar to his father's, with the arms of the Kotromanić family itself, which are the bend between six fleurs-de-lis, a crowned helm with the same crest.
New coins were issued starting in 1436, markedly Western in style, which display a full-blown achievement: an escutcheon bearing the letter "T", crowned with an open crown of fleurs-de-lis. The helm is crowned and the crest is a hop flower on a long stem. The letter "T" seems to stand for the name of the king. Later, around 1450, impressive new gold coins show the Kotromanić arms.
The last kings are Stjepan Tomas Kotromanić (1444-1461) and Stjepan Tomasević Kotromanić (1461-1463). The kingdom disappeared in 1463 when he was killed by the Turks.

In the southern region called Hum or Chelm, a local ban called Stjepan Vukčić Košaca (died 1466) had proclaimed himself duke or herceg in 1448, and was recognized by the Holy Roman Empire as duke of Saint-Abbas or Saint-Sava in some texts (whence the name Herzegovina for that area). Siebmacher says that the family was descended from the Byzantine Comneno.
The Vukčić family arms appear on the seal of Stjepan Vukčić, and his successors Vladislav Hercegović (died 1489), Vlatko Hercegović (died 1489) and Stjepan Hercegović (died 1517). namely "Gules, three bends argent", crest: a lion issuant holding in its two paws a banner gules with a double cross argent (the Hungarian state banner, according to Siebmacher). The same arms appear on coins issued by a self-proclaimed duke of Split in the early 15th century, namely on a bend between two crosses, three fleurs-de-lys bendwise.

The remaining question is: where did the fleurs-de-lis in the Kotromanić (and the Vukčić) arms come from? One distinct possibility is Byzantium, whose style the first Bosnian coins imitate closely. Byzantine emperors started using the fleurs-de-lis on their coinage soon after the creation of the empire of Nicaea, after the fall of Constantinople in 1204.
But more realistically, the connection would be with the Hungarian dynastic struggle which broke out in 1302 with the end of the Árpád dynasty. The kings of Naples claimed the throne, and it was during the struggle that, by pledging allegiance to one side and to the other, the Bosnian ban managed to carve out their independent fief. The Bosnian dynasty became quite close to the Angevins, and the daughter of Stjepan, king of Bosnia, married Louis I, king of Hungary. The kings of Naples were the Anjou family, a junior branch of the French royal family, and bore France differenced with a label gules. I can well imagine the Kotromanić adopting, or being granted, fleurs-de-lis on their coat of arms as reward for taking the Angevin side.

For some reason, these arms were forgotten after the 16th century. A 18th century French genealogy of the Angevin kings of Hungary blazons the arms of Louis' wife as: "Or, issuing from the sinister flank an arm embowed proper, vested gules, holding a sabre argent". These are also the arms attributed by the Austrians to Bosnia and Herzegovina after it was annexed from Turkey in 1908. However, a number of 19th century encyclopedias give yet another coat of arms (for example, the French Larousse), namely "Gules, a crescent argent beneath an eight-pointed star of the same". The crown over the shield is an Eastern crown, that is, with "spikes". These arms recall the old symbol of Croatia on its early coinage. They are also the arms attributed to the old kingdoms of Illyria and Bosnia in Siebmacher. There is some evidence for a medieval use of the shield with the arm holding a saber. William Miller, in Essays on the Latin Orient (Cambridge, 1921, p. 510) describes the arms displayed in Rome on the tomb of Catherine (died 1478), daughter of Stjepan Vukčić duke of Saint-Abbas, and married in 1446 to Stjepan Tomas Kotromanić, last king of Bosnia (died 1461): his description is unfortunately imprecise, but he mentions two horsemen (which he says is the Kotromanić emblem) and a "mailed arm with a sword in the center" (which he says represents Primorje, or the Coastland).

François Velde, 30 June 1995


Unofficial variant of the flag

[Unofficial flag]

Variant of the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998 - Image by Željko Heimer, 29 January 2005

A variant of the flag shows the coat of arms with a white instead of yellow border around the shield.

Velid-aga Jerlagić, 13 April 1998