Bavarian Line Infantry Colours

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Bavarian Army >> Bavarian Line Infantry Colours

Introduction

Under Elector Max Emanuel (1679-1726), the Bavarian infantry already presented the well known image of white and blue patterned flags, with the diamond-patterned flags strongly dominating as Ordinarfahne. As Leibfahne, the infantry used a white flag with a representation of the Madonna as the saint patron of Bavaria. It seems that there were several different representations of the diamond pattern chess and also of the Madonna.

Carl-Albrecht (1726-1745) kept those different models of flags, only changing the monarch's monogram to "CA" when necessary. Between 1742 and 1745, the Elector ruled as Roman-German Emperor Carl VII. Bavarian troops were thus imperial troops. Therefore, the imperial emblem, the double-headed eagle, was put on one side of the flags and the cipher "CVII" was added on the chest of the eagle. At least four different types of flags with these emblems are known.

Even if not elected Roman-German Emperor, Max III Joseph (1745-1777) kept these flags because they were not used a lot and were accordingly still quite new. Moreover, we know some old flags from before 1742, were also used: the Bavarian army liked to use old flags - kept in the ducal arsenal - to replace worn flags, instead of issuing new ones. However, we know also that a few regiment owners were allowed to put their own favourite Madonna on their Leibfahne.

Only in 1786, after the death of Max III Joseph, and after the reunification in 1777 of the Bavarian and Palatinate armies were new flags created. All flags were now framed with a three ranked blue & white diamonds edge, inspired by the previous Palatine pattern, still with the Madonna for the Leibfahne and, this time, with the new coat of arms for the Ordinarfahne.

Description

Early 18th century pattern

Among several different patterns of flags known under Elector Max Emanuel, one pattern seems to dominate for the Leibfahne and the Ordinarfahne. We have tried to re-construct both here:

The Leibfahne was often as follows:

  • field: white
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): the Immaculate Mother of God in white, wearing a blue stole; her two arms and one knee raised; a gold scepter into one of her hand; her head surrounded by a ring of gold stars; standing on a crescent moon, over a blue globe, wound around by a serpent; a cloud as background behind the globe and of the Madonna.

The Ordinarfahne was often as follows:

  • field: white
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): a big chess-pattern of light blue diamonds, slightly inclined
Leibfahne under Max Emmanuel – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Ordinarfahne under Max Emmanuel – Source: Frédéric Aubert

1742-1745 patterns

Type "1" : this type of flag was apparently very widespread and probably formed the standard field colours of the infantry regiments. When, in 1748, on the occasion of the reduction from three battalions to two battalions of the six battalions operating in Holland, all the disbanded battalions sent back their flags to the arsenal. All flags were yellow with the double-headed Imperial eagle. The flags came from five different regiments, including the Leib Regiment. Accordingly, also the Leib battalions carried the yellow flags new pattern, only they showed on the front the “Mariendarstellung” and on the back the double-headed eagle. Ordinärfahnen showed the double-headed eagle on both sides. Several copies of this flag pattern have been preserved in the Bavarian Army Museum. With this type of flag, the Bavarian flags leaned particularly close to the Austrian model.

We have tried to re-construct both flags here :

The Leibfahne was as follows:

  • field: yellow
  • border: a triple row of white-blue diamonds
  • obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God in white, wearing a blue stole; her two arms and one knee raised; a gold scepter into one of her hand; her head surrounded by a ring of gold stars; standing on a crescent moon, over a blue globe, wound around with a serpent; a cloud as background behind the globe and of the Madonna.
  • reverse (left): the double-headed imperial eagle in black. The eagle holds a sword and a scepter in one claw, while the other claw holds the imperial globe (the Austrian double eagle holds only a sword and a scepter). On the eagle's chest, the Karl Albrecht "CVII" initials in gold. The eagle's breast carries the necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of St George.

The Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: yellow
  • border: a triple row of white-blue diamonds
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): the double-headed imperial eagle in black. The eagle holds a sword and a scepter in one claw, while the other claw holds the imperial globe. On the eagle's chest, the Karl Albrecht "CVII" initials in gold. The eagle's breast carries the necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of St George.
  • known sizes: approx. 195x220cm for the flag; the gold finial is 20cm high and 6cm wide; the pole, 275cm long

The flags seem to bear (four?) cravats under the finial. They were white and blue, 65cm long (+ 7cm gold fringes) and 7cm wide.

We don't know if these cravats were in use during wartime or if they were kept in the arsenal.

Leibfahne (Type 1) – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Ordinarfahne (Type 1) – Source: Frédéric Aubert

In addition to the new model in yellow, it seems that the imperial emblem was also, and more simply, affixed on old models of flags. The following three types seem to answer to this axiom:

Type "2" : Several copies of this type are preserved in the Bavarian Army Museum and one of these flags was originally in the church of the Castle of Straubing, until 1880. By their origin, they refer to the regiment Kronprinz, which could have carried these flags. The flag here is obviously an Ordinarfahne. We don't know how the Leibfahne assorted with this Ordinarfahne was but we suspect that it was like the one shown above for the early 18th century pattern.

The Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: white with a chess-pattern of big white-blue diamonds, vertically disposed.
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): in the middle of the field, a big double-headed imperial eagle in black. The eagle holds a sword and a scepter in one claw, while the other claw holds the imperial globe. On the eagle's chest, the Karl Albrecht "CVII" initials in gold. The eagle's breast carries a necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of St George.
  • known sizes: approx. 166x172cm
Ordinarfahne (Type 2) – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Type "3" : In the third type, the field is divided into four triangles by two diagonals, namely two white (left and right) and two blue (top and bottom). In the centre of the field lies the double-headed eagle. The remains of two originals are exposed in the Bavarian Army Museum, they originally also came from Straubing and thus perhaps originate from the regiment Kronprinz. Here too, we don't know how the Leibfahne assorted with this Ordinarfahne was but we suspect that it was like the one shown above for the early 18th century pattern.

The Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: white with the quarters top and bottom in blue
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): in the centre of the field, a big double-headed imperial eagle in black. The eagle holds a sword and a scepter in one claw, while the other claw holds the imperial globe. On the eagle's chest, the Karl Albrecht "CVII" initials in gold. The eagle's breast carries a necklace with the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of St George.
  • known sizes: approx. 168x185cm
Ordinarfahne (Type 3) – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Type "4" : A fourth type shows a flag from an unknown infantry regiment. This flag was later in the Rothenberg fortress, near Schnaittach.

The Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: divided in 4 rectangular quarters with two white and two blue rectangles
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): a big double-headed imperial eagle rests; under the eagle is in addition a white-blue "Astkreuz" (a cross with a branch design).
  • known sizes: approx. 145x155 cm
Ordinarfahne (Type 4) – Source: Frédéric Aubert

1750s pattern

It seems new flags were introduced during the 50s, but we don't have any source confirming it. We don't know if the two new regiments raised in 1753 had these flags. We only know the Madonna shown on this pattern was used in 1757 on the new Leibfahne for infantry regiment Pechmann.

It seems the new Leibfahne was as follows:

  • field: white
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): the Immaculate Mother of God in white, wearing a blue stole; a gold scepter into one of his hand; with Child Jesus on the other arm; her head was surrounded by a ring of gold stars; standing on a crescent moon, over a blue globe, wound around with a serpent with an apple in its mouth; the globe is put on a cloud. This design of Madonna was re-used for 1786 pattern.

It seems the new Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: white
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): a medium chess-pattern of light blue diamonds, horizontally presented. This design was re-used in 1803.
Leibfahne after 1750 – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Ordinarfahne after 1750 – Source: Frédéric Aubert

We know that a few regimental Chefs were permitted to deviate from these norms:

  • La Rosee regiment was allowed in 1759 to put the "Dorfener Madonna" onto its Leibfahne
  • Pechmann regiment added the Bavarian coat of arms as corner devices on its Leibfahne.

1786 pattern

Following the reunification of the Bavarian and the Palatinate armies, and in order to eliminate the coexistence of different flags within the Bavarian army, a new and uniform pattern had to be created, which should also contain the new coat of arms of the two reunited territories.

The Leibfahne was as follows:

  • field: white
  • border: a triple row of white-blue diamonds
  • obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God in white, wearing a blue stole; a gold scepter into one of his hand; with Child Jesus on the other arm; her head was surrounded by a ring of gold stars; standing on a crescent moon, over a blue globe, wound around with a serpent with an apple in its mouth; the globe is put on a cloud. A red scroll with onside "Sub Tuam Praesidium Virgo Gloriosa" surmounts the Madonna.
  • reverse (left): the big coat of arms of Elector Karl Thodor, held by two lions, which proudly presents the numerous individual dominions that had fallen with the Palatinate Line and Kurbayern. In front of an ermine cloak with spawn, they grouped themselves in nine fields around the Palatinate-Bavarian coat of arms. Among them are the Order of the Golden Fleece, St Hubertus, St George and the Palatine Lion.
  • two known sizes: approx. 130x135 cm and approx. 155x160 cm

The Ordinarfahne was as follows:

  • field: blue
  • border: a triple row of white-blue diamonds
  • obverse (right) and reverse (left): the big coat of arms of Elector Karl Thodor, held by two lions, which proudly presents the numerous individual dominions that had fallen with the Palatinate Line and Kurbayern. In front of an ermine cloak with spawn, they grouped themselves in nine fields around the Palatinate-Bavarian coat of arms. Among them are the Order of the Golden Fleece, St Hubertus, St George and Palatine Lion.
  • known size: approx. 150x140 cm
Leibfahne in 1786 – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Ordinarfahne in 1786 – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

Acknowledgements

Frédéric Aubert and Michael Zahn for the initial version of this article.