Bosnia and Herzegovina in ten flags
First published May 12, 2003
It is between the XIIth and the
XIVth Century that the lily flower was introduced
here as coat of arms (see flag 1). This flower was
carried by the Bosnians and remained as a symbol of the country;
it is funny to see this symbol of French royalty now used
as a symbol by the Muslims: the lily flower indeed appears
on the flag of the Federation, as representation of its Bosniac
component. They are two different explanations about the lily
During a short period in the XIIth
century, Hungary ruled Bosnia. Hungary was led by a French-originated
king, Roger-Charles of Anjou who reigned under the name of
Karoly the First. He brought to the region the coat of arms
of Anjou, a French province: the lily flower.
But, other historians state Bosnia became
part of the Hungarian kingdom, once again, at the beginning
of the XIVth Century. Hungarian dynastic struggle
broke out in 1302 with the end of the Arpad dynasty. The King
of Naples claimed the throne, and it was during this struggle
that, by pledging allegiance to one side and to the other,
the Bosnian bans 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's
similar coat of arms, differentiated by a label of gueules,
a heraldic distinction. It's likely the Kotromanjic adopted,
or were granted, fleur-de-lis on their coat of arms as reward
for taking the Angevin side.
During the occupation of the Balkan countries
by the Ottoman Empire, Bosnia came under Turkish rule in 1463
when the Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror captured the Castle of
Babovac and ended the Kotromanjic Dynasty. The Turks established
the area called Bosnian Sandjak. A large part of the Slavic
population converted to the Islam religion, and became known
as Bosniacs (Muslims). New towns of the Islamic-Oriental type
were developed, and the economy was changed by the introduction
of an estate-landowner system.
The first-known flag of this country goes
back to 1760 (see flag 2), when the Bosnians engaged
in defensive wars against Austria and Venice, and at the same
time were also demanding an autonomous status within the Ottoman
Empire. Adopted Ottoman institutions (landowners, captains,
janissaries) were accepted as Bosnian. But there were numerous
rebellions, such as the movement of Husein Bey Gradascevic
(1831-32) (see flag 3), that finally defined the extent
of Bosnian autonomy within the Ottoman Empire.
After the Christian Rebellion (1875-78) in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the great Eastern Crisis began which
resulted in the Berlin Congress (1878) giving a mandate to
Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia. As a matter of fact, Bosnia
remained independent only a few months (see flag 4).
After great resistance, mostly by the Bosniacs, the Austro-Hungarian
Empire established its authority in Bosnia, leaving the country
as 'Corpus Separatum' within its historical borders. 'Corpus
Separatum' (see flag 5) meant that Bosnia was granted
with a substantial autonomy and belonged neither to Austria,
nor to Hungary.
WW I is said to have begun in Sarajevo, with
the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, summer 1914.
And about 20 years after its end, WW II started with huge
fights in the Balkan area.
After the invasion of Yugoslavia (1941),
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) came under the authority of the
Independent State of Croatia, being on the separation line
between the German and Italian occupation zones. During WW
II, BiH supported the antifascist fight (see flag 6).
In November 1943, the Anti-Fascist Council was established
and BiH regained its statehood and legal status.
In 1946, within the Yugoslav State, BiH got
its constitution and the status of a Republic (see flag
7). Within the Yugoslav Federation, it was the only Republic,
which was defined by its historic existence, instead of a
newly created national one.
Tito died in 1980. In the process of the
disintegration of Yugoslavia, after the multiparty elections
in 1990, and after the citizens' Referendum (conducted February
28 to March 1, 1992), BiH determined to be an independent
and sovereign country within its historical borders. By Resolution
755 of the United Nations Security Council, on May 20, 1992,
BiH was internationally recognised. But peace was far removed
from this newly formed union. On Apr. 5, 1992, Slobodan Milosevic
sent the Yugoslav National Army along with Serb nationalist
forces across the Drina River into Eastern BiH. It was the
beginning of a three and half years long war.
GFAP, signed in Paris, December 14, 1995,
finally established a single state (BiH) (see flag 8)
composed with two entities, Federation (see flag 9)
and Republika Srpska (see flag 10).