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Lithuania - Subdivisions - Historical Flags

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
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Trakai district (Traku pavietas)

The photo of Trakai district (Traku pavietas) flag of early 17th century: the original flag is stored in the National Museum of Lithuania.
On blue field with small silver canton at hoist on red Renaissance shield simplified Vytis (National Arms), shield surrounded with rectangle yellow motto "SIGISMUNDUS III DEI GRATIA REX POLONIAE MAGNUS DUX LITVANIAE", at fly yellow rose with golden sepals and blue centre with yellow inscription "TROCKA", flag bordered with three golden threads.
Blue field is traditional for flags of Trakai province (Traku vaivadija), to which the Trakai district (Traku pavietas) belonged. The National Arms shows the usage of this flag as the military flag of nobles from Trakai district conscripted to State military service, i.e. mobilized to war. The inscription "Trocka" means the Polish name "Trocka powiat" of Trakai district. The motto mentions the name and main titles of the then King Sigismund III, i.e. Sigismund Vasa. Symptomatically, the Polish Royal numeration is used on flag, despite of still used in official Lithuanian documents Grand Ducal numeration, which calls Sigismund Vasa the Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund IV (ruled in 1588-1632).
So this flag reflects both keeping the Lithuanian self-consciousness and the fading national traditions due to the influence of Polish court.
Virginijus Misiunas, 3 January 2010

Vilnius Province Governor (Vilniaus vaivada)

The lithography of Vilnius province governor's (Vilniaus vaivada) flag of late 18th century: it was drawn in 19th century by Hippolyte Maulin from the original flag (not survived till now).
On yellow field praying Blessed Virgin Mary with red robe and blue cloak, staying on blue sphere, stepped over silver crescent and black snake holding red apple, crowned with twelve golden 6-pointed stars, flanked with motto "MONSTRATE ESSE MATREM" in golden letters. In upper right and lower left corners black displayed eagle with three joined red horns on blue breastshield, eagle decorated with green laurel branches and ducal crown. In upper left and lower right corners red monogram "KRX" decorated with green laurel branches and ducal crown. At middle of upper edge composition of blue halberd, blue oval shield and golden palm branch crossed with red banner and golden laurel branch; at middle of lower edge the composition repeated opposingly-directed. At middle of hoist edge composition of red oval shield, red 'bulava' (governor's staff), blue and golden saber with belt, blue halberd, golden branches of palm and laurel; at middle of fly edge the composition repeated opposingly-directed. Flag proportions approximately 7:10, finial is double openwork lance head, staff is mahogany.
This typically baroque-overburden flag was used by prince Karolis Stanislovas Radvila II (nickname "Panie Kochanku", meaning "My Dear Sir") as the governor (vaivada) of Vilnius province (Vilniaus vaivadija) in 1762-1764 and in 1768-1790.
To understand the background of flag correctly, we shall know that was one of first positions of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. As all the top positions in Lithuanian government, it was a desired prize for  most powerful noble families. So every winner family demonstrated its glory as much as it could, using state symbols together with house heraldry. The yellow field is one of colours of princely Radvila house, unlike traditional red of Vilnius province.
Blessed Virgin Mary is the Holy Patroness of Lithuania (Lithuania has the title "Virgin Mary's land"), and she was shown on the opposite side of State Flag (most likely, that allowed avoiding Knight's sinister or fly direction). The governor Karolis Stanislovas Radvila II has chosen her as the main charge for his officiary flag, most likely because the main symbol of Vilnius province was the National Arms, but its repose usage was the prerogative of Grand Duke. Black eagle with horns is the arms of princely Radvila house. In monogram there letters K and R mean Karolis Radvila (more exactly, the Polish form of name, Karol Radziwill), and X means the Polish title "ksiaze", meaning prince/duke.
The compositions symbolize the military glory of Radvila house and its merits in protecting citizens' rights. The 'bulava' staff means the office of province governor.
Virginijus Misiunas, 3 January 2010