This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Imperial Russia: Civil Flags (1721-1917)

Россійская Им&#x

Last modified: 2023-08-05 by valentin poposki
Keywords: russian empire |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

The National and State Flags of the Russian Empire

Russian flag      Russian flag
Russian Civil/Merchant/State Flag (1696-1917) and Imperial Russia Civil Flag (1858-1896)
images by António Martins, 21 Oct 1997 and Pete Loeser, 28 July 2023

On this Page:

See also:

Introduction: Imperial Russia (Russian Empire) 1721-1917

Imperial Russia, or the Russian Empire was the final period of the Russian monarchy which ended with the 1917 Revolution. It began with the Grand Duchy of Moscow (1283-1547), through the Tsardom of Russia (1547-1721), when a series of civil wars among the autocracy began called "Time of Troubles." The point is Russia has always been autocratic, ruled by a strong ruler. It had no traditions of a democracy, one that included all of its people. The only change that occurred during the time of troubles was the rise of the Romanovs and the establishment of the Russian Empire (1721-1917). From the Proclamation of 1721 until its dissolution in late 1917, one family ruled Russia, which included most of northern Eurasia, eventually extending its influence across the Bering Straits into Alaska, Oregon, and even northern California. The Romanov dynasty would rule Russia for over 310 years from 1605 until 1917. The rise of the Russian Empire was made possible because of the decline of rivaling neighbors such as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Qajar Iran, and Qing China.
Pete Loeser, 29 July 2023

The State Flags of the Russian Empire (1883-1914)

In 1858 the black/gold/white horizontal tricolor was adopted as the Imperial Russia Civil Flag. Black and gold were the imperial colors, but a white stripe was added to distinguish this flag from the Imperial Austrian "Reich" and war flag, which was a black-yellow horizontal bicolor. The black-gold-white tricolor proved highly unpopular and so in 1858, the white/blue/red Civil Merchant Ensign was also adopted as an alternate civil flag. The black-gold-white flag was not officially abolished, so that Russia had two civil flags from 1883 to 1914.
Tom Gregg, 09 Jan 1997

In 1883 the tricolor [previously the merchant ensign] became the state flag of Russia, [along with the black/gold/white flag]. Both were replaced in 1914.]
Source: Flag-znamya korablya, Russian Navy website, consulted 7 March 1999
Željko Heimer, 03 Apr 1999

Russian flag speculative image by Pete Loeser, 28 July 2023

The Red Socialist flags became the most popular symbol from the first moments of the 1917 revolution and were widely used even by non-Communist elements. People often ripped the white and blue stripes from the tri-colour Russian flags to make very narrow, unravelled red flags that were shown everywhere.
More text information on red Socialist flags located here.
José Manuel Erbez, 12 Jun 2001

The National Flags of Imperial Russia

Russian Imperial flag Imperial Flag    Russian Navy flag Navy Flag    Russian Naval Jack Navy Jack
images by Mario Fabretto, and António Martin, Yosef Obskura and Željko Heimer

According to Legras (French Navy Flag Book, ed. 1858) [leg58], there is no “Russian Flag,” but an ”Imperial Flag” with a double head golden eagle carrying St. Vladimirs red coat of arms on a yellow rectangular field. The naval ensign (blue saltire on white field) and the naval jack (blue on white saltire on white cross on red field) are the same as today.
Armand du Payrat, 20 Jan 1999