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Fig. 1:
Austria 1792 Leibfahne (obverse)

Fig. 2:
Austria 1792 Ordinarfahne (yellow field). The reverse of the 1792 Liebfahne bore the same device on a white field.


The Infantry

The Cavalry

The Artillery

Organisation & Tactics

Arms & Equipment

Fig. 3:
Austria: Ordinarfahne 1806.

Flags & Standards

From 1768 Line Infantry regiments carried two flags per battalion, the 1st Battalion having one Leibfahne or King's Colour and one Ordinarfahne or Regimental Colour, other battalions having two Ordinarfahnen. As the Grenadier companies were detached to serve in combined Grenadier Battalions, some 1st Battalions did not have their Liebfahne, this being carried by their Grenadier company. However, it seems likely Grenadier Battalions only carried two flags, one Lieb and one Ordinarfahne, the Liebfahne probably being from the senior regiment presented. The Grenz regiments had the same number of flags but the Liebfahne was not carried in the field. The number of flags was reduced to one per battalion (the 1st Battalion having the Liebfahne), in 1808; Grenz battalions were probably reduced to one flag also in 1806.

During the 1804 - 15 period all flags were painted on silk, embroidery being abandoned in 1776 (1769 for cavalry) and not re-introduced until later in the 19th century. The basic patterns for the 1804 - 15 period were established in 1781 by the Emperor Josef II and remained unchanged until 1804. (Leopold II, 1790 - 92, issued a proclamation on the 17th of March 1790 informing the War Council that for reasons of economy all flags were to remain unchanged). The sudden death of Leopold II in 1792, with Franz II taking over the regency, resulted in a minor adjustment which created the flag now known as the 1792 pattern, in which the initials F. II. replaced J.II. There was no other change.

Although new patterns were authorised in 1804 and 1806, regiments continued to carry their old flags until they were worn out, these older flags frequently being 'updated' by having alterations painted on the originals. Thus we find that in the 1805 campaign, flags dating back tpo 1792 were amongst those captured by the French, and it is therefore necessary to start the description of the various patterns with the 1792 model.

The 1792 Leibfahne for all regiments was white with a border in the colours of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire: (Fig. 1) The reverse is shown in: (Fig. 2) The arms on the eagle's breast are (in the centre) those of Austria, Habsburg and Lorraine, under the Archduke's coronet, and surrounded by the arms of Hungary, Ancient and Modern Burgundy, Castille, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Lombardy, Flanders and Bohemia. Around the shield are the chain and cross of the Order of St. Stephan of Hungary and the ribbon and cross of the Order of Maria Theresa. The whole was surmounted by the red and gold crown of Austria. The detail of these arms and their arrangement was subjected to a number of changes during the 1792 - 1815 period and these are listed under the Ordinarfahne and illustrated in: (Fig. 3 & 4).

The 1792 Ordinarfahne for all regiments was yellow, with the same border design as the Leibfahne, but both obverse and reverse carried the double-headed eagle design as shown by: (Fig. 1).

On August 10th 1804 the arrangement of arms on the eagle's breast was changed because Franz II had become Franz I, the first Emperor of Austria: (Fig. 3) All other details of the Ordinarfahne and Liebfahne remained unchanged.

The political and territorial changes resulting from the defeat of 1805, and Napoleon's dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, meant that drastic changes had to be made to all the flags, but it was not until the end of the following year that an order (Hofkriegstats-Verordnung) of December 6th, 1806) was issued for a new pattern. The new pattern is illustrated in (Fig. 4)

The obverse of the Leibfahne remained unchanged but the reverse of the flags of the Hungarian regiments may now have borne the arms of Hungary on the breast of the eagle instead of the arms of Austria, Habsburg and Lorraine.

The year 1806 also saw the introduction of a regimental identification system whereby small oblongs of yellow silk were added to the top corners of the flags: (Fig. 5) each oblong bearing and abbreviation of the arm of service above the number of the Regiment: for example, L. Inf. Rgt./Nro. 14 for Line Infantry Regiment No.14: Gr. Inf. Rgt./Nro. 6 for Grenz Infantry Regiment No. 6.

From this date regiments may also have been awarded cravats as battle honours. The Liebfahne of the 'Hungarian' regiment No. 39 (Duka) is shown by: Heer & Tradition Plate No. 88 as having a white caravt, edged and fringed in red, in the 1806 - 15 period. On the same plate Line Infantry Regt. No. 14 (Klebek) is shown as having a white cravat edged and fringed in gold for the 1798 - 1809 period. I have seen no other source which confirms such a system.