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Venezuela - Historical Flags (1797-1809)

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1797 - 1817 Overview

I am referring, in particular, to six designs, ranging between 1797- 1811: The two flags of the Gual and Espana Conspiracy of 1797 (the cuatricolori design [of dubious mention and rare depiction] and the sun-4 stars-cuatricolori design, which also serves now as the flag of Vargas State); Francisco de Miranda's Sun-and-moon flag (with banner) flown on the corbet "Leander"; Miranda's first project for the Tricolori (Black-Red-yellow) and the two designs used by the Vindicative Junta for the Rights of Ferdinand the Seventh (the Junta which rebelled against the Captain General Emparan's authority in 1810, and which eventually proclaimed our independance from French-invades Bourbon Spain), the two of them red-yellow-black tricolori, one depicting the initials of King Ferdinand on the yellow stripe, and the other depicting the effigy of the King on the same spot.Also, I would like to mention the flags of the Spanish Military Authority (under General Morillo) during the Independence War, as well as the actual flag of the República de la Gran Colombia (the federation of Venezuela, Nueva Granada [Colombia] and Quito [Ecuador). I believe the information you used for the Great Colombia is not correct. Its design is, indeed, based in Miranda´s tricolori, adopted by the first Vednezuelan Government of 1811 and it was certainly used by Bolivar (with certain modifications) throughout his political carreer. However, the symbolism cited by Fabio Speciale is incomplete and the origin of the Miranda Tricolori itself, mentioned by Mr Speciale is inaccurate. The yellow, blue and red flag was not derived from Miranda's familya colours. Despite the fact that he toyed with the idea of a South Americna Kingdom, General Miranda was not a nobleman: he was not the descendant of Spanish Officers or a member of the Criollo nobility which ruled. While white, General Miranda was the son of a well-off but not "honourable" craftsman. As a matter of fact, a controversy with the local upper class over his father's origins, led General Miranda to pursue a life abroad, away from the discriminating province of Caracas. In such life, he lived many adventures, joined the American and French Revolutions, was part of Europe´s most important courts and, while gazing at the colours of a Hamburg Granadier's regime, got the idea for the tricolori (red-blue-yellow; depicted somehow in every flag he designed).  Also, there is no such thing a Bolivar's Flag. Not what Mr Specially cites, at least. Bolivar designed a flag much similar to that of 1814 , but adding one blue star to the seven which lied already on the yellow stripe, representing liberated Angostura.
Guillermo Aveledo , 22 September 1999

Francisco de Miranda, the Venezuelan revolutionary, designed as many flags as he planned invasions to the New World in order to overthrow the colonial regime. His tricolor, with all the historic variants, is used to this day by Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Miranda was given full executive and legislative powers in 1812 by the new Venezuelan Constitutional Government, and was named Generalissimo, prior to the fall of the "first Republic".
Guillermo Aveledo , 29 September 2000

it’s possible to affirm that SIMON BOLIVAR didn’t create any Flag: nor for Venezuela, nor for the "War until death" (historical period where the patriotic forces under orders of El Libetrador gave not truce neither quarter to royalist forces) nor for South America; much less for himself, like also has been gotten to speculate. So, in our humble opinion, the blue-yellow-red tricolor that you refers perhaps can find  its origin on a free interpretation - and even something prejudiced - that bring to it FRANCISCO LABASTIDA, a royalist witness, to the Flag hoisted by FRANCISCO OF MIRANDA on the city of Coro, located in the Northwest of Venezuela - today Capital of Falcòn State-, like part of his frustrated Liberator Expedition on 1806. Our sources indicate that although doesn’t exist an unquestionable testimony, the consolidated tradition (at least on Venezuela) reaffirms that the order of the horizontal and equal stripes of that flag was Yellow, Blue and Red which is corroborated with 1811’ Flag, in whose creation had also direct participation - even preeminent-  Miranda; however, in that opportunity the Yellow stripe was wider than Blue and this one also was wider than the Red one charging on the canton an emblem (non Coat of Arms) whose main motive was an armed female Indian Chief sitting on a rock and accompanied by a cayman, fruits and diverse emblems. Because this emblem was embroidered you can imagine how non-practical could be reproduce it on the middle of a war conflagration like took place then in favor to our emancipation and finally it was made without the emblem: this way was born the National Flag of Venezuela which became Symbol of the Liberator Army to consolidate as Flag of Great Colombia Federal Republic between 1819 and 1830. Once dissolved that Union, between 1830 and 1836 Venezuela maintained the inequality of the stripes and on 1836 it was equalized until our days incorporating on the march her distinctive charges (Stars on the blue stripe and Coat of Arms on the canton). As far concerns Colombia - and subject to consultation and correction of ours Distinguished Colombian Colleagues - between 1819 and 1834 was mantained the inequality of the stripes; since 1834 to 1861 it was disposed vertically with equal latitude and since 1861 asuumed its present configuration of unequal horizontal tierced with yellow stripe double-wider trhan the blue and red ones, characterizing it too with the corresponding charges. With regards to Ecuador - and here it’s applies the same consultation and correction request to our not less Distinguished Ecuadorian Colleagues - Tricolor of Liberator Army was hoisted on 1822 but it use was consolidated since 1860 and officially adopted on November 1900, distinguishing it with the respective charges.
So, although Bolivar qualified himself like "Potter of Republics" seems very little probable that between their remarkable attributes he counts to be, in addition, creator of Flags. Here "between us" (in Venezuelan, in friendly and close confidence) and under entirely personal opinion, I can comment to all of you that before the overwhelming forcefulness of the vexillographical speech created by Miranda, it was very little what Bolivar could object and very much that he could take advantage: therefore, he didn’t more that to reaffirm what the facts had consolidated unquestionablily since 1811 into Venezuelan feeling and carry our Tricolor by half-continent more like a freedom emblem that as representative sign of Latin-Americaness – still more, sincerely I difficult much that Bolivar had the lightness to allow himself a pretension like that if we remember his attempt to confederate on analogous way that current O.A.S. our nations in the Isthmus of Panama on year 1828 -: and we reaffirm here the calification of "freedom emblem" because the same merit, prerogative and treatment also corresponds by right to “Albiceleste” Flag of Argentina and the one of each People of Our Continent that then, hoisting them, was taken up arms to reach his legitime Sovereignity.
Because we want not to extend us too much, we can appreciate the Vexilological "Aptitude" and  “Attitude" of Bolivar remembering which he says in a letter wrote on 1826 from Paita to General Francisco de Paula Santander in relation to the uncertainty (still effective) that surrounds the origin of the colors of our Mother Flag: "Also I have to confess sincerely, who although I’m enjoy of  general popularity, I don’t knot how explain each one of the colors which compose our Pavilion. This situation makes me hopeless until the last point... ".
Raul Orta, 2 July 2005


1797

1)
image by Guillermo Aveledo , 7 September 1999

2)
image by Guillermo Aveledo , 7 September 1999

These two desings are  from the conspirative movement led by Don Manuel Gual and Don Jose Maria España, the first of was a retired captain of the militias batallion of Caracas, and the seconds one a Major Justice of Macuto (a coastal town near Caracas, in what is today Varga's State) in 1797. The two of them set themselves , together with Spanish political prisoners sent to Venezuela (like Juan Bautista Picornell or Manuel Cortes Campomanes), to the task of overthrowing the Spanish domination in Venezuela. They designed two flags (well, it is usually attributed to both of them, even though there's certain historiography which prompets us to belive that is was Manuel Gual who did it), which were to go from town to town announcing the good news of the Revolution which was to develop in Caracas. Such attepmt was discovered, and all the conspirators were executed promptly and the designs of the flags (some of which were already made) were found within their documents. Fortunately, those documents have survived until this date. The first design, which is the better know one, consists of a large white canton; over it , in the honour point, a yellow, red-embroidered, sun inside a yellow circle, and a blue strip beneath it with four white five-pointed stars. Over the fly end, nex to the canton, we find the cuatricolori which seems to have been their basic idea: four vertical stripes of yellow, red white and blue. The sun, which simbolises "the fatherland and equality, which is the law that must be observed by all", did not have an specific number of rays coming out from it (nor any number has bee attributed or set by local studies of the flag); usually, it is depicted with 32 sunrays. The four withe stars on the blue stripe (which is the sky and freedom) represente the four provinces in which the revolution was to be held: Caracas, Guayana, Cumana and Maracaibo. As for the cuatricolori, in this design they represent the "intimate union of the races under the cause" of the revolution. The races referred to were: Pardos (or mestizos, white), Negros (blue), Blancos (yellow) and Indios (red). No ratio is given to this flag, so it has been assumes to be 2:3.The second design, which is very rarely mentioned or depicted, is the representation of a sketch which I found on the National Archives database. It depicts a flag and a banner, both consisting of the cuatricolori, but in a different order as the one in the previous design (blue, white, red and yellow). The sketch suggested that the banner was longer. As a matter of fact, it seemed that the longer banner held yet a fifth colour, but this is not mentiones neither on the sketch nor on the different books I've consulted. I will scan a photo of it soon enough to let you see that. These two flags were never raised, but both Gual and Espana are considered as precursors of our emancipation movements, and the flags (one of them exhibited at the Museo Bolivariano in Caracas) remain as a sign of remembrance. Curiously enough, it was to their sons to who was given the honour of raising for the first time the first flag of Independent Venezuela in 1810.
Sources:
Erminy Arismendi, Santos (1954): Los Pabellones y Banderas de la Patria. Tipografia la Nacion, Caracas.
Landaeta, Manuel (1903): Estudio sobre la Bandera. Caracas.
Vargas, Francisco Alejandro (1966): Los Simbolos Sagrados de la Patria. Ediciones Centauro, Valencia.
VVAA (1998): Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela. Volumes 1 and 3. Fundacion Polar, Caracas. 
Guillermo Aveledo , 7 September 1999

Project of Flag by Juan Bautista Picornell - 1797, Is described in a letter supposed made by Juan Bautista Picornell: one of the promoters of the conspiracy of Gual y España. Their colors have a triple meaning: the ethnic groups Indian, Brown (Creole), White and Black; the provinces of Caracas, Maracaibo, Cumaná and Guayana and the revolutionary principles of Equality, Freedom, Property and Security.
Project of Flag of Gual y España - 1797 - Probably derived of the previous one, it was described in a letter of Manuel Gual captured by the realists after frustrate the conspiracy which leaded with Jose Maria España and Juan Picornell. The sun symbolizes the Homeland and the Equality which like law must be one for everyone; the stars represent the provinces of Caracas, Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo, and the stripes allude to the intimate union of the ethnic groups by the great cause of the emancipation.
Raul Orta, 4 April 2002


image by Eugene Ipavec, 2 January 2008

Colombia and Venezuela use to be one single country in the beggining. As such they have many symbols in common. One of them is the 1797 flag shown here. It was the same symbol used by both countries and then, only one country, Virreinato de Nueva Granada, or ViceRoyalty of New Grenada.
The image is based on a photo taken on Colombian Independence Day, July 20, 2006 in Bogota.
E.R., 2 January 2008


1806

1)
image by Guillermo Aveledo , 7 September 1999

2)
image by Jaune Ollé

Venezuela’s national flag was originally created by the "Generalísimo" (Great General) Francisco de Miranda. Miranda, who served in Europe in the years of the French Revolution. He designed the Venezuelan flag, inspired by a Hamburg regiment, whose colors were yellow, blue and red. In 1806, Francisco de Miranda, on board the Leander (a corvette) tried to invade Venezuela, and in March 12, 1806, he disembarked near La Vela de Coro (western Venezuela) and hoisted the yellow, blue & red flag. This flag has, on its corner, a very peculiar "coat of arms": an indigenous woman, holding a spear, sitting at dawn. Above her, the words "Venezuela Libre" (Free Venezuela). At her feet, a band reads "Colombia". We must remember that Miranda’s ideal was to create a single country, from Mexico to Argentina, naming it "Colombia" in honor of Christopher Columbus.
Jorge V. Alonso-Iglesias

The two designs herewith sent date from at least 1806, the date of the invasion of General Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816) to the shores of Coro, Venezuela. Early that year, Generla MIranda set sail from New York on the ships (which he chartered) "Leander", "Bachuus" and "Biee", in an attempt to capture Coro and then conquering other Venezuelan coastal cities. The invasion, as it was discovered by the Spanish authorities and did not have support in the mainlad (Miranda was, to say the least, a social outcast in the Venezuelan political circles), failed deafeningly. Yet it helped him to breed support from younger revolutionaries and conspirators (included the future General Bolivar) who would look for him so as to find leadership for the 1810 revolution. But that's another story altogheter.The first design is known as the Leander naval ensign. Even though it flew on the mast of the corbet "Leander", and was never used since, the flag was not necessarily considered an ensign. Yet its shape suggests so, and so does the fact that he had a project for an military flag with him on that invasion (however, the original flags were burned by colonial authorities). The ensign was a "rectangular shaped blue field with heavenly emblems": A dark-blue field with the figures of a rising sun in yellow (the design suggests that the sun is surging above the horizon) and a full moon in white. The sun represented the dawning of a new era, and the full moon was a symbol of elightenment, as it suggests light within darkness. The blue field is both the sky and the sea (I have not found any metaphorical use for this). To be hoisted above the ensign we find a red banner which reads "Muerte a la Tirania y Viva la Libertad" (Death to Tiranny, Long Live Freedom), which of course explains itself pretty well. What is called Miranda's tricolori (the yellow-blue-red flag used in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador), is often mentioned as the flag hoisted by Miranda on the "Leander". It has been proven, however, that the design for the tricolori we know today was drafted before this, and that the Leander naval ensign was not the tricolori. Confusion arose form the memoir of an eyewitness of Miranda's 1806 invasion: a certain Lieutenant James Biggs, an American citizen, declared that he saw hoisted on board of the "Leander", on the 12th of March, 1806, the "colombian" flag: an ensign with the most predominant colours of the spectre (yellow-blue-red). Biggs, however, did not clearly described the flag, though he mentioned that it resembled the heavens. Corny as Biggs might have been, he could have seen the Leander Naval ensign, which is indeed a tricolori: yellow sun, red banner and blue field. The tricolori as we know it (three stripes), was inspired by the colours of an Hapsburg Regiment of grenadiers.The second design is an alternative model of Miranda's tricolori. Never made, it was a project he mentiones to his followers and which he described in some of his essays. A very simple flag, orginally designed as the "Vandera de Miranda en su proyectado exexito con el nombre de Columbiano" (Miranda's flag in his projected Army named Columbian), it was formed by three equally high stripes, horizontally-placed, of the colours black, red and yellow. They represented the races of the Americas (and of his projected parliamentary Kingdom of Colombeia): Negros (african; black), Pardos (mestizos; red) and Indios (native indians; yellow). It could have been designed in 1800, but there is no certainty about that.
Guillermo Aveledo , 7 September 1999

Project of Flag by Francisco de Miranda - 1800. Exist in the Document Catalogue of the General Archives of Indias in Seville, Spain. By coincidence, is similar to the current Civil Flag of German Federal Republic. Their colors represent the ethnic groups Black, Brown (Creole) and Indian, respectively.
Primitive Flag of Venezuela - 1806. Conceived by Francisco de Miranda, were affirmed on the Corvette "Leander" on March 12th,1806 in Jacmel Bay, Haiti and hoisted later on Venezuelan ground in August 3rd, that year. Although diverse conjectures exist about it origin, the predominant hypothesis is which Miranda took like model the primary colors from the Arc-Iris. It presumed meaning is the golden territories of America separated by the Sea-Ocean of the bloodthirsty Spanish empire.
Raul Orta, 4 April 2002

Command Standard of Miranda, (1806): hoisted like emblem of personal command on the Corvette Leander, it is a blue cloth (possibly allusive to the sky and sea) where is emphasize a golden rising sun to the lateral superior corner and a white full moon in the floating inferior corner. Both charges appear characterized with human characteristics, according to the heraldic custom and use of the time. A red pennant with the war voice "MUERA LA TRIRANÍA Y VIVA LA LIBERTAD" (Dead for tyranny and long life for Liberty) complements this Standard that represents the American Freedom raising itself in the horizon (the sun) while the power of Spain (the moon) begins to decline.
Raul Orta, 15 May 2002

3)
image by Jaune Ollé

Flag hoisted by Miranda on the Church of Coro, 1806, as refers by Mr. Antonio Navarrete, Spanish eyewitness of the time.
Raul Orta, 6 June 2002

4)
image by Jaune Ollé

Flag hoisted by Miranda on the Church of Coro, 1806, as refers by Mr. Francisco Labastida, Spanish eyewitness of the time.
Raul Orta, 6 June 2002

Bandera Tragica


image by Jarig Bakker, 25 June 2001

At "Evolution of VE flags" site at <www.lacasadelasbanderas.com> you can see the "Bandera Tragica" of 8/1806. No more info there.
Dov Gutterman, 25 June 2001

Tragic Flag of Miranda, 1806: is refers by Mr. Jaume Olle in his site "Historical Flags" mentioning like source a poster published by a flags manufacturer in Caracas, that as well bases it on the illustrations of a mural located in a square of the interior of Venezuela. In our modest opinion, it can be an 1811' later flag in which red declined more quickly than the other two colors.
Raul Orta, 6 June 2002