NORWEGIAN INFANTRY and DRAGOON COLOURS

1700-1720

Introduction

The primary source for Norwegian colours from this period is the Fanekatalogen 1955 published by the Norwegian Hærsmuseet (now the Forsvarsmuseum). In addition, the Trondhjem Rustkammer (Arsenal) has in its possession most of the colours carried by the units located Nordenfjells. A number of regimental histories discuss colours, but these rely primarily on the previous two sources. The major problem with these sources is that they attribute colours to the last unit which was in possession of the colour. No attempt is made to trace the origin of the colour. In addition, the Fanekatalogen's descriptions are incomplete, and some are incorrect. There has been no detailed study of Norwegian colours undertaken using archival documents.

INFANTRY COLOURS

In 1700 each infantry company carried a colour. As the reserve companies were formed, they too were authorized to carry a colour. Even the landdragoner companies were authorized colours. The colonel's company carried what was known as a livfane, which was usually white. The other companies in the regiment carried so-called company colours, which were in a particular color. Infantry colours were normally of silk with painted motifs. In 1709/1710 the number of colours in a regiment in the Danish Army was reduced to two, which equates to the average number of battalions in a regiment. The Norwegian Army probably followed suit; although, I have found no official documentation to support this. This decision resulted in a large number of excess colours, which were placed in storage. Many of these were subsequently used to replace lost, damaged and destroyed colours in other regiments, and to supply colours to new regiments. When the national regiments were divided in 1717/1718 creating two regiments, both regiments continued to carry colours (2 each) of the old regiment.


Model/1685. The Norwegian National regiments probably carried colours of the model/1685 pattern in 1700. The colour to the left is a reconstruction of this model. The colors for the various regiments in 1685 were:
                       Akershusiske - red and blue
                       Smaalenske - blue and yellow (?)
                       Trondhjemske - red and yellow
                       Oplandske - red and white
                       Bergenhusiske - white and black
                       Vesterlenske - green and white

 

In addition to the monogram and crown, the colours may have had a device (inscription) in Latin or Danish, which varied from company to company. It would have been located on one the stripes below the monogram. Also, at least one regiment, the Vesterlenske, may have had a Norwegian lion in each corner. The colonel's colour may have been all white with monogram and crown.



Norske Geworbne Regiment.
The exact ownership of colours of this pattern is in doubt. The Trondhjem Arsenal attributes it to the Trondhjemske National Regiment, later the 1. Trondhjemske National Regiment; however, I believe it represents a company colour of the Geworbne Regiment from around 1703. In 1709 the regimental commander of the Trondhjemske National Regiment requested new colours for his regiment because the old ones were completely worn out, and the King had already approved new colours for the regiments Søndenfjells. The request was rejected by the King. Then the arsenal in Trondhjem burned down in 1709 during a major fire in the city. All of the regiment's colours in storage were lost. Around the same time the number of colours in a regiment was reduced to two. The Geworbne Regiment had 16 companies each of which had a colour. To comply with the new requirement the excess colours were placed in storage. Two of these company colours were probably transfered to the Trondhjemske National Regiment. One final point in the ownership argument is the fact that General Hans Ernst v. Tritzschler's recommendation for colonel's colour (livfane) for the four regiments Søndenfjells (see below) bears a striking resemblance to this colour. Another indicator is the device or inscription PRO REGE ET PATRIA, which is in Latin as opposed to Danish. It is unkown whether or not the device was the same on all colours or varied from company to company. Since the Geworbne Regiment was also stationed Søndenfjells, its colours provided an excellent pattern for v. Tritzschler. The livfane would probably have white with the same motif as the company colours.


Company Colour, Akershusiske National Regiment. In the Fall of 1704 Wedel Jarlsberg approved General Tritzschler's recommendation of 25 October 1704 on the appearance of colours for the four infantry regiments Søndenfjells (Akershusiske, Oplandske, Smålandske and Vesterlenske). The colour of the colonel's company (livfane) was to be white with a gilded F IV, a crown above and suported by two lions (see colour above). The other companies' colours, including the reserve companies, were to be in the regimental facing color with a "symbol" (device or inscription) in the middle in Danish, instead of the usual Latin, and a painted "Postur" or scene which suited the words of the device. In the upper corner, nearest the staff was to be a piece of white material with the company's district name in gilded letters.

The colour to the left is a reconstruction of a company colour of the Akershusiske National Regiment, which is a modified version of Tritzschler's recommendation. Instead of a "Postur" or scene, there appears the mirrored initials of the county after which the regiment was named, in this case AL (Akershus Lehn).The gilded company name appears parallel to the staff. In the upper, inner corner a gold Norwegian Lion appears on a red field. Beneath the initials or monogram is a device in Danish in gold. In a circle around the initials and device are eight small, gold flames. The device was different for each company:
             Aggers Company - Paa Ærens Rette Bane Mig Fører Denne Fane (illustrated above)
             Liers Company - Ved Guds Samtüke Seüer Og Lüke
             
Follougs Company - Tapher Norsche Man Seüer ved guds H....
           
  Unknown Company - Faar Ieg Fienden Udi Sigte Vil Ieg Man.....
             Unknown Company - Huad Modigt Hie.... Ieg Wise Med Min Hand

The size of these colours varied between 182-185cm on the staff by 204-215cm on the fly.


Company Colour, Oplandske National Regiment. This is a fragment of a company colour of the Oplandske National Regiment ca. 1704. This colour follows the same pattern as that for the Akerhusiske National Regiment above. The mirrored initials appear to be OL (Op Lehn). This is a reconstruction of the best of the surviving colours. Two company devices are:

Ringerigesche Company - Ieg Saa Maa Beris.... (illustrated)
Todtensche Company - Gud Tro.......

 

The size of these colours varied between 182-184cm on the staff by 209-215cm on the fly.

 

 


Company Colour, Vesterlenske National Regiment. The only surviving example of a colour of the Vesterlenske National Regiment is a remnant of the center section containing the monogram, ribbon and company name. The two examples are above are recontructions illustrating two possible variations. These colours did not follow the pattern of General Tritzschler's recommendation with the exception of the company name parallel to the staff and the field in the regimental color. This is the earliest recorded use of the mirrored F 4 monogram and ribbon of the Order of the Elephant on a Norwegian infantry colour. The primative execution of the monogram and ribbon possibly indicates that these colours were procured locally and at less expense than was the case with other colours, which were produced by professional flag painters. The livfane would have been white, but with the same motif. These colours may also have had a device or inscription, but none are known.


The colours of the Smålandske National Regiment are unkown. Since the regiment was one of the four Søndenfjells regiments, it is probably safe to assume that it too received new colours in 1704/1705; however, the pattern is unknown. The colours could have followed those of the Akershusiske and Oplandske Nationale Regiments, or have been a unique design like the Vesterlenske National Regiment.


Livfane and Company Colour, Bergenhusiske National Regiment. In 1704 the regimental colonel requested the means to purchase 14 new colours for the regiment, because the regiment lacked a number of colours and a number were quite worn out and in pieces. In 1705 the regiment received its new colours. The livfane was white silk, painted the same on both sides. In the middle was Fredrik 4's mirrored monogram. From the letters hung the Danebrog's Order chain and cross. The whole was surrounded by the ribbon and marks of the Order of the Elephant. Over this was the royal crown in gold with white stones and red lining. Above the crown stood the inscription "Dominus Mihil Adiotor" in gold on a light red ribbon. From the upper edge of the color a half sun in light and dark gold with rays of gold. In the middle of the sun was painted an eye on a dark gray triangle. Around the triangle stylized palm branches in dark gray with gold egding. Under the monogram another inscription (unreadable on the surviving colour, but probably "Bergenhusiske Regiment") in gold on a light red ribbon. Size: 156cm on the staff and 140.5cm on the fly. The company colours are described as red with with Fredrik 4's mirrored monogram, and in the upper, inner corner the Norwegian Lion. The two colours above are reconstructions based on written descriptions and surviving colours. With the reduction of the number of colours in a regiment 1709/1710 two company colours were transfered to the 2. Trondhjemske National Regiment, and eventually the 1. Oplandske National Regiment also received at least one of the Bergenhusiske company colours.


Company Colour, Land Landdragon Company. The landdragon companies in Southern Norway each received a colour during the course of 1711. It is questionable whether or not the companies around Trondhjem received colours. The colour to the left is a reconstruction of the only surviving landdragon colour from the district of Land. It is made of linen and is grayish blue in color. Around the edge is a white strip of material, probably used to prevent fraying. The colors of the monogram, crown, palm branches, district name and year of manufacture are unknown. The coloring shown here is conjecture. The colour is in the possession of the Norsk Folkemuseum. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has access to more precise information on this colour. It is also unknown if all landdragon were the same grayish blue color; but since all landdragon colours were procured by central authorities, it is probable that they were.



 


DRAGOON COLOURS

Like their infantry counterparts, each dragoon company carried a colour. This practice continued until 1719 when squadrons were introduced in the dragoon organization. From that point on each squadron, rather than each company, carried a colour.


Company Colour, Sehesteds Dragonregiment
(1. Søndenfjeldkse).
In early August 1814 the Swedes occupied the fortress city of Fredrikstad in Norway. There they found three old dragoon colours, which were shipped to Stockholm as trophies of war. These colours have subsequently been attributed to Sehesteds dragonregiment, and a reconstruction of one of these is on the left. Each of the three are similar in all respects with the exception of the devise or inscription, which is different on each. The other two devices are: Pro Deo Et Rege and Ex Labore Gloria. These colours were probably issued to the regiment following its reduction from a horse to a dragoon regiment in 1701. The use of the wreath around the monogram and crown would indicate a point early in the reign of Fredrik IV, and it also appears on early Danish colours. These colours were probably carried by the regiment throughout the war. In 1720 the King presented the regiment with new colours.


 

Livfane and Company Colours, Følkersambs Dragonregiment (2. Søndnenfjeldske). In 1703 it was reported that the regiment carried completely white colours. These had been issued to the regiment, at the time Marschals Dragonregiment, in the 1680's. Sometime around 1708 the regiment was issued a complete set of new colours, four of which are shown to the left. The livfane is white silk, while the company standards are blue over white silk (the regimental colors). The blue is in fact a bluish-green. Each colour contains a scene and a device (inscription) which corresponds to the scene. The whole is surrounded by palm branches, which are secured at the bottom with a gold ribbon. Above is the double monogram, F4, and crown, which on the livfane is surrounded by the ribbon and elephant of the Order of the Elephant, while on the company colours it is surrounded by palm branches and a gold ribbon. The fringe corresponds to the field colors, but in a few cases the fringe colors are reversed for some unknown reason.

Eight colours have survived, but other than the livfane, it has not been possible to assign them to a particular company. Their descriptions are as follows:

 

 

Livfane - a wild man fighting a dragon. Device: Med mot og forstand. 93cm on the staff by 86cm on the fly.
Company Colour - an elephant and bees. Device: Jeg agter dem for intet. 84cm on the staff by 84cm on the fly.
Company Colour - a hunter shooting a bear. Device: Icke for dristig icke for frügtsam. 88cm on the staff by 89cm on the fly.
Company Color - the sun in a blue sky over land. Device: Hvo kand mot staa hvor jeg vil gaa.
Company Colour - David and Goliath. Device: Med Guds hjelp. 88cm on the staff by 77cm on the fly.
Company Colour - a dog with a brought down stag. Device: Med flid opsøgt og mod nedlagt. Med troskap jeg det haver sagt. 83cm on the staff by 80cm on the fly.
Company Colour - a salamander enveloped by flames. Device: Altid den samme. 85cm on the staff by 83cm on the fly.
Company Colour - unknown picture/scene. Device: Hvo mig skader aldri baade. 84cm on the staff by 78cm on the fly.


Nordenfjeldske Dragonkorps. When the unit was formed in the early 1700's the companies carried a mixed bag of colours and standards. An inventory list from 1703 provides the following descriptions of the colours and standards carried by the regiment:

Størdalske Compagni - red atlas with a white cross, old and used in the previous war.
Guldalske Compagni - a plain standard of multicolored calico.
Sparboeske Compagni - a standard of white damask, old and mostly unusable.
Wærdalske Compagni - a standard whose emblem is an armored arm with a sword in a clinched fist, whose point is crowned with a laurel wreath, over which on one side is the device, "Merces et Causa laborum", and on the other side is the device, "Lønnen foraarsager, at man sig umager". This standard is still good and usable.
Geworbne compagni - a white standard of damask on which on one side is a helmet and sword with the device above: "Tutela Pacis", and on the other side without shield or weapon: "intet Land bestandig Fred holde kand".

In 1707 Colonel Halcke, the regimental commander, asked the King for money to purchase five new colours for the regiment. These colours apparently had been authorized in 1702, the year in which the regiment was created. After some discussion, the King approved the request. Unfortunately, no description of these standards has been uncovered, and we do not even know if they were ever ordered or completed.

The colours to the left have been attributed to the Nordenfjeldske Dragonkorps. They were probably issued to the regiment sometime after 1707. It is unknown if these were the colours procured as a result of Colonel Halcke's request. They appear to be of a much older type and made of damask. Possibly they were issued to the regiment from among older colours in storage. The top colour has a farmer with a plow and weapons in natural colors with the device, Jeg er til begge ferdig, above. The colour measures 89cm on the staff and 147cm on the fly. The bottom colour has a sleeping lion with the device, Det fortryder dig wecker du mig, above. The colour measures 90cm on the staff and 136cm on the fly. A third colour, not illustrated is also red with two swans with a crown on their necks with the device, Uden flek at døe og leve er det vi efter streve, above. The colour measures 89cm on the staff and 135cm on the fly.

In 1719, when the numberof colours was reduced to one per squadron, the regiment received excess colours from the 2. Søndenfjeldske Dragonregiment (see above).

 

 

Notes on the Norwegian Army 1700-1720 - Table of Contents

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