Last modified: 2010-01-02 by ian macdonald
Keywords: lozenge | coat of arms | armillary sphere | order of christ | crown (imperial) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
image by Simon J.
Frame, modified by Joseph McMillan
Basic design adopted 1 December 1822
See also :
The flag of 1822 was green with a yellow lozenge (like today), but with the
arms in the center.
Mark Sensen, 5 December 1995
The flag for the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889) was a green field, with a
large yellow rhombus that stretches itself to the edges of the flag (unlike the
current Brazilian flag). Inside the rhombus lies the Brazilian Empire´s coat of
arms. This coat of arms is similarly shaped to the Portuguese one (we may
remember that the Brazilian Empire was ruled by the Portuguese royal dynasty
that fled from Portugal during the Napoleonic invasions, but its badge is
green. It shows a blue circular band, with 20 stars. Inside this blue circular
band, we see the earth´s globe and, over it, a Cross of the Order of Christ
(again, very typical of Portuguese iconography). Above the coat of arms, we see
the crown of the Empire (worn by Emperors Pedro I and II), of which I have seen
at least four different renditions (either in history books, web pages, and
flag books). Around the coat of arms, we see coffee and tobacco branches.
Guillermo Tell Aveledo,10 February 2001
According to William
Crampton, The World of Flags: A Pictorial History, on page 126, the
yellow lozenge on the imperial flag did not go out to the edges of the flag but
left green all around it, just as the present day flag of Brazil does. This
image has the lozenge right out to the edges. What is right?
Elias Granquist,8 February 2001
The flag of the Brazilian Kingdom and the Brazilian Empire had the lozenge
touching the edges. But that happened accidently, as nearly no manufacturer had
read the description of the flag, which spoke of a green parallelogram, and
therein a golden rhomboid (parallelogramo verde e nelle inscripto um
quadrilátero rhomboidal côr de ouro). Old flags in museums are all of the
same pattern with parallelogram to the edges. So William Crampton showed the de
jure flag which was never in use. But even more complicated: as far as I
know the decree of 1 December 1822 to introduce an imperial crown was not
followed or not enforced. Clóvis Ribeiro
shows the "imperial flag" with a king's crown and writes that the
emperor himself had flags sent to São Paulo on 6 December 1822 to give them the
correct flag. Those flags bore the king's crown.
[Ed. note: See Kingdom of Brazil for an explanation of this inconsistency.]
Ralf Stelter, 8 February 2001
The French Navy's 1858 Album des Pavillons,
the US Navy's 1870
and 1882 Flags of
Maritime Nations, and the German Navy's 1885 Die Flaggen der Kriegs-
und Handels-Marinen aller Staaten der Erde, and the 1889 edition of the British Admiralty's
flag book all show this flag with an imperial-style crown, as shown in
Simon Frame's image above. Furthermore, the Brazilian Senate's
official website has a photo of an actual imperial flag used in the war
against Paraguay, also with an imperial crown.
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001
The website www.piraque.org.br [no longer on line--Ed.] says that the
designer of the flag was the French painter and designer Jean Baptiste Debret,
who was a prominent figure in Brazilian cultural life between 1816 and 1831.
Joseph McMillan, 15 April 2001
According to the Brazilian
Boy Scouts site, the lozenge on the imperial national flag, and by
extension on the modern flag, was inspired by the designer's familiarity with
French military colors of the period (the designer was the French painter
Jean-Baptiste Debret). Many of these flags were similar to the honorary jack
now used by French naval ships named after vessels of the Free French Navy in
WWII-- parted vertically blue and red with a white lozenge throughout reaching
the edges dividing the blue and red. This site explains the difference between
the imperial and republic lozenges by noting that the imperial decree on the
flag specified that the lozenge would be inscrito (inscribed) on the
green field, while the republican decree specifies that it is colocado
(located) on the field. It connects the celestial sphere with white band on the
modern flag with the blue orb with white band atop the crown on the imperial
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001
According to Clóvis
Ribeiro, page 91, the shape of the shield on this flag varied over the
years. At times different shapes were used for different purposes. The image at
the top of the page shows the shape of shield used between 1849 and 1889.
Joseph McMillan, 20 August 2002
I went to the Brazilian Historical Museum today and I got confirmation about
a doubt about the Imperial Flag of Brazil--whether the bottom of the crown was
red or green. Until 1 December 1822 the crown in the flag
was the same
as on the old royal flag of the United Kingdom of Portugal,
Brazil, and Algarve
with the red lining. On 1 December 1822, by a personal act of Pedro I, the
Brazilian emperor, the crown was replaced by the imperial one with a green
André Godinho, 8 May 2003
When Guillermo Tell Aveledo says "Above the coat of arms, we see the crown of the Empire (worn by Emperors Pedro I and II), of which I have seen at least four different renditions (either in history books, web pages, and flag books)", we should say that Pedro I and Pedro II had different crowns both in shape and in sizes and the the imperial flags varied accordingly. Probably this is the reason for him to see different renditions of the same flag. The two crowns can now be seen at the Museu Imperial in the city of Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro (http://www.museuimperial.gov.br/tour_coroas_eng.htm).
Although "the lozenge on the imperial national flag, and by extension on the
modern flag, was inspired by the designer's familiarity with French military
colors of the period" we should state that the colors of the "House of Bragança",
the rulers of Brazil, were precisely both the green and the yellow gold. As
such, the imperial flag would logically show these two colors no matter what the
French military colors of the period were. If one goes to the Museu Imperial,
former summer palace of the emperor Pedro II, you should easily see that some
parts of the furniture like side tables, are made of hardwood with a green
marble top ornamented with gold chandeliers and alike atop as a remembrance of
who were the real rulers. In this picture of Princess Leopoldina´s room (http://www.museuimperial.gov.br/int_sala31.htm)
her bed has a green satin bedspread with gold embroidery and also a dark green
marbled side table depicting the two colors of the House of Bragança. Later,
after deposing the emperor and changing the national flag to its present look,
the republicans used to say that "the green represents the vastness of Brazilian
jungle and the yellow represents the mineral richness of the country".
Rodrigo Girdwood Acioli, 14 January 2004
I would note that the connection of the colors green and gold to the
jungle and mineral wealth, rather than to the royal houses of Braganza and
Habsburg, is not wholly an invention of the republicans. Dom Pedro I's decree of
18 September 1822, creating a new national cockade, said that the symbolism was
green for spring and yellow for gold--although admittedly he could simply have
been ascribing new meaning to the existing dynastic colors.
Joe McMillan, 15 January 2004
image by Devereaux Cannon
Source:US Navy Bureau of Navigation, Flags of Maritime Nations (1882).
Both this source and the French Navy's 1858 Album
des Pavillons show this flag with the coat of arms all in gold, the
charges outlined and detailed in dark gold/green. As in the case of the
national flag, the crown is imperial in style with pearls on the arches. Album
des Pavillons gives the proportions as approximately 4:7.
Joseph McMillan, 17 April 2001
image by Velez Grilo
In the illustration of the Brazilian flag in the U.S. Navy's Flags of Maritime
Nations (1882), there are 20 stars on the coat of arms.
Devereaux Cannon, 9 October 1999
I looked into the history of the flag of Brazil as part of the research for
my ICV21 Lecture : "Caudillos, Coups, Constitutions and Changes". From the
various sources, I came to the conclusion that the flag of the Kingdom had the
traditional Portuguese crown, with a red lining. The flag of the Empire was the
same, except that the crown was changed to a Brazilian style, also with a red
lining. For the Imperial flag, I had as my primary contemporary source the Les
Gras book "Album des Pavillons" of 1858.
I did encounter the green lining, and came to the conclusion that the "official" drawing of the Imperial Coat of Arms has been modernised at some time in the past 20 years or so and it now has a more realistic reproduction of the crown and it now uses a green lining. Of course, the modern form of the imperial arms is that used only by supporters of the pretenders to the Brazilian throne (see www.monarquia.org.br).
Ralph Kelly, 2 October 2009
It seems that that was indeed so. In the mean time we found some photos
of the original old flags (and maybe a few modern reproductions among them), but
all showing the red cap:
Željko Heimer, 2 October 2009
image by Francisco Gregoric, 18 April 2005
In the first years of the Empire a 19 stars coat of arms was used. And from
what I have seen, the original imperial flags had the coat of arms with the same
design as the royal coat of arms (just with the imperial crown instead of the
royal one). The coat of arms in the flag of the second period (modified by Pedro
II) appears to have more details. I combined the image on this page with that on
the Kingdom of Brazil page to create an image of the
original version of the imperial Brazilian flag. The author of the original
image is Joseph McMillan, with the crown drawn by Simon J. Frame. I only
combined both images and changed the red of the crown to green according to the
Brazilian Historical Museum information provided by André Godinho. This original
variant was the imperial flag raised in the Provincia Cisplatina (occupied
Uruguay) in that time (1822-1828).
Francisco Gregoric, 18 April 2005
In Crampton's World
of Flags (1990), there is an old picture of the flag of the Brazilian
Emperor bearing this coat of arms. The blue ring has 19 stars.
Dylan Crawfoot, 9 October 1999
On 18 September 1822, Dom Pedro I signed three decrees that were the first
acts of independent Brazil. The third decree created the coat of arms and flag:
"...henceforth the arms of this Kingdom of Brazil
will be, on a green
field, a gold armillary sphere superimposed on a cross of the Order of Christ,
the sphere encircled by 19 silver stars on a blue circle; and a royal crown
with diamonds set atop the shield, the sides of which will be embraced by two
plants of coffee and tobacco, as emblems of its [the Kingdom's] riches, in
their proper colors and tied at the bottom with the national bow-knot."
Later, and without any official legal act, Emperor Dom Pedro II increased the
number of stars to 20 to reflect the loss of the province of Cisplatina in 1829
and the creation of the provinces of Amazonas in 1850 and Paraná in 1853.
Joseph McMillan, 15 April 2001