THE ARMS THAT HAVE EXCITED THE DYNASTY
At the funeral of Royal Prince Tomislav at Oplenac,
unexpectedly, an unknown emblem has emerged.
The heraldists are persistently trying to descover it`s origins
The burrial of Royal Prince Tomislav Karageorgevich last July at Oplenac has created a great surprise to the heraldists. The coffin of the deceased was covered with the flag with the motive of the arms, that no one of them had ever seen before. It was noticed, also, that the same arms were upon the badges of the official staff at the funeral.
-Later, we have conducted a small investigation and have established that this coat of arms was made in England – says Dragomir Acovich, the President of The Serbian Society for Heraldry, Genealogy, Vexillology and Phaleristics “The White Eagle”. – According to it`s style, it had to be made in late sixties or early seventies. At the original drawing, on the basis of wich the reproduction of arms was made, there is no signature or initials of the possible author. At the Karageorgevich Foundation at Oplenac, we have found one black & white reproduction of the identical coat of arms, but with different marks. In the upper right corner of that reproduction it is written that this is the coat of arms of Royal Prince Andrej.
What is so distinctive about the emblem, which has excited the researchers of the arms so much?
The collar and the falcons
First of all, according to Dragomir Acovich, a silver lambel is noticable at the arms, a sign resembling a comb which can have three, five or seven tooths. That motive in heraldry indicates that the cadet in question, that is a junior branch of the family which is represented by that coat of arms. At the tooths, sometimes some small differencing marks can be found. In case of the Royal Prince Tomislav it`s a red lily and a red anchor, and in case of Royal Prince Andrej – two red wheat ears and a red lily.
Also, at the arms an inescutcheon is superimposed. Upon it on a red field is a boars head with a golden cross in it`s mouth. As supporters of the arms, the two falcons appear.
-The falcon is a bird of Serbian epic poetry, but it very rarely appears in our heraldry, just like the lambel – Acovich emphasizes. – Here, the motive of a boars head with a cross in it`s mouth is unknown, but it is very frequent in Scottish arms.
Since Royal Prince Tomislav has lived in England for a long time, Mr. Djordje Andrich, member of the Serbian Heraldry Society, had checked at the College of Arms in London if the arms were registered under his name. The answer was negative.
According to rules, a member of the Royal House, and it`s like that with all of the Dynasties in the world, can`t change his arms on his own will. It`s for the Head of the House to decide on that, that is the King, or the Crown Prince in exile.
-We didn`t succeed in finding any clues that the Head of the Family had approved this coat of arms – Acovich continues. – Of course, it`s not impossible that Royal Prince Tomislav has, perhaps, obtained a verbal confirmation of his brother King Petar II Karageorgevich. It is the fact no one in the House of Karageorgevich have known of this coat of arms. I even think that Royal Prince Tomislav didn`t use it ever before, even though that drawing and that flag that he kept in his house do exist. If his children are going to continue to use this coat of arms depends on Crown Prince Aleksandar Karageorgevich. He didn`t reach a decision on that matter.
The coat of arms that has appeared recently at the funeral of Royal Prince Tomislav is the only exception from the heraldical stability of the Karageorgevich Dynasty, Dragomir Acovich claims.
The Shumadians with flags
The heraldry of the Karageorgevich Family starts with Karageorge Petrovich, even though it can not be said that he had a defined Family arms in the real sence of the word. As his private sign he used a pseudo-heraldical composition in wich all of the outer decoration of the coat of arms appeared, but instead of a picture at the shield were his initials.
The first real coat of arms among the Karageorgevichs appear with Prince Aleksandar Karageorgevich.
-He has already had some good bases in that what the Obrenovichs have addopted prior to him, and the early coats of arms, wich are connected to Prince Aleksandar and his children, do show a developed heraldic form – Dragomir Acovich emphasizes. So, on the main field is cherged with a cross between four fire-steels, above it is a noblemans coronet, and the supporters appear for the first time, the two Shumadian peasants with flags. The outer decoration of the Princely dignity appears too – the porphyry (purple Mantle) lined with the ermine and a Princely crown. It`s interesting that this coat of arms can be seen at Cetinje, on the gravestones of the children of Prince Aleksandar and Princess Persida, who have died in their early youth, as well at their silk-printed obituaries. Some of the obituaries have been presented in the Military Museum in Belgrade as a part of, once very representative, collection of historical flags. Anyway, during his rule Prince Aleksandar himself had almost exclusively been using the State arms.
Today it`s hard to say when did the future King Petar I, the son of Prince Aleksandar, start to think about the Royal arms and when did he addopt the family motto “My First Hope is in God” (Prima Spes Mihi Deus). But, that coat of arms has emerged since the first day of his rule.
In Acovich`s judgement, since King Petar`s ascending to the Throne, a very representative and ceremonial Royal House of Serbia coat of arms has appeared, in which beside the shield, instead of the Shumadian peasants that are in the arms of his father, emerge one Shumadian peasant and one Karageorge`s volunteer. They hold flags with a lion and an arrow-pierced erased boars head.
- At first, at one of the flags a lion rampant can be found, and at the other a wounded boars head – Acovich says. That lion rampant can be interpreted as an expression of a early State pretension towards South Serbia, that is today`s Macedonia, whose apochryphic coat of arms this is. But, very soon, the lion was changed by another one. That is a double-queued lion rampant holding a spear. It`s connected with the term of Old Serbia, that is Kosovo and Metohija, Dardania. Now, both that Dardanian lion and a wounded boars head aren`t at the monochrome flags, but on the Serbian tricolours. At the very last version both these motives have been left out, and only the tricoloures have remained.
The Dynastic coat of arms of the Karageorgevichs, as introduced by King Petar I, has remained untill the unon of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Even though The Serbian Heraldry Society has no access to the authentical Decrees of when the change has been made, according to some of the rare preserved personal belongings of King Petar I, from the time of his exile, we have reached the conclusion that this has happened in 1917. The new form of the arms of the Royal House of Karageorgevich, that has been accepted then has remained to the present day.
The fire-steels and the chequers
When the union of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was completed, a proper change of the State and Dynastic arms was conducted. At the chest of the double headed eagle is now a different escutcheon. Previosly upon it was a single field with a cross between four fire-steels, and now the shield is tierced: The field for Serbia with a cross and four fire-steels, the Croatian chequers and – the Slovenian field.
-With the Slovenian field, a problem has accured – Dragomir Acovich says. – Slovenia never existed as a State before and therefore it never had a coat of arms. Then for the purposes of the State heraldry, architect Pera Popovich has invented the arms for Slovenia. It was represented by a crescent and a mullet argent upon a field azure. Two years later, at the request of the Slovenes, that single mullet was replaced with the three stars or which were taken from the arms of Counts of Celje (Cilli).
Differently from the State, at the Family arms of Karageorgevich, Slovenia was represented by the arms of the Dukedom of Kranj (Krain): on a silver field is a blue eagle upon whose chest is a crescent chequey of gold and red. On the top of the arms is a Medieval crown, while the chain of Order of Prince Lazar is placed around the shield. Thus established the coat of arms of the Yugoslav Royal House didn`t change any more, but there were some changes within the Dynasty itself.
Namely, after the assasination of King Aleksandar in Marseilles a Regency was eastablished in the State. Then, with the agreement of the underaged King Petar II, Prince Pavle, the first among the three Regents, has introduced a separate heraldical sign for his branch of the Family. For his own he has taken the State arms, with that difference that the field with the twoheaded eagle has obtained a wide golden bordure.
-But, before that rule was introduced, mainly out of pragmatical reasons, that the members of the Royal Family were identified by initials – Acovich says. – For instance, in the Army there were units who`s members used to wear on their epaulets a monogram of the member of the Royal Family who`s name the regiment beared or was it`s honourary commander. Even today, Crown Prince Aleksandar mainly uses a crowned initial, and seldomly his arms.
Maybe Crown Prince Aleksandar Karageorgevich doesn`t use his arms consciously in order not to, eventually, provoke anger of Croatia and Slovenia, which are not parts of Yugoslavia anymore?
The new arms of the Dynasty?
-The fact that the state and political circumstances have changed, doesn`t have to produce any consequences – Dragomir Acovich thinks. – The Heraldry calls upon the fact that the once obtained right is undesputable. The attitude of the Slovenes will probably be that this is none of their business, since they don`t use that coat of arms anymore. We could say that this would be a registration of the historical situation. But, the field chequey is currently used in the present arms of Croatia, and the Croats can undrestand that as a kind of a pretension, especially since they, when the person of King Aleksandar The Unifier is in question, have manifested an exemplary bestiality. In 1993. they have even written that King Aleksandar doesn`t belong to human race. So, the supposed reaction from Croatia would probably be stimulated more by some uncontroled feelings, than by historical reasons. From the aspect of the Monarchy law, the abolishment of Monarchy is illegal and everything that has been produced out of the fact that the Monarchy has been abolished is, also, illegal. According to that, the one who would complain over the usage of the Family arms of the Karageorgevichs, from the aspect of monarchism, wasn`t authorized to complain.
There are many Karageorgevichs today. In four Family branches – of King Petar II, Royal Prince Andrej, Royal Prince Tomislav and Prince Pavle – there are more than twenty male members out of which every one represents a bearer of the heraldic tradition on one side, and on the other side is an origin of a new heraldic right for his desendants.
-Because of that a real danger of a so called heraldic overflow threatens – says Acovich. – For instance, that has happened to the Romanovs at the beginning of this century. In the year 1908. they have systematized the complete question of the heraldic representation of the members of the House of Romanov for seven generations in advance. The basic contents of the arms were precisely defined in order to know who beared the basic heraldic message, and who only a reminder that his seventh ancestor was an Emperor.
In the last fifty years some great changes have happened in these regions. The ideologies, politics and the state systems have been changing. Is it, perhaps, the time for the Karageorgevich Dynasty to change their Family arms?
-At this moment, as a Herald of the Royal House, I should have to think about that – Dragomir Acovich emphasizes. But Crown Prince Aleksandar thought that in the situation when our people was followed by great misfortunes, the energy shouldn`t be spent on discussing the matter of the new Dynastic arms. I have to say that in The Serbian Heraldry Society we have dealed with this seriously, as with a theoretical question. When the time comes, we can offer our suggestion very quickly. There are a few variants already.
(Taken from: The Magazine “Ilustrovana Politika” No.2184.; Belgrade; November 2000.)
(Published at the Internet forums of The Heraldry Society of Scotland; 27. June (10. July) 2005., and The International Association of Amateur Heralds; 27. June (10. July) 2005.)
Nenad M. Jovanovich
with the kind permission of
Dipl. Ing. Arch. Dragomir Acovich -
The Principal Herald of the House of Crown-Prince Aleksandar Karageorgevich
and the President of The Serbian Heraldry Society “The White Eagle” )