[size=18pt]The Flags of the Poles and Poland – Part 4[/size]

[size=12pt]Elective (Elected) Kings[/size]

Banner of Zygmunt III Waza 1587-1632
Royal Flag of Poland 1605

Banner of Zygmunt III Waza

Zygmunt III Waza (Sigismnund III Vasa of Sweden) was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1587 to 1632, and the King of Sweden (where he was known simply as Sigismund) from 1592 until he was deposed in 1599. He is most remembered fot establishing the Uniate Church in 1596, whereby a large body of his Orthodox subjects accepted the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sigismund remains a highly controversial figure in Poland. His long reign coincided with the apex of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's prestige, power and economic influence. On the other hand, it was also during his reign that the symptoms of decline that led to the Commonwealth's future demise surfaced.

Captured Polish Military Standard 1601

Royal Polish Military Standard

In 1601, Prince Michael the Brave of Wallachia (Romania today), allied with the Imperial General Giorgio Basta of the Holy Roman Empire, and defeated the army of Prince Sigismund Báthory of Hungary and the Polish King Sigismund III, at Guraslau in Transylvania. The next day, Prince Michael sent to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who was at Prague, 110 flags captured during the battle. This was one of those battle standards.

One can see that this military standard is clearly from the times of Sigismund III, as it bears the royal initials "SR" for "Sigismund Rex". It also appears in one of Hans von Aachen's allegoric paintings, representing the victory of the allied Imperial and Wallachian armies.

Banner of Commonwealth of Both Nations 1587-1632

Commonwealth of Both Nations

The Banner of Commonwealth of Both Nations 1569 is just another version of the banner of Zygmund III Waza (Sigismund III Vasa), featuring the combined Arms of the Commonwealth and Sweden (with the sheaf of wheat of the Vasas as the heart shield) and surrounded by the chain of the "Order of the Golden Fleece".

The remnants of this banner are preserved in the Royal Armory in Stockholm.

Duchy of Courland and Semigallia 1562-1791 (Ksiestwo Kurlandii i Semigalii)

Courtland Merchant Flag 1650

Courtland-Tobago Flag 1650

Duchy of Livonia Flag

In 1562, the "Livonian Order of the Brothers of the Sword" was secularized and the last Grand Master, Gotthardt Kettler became the Duke of Courland and Semigallia and the vassal of the Polish King. The Duchy benefited greatly from its relations with the Commonwealth, being an important outlet for Polish and Lithuanian exports. The Polish rule was benevolent, with little interference into the local affairs.

In the middle of the 1600s, the Duchy became a major mercantile European power with the formidable fleet and the colonial ambitions. It established a colony at St. Andrews Island at the Gambia River and on the island of Tobago in the Caribbean. Sweden, and later Russia showed an intense interest in the Duchy, and in 1795 Russia prevailed in the acquisition of it in the conniving way, when the last Duke, Peter von Biron signed off his rights to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great at the time of the last partition of Poland.

The third flag was the Polish flag intended for this territory, as it was a Polish-Lithuanian fief (vasal state), and not an independent country. This flag with its coat-of-arms, was for the Duchy of Livonia, but what the Poles were commonly calling simply "Inflanty." Of course, its formal name was the "Duchy of Livonia" in English, "Ksiestwo Inflanckie" in Polish, and "Herzogtum Livland" in German.

Polish Naval War Ensign ca 1600

The Poland War Ensign

A Polish Naval War Ensign from the end of 16th century pictured on the painting of the ship "Okret Kosciola" (Ship of the Church) during the reign of Sigismund III Vasa (Zygmund III Waza) 1587-1632.

War Flag of Poland during 16th Century

War Flag of Poland

This was a war flag used in the capture of Moscow (the only successful occupation of the Kremlin in history (1610-12), in the "Deluge" (Swedish invasion) and in Khmielnitsky's Cossack Uprising, among many other campaigns.

In the history of Poland and Lithuania, the Deluge commonly refers to a series of wars in the mid-to-late seventeenth century which left the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in ruins. The Swedish invasion and occupation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a part of the larger Second Northern War from 1655 to 1660, including the series of misfortunes beginning with the Khmelnytsky (Chmielnicki) Uprising in 1648 and ending with the with the Truce of Andrusovo (1667) that concluded the Russo-Polish War of 1654–1667.

To be continued…
Source http://www.loeser.us/flags/