A woman fastening a red-and-white cockade to a Polish insurgent's square-shaped rogatywka cap during the January Uprising of 1863–64
A woman fastening a red-and-white cockade to a Polish insurgent's square-shaped rogatywka cap during the January Uprising of 1863–64
Charles Edward Stuart wearing a hat with a white (Jacobite) cockade
Charles Edward Stuart wearing a hat with a white (Jacobite) cockade
John of Austria wearing as a brassard the red cockade of the Spanish armies
John of Austria wearing as a brassard the red cockade of the Spanish armies

A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- or oval-shaped symbol of distinctive colours which is usually worn on a hat or cap.

Eighteenth century

General André Masséna of the French Revolutionary Army wearing a bicorne with a tricolor cockade
General André Masséna of the French Revolutionary Army wearing a bicorne with a tricolor cockade

In the 18th and 19th centuries, coloured cockades were used in Europe to show the allegiance of their wearers to some political faction, or to show their rank or to indicate a servant's livery.[1][2] Because individual armies might wear a variety of differing regimental uniforms, cockades were used as an effective and economical means of national identification.[3]

A cockade was pinned on the side of a man's tricorne or cocked hat, or on his lapel. Women could also wear it on their hat or in their hair.

In pre-revolutionary France, the cockade of the Bourbon dynasty was all white.[4][5][6] In the Kingdom of Great Britain supporters of a Jacobite restoration wore white cockades, while the recently established Hanoverian monarchy used a black cockade.[7][8][9][10] The Hanoverians also accorded the right to all German nobility to wear the black cockade in the United Kingdom.

During the 1780 Gordon Riots in London, the blue cockade became a symbol of anti-government feelings and was worn by most of the rioters.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

During the American Revolution, the Continental Army initially wore cockades of various colors as an ad hoc form of rank insignia, as General George Washington wrote:

As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be immediately provided; for instance that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns green.[19][20]

Before long however, the Continental Army reverted to wearing the black cockade they inherited from the British. Later, when France became an ally of the United States, the Continental Army pinned the white cockade of the French Ancien Régime onto their old black cockade; the French reciprocally pinned the black cockade onto their white cockade, as a mark of the French-American alliance. The black-and-white cockade thus became known as the "Union Cockade".[21][22][23][24][25]

In the Storming of the Bastille, Camille Desmoulins initially encouraged the revolutionary crowd to wear green. This colour was later rejected as it was associated with the Count of Artois. Instead, revolutionaries would wear cockades with the traditional colours of the arms of Paris: red and blue. Later, the Bourbon white was added to this cockade, thus producing the original cockade of France.[24] Later, distinctive colours and styles of cockade would indicate the wearer's faction; although the meanings of the various styles were not entirely consistent, and they varied somewhat by region and period.

European military

John VI of Portugal wearing the blue-and-red cockade of Portugal on a military cocked hat
John VI of Portugal wearing the blue-and-red cockade of Portugal on a military cocked hat
A metal cockade on the swivel of a Pickelhaube helmet.
A metal cockade on the swivel of a Pickelhaube helmet.

From the 15th century, various European monarchy realms used cockades to denote the nationalities of their militaries.[26][27] Their origin reverts to the distinctive colored band or ribbon worn by late medieval armies or jousting knights on their arms or headgear to distinguish friend from foe in the field of battle. Ribbon-style cockades were worn later upon helmets and brimmed hats or tricornes and bicornes just as the French did, and also on cocked hats and shakoes. Coloured metal cockades were worn at the right side of helmets; while small button-type cockades were worn at the front of kepis and peaked caps.[28][29] In addition to the significance of these symbols in denoting loyalty to a particular monarch, the coloured cockade served to provide a common and economical field sign at a time when the colours of uniform coats might vary widely between regiments in a single army.[30]

During the Napoleonic wars, the armies of France and Russia, had the imperial French cockade or the larger cockade of St. George pinned on the front of their shakos.[31]

The Second German Empire (1870–1918) used two cockades on each army headgear: one (black-white-red) for the empire; the other for one of the monarchies the empire was composed of, which had used their own colors long before. The only exceptions were the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg, having preserved the right to keep their own armed forces which were not integrated in the Imperial Army. Their only cockades were either white-blue-white (Bavaria) or black-red-black (Württemberg).[32][1][33]

The Weimar Republic (1919–1933) removed these, as they might promote separatism which would lead to the dissolution of the German nation-state into regional countries again.[34] When the Nazis came to power, they rejected the democratic German colours of black-red-gold used by the Weimar Republic. Nazis reintroduced the imperial colours (in German: die kaiserlichen Farben or Reichsfarben) of black on the outside, white next, and a red center. The Nazi government used black-white-red on all army caps.[35] These colours represented the biggest and the smallest countries of the Reich: large Prussia (black and white) and the tiny Hanseatic League city states of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck (white and red).

France began the first Air Service in 1909 and soon picked the traditional French cockade as the first national emblem, now usually termed a roundel, on military aircraft. During World War I, other countries adopted national cockades and used these coloured emblems as roundels on their military aircraft. These designs often bear an additional central device or emblem to further identify national aircraft, those from the French navy bearing a black anchor within the French cockade.[36]

Hungarian revolutionaries wore cockades during the Hungarian revolution of 1848 and during the 1956 revolution. Because of this, Hungarians traditionally wear cockades on 15 March.[37][38]

Confederate States

Echoing their use when Americans rebelled against Britain, cockades – usually made with blue ribbons and worn on clothing or hats – were widespread tokens of Southern support for secession preceding the American Civil War of 1861–1865.[39]

List of national cockades

Cockade on the caps of certified persons serving in the pilot service of Finland, 1913.
Cockade on the caps of certified persons serving in the pilot service of Finland, 1913.

See also: Military aircraft insignia

Below is a list of national cockades (colors listed from center to ring):[40][41]

and date
Description Image
 Albania red-black-red
National Cockade of Albania.svg
 Argentina sky blue-white-sky blue
National Cockade of Argentina.svg
 Armenia orange-blue-red
National Cockade of Armenia.svg
before 1918
National Cockade of Austria (until 1918).svg
since 1918
National Cockade of Austria.svg
 Azerbaijan green-red-light blue
National Cockade of Azerbaijan.svg
 Belgium black-yellow-red
National Cockade of Belgium.svg
State flag of Bolivia (1825-1826).svg
green-red-green (with a white 5 pointed star in the center)
National Cockade of Bolivia (1825-1826).svg
Flag of Alto Peru (1828-1829).svg
National Cockade of Bolivia (1826-1851).svg
 Bolivia green-yellow-red
National Cockade of Bolivia.svg
 Bulgaria red-green-white
National Cockade of Bulgaria.svg
 Brazil blue-yellow-green
National Cockade of Brazil.svg
 Chile blue-white-red (with a white 5 pointed star in the blue portion)
National Cockade of Chile.svg
 Colombia yellow-blue-red
National Cockade of Colombia.svg
 Croatia red-white-blue
National Cockade of Croatia.svg
National Cockade of the Czech Republic.svg
 Czech Republic white-red-blue
National Cockade of the Czech Republic.svg
(early 19th century)
 Denmark red-white-red
National Cockade of Denmark.svg
National Cockade of Egypt (1922-1953).svg
 Egypt black-white-red
National Cockade of Egypt.svg
(until 1936)
National Cockade of Ethiopia (until 1936).svg
 Ethiopia red-yellow-green
National Cockade of Ethiopia.svg
 Ecuador red-blue-yellow
National Cockade of Ecuador.svg
 Estonia white-black-blue
National Cockade of Estonia.svg
 Finland white-blue-white
National Cockade of Finland.svg
(1794–1814, 1815 and current since 1830)
National Cockade of France.svg
(before 1794, 1814–1815 and 1815–1830)
 Gabon green-yellow-light blue
National Cockade of Gabon.svg
(1918–1932 and since 1945)
National Cockade of Germany.svg
(1871–1918 and 1932–1945)
National Cockade of Germany (1871-1945).svg
Germany German Confederation
 East Germany
black-white-wine red
National Cockade of Georgia (until 2004).svg
 Ghana green-yellow-red
National Cockade of Ghana.svg
National Emblem of Greece (1822).svg
Cockade of Greece (1833).svg
 Greece blue-white
National Cockade of Greece.svg
 Hungary green-white-red
Hungary cockade.svg
 Iceland blue-white-red-white-blue
National Cockade of Iceland.svg
 India green-white-saffron
National Cockade of India.svg
 Iran red-white-green
National Cockade of Iran.svg
(until 1922)
green or sky blue
National Cockade of Ireland (until 1922).svg
(since 1922)
National Cockade of Ireland.svg
(before 1848)
savoy blue
Italy 2 Cockade Blu Savoia.svg
(since 1848)
National Cockade of Italy and Hungary.svg
 Japan red-white
National Cockade of Japan.svg
 Kenya green-white-red-white-black
National Cockade of Kenya.svg
 Mexico green-white-red
National Cockade of Mexico.svg
 Lithuania red-green-yellow
National Cockade of Lithuania.svg
 Latvia carmine-white-carmine
National Cockade of Latvia.svg
 Monaco white-red-white
National Cockade of Monaco.svg
 Netherlands orange
National Cockade of the Netherlands.svg
 Nigeria green-white-green
National Cockade of Nigeria.svg
 Norway red-white-blue-white
National Cockade of Norway.svg
 Pakistan white-green-yellow
National Cockade of Pakistan.svg
 Paraguay blue-white-red
National Cockade of Paraguay.svg
Peru Peru red-white-red
National Cockade of Peru.svg
Philippines Philippines
Military Cockade of the Philippines (1898-1901).svg
 Poland red-white
National Cockade of Poland.svg
(1797–1820 and 1823-1830)
National Cockade of Portugal (1797-1820).svg
(1821–1823 and 1830–1910)
National Cockade of Portugal (1820-1910).svg
 Portugal green-red
National Cockade of Portugal.svg
 Romania blue-yellow-red
National Cockade of Romania.svg
Russia Russia
(until 1917)
National Cockade of Russia (until 1917).svg
 Russia black-orange-black-orange
National Cockade of Russia.svg
 San Marino white-blue
National Cockade of San Marino.svg
 Serbia red-blue-white
National Cockade of Serbia.svg
Seychelles Seychelles
Seychellois cockade.svg
 Sierra Leone light blue-white-green
National Cockade of Sierra Leone.svg
 Slovenia red-blue-white
National Cockade of Slovenia.svg
 South Africa green-red-white-blue
National Cockade of Transvaal.svg
(until 1843 and 1844–1871)
National Cockade of Spain (1843, 1844–1871).svg
(1843–1844 and current since 1871)
National Cockade of Spain.svg
National Cockade of Sweden military.svg
National Cockade of Sweden.svg
 Thailand red-white-blue-white-red
National Cockade of Thailand.svg
 Turkey red-white-red
National Cockade of Turkey.svg
 Ukraine light blue-yellow
National Cockade of Ukraine.svg
 United Kingdom white (Stuart dynasty), black (Hanoverian dynasty), red-white-blue
National Cockade of the United Kingdom.svg
 United States
(War of Independence)
Federalist Cockade.svg
 United States
(19th century)
blue with an eagle in the centre
National Cockade of the United States (19th Century).png
 United States white-blue-red
National Cockade of United States.svg
Uruguay Uruguay
sky blue
National Cockade of Uruguay (1828-1916).svg
Uruguay Uruguay
National Cockade of Uruguay (civilian).svg
Uruguay Uruguay
blue-white-blue with a red diagonal line
Military Cockade of Uruguay.svg
Uruguay Uruguay
Cocar policia uruguai.svg
 Venezuela red-blue-yellow
National Cockade of Venezuela.svg
 Yugoslavia blue-white-red
National Cockade of Yugoslavia.svg

Component states of the German Empire (1871–1918)

Cockades of the German Empire
Cockades of the German Empire

The German Empire had, besides the national cockade, also cockades for several of its states,[42] seen in the following table:

State Description
Anhalt green
Baden yellow-red-yellow
Bavaria white-sky blue-white
Brunswick blue-yellow-blue
Hanseatic cities (Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck) white with a red cross
Hesse white-red-white-red-white
Lippe yellow-red-yellow
Mecklenburg-Schwerin and -Streliz red-yellow-blue
Oldenburg blue-red-blue
Prussia black-white-black
Reuss-Gera and -Greiz black-red-yellow
Saxe-Altenburg, -Coburg and Gotha and -Meiningen green-white-green
Saxe-Weimar black-yellow-green
Saxony white-green-white
Schaumburg-Lippe blue-red-white
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt blue-white-blue
Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen white-blue-white
Waldeck black-red-yellow
Württemberg black-red-black

See also


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Further reading