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
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.

The word cockade derives from the French cocarde, from Old French coquarde, feminine of coquard (vain, arrogant), from coc (cock), of imitative origin. The earliest documented use was in 1709.[1][2]

Eighteenth century

General André Masséna of the French Revolutionary Army wearing a bicorne with a tricolor cockade
Hungarian kokárda, is worn on the 15th of March to commemorate the 1848 Revolution and its ideals. It was originally worn by the Youth of March.

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.[3][4] Because individual armies might wear a variety of differing regimental uniforms, cockades were used as an effective and economical means of national identification.[5]

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.[6][7][8] In the Kingdom of Great Britain supporters of a Jacobite restoration wore white cockades, while the recently established Hanoverian monarchy used a black cockade.[9][10][11][12] 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.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

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.[21][22]

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".[23][24][25][26][27]

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.[26] 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
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.[28][29] 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.[30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33]

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).[34][3][35]

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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

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.[39][40]

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.[41]

List of national cockades

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

See also: Military aircraft insignia

Below is a list of national cockades (colors listed from center to ring):[42][43]

and date
Description Image
 Albania red-black-red
 Argentina sky blue-white-sky blue
 Armenia orange-blue-red
before 1918
since 1918
 Azerbaijan green-red-light blue
 Belgium black-yellow-red
green-red-green (with a white 5 pointed star in the center)
 Bolivia green-yellow-red
 Brazil blue-yellow-green
 Bulgaria red-green-white
 Chile blue-white-red (with a white 5 pointed star in the blue portion)
 Colombia yellow-blue-red
 Croatia red-white-blue
 Czech Republic blue-red-white
(early 19th century)
 Denmark red-white-red
 Ecuador red-blue-yellow
 Egypt black-white-red
 Estonia white-black-blue
(until 1936)
 Ethiopia red-yellow-green
 Finland white-blue-white
(1794–1814, 1815 and current since 1830)
(before 1794, 1814–1815 and 1815–1830)
 Gabon green-yellow-light blue
black-white-wine red
 German Confederation
 German Empire (1871–1918)
 Weimar Germany (1918–1933)
 Nazi Germany (1933–1945)
 East Germany
 Germany black-red-gold
 Ghana green-yellow-red
 Greece blue-white
 Hungary green-white-red
 Iceland blue-white-red-white-blue
 India green-white-saffron
 Iran red-white-green
(until 1922)
green or sky blue
(since 1922)
savoy blue
(since 1948)
 Japan red-white
 Kenya green-white-red-white-black
 Latvia carmine-white-carmine
 Lithuania red-green-yellow
 Mexico green-white-red
 Monaco white-red-white
 Netherlands orange
 Nigeria green-white-green
 Norway red-white-blue-white
 Pakistan white-green-yellow
 Paraguay blue-white-red
Peru Peru red-white-red
Philippines Philippines
 Poland red-white
Portugal Portugal
(1797–1820 and 1823–1830)
Portugal Portugal
(1821–1823 and 1830–1910)
 Portugal green-red
 Romania blue-yellow-red
Russia Russia
(until 1917)
 Russia black-orange-black-orange
 San Marino white-blue
 Serbia red-blue-white
Seychelles Seychelles
 Sierra Leone light blue-white-green
 Slovenia red-blue-white
(until 1843 and 1844–1871)
(1843–1844 and current since 1871)
 Thailand red-white-blue-white-red
South Africa Transvaal green-red-white-blue
 Turkey red-white-red
 Ukraine light blue-yellow
 United Kingdom white (Stuart dynasty), black (Hanoverian dynasty), red-white-blue
 United States
(War of Independence)
 United States
(19th century)
blue with an eagle in the centre
 United States white-blue-red
Uruguay Uruguay
sky blue
Uruguay Uruguay
Uruguay Uruguay
blue-white-blue with a red diagonal line
Uruguay Uruguay
 Venezuela red-blue-yellow
 Yugoslavia blue-white-red

Component states of the German Empire (1871–1918)

Cockades of the German Empire

The German Empire had, besides the national cockade, also cockades for several of its states,[44] 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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  2. ^ "The American Heritage Dictionary entry: Cockade".
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  5. ^ Mollo, John (1972). Military Fashion. p. 22. ISBN 0-214-65349-8.
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Further reading