The story of an Ottoman banner in Italy

Today in Italy within the cellar of a church that is a remnant from the medieval period, lies a 400 year old Ottoman banner with no other like it.

The story of an Ottoman banner in Italy

Mehmet Guner – World Bulletin / News Desk

At a village in a remote area in Italy, a 400 year old Ottoman banner was discovered, the likes of which hasn’t been seen before. In 1982 when Turkish ambassador Hamit Batu was in Rome, he received news about a banner that was 10 meters in length and 4 meters in width. The priests of the village for years would use the banner in their religious ceremonies as a symbol of the victory of their battles which they won against the Turks in the past. At the moment, the banner is still in the cellar of a church waiting to be picked up. According to Batu, the old embassy until now still hasn’t responded to any request from official organizations for the banner to be brought back to Turkey.

In the February edition of the Social History Magazine, the former Turkish ambassador to Rome, Hamit Batu, wrote an article in which he explained how he received news from various sources about the banner and then later on actually saw it with his own eyes during the years he was working in Italy, where it is kept hidden within the cellar of a church named Castel Viscardo in a village near the city of Orvieto. Hamit Batu said he believes that due to the banners greatness, story and historical background, the Turkish authorities should immediately take responsibility for this historical treasure.

Crescent Moon and Star of David

According to Batu, the banner is made of white silk on a red base fabric. When it comes to its design, on each top corner there are six stars of David; and in the middle of the flag aligned between both of these is a crescent and two knifes, crossing one over the other. The other sides of the red base are designed with four branches.

When Batu took a closer look at the banner he noticed some areas had been worn but in general the fabric was in sound condition and that these worn areas were repairable.

The flag was given to the church by a chevalier

When Batu spoke about the banner with a priest in the village, he said that the priest gave important information about it. According to what the priest said, the banner found its way into the church in the 17th century when it was given to the church by a chevalier who was from Malta and was related to the well-known Vatican Spadalara family. The chevalier gave the banner to the village's Castel Viscardo church and since then it has been preserved in the church cellar. It is understood that this chevalier was born in the 16th century, and in this century, with a galleon which he established by his own means, he took the banner from an Ottoman warship during a battle in the bay of Margi or Magra, known today as Fethiye, which was beyond the mountain Rhodes.

Religious ceremonies

30-40 years earlier, the historical banner would be taken out and used at religious events and escorted around the village streets, using it as a subject to mock and scoff at. In those times, when the Turks were regarded as the arch enemies of the Christians, having such a banner in their hands gave it a religious meaning. As for today, by having the banner preserved in this old village’s church established bonds of friendship between many Italian families and Turks living in Rome.

According to the information Batu received after consulting the professionals in this field, not much else is known of any other banner that is of this type from the 16th century.

Authorities uninterested

A while after Batu returned from Rome, he informed Mahmut Boguslu, who was in that time the leading Major General that was assigned under the Presidency of the History of Warfare Department and was connected to Ankara’s Presidential Command about the situation of the banner via a letter with some photographs attached. However he didn’t receive any positive response.

After Hamit Batu retired from his work, in 1985 he went to the Besiktas Museum and met with the senior Museum Manager Albay Erdogan Tufan and gave him information regarding the banner. He especially showed the photographs that he had taken. Although Albay Tufan showed interest, he stated that he wasn’t a professional in this area and so instead Batu consulted with one of the Museums professionals.

Batu proposed to those in charge to increase the size of the photos and present them in an appropriate corner of the museum, to prepare a writing piece about the banner that is publishable, and also to organise a team of professionals by working with Naval Forces to repair the damage and wearing away of the fabric that is appearing day by day.

5 million dollars for the repairs needed

After having stated that from the results of his research a minimum of 5 million dollars was needed, the response Batu received was “Give the documents to us and we’ll keep it safe in a file”. After hearing this he took his documents and exited the building.

Hamit Batu signed an important publication of the Army Museum's collection of banners. However, in these publications, it states that there isn’t any banner like the banner which is mentioned to be in Italy.

Batu is still waiting with anticipation for the day the proper authorities will claim ownership of the banner.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Nisan 2014, 07:39