History Of The Switzerland Flag
While the history of Switzerland can be traced back to 1291, that of its national flag dates back only to 1889. Nonetheless, the modern Swiss Flag variations can be traced back to the year 1815. Interestingly, the flag’s design of a centrally placed white cross against a red background originated in the fifteenth century and its underlying concept evolved even earlier, in the fourth century.
Some historians believe that the origin of the flag of Switzerland can be attributed to Vexillum of Ancient Rome’s Theban Legion. According to popular belief, St. Maurice was executed in year 302 along with other protesting Christian legionnaires. As a symbol of the blood that was shed by the legion martyrs, St. Maurice was posthumously presented with arms of white-cross placed centrally against a red backdrop. This was when the whole idea of the flag design was born.
In the early 14th century, Swiss Confederation cantons began to realize the significance of a common sign of recognition. It was in 1339, during the Laupen Battle, that the Swiss troops went to the war wearing white-colored linen crosses for the first time. Soon, this white cross became the cantonal symbol and appeared on all cantonal banners. In 1422, during the Arbedo Battle, the Swiss Cantons represented themselves using triangular, red-colored guidons with white cross etched in the center. This guidon last appeared in year 1540, after which it evolved into a rectangular flag.
However, after the 1798 French Invasion, the use of white-cross, typical of the army of the Swiss Confederate, was discontinued. In the absence of a national flag, a state seal called the ‘federal cross’, was introduced in 1815 and commonly used throughout Europe. It was after several decades, in year 1889, that Switzerland finally adopted the present-day form of Swiss flag. Thus, the history of Switzerland flag substantiates the fact that the current flag design evolved from numerous war flags.
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