National Arms, part 9

Swiss National Coat of Arms
Switzerland has a very simple National Coat of Arms consisting of a white cross on a red field, this does not mean that it has a brief history however. Legend has it that in the most remote times red was the national color of the first Scandinavian colonists who came to inhabit the high Alpine valleys where Switzerland is today situated. Their banners and clothes were in the color red. In the most ancient times Swiss warriors, on their clothes and flags, carried the white cross since they regarded the freeing of their native land as crusade in itself. The Swiss Arms are mentioned as early as 1339 with reference to the Swiss forces leaving Berne to march against the army of nobles “and they were all marked with the sign of the Holy Cross, a white cross on a red shield….” According to the medieval chronicler Justinger. The Swiss Diet appropriately proclaimed in 1814: “ Seeing that it was the military sign of the ancient Swiss, the red shield carrying a white cross will compose the communal federal Arms of the Swiss Confederation. “ Such is the origin of the Coat of Arms which, by reversal of the colors, gave birth to the international sign of the Red Cross. The Coat of Arms of the other European Republic, San Marino, display its three castle topped mountain peaks.

Vatican coat of armsEurope also contains the smallest sovereign State in the world, the City State of the Vatican, over which the Pope rules as sovereign. Guaranteed sovereignty as a State by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, it employs the Arms of the holy See: the Papal Tiara and the Keys of St. Peter ( image left ). Outside of Europe heraldry is derivative. It has spread through European influence usually as a result of colonization. Although a sovereign may include virtually any Arms he chooses on his shield, there must inevitably come a time when it is no longer practical to add more. At the height of the British Empire it would have been impossible to include upon a single shield all the territories represented by the Crown. The Crown wisely made no attempt to do so. It was, nevertheless, desirable that the sovereign should be able to indicate his sovereignty in an armorial fashion. This was achieved by means of formally assigning Arms for various colonies. This practice became widespread, and Arms were granted for colonies, dominions and their constituent states and provinces..

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