Flags Darker

Do you know Swiss symbolism?

The Swiss Cross which now resides on the modern Swiss flag originated from a flag used by the Holy Roman Empire. The flag of the empire was a white cross extending to the edges of a red field, and symbolized the emperor's role as the protector of Christianity. Most regions of Switzerland used variations of this flag in one form or another as they gained independence from the Roman empire. And, to make a very long story short, before Swiss independence was declared in 1291, and many times thereafter during the Middle Ages, Swiss Confederates used many forms of the flag. It was not until fairly recent times in the late 19th century that the form we know today was designed. In many cases prior to that era, the cross extended to the edges of the banners and the banners sometimes had forms other than a rectangle or square, as in the case of the 1422 Confederate triangular banner.

The “crossbow” is a symbol in Swiss history because of the importance that it played in Swiss rebellion throughout the centuries. It was a chief weapon with the Swiss Infantry and was used in countless battles throughout the ages. It was also made famous by the legend of William Tell. (See the article below.)

“CH” ,the abbreviation for Switzerland, stands for “Confoederatio Helvetica" which is the official Latin name of Switzerland. Translated this means “Confederation of Helvetiers.” This reference dates back to 1291 when the people of three regions of the area pledged to band together as “a one and only nation of brothers” against surrounding aggressors.

James Christian - May 2006

(Click on images below for larger size.)

Victorinox Swiss 1291-1991 Anniversary
William Tell Monument

The Legend of William Tell

William Tell from üBrglen was known as an expert marksman with the crossbow. At the time, the Habsburg emperors were seeking to dominate Uri. Hermann Gessler, the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf raised a pole in the village's central square with his hat on top and demanded that all the local townsfolk bow before it. As Tell passed by without bowing, he was arrested. He received the punishment of being forced to shoot an apple off the head of his son, Walter, or else both would be executed.

Tell had been promised freedom if he shot the apple. On November 18, 1307, Tell split the fruit with a single bolt from his crossbow, without mishap. When Gessler queried him about the purpose of the second arrow in his quiver, Tell answered that if he had ended up killing his son in that trial, he would have turned the crossbow on the reeve. Gessler became enraged at that comment, and had Tell bound and brought to his ship to be taken to his castle at üKssnacht. In a storm on Lake Lucerne, Tell managed to escape. On land, he went to Küssnacht, and when Gessler arrived, he shot him with a crossbow bolt.This defiance of the Austrian reeve sparked a rebellion, leading to the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy.

*From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

The Red Cross Flag Was Derived From The Swiss Flag By Reversing The Colors

The Red Cross symbol used by the International Committee of the Red Cross is based on the Swiss flag. The Red Cross on white background was the original protection symbol declared at the 1864 Geneva Convention. It is, in terms of its color, a reversal of the Swiss national flag, a meaning which was adopted to honor Swiss native and Red Cross founder Henry Dunant. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant's ideas and in 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize for his accomplishments.

*From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

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