Did You Know?
- Scotland's Flags
When St Andrew, one of the Apostles, was being crucified by the Romans, he is said to have asked to be placed on a cross which a different shape from that of Jesus. His relics (bones) were said to have been brought to Scotland after St Regulus had a vision telling him to take them to a far-off land. He landed at a place called (then) Muckros, later called Kilrymont and, later still, renamed St Andrews.
According to legend, before a 9th or 10th century battle between a combined the Picts and Scots army and the Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria at Athelstaneford in Ear Lothian, a formation of white clouds in the form of the cross of St Andrew appeared in the blue sky.
The Northumbrians were defeated and St Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. The white cross on a blue background later became the Scottish national flag. In the 14th century many Scottish foot soldiers had a white cross on their tunics but it was not until the 15th century that the national flag came into widespread use.
Technically, only the white cross is called a "Saltire" but that name is often applied to the whole flag.
While the origins may be improbable, the Scottish flag is regarded as one of the oldest country flags still in existence.
After King James VI of Scotland became king of England also in 1603, he tried to introduce a flag with the white cross of St Andrew and the blue background along with the red cross of St George. The Scottish parliament angrily rejected it! In 1801, the red cross of St Patrick was incorporated into the "Union Jack" and official buildings in Scotland were then required to fly it.
In the days when flags and banners were important to identify opposing elements in battle, King William I "the Lion" who lived from 1143 to 1214, adopted a heraldic device showing a rampant lion, the king of beasts, rearing up with three paws stretched out. This became the royal coat of arms in Scotland. The lion was also incorporated into the Great Seal of Scotland which was placed on all official documents.
When the royal coat of arms was being designed, the lion rampant was obviously incorprated, with the Latin motto "Nemo me impune lacessit" meaning "No one attacks me with impunity". In Scots, that became "Wha daur meddle wi' me?"
The lion rampant flag strictly speaking belongs solely to the monarch - though a Royal Warrant has been issued allowing it to be displayed as a token of loyalty to the crown.
At one time, using the royal coat of arms unlawfully, could have resulted in a stiff fine - or worse!
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