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Scanian cross flag (Sweden)

Skåne, Skåneland

Last modified: 2014-03-09 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: scania | skaneland | skane | cross: scandinavian (yellow) |
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[cross flag of Scania: red with a yellow Scandinavian cross] by Edward Mooney, Jr., 1999-08-10

In official use by the Region of Scania since 1999, alongside the armorial flag of the Region.
The Skåneland flag, like the heraldic "Panther" symbol, is registered in Skandinavisk Vapenrulla as a regional and cultural symbol (SVR 491/32) [svr].


See also:

Related sites:

Colours and dimensions of the flag

International colour code: Red=PMS 179 Yellow=108
Red background with yellow cross. Proportions 3-1-3 in height and 3-1-4.5 in length.
Quoting scania.org

Note: The same proportions as in the Swedish flag are also used.


Cf dimensions of Scandinavian flags, especially Denmark and Sweden.

About the difference in dimensions of flags with Scandinavian crosses

Scandinavian crosses can be split in two varieties:
· Square inner squares: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands
· Non-square inner squares: Sweden, Finland, Aland Islands

I don't know about Scania, but my bold theory is that the Scanian movement is split between the two varieties with the inner proportions following either the Swedish or Danish pattern, linked to the position on 'Scania is part of Sweden' vs. 'Scania is distinct from Sweden'.
Ole Andersen, 2000-Dec-17


Originally the Scanian cross flag had the same proportions as the Swedish flag, I think (I guess it was easiest to make it so), but in later decades people have advocated other proportions, so now there are different versions of the flag. The foundation "Skånsk Framtid" (www.scania.org), which want autonomy for Scania and which present some dubious "facts" about the Scanian cross flag on its homepage [Editor's note: see about an article on the history of the flag further down on this page], think that the proportions should be as it was in the Danish flag in the 17th and 18th Century.
Elias Granqvist, 2000-Dec-17


Official use of the Scanian cross flag

Since 1997 (i.e. when the official region was formed) the old Scanian flag is the official flag of "Region Skåne", the Region of Scania, a partly self governing administrative unit formed through the amalgamation of the two counties that for almost three centuries have existed in the (Swedish) province of Scania. So the old Scanian flag is the official flag of the region again.
Svante Wendel, 2000-Jun-22


No, it has never been the official flag of Scania before, so the word "again" in the sentence above is wrong. The official flag of the province of Scania is still the same, i.e. a banner of the arms: or, a griffin's head gules, armed and with a crown azure.

The borders of the county and the region are the same, but they are not exactly the same as the borders of the traditional province. The autonomy of the region is also not much more than it was before, but plans are that it eventually may be more. The arms of the county are: gules a crowned griffin's head or.
Elias Granqvist, 2000-Jul-2


More accurately, the Scanian cross flag is one flag the region decided to use. Saying it is the flag will only cause misunderstandings as the region's own flag is based on the coat of arms, a gold griffin head on a blue field. This flag was adopted 9 February 1999, shortly after the region began operating as a four year trial project.

The year 1997 to which Svante Wendel refers, is the year when the two counties were united, forming a single county in Scania. The single Scania county is still in existence, it was not replaced by the region, though many of the responsibilities of the county have been transferred to the region. Its coat of arms and flag show a yellow griffin head on a red field.

Apart from not being very old the Scanian cross flag was never before officially recognized.

The Newsletter of Region Skåne, No. 2, 1999 (available at http://www.skane.se/) reported the decision of the Regional Assembly. In Swedish the decision concerning the red and yellow cross flag reads like this:

"Förutom den egna vapenflaggan avser regionen använda den s k skånska flaggan. Denna visar ett gult kors i rött fält och har proportionerna 3-1-3 på höjden samt 3-1-4,5 på längden. Regionfullmäktige föreslås rekommendera kommunerna att vid "skånsk" flaggning använda denna flagga. Föreskrifter om flaggning utfärdas av regionstyrelsen."

Translated into English (my translation), this would be something like this:

"Besides its own armorial flag the region intends to use the so-called Scanian flag. This shows a yellow cross on a red field and has the proportions 3-1-3 along the hight and 3-1-4.5 across the length. A proposal is put to the regional assembly that the municipalities are recommended to use this flag when flagging "Scanian". Regulations concerning the use of flags will be drawn up by the Regional Executive Committee."

[for further rules, see Region of Scania]

Jan Oskar Engene, 2000-Jul-03 and 2000-Jul-04


History of the flag

In the more recent 1870's the Scanian/Skåneland flag was introduced in Lund as the flag of the region. Since then it has been used in connection with sports, culture, commerce, advertising, etc.
Quoting scania.org

[The Scanian cross flag] was created and introduced by Mathias Weibull in 1902.
Jan Oskar Engene, 2000-Jul-04


According to former Swedish state heraldist Jan von Konow, the Scanian cross flag dates back to the 1870's (Jan von Konow: "Svenska flaggan - När? Hur? Och Varför", Atlantis, Stockholm 1986, p. 51). However, he doesn't give any source for this information.
Elias Granqvist, 2000-Jul-07


Origin of the yellow cross on red in Scania's flag

I believe the gold cross on red was for the Archbishop of Lund originally.
Hugh Watkins, 2000-Jul-04


The arms of the archbishop of Lund was - and is - the gridiron. Scanian regionalists have, however, been successful in promoting the story about the gold cross on red, in many cases without the reservations that it is just a speculation.
Jan Oskar Engene, 2000-Jul-04


As far as I know, the main reason for the choise of colours in the Scanian cross flag, was to merge the colours of the Swedish and Danish flags.
Elias Granqvist, 2000-Jul-04


This, together with the fact that the provincial arms are mainly red and yellow, is the most likely explanation.
Jan Oskar Engene, 2000-Jul-04

Editor's note: The theory of the yellow cross on red as an old symbol of the archdiocese (since 1558 diocese) of Lund is presented at scania.org.


An article on the history of the Scanian cross flag

Some time ago, FOTW devoted some time to a discussion of the Scanian flag and its origin. I then remarked that a critical review of the thesis that the Scanian flag is of Medieval origin was to be published in the autumn 2000 issue of Nordisk Flaggkontakt, the journal of the Nordic Flag Society. Now autumn has turned into winter and the issue in question is finally out. The main piece in the issue is the article by Lars Roede, "Skånelands flagg og myten om middelalderen," in which the arguments presented in a report by Sven-Olle R. Olsson are critically examined. There is also a reply from Olsson.

For the benefit of those that might be interested in the origins of the Scanian flag, I reproduce below the English summary to Roede's article (with permission from Roede and Nordisk Flaggkontakt). Those who want to consult Olsson's original report can find it on-line at
http://www.scania.org/flaggan/index.html for those who read Swedish, or at
http://www.scania.org/flaggan/flageng1.htm for those who prefer the English language.

Note that Roede's paper takes an FOTW page as the point of departure, but that the contents of this page have changed since the article was written.

Summary
Modern, not Medieval - The Flag of Scania
by Lars Roede

On the FOTW webpages, the information on the flag of Scania is misleading. It is claimed that it may be traced back to a "banner used by the Nordic church in the 12th century when it was headed by the Archbishop of Lund". The origin of this piece of disinformation is a text by SvenOlle R. Olsson, published by the Scanian Regional Foundation in 1993.

A critical examination of Olssons's text reveals that there was no such thing as a "Nordic Church" after the appointment of a Norwegian archbishop in 1153. Neither is there any evidence of arms or flags with a yellow (golden) cross on red used by the archbishop of Lund, nor for the use of such a flag to symbolize the region of Scania before 1900. As Olsson correctly states, the arms of the archdiocese depicted the gridiron of St. Lawrence.

As a consequence, the first king of the Nordic Union, Eric of Pomerania, could not possibly have got the idea for his Nordic flag a red cross on a yellow field from the alleged symbol of a Nordic church, since it was dissolved into national churches long before the invention of heraldry. It is more reasonable to assume that the Nordic flag is an inversion of the gules and or of the arms of Norway, Eric's first kingdom by inheritance. The same idea surfaced in a flag proposal for the newly independent kingdom of Norway in 1814, identical to the Nordic flag of 1430. In this case, the colours were probably inverted to avoid confusion with the Danish flag.

Olsson is also mistaken in attributing arms to the preheraldic St. Olav, or blaming him for the "suncross" taken up by the Norwegian nazi party more recently. Unknown to Olsson, the party flag was in fact identical to the Scanian flag. But he does refer to Finnish proposals for a similar flag with a yellow cross on red. Unfortunately, he does not discuss why this design was not proposed for Norway, whose armorial tinctures are the same as Finland's.

The Scanian flag seems to have been introduced by the historian Mathias Weibull in 1902, according to the sources quoted by Olsson. Weibull may have had two reasons for his choice of colours. The region's troubled history of being first Danish and then Swedish provinces probably made him combine the flag colours of those two nations. In addition, these colours were established as Scanian when the region was assigned arms in 1660 or, a griffin's head gules. But Olsson begs the question when he speculates that the Swedish conquerors recognized "the old colours of Scania". There is no evidence that red and yellow were identified with Scania before that date.

A poem by Assarsson correctly refers to the red as a reflection of "Dannebrog" and to the yellow as a loan from the Swedish flag. But Olsson prefers to view this as a fortunate coincidence, since he insists that the red and yellow flag is medieval.

Olsson borrows heavily from the vexillologist Per Andersson's booklet of 1992, Nordiska korsflaggor. Andersson considers the Scanian flag to be the first in the succession of Nordic cross flags. His arguments are the same as Olsson's, with the same weak points. Both authors seem to have been seduced by a wish to establish a medieval origin and precedence for this flag, but they produce no solid evidence. We may safely conclude that the Scanian flag is a modern invention of the last century, based on the Nordic tradition of flag design, and with colours reminiscent both of Denmark and Sweden well chosen in view of the region's history.

In this case, a mere hypothesis has been elaborated on to the point of being accepted as a near truth by the two authors. To be fair, they do retain some reservations, but these tend to be forgotten along the way. The unfortunate result is that others accept the summarized conclusion uncritically. Even the usually wellinformed FOTW has been led astray. Let us hope that the authors see to it that a more tenable flag history is presented to the world.
Lars Roede

Jan Oskar Engene, 2000-Dec-22

Continued debate on the origin of the yellow cross on red...

Despite what Lars Roede argues concerning the age of the Scanian cross flag, it might be good to know that the only Swedish academic doctor of heraldry at Lund University, Jan Raneke, supports the idea that the Scanian cross flag indeed has medieval roots. He does that in the Swedish newspaper Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar on the 16th of February 2001 and in "Temanummer om landskapens vapenbilder" in Ale - Historisk tidskrift för Skåne, Halland och Blekinge (Ale - Historic Journal for Scania, Halland and Blekinge) from 1998, Jan Raneke basically supports the version which Sven-Olle R. Olsson presents.
Malte Lewan Neelsen, 2001-Mar-01


Raneke does not, as far as I have seen, ever point to any documentation for the Medieval origins of the flag of Scania. ... Documentation would be needed for the claim to be established as something more than just a supposition. In ["Temanummer om landskapens vapenbilder" referred to by Malte Lewan Neelsen], a small reservation has crept in. Here, it is said that the Scanian cross flag is "probably" of Medieval origin, suggesting that we do not know for sure.

So finally, let me put the question that must be answered once again: What primary evidence is there for the use of a flag or coat of arms by the Medieval archbishops of Lund, gules a cross or?
Dr. Jan Oskar Engene, 2001-Mar-02


Geography of Skåne / Skåneland

Scania is a region in southern Sweden. The Swedish name is Skåneland or Skåne. Skåneland incorporates more territory than the historical province Skåne. The flag - red field with yellow cross - is for both.
Jan Oskar Engene, 1996-Mar-10


The old Danish province of Scania was larger and comprised the present day Swedish provinces of Scania, Blekinge and Halland plus the Danish island of Bornholm. [Editor's note: This is what today is called Skåneland]
Svante Wendel, 2000-Jun-22


During Danish times Denmark proper was divided into three main parts, Jylland, Sjælland and Skåneland (Terrae Scaniae), each with its own laws. Skåneland being made up of the present day provinces of Skåne, Halland, Blekinge and Bornholm.

Terrae Scaniae was also the name used by the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson during the 14th century when he was king of Sweden, Norway and "Terrae Scaniae" or Skåneland.
Svante Wendel, 2001-Feb-11


Scanian flag days

24 January - The Scanian Recognition Day
15 February - The Scanian Remembrance Day
19 July - The Scanian Flag's Day
21 August - The Scanian Unification Day

Quoting scania.org