Last modified: 2011-03-19 by andrew weeks
Keywords: poland | eagle | crown |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
image by António Martins
adopted 1 Aug 1919
During the reign of August II (d. 1706), white ribbons were introduced in the army (according to the Saxon pattern) as the signs of prime national color. They were attached to the left side of the headgear with ornamental pins. During the Four-Year Sejm (1788-1792) first red-and-white ribbons appeared.
The Sejm formally introduces Polish national colors during the November
Uprising, on February 7, 1831. The colors were white and red, and were
used in the national uprisings of the 19th century is the form of white-and-red
ribbons. They were officially recognized as state colours in 1919 after
Poland had regained her independence.
Source: Polish World website.
Dov Gutterman, 21 Feb 1999
I thought that Polish flag ratio is 5:8 (or 8:5 according to above definition
of the ratio)?
Željko Heimer, 24 Feb 1999
"The Polish national flag is built up from 2 horizontal belts: red (amarant)
below and white above. These colors are connected with the color of the
White Eagle used on the red crest. The upper belt is the color of the Eagle,
and the lower - the color of crest. The right proportions of the flag are
5:8 (height:width). The process whereby those colors became the national
flag was quite complicated and gradual. For example, some medieval rule
said, that if the White Eagle is put on the red crest, then the colors
of flag are optional. Nevertheless, red-white colors occurred on the national
flags from XVII-XIX cent. very often, but the location of colors was unstable.
Sometimes it was red above and white below. This situation was resolved
on 1 August 1919. Since that time the flag has been not changed except
for the White Eagle. The communists took off the crown from the Eagle.
It returned in 1989."
Source: "Encyclopaedia of Poland" by Wydawnictwo Kluszczynski, Krakow, 1996 (my translation)
Mariusz Kedzierski, 24 May 2000
The white over red derives from heraldics: Argent and Gules are the
respective colours of the Polish eagle and of its the field.
Pierre Gay, 13 Oct 1998
Yes, it is. Moreover, there are some (unnecessary) non-heraldic explanations:
traditionally, a white eagle flying over red (rising?) sun, or, during
the communist era, white would have stood for peace while red for socialism.
But, in general, a flag derived from COA according to heraldic rules needs
no further 'explanation'.
Jan Zrzavy, 13 Oct 1998
I think 1990 or 1989, but not 1980. Polish eagle with crown in 1980,
in times of communists ... Hmmm, very doubtful.
Victor Lomantsov, 21 Aug 2000
Wasn't the crown returned to the COA only in early 1990's? Is this a
typo or is it indeed the change made so early?
Željko Heimer, 21 Aug 2000
The act can be as of the year 1980, but have been changed since then.
This is normal legal procedure in many countries, including, I suppose,
Poland. You don't issue a totally new act of law because of all small corrections
you may want to adopt each year. Flag laws are not usually changed very
Elias Granqvist, 21 Aug 2000
The act itself comes from 1980. The crown however is added by an Act
changing the Coat of Arms, Colours and Anthem Act. The changing Act was
enacted February 9th 1990 and is effective since February 22nd 1990.
The Coat of Arms... Act was changed a few times in later years but the changes did not affect the insignia whatsoever.
An interesting detail for those involved in heraldry: During Communist era the crown was not the only change. If you look closer at the Polish eagle, you notice that he has a silver star on each wing. Before World War II the stars had three points and were called 'the threeleaf' (trojlisc). The Communists changed it to silver 5-pointed stars. In 1990 there was a big debate about it.
Finally, they found a middle ground. The star has 3 big arms and 2 smaller ones.
Bartek Kachniarz, 22 Aug 2000
I spotted an error in the notes on FOTW Polish pages regarding the date
of restoration of the crown on eagle's head. It happened much earlier,in
August 1989, when after the creation of the first non-communist government
in the post-WWII era, the crown was restored and General Jaruzelski was
'promoted' from Chairman of the Council of State of Polish Peopleś
Republic to President of Polish Republic.
Chris Kretowicz, 19 Sep 2001
* May 1 - May 1st National Holiday (formerly Labor Day),
* May 2 - Republic of Poland Flag Day,
* May 3 - May 3rd National Holiday (commonly known as Constitution Day),
* November 11 - National Independence Day
The proper flag to be flown by citizens is the white and red flag and *not* the variant with the coat of arms. The flag with the coat of arms is reserved for maritime and diplomatic usage, among other things. This is a common mistake made in Poland, as people find the latter version "more pretty".
Łukasz Garczewski, 1 May 2010