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Dictionary of Vexillology: L (Labarum - Layered Saltire)

Last modified: 2024-07-13 by rob raeside
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1) A flag based on the vexillum and combining Christian symbols with those of the Roman military, introduced by the Emperor Constantine in the early 4th Century AD, and later used as an imperial standard - but see 'Cantabrian labarum' (also ‘vexillum’).
2) The term sometimes used to describe a simple religious banner used in the Roman Catholic Church – see ‘banner 3)’.
3) A term also used to describe an elaborate (gonfalon-like) banner of the Eastern Orthodox Church (see also ‘gonfalon’).

[labarum]  [labarum]  [labarum]
The Labarum of Constantine with two Ancient Roman Labara (fotw)

Please note – not to be confused with a Cantabrian labarum see – 'Cantabrian labarum'.

1) See ‘cadency, mark of’.
2) In heraldry a term sometimes also used to describe the tapes which hang below a prelate’s mitre – but see ‘stringed’.
3) In British usage, the (varyingly detailed) marks of cadency employed on the standards of particular Royal Family members (see also ‘royal standard(s) 2)’, plus ‘cadency, mark of’ and its following note ‘difference 1)’ and ‘variant 1)’).

[label example]  [label example]  [label example] 
British Royal Standards Showing the Labels of HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH Princess Anne, and of HRH Prince Henry (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to dovetailed - see ‘dovetailed’.

dovetailed dovetailed
Flag and Arms of Stordal, Norway (fotw)

See ‘agnus dei’.

[lamb of God]
Flag of Berlikum, The Netherlands (fotw)

A long light-weight spear with which some cavalry regiments were formerly armed, and upon which the standard or guidon was also carried - now restricted to historical or ceremonial use (see also ‘guidon 1) & 2)’, ‘lance flag’, ‘lance pennon 1)’, ‘staff 2)’ and ‘standard 2)’).

Lancer, France 1812 (wiki)

A small flag or pennant, usually swallow-tailed or triangular and of generally simple (bicolour) design, formerly carried below the lance head by those cavalry regiments so armed, or currently by some mounted police units in parade dress, and now restricted to historical/ceremonial use - a lance pennant or pennon (see also ‘banneret 2)’, ‘pennant 2)’, ‘lance’ and ‘lance pennon 1)’).

[lance flag] [lance flag] [lance flag]  
Lance Flags, British c1840 (fotw); Grand Duchy of Baden c1870 (fotw), 1st Lancers c1939, Poland (fotw)

Please note that the use of lance-armed cavalry and the general design of their flag or pennant derive from Polish practice – Poland having been the country from which lance-armed light cavalry was adopted in the late 18th century.

1)The term for an armigerous lance flag, either fork-tailed or square-ended according to rank, and carried by a medieval mounted warrior (see also ‘armigerous’, ‘banner of arms’, ‘banneret 2)’, ‘lance’, ‘lance flag’, ‘pennoncier’ and ‘heraldic standard’.
2) See ‘badge pennon’.
3) See ‘lance flag’.

[Lance pennon]  Lance pennon  [Lance pennon] 
Lance Pennon of Sir Robert Knolles. Knight Banneret c1360, England; Lance Pennon of a Pennoncier (or Knight Bachelor), England 1415; Badge Pennon, England c1460

(adj) A term that may be used to describe a rounded fly – but see note below and ‘ogival’ (also ‘descate’, ‘guidon 3)’, ’fly’, ‘standard 4)’ and ‘heraldic standard’).

Lesna, Poland
Flag of Leśna, Poland (fotw)

Please note that the differences between “ogival” and “lanceolate” are often very slight, and we suggest that both entries be consulted.

See 'national colours 2)' and 'state colours 3)' (also 'livery colours').

sample  sample  sample  sample
Landesfarben/National Colours, Germany; Landesfarben/State Colours, Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt

See ‘linguistic flags’.

language flag language flag
Amalgam/Language Flags for English and German

The heraldic term used when the tongue of the beast, if shown, is of different tincture than the rest of the body (see also ‘armed 2)’, ‘armed and langued’, ‘attired’, ‘beaked’, ‘membered’ and ‘tincture’).

langued langued langued
Flag of Zermatt, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Aalter, Belgium (fotw); Flag of Södermanland, Sweden (fotw)

1) In French military usage and in some others – and a translation of fourragère – the term for those cords and tassels that are worn on military uniforms to signify the award of a unit decoration, and may decorate that unit's military colour – see ‘cord 1)’ and ‘aiguillette’ (also ‘colour 2)’, ‘cravat 1)’, ‘jack of honour’, ‘lanyard pennant’ and ‘tassels’).
2) See ‘halyard’.
3) See ‘dress knot’ and its following note.

(marlow white)

In French Naval usage, the term – and in the language of that country a flamme de fourragère – for a tapered pennant in various colours, charged with the Croix de Guerre and having a rounded (or lanceolate) fly, which is flown to indicate that a vessel has received citations for a certain number of military decorations (see also ‘cravat 1) and its following note, ‘fanion 3)’, ‘jack of honour’, ‘lanceolate’ , ‘lanyard 1)’ and ‘pennant 2)’).

[Lanyard pennants]
Six citations for the Legion d’Honneur, 1914-18 (fotw); 4-5 Citations for the Médaille Militaire 1939-45 (fotw)

1) A metal or plastic flag – sometimes showing a badge or coat of arms below - worn on the dress or coat lapel as a patriotic or political symbol, originally characteristic of the former Soviet Union and of the United States, but now widely used elsewhere – a flag badge or flag pin.
2) A paper flag see ‘flag day 2)’.

[flag pin] [flag pin]
Two flag pins (worldflags4u)

A term sometimes incorrectly used to describe the leaves of a rose in place of the heraldic barbed – see ‘barbed’.

The heraldic term sometimes used to describe the tapes which hang below a bishop’s mitre – but see ‘stringed’ (also ‘mitre’).

[lappets] [lappets]
Arms and Flag of Real, Braga, Portugal (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to gouttes - see ‘gouttes’.

[gutty / larmes] [larmes]
Arms and Flag of Samnanger, Norway (fotw)

Terms sometimes used (albeit inaccurately) in vexillology to describe a round-bottomed or Spanish-style shield - but see note below (also ‘rectangular shield’, ‘shield 2)’ and ‘spanish-style shield’).

Please note that in vexillology the terms Gothic and late-Gothic appear to be used indiscriminately to describe either a pointed or a round-bottomed shield, and the Editors suggest therefore, that both these terms, if used at all, should be restricted to those with a pointed base.

See ‘Renaissance shield’.

Flag of Ilok, Croatia (fotw)

The heraldic term for a cross that does not usually extend to the edges of a shield, flag, panel or flag, but whose horizontal arm is shorter than its vertical and which is set above the centre line – a long cross (see also ‘Greek cross’ and ‘cross 2)’).

[Latin cross] [Latin cross] [Latin cross]
Flag of Vila de Ala, Portugal (fotw); Flag of La Uvita, Colombia (fotw); Flag of Benavente, Portugal (fotw)

a) Unless referring to a plain cross, this term should always be accompanied by a further description, for example a “Latin cross fleury” as illustrated above.
b) In vexillological terms a Latin cross throughout becomes an off-centred or Scandinavian-type cross – see ‘off-centered cross 2)’ and off-centered cross 3) (also ‘throughout’).

[Latin cross]
Flag of Pula, Croatia (fotw)

The heraldic term for a cross of Santiago - see ‘cross of Santiago’.
The heraldic term for a cross of victory - see ‘cross of victory’.

[Latin cross bottony]
Flag of Asturias, Spain (fotw)

The correct term for a cross of Santiago - see ‘cross of Santiago’.

latin cross fleury fitchy latin cross fleury fitchy latin cross fleury fitchy
Flag of Quinta do Conde, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Ferreira do Alentejo, Portugal (fotw); Flag of Azeitão, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘Latin cross’, and ‘off-centred cross 2)’ with its following note.

[Latin cross throughout]
Merchant Flag c1650 Riga, Latvia (fotw)

1) In vexillology a pattern of interlaced bars forming a (usually but not invariably) diagonal trellis.
2) In heraldry see ‘fretty’ and ‘latticed’.

[lattice example] [lattice example] [lattice example]
Flag of Prostějov, Czechia (fotw); Arms and Flag of Glinde, Germany (fotw)

The heraldic term used to describe a pattern of interlaced bars resembling fretty, but with those bars placed vertically and horizontally as in a portcullis - portcullised – but see ‘fretty’ (also ‘gridiron’).

[latticed example] [latticed example] [latticed example]
Flag of Gradil, Portugal (fotw); Ensign of the House of Commons YC, UK (fotw); Flag of Grade, Portugal (fotw)

Those flags flown from a vessel that is being launched prior to fitting out, and which in naval usage are generally (but not invariably) of a prescribed type and sequence (see also ‘dressing lines’ and ‘flag exchange’.

[launching flags]
Launching of HMS St Albans 1747, UK (Wikipedia)

a) The flags flown in the above illustration are i) in the bow a Union Jack, ii) at the fore a Flag of the Lord High Admiral, iii) at the main a Royal Standard and iv) at the mizzen a second Union Jack, with the suite completed by a pre-1801 Red Ensign at the stern.
b) This combination was usual (in the UK) for the launching of a warship in this era, and is still flown (but with a White Ensign) when HM The Queen is aboard a naval ship – see ‘anchor flag’ and its following notes

(v) The ceremonial deposit of regimental, unit, service or national colours in a church, cathedral or museum when they they are ready for replacement, or when the regiment or military organisation concerned is disbanded (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’.

A term that may be used to describe a cross whose horizontal arm differs in colour from its vertical as in the flag of the former Netherlands Antilles (see also ‘cross 1)’, ‘layered saltire’, ‘trinitarian cross’ and ‘tripartite’).

Netherland Antilles Belov, Czechia
Flag of the Netherlands Antilles 1986 - 2010 (fotw); Flag of Bělov, Czechia (fotw)

a) This term has been introduced by the Editors as no established alternative could be found.
b) It should only be used in the description of flags as illustrated above, and does not include crosses which show two colours because of a fimbriation, or are divided in ways other than those shown.

A term that may be used to describe any saltire where an arm of one colour overlays (or apparently overlays) an arm of a different colour as in the examples given below (see also ‘layered cross’, ‘saltire’ and ‘tripartite’).

Rubi, Spain Horni Cerekev, Czechia 
Flag of Rubi, Spain (fotw); Flag of Horní Cerekev, Czechia (fotw)

a) This term has been introduced by the Editors as no established alternative could be found.
b) It should only be used in the description of flags as illustrated above, and does not include saltires which show two colours because of a fimbriation, or are divided in ways other than those shown.

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