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Hungary - Coat of Arms - Part 1

Last modified: 2004-10-23 by dov gutterman
Keywords: hungary | cross of lorraine | oak leaves | bent cross | magyar |
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by Zeljko Heimer, 3 November 2001

See also:

Coat of Arms

The arms of Hungary are: per pale, barry of 8, gules and argent, gules, a cross lorraine argent, rising out of a crown or on a compartment vert.
Josh Fruhlinger, 9 April 1996

The crown on the Hungarian arms is the Crown of St. Stephen, an actual crown that was used to crown the Hungarian kings. In the 18th century the cross on the crown was bent and since then it is so depicted on the Hungarian arms.
Nahum Shereshevsky, 11 May 1997

The Lorraine cross appeared as part of the Hungarian Coat of Arms in the 12thCentury as a symbol of the King or of the kingdom (a privilege was grantedby pope Sylvester II to king St. Stephen in 1000 that he may have carried anapostolic (i.e., Lorraine) cross in front of him (hence the title ofHungarian kings, esp. emphasized from Maria Theresia: "N. Dei gratia apostolic king of Hungary"). Back to the Coat of Arms: in or around the movements of 1848, the Slovak nationalist (and/or patriot, depending on the viewpoint) L'udovit Stur created the national symbol of the Slovak people based on his idea that the Lorraine cross and the hill resemble the original Slovak (or, better to say, Great-Moravian) symbols before the Hungarian campaign of the Carpathean basin around 896. In fact, there is a legend which appeared in the codices in the 12th-13th century that Hungarian duke Arpad bought the northern part of the Carpathean basin from the Duke of Great Moravia for a horse or something like that. The hills might resemble that part of the Carpathean basin which, in the opinion of L'udovit Stur, belongs to the Slovaks, as, in his opinion, the Slovaks are direct descendants of the Duchy of Great Moravia, while the cross might resemble the Catholic faith planted into the Moravians by missionaries St. Cyrill & Method. (In the Hungarian heraldry, the three hills resemble Hungarian mountains Tatra, Matra & Fatra, out of which only Matra belongs to Hungary since the Trianon dictate of 1920.)
The Lorraine cross with the crown on a green three-topped hill as the left part of the Hungarian small Coat of Arms, has been used since 12th-13th century, and since the 16th century it has been standardized.
David N. Biacsi, 24 January 1999

From 'Courrier International' (#466. 7 October 1999), after the weekly Hungarian newspaper 'Heti Vila'ggazdasa'g':

"Will the crown of the Magyar kings be included in the legislation of the Hungarian Republic? The Minister of Justice proposes to add in year 2000 - for the celebration of the millenium of the foundation of the state - a new preamble to the Constitution. The text would state, inter alia, that: 'the Holly Crown which ornates the current arms of our country, which symbolizes State and which expresses the allegiance of Hungarians to the noble traditions coming from a 1,000-year old state, played an exceptional role in the history of our country.' "
The coat of arms with the crown can be seen above. Its use on the unofficial state flag is also described here.
Ivan Sache , 17 October 1999

The Coat of Arms with the crown is fully incorporated in the Hungarian legislation, but possibly there is no explicit statement as above. The inclusion of such statement, which would certainly mean something as symbolic and political sign in the Cosntitution, would be of little impact on the flags which would not be changed, as far as I understood.
Zeljko Heimer, 18 October 1999

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - Hungary's center-right government plans to kick off the new millennium by restoring the royal crown of St. Stephen as the symbol of the Hungarian state - a controversial decision at home and abroad
Jaume Ollé, 12 December 1999

There must be something more which can't be seen from this extract, since the crown of St. Stephen is already part of the coat of arms of Hungary, and (unofficially, but often, as part of the Coat of Arms) also on the flag. I have not been following the flag-related political development in Hungary, but IIRC, the rightists are very much fond of introducting the flag with Coat of Arms as official (and possibly only) flag of Hungary, instead of the simple tricolor.
Zeljko Heimer, 13 December 1999

The Slovak Coat of Arms and the dexter half of the Hungarian Coat of Arms are remarkably similar. Only differences:  Slovak Coat of Arms is a white cross of Lorraine on a blue mount composed of three hills, on a red background. The Hungarian Coat of Arms is a white cross of Lorraine with a crown at the base on a green hill composed of three hills on a red background.
There is no doubt about the use of the arms with the Lorraine cross by Arpad and further dynasties ruling the Hungarian territories. But there is archaelogical evidence that this symbol was used in the area inhabited by Slav (later Slovak) population before the Hungarians conquered the Carpatian Basin. This old Christian symbol was brought to Great Moravia by the Byzantine priests Constantine (Cyrill) and Method. This doesn't refute the theory of the pope as the donator of cross for king Stephen but shows that Slovaks have certain rights to consider this cross as theirs. In Hungarian history this cross is first noticed on the shield of king Bela III. in 1189 and it is a frequent symbol in Slovak municipal heraldry. Ludovit Stur (1815 - 1856) took the Hungarian royal coat af arms and used it with an appropriate change of colours as a Slovak national symbol. The main fact why Slovaks used Hungarian coat of arms was that they simply felt a historical bond with the Hungarian state - the coat of arms belonged to them as well as to Hungarians or for example Serbians who lived within the boundaries of Hungarian kingdom. They only painted it with the colours they liked more because they represented the pan-Slav or Austro-Slav idea.
Jan Kravcik, 6 June 2000

A stamp with historical Coat of Arms from the legendary TURUL to nowadays can be seen at <>.
István Molnár, 6 June 2001

From the pages of the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary in Zagreb:
The chief emblem of a country, symbolizing its history, is its national coat of arms. The changes in Hungary's coat of arms duly reflect the main junctures in the nation's history.
Most modern states have coats of arms whose content has been hallowed by long tradition and usage. The scale of the public acceptance gained by a country's coat of arms rests not only on laws and regulations, but on how well its citizens recognize and relate to the devices it contains. A coat of arms is more than a distinctive mark. It is an inclusive image, imbedded in a country's specific national and historical traditions.
In Hungary's case, the oldest component of the historical coat of arms reinstated in 1990 is the patriarchal cross. This became a national symbol some 800 years ago. Having appeared on coins towards the end of the 12th century, it then became part of the coat of arms, on a red field.
The triple mound appeared more than a century later, probably through the new ruling house, which had ties of kinship with Naples. The cross originally stood on three feet, which developed into the mounds.
The bars on the other side of the shield appeared in the late 12th or early 13th century, probably through Spanish influence, as the ruling house had a connection there. The shield has been ensigned with the national crown, which took its place there more than 600 years ago.
The Hungarian coat of arms has undergone many changes. Every device on it can be linked with important struggles. Wars, peace treaties, civil strife, revolutions, dethronements, the fall of dynasties and systems, and other historical upheavals wrought changes on the coat of arms at the time.
The Hungarian Parliament chose to reinstate the country's historical coat of arms in the summer of 1990. This so-called crowned, lesser coat of arms consists of a pointed, impaled shield. The left-hand side ("dexter" as you shelter behind it) has a barry of eight, gules (red) and argent (silver). The other side has a gules field with a patriarchal cross argent rising from a crown or (gold) on a triple mound vert (green). The shield is ensigned with the Hungarian Crown.
István Molnár, 30 October 2001

The Coat of Arms including the Crown of St Stephen  were formally re-adopted as the "lesser arms" by Legislation of 3 July 1990, published in the Official Gazette of 11 July 1990, while their inclusion on the flag was made official under restricted circumstances by Article 11(4) of Law No. LXXXIII of 1995.
Full details are as follows: Law No. XLIV of 3 July 1990, published in Magyar Közlöny of 11 July 1990 - "The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Hungary is a vertically divided shield with a rounded base coming to a point. The left field contains eight horizontal bars of red and silver. The right field has a background of red and depicts a base of three green hills with a golden crown resting on the centre hill and a silver patriarchal cross issuing from the middle of the crown. The Holy Crown of St. Stephen rests on the top of the shield".  
This was then inserted into the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary as revised 23 October 1989, becoming Paragraph (2) of Article 76. As a matter of interest Paragraph (1) reads:   "The National Flag of the Republic of Hungary is a tricolour consisting of horizontal red, white and green bands of even width".
The arms including the Crown were, of course, used in the inter-war period as evidenced by the Flaggenbuch (if from no other source) and on the Austro-Hungarian merchant flag, but their detailed history is unknown to me.
Christopher Southworth, 7 and 9 October 2004

There is a very nice e-publication showing various versions of the Hungarian arms at <>. It is a governmental publication defining the Pantone, CMYK and RGB colours for the Coat of Arms, as based on law MSZ 3500, dated September 15, 1990.  The site include official drawing of the Coat of Arms in several vectorial formats (CDR, AI, EPS etc): have a look at <> plus detailed colour guide for Pamtone, CMYK and RGB.
Jan Oskar Engene, Georges G. Kovari III and Zeljko Heimer, 8 October 2004

I can confirm that the illustration of the arms shown on this website appear to be (with one exception) an exact copy of an official illustration I received from the Embassy of Hungary in 1999.   The exception is in the shade of green used for the cross's base, which is blue/green on the web pictures but more like grass green on my illustration.
Christopher Southworth, 8 October 2004

I am not sure that the current Coat of Arms of Hungary chould be named "Kossuth Coat of Arms", because I think that Kossuth introduced arms without the crown (in somewhat different shield shape, but that may well be ignored). I seems to remember that Hungarians refer to Kossuth Arms to those without the crown.
Zeljko Heimer, 10 October 2004

Kossuth Arms are those without the crown. After the fall of communism there was a movement to adopt the Kossuth Arms as the national Coat of Arms.
Thorsten, 10 October 2004

Continue to Part 2