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.....St Andrew’s Cross in History.......

The origin of Scotland’s banner, a white or silver saltire on a blue field, is allegedly traced to a battle between the Scots and the English circa the beginning of the ninth century. On the evening before, St Andrew, the patron saint of the Picts, visited King Hungus in his sleep and promised victory. In the morning “ane schinand croce was sene in the lift, straucht above the army of the Pichtis, not onlik to the samin croce that the appostil deit on. This croce vanist nevir out of the lift quhil the victory succedit to Pichtis.” Boece’s History 1527, Bellenden’s translation 1536, Bk X, c. 5.

Bishop Leslie 1578 Bk 5, 65, Dalrymple’s translation circa 1596 has St Andrew’s cross borne before the army on its ensigns.

Heartened by this manifestation of Heaven’s favour, the Picts reportedly advanced, shouting “Sanct Andro our patron be our guide,” and King Athelstan’s army was utterly defeated, being “effrayit, seand the croce schinand with awful bemis in the lift ; for it apperit to thame for an evil signe.” After this victory the cross was added to the battle ensigns of the Picts and was subsequently adopted by the Scots. The Book of Pluscarden, Bk VIII, attributes this victory to the Picts having borne into battle the relics of St Andrew.
Such an early adoption of St Andrew as Scotland’s patron saint is suspect. In 909 A.D. the Scots prayed to St Columba for victory and bore his crozier before their army instead of a banner. At the Battle of Roslin in 1302 the Scots called on Saints Andrew, Ninian and Margaret. At Bannockburn, 1314, Robert Bruce called on St Andrew and St John the Baptist. Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, pp. 405-6

Wyntoun circa 1426 Bk VIII, c. 16

Book of Pluscarden, Bk IX, c. 12

Even if St Andrew’s Saltire was borne so early, it was not alone. An ancient banner, the Brachbennach, a parti-coloured flag, was granted by William the Lion circa 1221, with the lands of Forglen, to the monks of Arbroath whose duty it was to carry it in the King’s army. Additionally, contemporary accounts of the Battle of the Standard, 1138, report that King David’s standard bore a dragon and that his warcry was “Albany”. Reg. Vetus de Aberbrothoc, nos. 1 and 5

Reg. Nigrum de Aberbrothoc, no. 108

Ailred’s Relatio de Standardo in Chronicles of Stephen, III, p. 197

Henry of Huntingdon Historia p. 263

Roger de Hovedene, I, p. 194

The earliest version of the legend appears in 1168, and then it is simply stated that St Andrew appeared to King Hungus, saying that God had appointed him to be his patron, and that the next day the cross of Christ would precede the Picts in token of victory. This indicates that by 1168 St Andrew had succeeded St Columba as the Patron of Scotland. Chronicles of the Picts and Scots p. 139

Bower’s Scotichronicon, I, p. 191

On his safe return from the First Crusade, Count Robert of Flanders founded a monastery in honour of St Andrew, designating him “Patron of Christian Knighthood”. The news of this dedication, brought to Scotland by returning Crusaders, would undoubtedly have enhanced his standing among Scottish warriors. Receuil des Historiens des Croisades, H. Occidentaux, V. pp. 397-8
On July 1st, 1385 is was agreed between Robert II and the French who had come to Scotland to invade England that both Scots and French would wear, both before and behind, the white cross of St Andrew. In preparation for another fight against the English, in 1523, the Lords of Council under the Regent Albany ordered “all our souerane lordis liegis to beir Sanct Andross croce of quhite cullour on yair persones ..... and yaim to do the samyn vndir the pane of deid.” Acts of Parliament, record edition, I, pp. 190-1

MS Acta Dominorum Concilii vol. 34, fol. 13

At Carberry in 1567 the Queen’s army displayed the Saltire as well as the Royal Banner, and at the siege of Edinburgh Castle in 1573 the Scots flew the Saltire and the English the Cross of St George. The Saltire appears also on Scottish standards, next the hoist, as those of St George and St Denis appear respectively on English and French standards. Early examples of this are the surviving Douglas standard dating from 1388, and the drawings of standards borne at the funerals of Mary and her son, James VI and I. Contemporary coloured drawing in the Record Office, London

Bannatyne Club Miscellany, Vol. II, p. 74

Scotia, Vol. V, p. 138

After James VI of Scots, I of England, united the Crowns in 1603, then again under Cromwell, and again after the Union of the two countries in 1707, the Saltire was united with St George’s Cross in many different ways before the current design, which of course includes the red Irish saltire, was agreed. This current design of the national flag of the United Kingdom, correctly called “the Union” or “Union Flag” (it is the “Union Jack” only when flown from the jackstaff of one of Her Majesty’s ships), appeared as a quarter on the national flags of most countries in the British Empire, acknowledging the bonds tying Scots overseas to their ancestral home. Vide comments published four years ago on the significance of the Union as a quarter on the Australian national ensign.
The Burgundians also had a claim on St Andrew. The legend states that the Cross of St Andrew was brought to Marseilles in the 1st century by Etienne, King of Burgundy, who thereafter bore the cross on his battle ensign. In 1408 John the Fearless chose the cross for the Burgundian flag, and thenceforward it was in constant use. It was displayed at the capture of Liège in 1468, when Louis XI of France honoured the Duke of Burgundy by wearing it. Its use passed with the Burgundian inheritance to Austria, where Maximilian bore it as an ensign and the soldiers of Charles V wore it as livery. Russians, too, claim St Andrew as their patron and bear a blue saltire on a white or silver field. Olivier de la Marche, I, pp. 49-50 and 85

Waurin Receuil de Chroniques, Vol. 1447-71

Durer’s woodcut “The Triumphal Arch” 1515

Spelman’s Aspilogia, pp. 103-4 quoting Paradin, p. 81

Eusebius Hist. Eccl., Bk III, c. 1

The Union Flag

The Cross of St George
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