Serbian tetragrammatic cross.
The symbols, or the cross itself, can also be depicted in gold.
|Heraldic tradition||Central and Eastern European|
The Serbian Cross is a national symbol of Serbia, part of the Coat of Arms of Serbia, and the flag of Serbia. It is believed to be based on the tetragrammatic cross emblem of the Byzantine Palaiologos dynasty, with the difference that in Serbian usage the cross is usually white on a red background, rather than gold on a red background (though it can be depicted in gold as well). It is composed of a cross symbol with four stylized letters Cyrillic "C"'s on each of its corners.
The Serbian tradition attributes the symbol to St. Sava, 12th century metropolitan of Žiča and Archbishop of Serbs, creation of the popular motto from those four letters, Only Unity Saves the Serbs (Serbian: Само слога Србина спасава/Samo sloga Srbina spasava). The actual origin of the beta (Β) symbols is with the Byzantine Empire, most often attributed to the motto of the Palaiologoi: King of Kings, Ruling Over Kings (Greek: βασιλεὺς βασιλέων, βασιλεύων βασιλευόντων; Basileus Basileōn, Basileuōn Basileuontōn).
Crosses with firesteels have been used since Roman times, as symbols, but not as coats of arms or emblems. Some historians connect it with the labarum, the Imperial flag of Constantine the Great (r. 306–337). In the 6th century the cross with four fields (with either letters or heraldry), tetragramme, appear on Byzantine coins. The symbol was adopted by the First Crusaders since the first event, People's Crusade (1096). Michael VIII Palaiologos (1261–1282) adopted the symbol when he resurrected the Byzantine Empire, with the initials (letters β) of the imperial motto of the Palaiologos dynasty: King of Kings, Ruling Over Kings (Greek: βασιλεὺς βασιλέων, βασιλεύων βασιλευόντων Basileus Basileōn, Basileuōn Basileuontōn). It was used in flags and coins. The symbol appear on the Imperial flag "Divelion" (διβελλιον), a naval war flag, used in front of all other banners, recorded by Pseudo-Kodinos (fl. 1347-1368) wrongly as "a cross with fire-steels" (σταυρον μετα πυρεκβολων), and depicted in the Castilian Conosçimiento de todos los reynos atlas (ca. 1350). As Alexander Soloviev writes, the use of letters in western heraldry is non existent. In the Middle Ages, both the Greek style, with "closed fire-steels" (β - B), and the Serb syle, with "open fire-steels" (C - S), were used in Serbia.
The four symbols surrounding the cross have thus been interpreted as either letters, or flints or firestones.
Stojan Novaković argues that the recorded use of the Serbian cross, as a national symbol, began in 1397, during the rule of Stefan Lazarević. It was possibly derived from a known candle chandelier from the Visoki Dečani. Serbian historian Stanoje Stanojević argues that it entered its use in 1345, with Dušan the Mighty's raising to a Serbian Empire.
The Serbian cross is found in the Korenić-Neorić Armorial (1595), which shows the coat of arms of Serbia (Svrbiae) as a white cross over a red background, with four firesteels, also depicting the Mrnjavčević noble house with the same design, with inverted colours and the Serbian eagle in the center of the cross. According to Mavro Orbini (1607), it was used by Vukašin Mrnjavčević (King, 1365–1371) and Lazar Hrebeljanović (Prince, 1371–1389). The Serbian cross then appeared on all Serbian coats of arms, except the Serbian coat of arms dated 1974, which had the cross removed, leaving four stylized S; this was done symbolically by the Yugoslav government to "socially curtail and politically marginalize religious communities and religion in general".
The memorial park in Tekeriš, where the first battle of the Great War was fought, the monument has "18-VIII-1914" and "Samo sloga srbina spasava" inscribed. A monument in Šamac, Republika Srpska, Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Serbs who fought and died in the Bosnian war, has the Serbian eagle in the center, the years which the war occurred (1992-1995) and the Serbian slogan: "Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava" on the left and right sides.
Flag of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Historical coats of arms and flags
Serbia, Korenić-Neorić Armorial (1595)
Serbia, Belgrade Armorial II (early 17th century)
Serbian coat of arms, Fojnica Armorial (between 1675–1688)
Serbian coat of arms, Charles du Fresne (before 1688)
Serbian coat of arms, by Stanislaus Rubcich (ca. 1700)
(First Serbian Uprising, 1805–1813)
Coat of arms of Prince Miloš I (1819)
Principality of Serbia
Kingdom of Serbia (1882–1918)
Coat of arms of Prince Peter I (1903–1918)
Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1944)
Government of National Salvation (1941–1944)
Cities and municipalities
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- Jean-Arnault Derens, EU plans trade routes across the continent
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- Mitja Velikonja, Religious separation and political intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina, p. 299; footnote 19. Texas A&M University Press, 2003
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