Cross (heraldry)

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Common cross

The cross is used in great variety in heraldry and exists in many variants. As a common figure, the cross floats freely in the coat of arms . If the four arms of the cross touch the edge of the coat of arms, it is called a herald's image . There are many varieties of the basic form, the common cross , and this often gives the cross a new name. It can be any color . The description of the coat of arms should give every detail.

Appearance and function

The name of the cross is based on two criteria: its appearance and its function. For example, a pointed lily cross or glaive cross (appearance) is called a sign of the order of St. Jacob (function) Jacob's cross .

basic forms

The common cross , sometimes referred to as a bar cross , is understood to be a bar crossed with a stake , in which everything is represented in a tincture and without continuous lines. The common cross is (as the name suggests) the general basic form of the heraldic cross and a common herald image in heraldry. The Greek or shortened cross is a cross with particularly short bars, which is considered an independent cross in ecclesiastical and political heraldry.

The second common form is the Latin cross (high cross, passion cross) with the elongated lower arm.

Upright with pole and beam is the normal form, the X position is the inclined cross (St. Andrew's cross, sloping cross) .

See also: Squared cross (a bar or St. Andrew's cross in a square)

Crosses with a lower crossing arm formed as a point are named after the main shape with the addition -steckkreuz or - pointed cross . Here the common cross with a point pointing downwards would be a bar-type cross .

Heraldic variations

Are modifications, for example the edging (rimmed), the aperture ((broken), chess division geschacht ) and faceting (faceted). A cross can have other figures on it. The boundary lines can have different designs due to the coats of arms .

Cross as a common figure

In the coat of arms / field or as a gem , the cross has significantly influenced heraldry . While in the aforementioned group the cross served to split the coat of arms, as a common figure it is to be treated like other figures. The most diverse forms can be found in the coats of arms: They often express the religiousness or religious affiliation of the bearer of the coat of arms. It is difficult to assign the different names for the same cross shape. The uniqueness of the coat of arms description is decisive. The crosses can floating , pierced , surrounded , supported by an animal or human figure, or even with things ( roses , lilies , hearts and other things more) has to be. Hats , crowns can float above the cross or be hung on the arm . For church dignitaries, crosses placed behind the coat of arms are a matter of course. In church heraldry , rules have emerged over the centuries for each level of church dignity.

Cross as a herald image

The common cross is the exit for this group. It occurs when a post and a beam cross in the middle without a dividing line in the same color at a right angle . As agreed, the four arms of the cross must touch the edge of the coat of arms as a “herald image”. All other forms can be derived. The cross arms can take on all shapes, only the ends of the arms cannot necessarily be changed. Many cross shapes so derived are based on the crest section (Astschnitt, Clear cut, battlements section) and Herold images displayed on them ( geschacht , riveted, ground, squared, faceted, square, pierced, rimmed, occupied and died change), respectively.


image Basic form description example
Coa Illustration Cross Tau.svg Dew cross Antony Cross, Old Testament Cross, Egyptian Cross . Formed from a central post and shield head . Antonius of Taukruis.svg
Coa Illustration Cross, Pall reversed.svg Göpel Has the shape of an inverted Y- shape or a fallen drawbar. Järstad församling vapen.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Furka.svg Drawbar
( fork cross , Schächerkreuz)
Has the shape of a Y. CoA civ FRA yssoudun ville.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Greek.svg #Common cross The simple horizontal-vertical cross, in the variants Greek cross and Balkenkreuz . Lesser coat of arms of Greece.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Latin.svg Latin cross Hochkreuz (Passion Cross); today's typical cross of Christianity with the extended foot beam. From a central post and a beam shifted towards the upper edge of the shield. Vienna Wappen.svg
Filippuskors.svg Crosshair Narrow stake and beam form a common cross. If several threads (posts or bars) are parallel, their number is important for the designation: twin thread, triple crosshair. Are woven the threads, and their distance is not substantially greater than its width, creating a Flechtgitterkreuz .
Cross of order of mountjoy.svg split ( pole )
and split ( beam ) cross
The colors of the halves are different. If the cross is placed diagonally, one describes ( emblazoned ) a split or divided slant cross .
Coa Illustration Cross Vioded.svg vertically separated and
horizontally divided cross
Separation by a different colored thread. If both separations occur in a picture, this figure is called gammadium . Blason for Abbaye de Saint-Sauveur de Nevers.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Halo.svg nimbly cross The center of the cross is the center of a circle.
Coa Illustration Cross Squares.svg squared cross The center of the cross is the center of a square.
Coa Illustration Cross Pierced round.svg broken and pierced cross Common cross with a square or round opening. Coa Illustration Cross Voided.svg
Greek cross Rod cross The common cross has only half the contour width.
Coa Illustration Cross Bended v2.svg Support arch cross The fillets at the point of intersection of the pile and beam are rounded. One example of this is Hermsdorf (Thuringia) . Coat of arms Hermsdorf (Thuringia) .png
Coa Illustration Cross Pattee 7.svg Paw cross The cross arms are widened. Coa Illustration Cross Patée with almonds.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Saltire.svg St. Andrew's Cross ( Oblique cross , Schragen ): The cross is rotated 45 degrees in the coat of arms. Armoiries de Dagstuhl.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Celtic.svg Celtic cross , wheel cross Bar cross, often with an extended support bar (Latin cross), around the cross point a ring (see also: Chatschkar ) Gaelic Athletic Association.png
Crossed circle.svg Wheel cross Wheel cross (" sun wheel ") International Paneuropean Union flag.svg
Japanese Map symbol (Temple) .svg Swastika , swastika, snake cross Swastika - cross with angled or bent arms (Latin crux gammata , gammadion ) POL COA Boreyko.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Iota-Chi.svg Three-bar cross # 1 St. Andrew's cross with a vertical pole, # 2 Hagal cross (ᚼ), # 3 Christos monogram Chi - Rho ( ), # 4 Iota - Chi cross, # 5 bar star (6 points) Star of life.svg
Coa Illustration Cross Constantine.svg Four-bar cross # 1 dome cross (common cross placed on a St. Andrew's cross), # 2 cross of Constantine , # 3 bar star (8 points) Double cross.svg

Individual forms of the cross

Gallery - crosses as a herald image

Gallery - crosses as a common figure

Web links

Commons : crosses in heraldry  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Walter Leonhard : The big book of heraldic art. Development, elements, motifs, design. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Callwey, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-7667-0345-5 .

Individual evidence

  1. Adam Breysig: Dictionary of Imagery or brief and instructive details of symbolic and allegorical images and often conventional signs mixed with them. Friedrich Christian Wilhelm Vogel, Leipzig 1830, p. 45 .
  2. Gert Oswald : Lexicon of Heraldry. Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig 1984.