THE HUNGARIAN COAT OF ARMS
When we speak about Hungarian coat of arms, we mean three basic types: the "small coat of arms" , the "middle coat of arms" or the "middle coat of arms with angels," and the "large coat of arms". They differ from each other by involving additional coats of arms of the satellite territories which are referred to as "the member states of the Hungarian Holy Crown."
THE SMALL COAT OF ARMS
The "small coat of arms" of Hungary was determined by a royal order in February 9, 1874. The heraldic right side of the coat of arms is divided by red and white stripes seven times representing the seven Hungarian tribes that arrived in Transylvania in 896 A.D. and are called the "Arpad-stripes". The four white stripes represent the four main rivers of the historic Hungary: Duna, Tisza, Drava, Szava.
On the heraldic left side, three green hills are present which symbolise the three main mountains of the historic Hungary: Tatra, Fatra, Matra. On the middle hilltop, from an open golden crown, the "apostolic" double-cross emerges which was awarded by pope II. Sylvester to Saint Stephen I, the first Hungarian king, in 1000 A.D., in recognition of his mission to turn the pagan Hungarians to christianity. The double-cross became the sign of Saint Stephen I.
On the top, the Hungarian Holy Crown (see also ) is resting, and the entire coat of arms is surrounded by a branch of oak on the right for "glory" and a branch of olive on the left for "peace" . Also, the coat of arms can be placed in the middle of a white circle with red and green wolf-teeth (bear-claws) around its perimeter.
The red background, the white "apostolic" double-cross and the three green hills constitute the colours of the Hungarian national flag : red, white and green.
In 1990, after the fall of communism in Hungary, this coat of arms became the official Hungarian coat of arms .
THE MIDDLE COAT OF ARMS
The Hungarian "middle coat of arms" consists of the "small coat of arms" in the middle and the additional coat of arms of Dalmatia, Croatia, Sclavonia, Transylvania, and Fiume. A more beautiful version is when two angels are holding the middle coat of arms at both sides.
The Hungarian "middle coat of arms" was determined by a royal order in 1896 to mark the millennial anniversary of the Hungarian state. In 1916, the official coat of arms of the kingdom of Hungary became the "middle coat of arms with angels".
IN THE CENTRE, the "small coat of arms" is located which is surrounded by the coat of arms of the territories which were the member states of the Hungarian Holy Crown until the Paris Peace Treaty (Trianon, 1920).
UPPER RIGHT: DALMATIA. In blue background, three facing golden lion heads with crowns. Dalmatia joined the territories of the Hungarian Holy Crown during the reign of king Kalman the Booklover (1095-1116). Dalmatia did not have a separate coat of arms until Charles Robert, the Anjou king reigning in Hungary (1308-1342), appointed the first Dalmatian governor.
UPPER LEFT: CROATIA. A field which is checkered 25 times with red and white squares. The Croatian coat of arms has its characteristic checkered pattern since the reign of Louis II, between 1516-1526.
MIDDLE RIGHT: SCLAVONIA. In a red stream, edged with white stripes on the top and bottom, a marten is running to the right. The two white stripes at the edge of the red stream represent the two of the major rivers of the historic Hungary, i.e. Drava and Szava. Above, in blue background, is a six-pointed golden star which is the symbol of the Mars. During the reign of the Hungarian kings of the House of Arpad (1000-1301), the tax was to be paid in marten furs in Sclavonia, and this is recalled by the running marten. The six-pointed star (Mars) was awarded to Sclavonia by king Louis II, for their brave fights against the Turks.
MIDDLE LEFT: TRANSYLVANIA. Divided by a horizontal red ribbon, above is a black eagle with the sun on the left and the crescent moon on the right, below are seven bastion towers. The sun and the moon are the symbols of the "szekelys", the original inhabitants of Transylvania, the eagle is the symbol of the Hungarians, and the seven bastion towers are the symbol of the Saxons, the three major ethnic groups of Transylvania in the until the New Era. The sun and the moon was awarded to the "szekelys" by German-Roman emperor Sigismund, reigning in Hungary between 1387-1437, for their restless border-watch sorties during the Ottoman attacks; a similar token as the sun and the moon watch over the land pauselessly.
BOTTOM: FIUME. In red background, a two-headed eagle stands on a cliff emerging from the sea, and rests his left leg on a fallen jar from which water is pouring to the sea. Above the eagle, the imperial Habsburg crown hangs in the air. The two-headed eagle is the sign of the Habsburg dynasty.
On the top, the Hungarian Holy Crown is resting and, held by two angels on both sides, the entire formation is called the Hungarian "medium coat of arms with angels".
THE LARGE COAT OF ARMS
The "large coat of arms" of Hungary was first used by Habsburg king Leopold II, reigning in Hungary between 1790-1792. In the top row, the coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Sclavonia , in the second row, Rama (Bosnia) and Serbia, in the third row, Cumania, Galicia, Lodomeria and Bulgaria could be seen. In the base shield, the Hungarian and the Transylvanian coats of arms were located.
© 1995 Andras Szeitz
Format aid by Don Mabry
1. Ede Ivanfi: Coats of Arms of Hungary, Pest , Vilmos Lauffer
Publisher, 1869 (a facsimile edition, in Hungarian).
2. Peter Ruffy, Hungarian Relics, Hungarian Symbols, Budapest , Kossuth Publishing Co., 1988 (in Hungarian).