Eagles as national symbols

The coat of arms of Mexico – a golden eagle perched upon a cactus eating a snake

The coat of arms of Austria – a black eagle holding a hammer and a sickle, with a broken chain between its legs

Eagles have been used by many nations as a national symbol.

Historic uses:

  • The Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt used it as their seal.
  • Napoleon I used the Roman Golden Eagle as the symbol of his new French empire.
  • Persian Empire: the symbol of Persian Army was an Eagle.
  • The Romans used it on the standards of their armies. From this derives:
    • The late Byzantine Empire chose a two-headed golden eagle as its symbol. It is popularly that one head symbolised ancient Rome, and the other head symbolized “new Rome” at Constantinople. From this derives:
      • The two-headed eagle is the emblem of “Shqipëria” or Land of the Eagles, which is known in English as Albania (see The Tale of the Eagle for the legendary origin of the name).
      • After the fall of Constantinople, the Russian Empire took the two-headed eagle as its own symbol.
    • After his crowning as the new Roman Emperor, Charlemagne adopted the ancient Roman eagle as his own symbol. The Holy Roman Empire born of his kingdom took the eagle, but the Habsburgs replaced the golden eagle by an imperial eagle. From this derives:
  • The Seljuk Turks and Ottoman Turks used a double-headed eagle as coats-of-arms.
  • During the 1930s and 40’s Hitler‘s Nazi Germany used a black eagle with its wings outstretched and clutching a swastika as its ensignia.

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