The flag of the Republic of Poland is one of the symbols of the state.
This is what the modern flag of Poland looks like:
History of the flag
The flag of Poland has a long history.
In 1025 the Kingdom of Poland was formed. The first king was Prince Boleslaw I the Brave. His flag was a red rectangle with a fragment carved on the right in the form of a rectangular trapeze. The upper right corner of the red field was sharp. The banner depicted a white eagle in a golden crown. This version lasted until the formation of the new state of the Rzeczpospolita in 1569.
The head of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was called the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. The flag was a rectangle, divided horizontally into three equal strips – the two outermost red, the center one white. From the free edge the stripes were sharpened in the form of triangles. In the center of the flag was a coat of arms in a golden (yellow) frame, divided into four parts. The upper left and lower right parts had images of a white eagle – the symbol of Poland. The right upper and left lower part was occupied by the symbol of Lithuania – equestrian knight. On top of the coat of arms was crowned with a crown.
In 1587-1668 the country was ruled by the Swedish Vasa (Vasa) dynasty. Its representatives were at the same time heirs to the Swedish throne. For this reason, the coat of arms on the banner of the Rzeczpospolita changed. On top of the old coat of arms with an eagle and a rider was superimposed coat of arms with Swedish symbols – golden lions and crowns. A golden sheaf on a white-blue-red field was placed in the center of the coat of arms. The coat of arms is surrounded by a chain and has a sign of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
In 1697-1763 the German Wettings dynasty was in power. The coat of arms of the ruling dynasty, surmounted by a crown, was superimposed on the state banner during this period over the coat of arms of the Rzeczpospolita. It consisted of two parts. The left part is horizontally divided into upper black and lower white areas, over which are two intersecting swords of red. The right – in the form of horizontal alternating gold and black stripes with the right band superimposed in the form of a ruth crown.
In 1764-1795 Stanislaw August Poniatowski ruled the state. He was the last sovereign of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. On his flag on top of the coat of arms of the state was the coat of arms “Ciolek” – a red calf on a white (silver) field, topped with a crown.
The flag of the Duchy of Warsaw, which existed in 1807-1815, was a rectangular cloth divided into two horizontal stripes of equal width – the upper white and the lower – red.
Since 1815, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Poland became part of the Russian Empire. Its flag in 1815-1832 was a white rectangular cloth with a double-headed eagle – the symbol of the Russian Empire. The heads of the eagles were decorated with crowns. A third big crown with a blue waving ribbon crowned the whole coat of arms. With one paw the eagle held a scepter, and with the other – an orb. On the chest of the double-headed eagle was the coat of arms of Poland – a white eagle in a crown. This coat of arms was covered by an imperial mantle and crowned with an imperial crown.
By decision of the Congress of Vienna the western territories of the Duchy of Warsaw were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Poznan. The flag of the Duchy in 1815-1848 was a rectangular cloth with two equal horizontal stripes. The upper one was red and the lower one was white.
The Polish national flag was legally approved by the Sejm in 1831.
This event was preceded by the demands of the patriotically-minded population to create a simple and recognizable symbol of the state. Two traditional Polish colors were chosen.
During the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire, national symbols were forbidden. After the restoration of independence in 1918, the banner returned.
After World War II, the inhabitants of Poland used the national flag as a symbol of the struggle against the communist regime, displaying it during strikes.
A 1980 law recognized not the flag itself, but the red and white colors, represented by single stripes, as the symbol of the state.
Today, according to a government decree, the national flag is hung obligatory on the following holidays: International Labor Day, celebrated on May 1; on the following days, May 2 and 3 – Flag Day and Constitution Day; and on November 11 – Independence Day.
According to the Act of 31 January 1980, the flag is a rectangle with the colors of the Polish coat of arms. The cloth is divided horizontally into two equally spaced stripes. The upper one is white and the lower one is red.
The ratio of width to length is 5:8.
Colors of the Polish flag
The shade of red was repeatedly specified in the normative documents. It was defined as “sea bass color” and later as bright red.
In 1980, the shades were legislated. Red corresponds to RGB (Hex) #D4213D and white to RGB (Hex) #E9E8E7.
Originally, instead of red, purple was considered the national dye, indicating the spiritual wealth of the people and their greatness. But because of the high price of the dye, only rich people could use it.
Meaning of colors and flag symbol
The white color in heraldry corresponds to silver or water and means the highest spiritual values, ideals of morality and purity. The red colors represent courage, bravery, boldness and self-sacrifice.
The colors of the Polish flag are similar to those used in the image of the coat of arms. Hence another interpretation. The people deeply honor the white eagle. And the red means the sunset under the wings of this bird.
For Poles, the white eagle is truly a legendary bird. According to legend, Prince Lech saw a white eagle perched proudly on a tree. He regarded it as a sign from above. Lech founded the first capital at that place and called it Gnezdo.
The white stripe is above the red stripe, as the coat of arms is revered above the background on which it is located.
Other flags of Poland
According to the Law on State Symbols, there is another flag recognized as a national flag in Poland. It was introduced in 1919. It is an analogue of the two-striped version, but with the coat of arms in the center of the upper part.
It is not universally used. It was intended for diplomatic missions and consulates, as well as merchant ships. For 10 years, from 1928 on merchant ships only, to distinguish it from the flag of the International Code of Signals, which had the same colors.
Later the flag was extended to civilian airfields, airports and aircraft abroad and to port authorities.
The naval flag has an aspect ratio of 10:21. The white stripe is at the top, red at the bottom. On the top is the coat of arms. The free side has a triangular cutout.
Similar flags of other countries
The historical flag of Bohemia bears a resemblance to the Polish flag to the point of confusion. They differ only in the aspect ratio.
The flags of Indonesia and Monaco also consist of two horizontal stripes, red and white. However, both of these flags are an inversion of the Polish flag. The aspect ratio is not the same either. The Indonesian flag has a 2:3 ratio and the Monaco flag has a 4:5 ratio, while the Polish flag has a 5:8 ratio. There is also a difference in the shades of red.
The visual similarity with the banners of some countries leads to mishaps. For example, in the booklets prepared for the 29th Southeast Asian Games, a banner of Poland, which has nothing to do with the region, got mixed in. It was printed instead of the Indonesian banner. This fact angered the Indonesian side, which demanded that the booklets be reprinted.
These days, during national holidays, patriotically minded Poles pin ribbons to their clothes, repeating the shades of the national symbol.
General information about Poland
|Territory||312 679 km²|
|Population||38 313 035 people|
|Currency||Polish zloty (PLN)|