Cross pattée

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Standard form of the cross pattee Cross-Pattee-Heraldry.svg
Standard form of the cross pattée

A cross pattée (or cross patty or cross Pate, known also as a cross formée/formy, croix pattée or Tatzenkreuz), is a type of Christian cross which has arms narrow at the centre, and often flared in a curve or straight line shape, to be broader at the perimeter. The form appears very early in medieval art, for example in a metalwork treasure binding given to Monza Cathedral by Queen Theodelinda (d. 628), and the 8th century lower cover of the Lindau Gospels in the Morgan Library. An early English example from the start of the age of heraldry proper (i.e. about 1200) is found in the arms of Baron Berkeley.



The word pattée is a French adjective in the feminine form used in its full context as la croix pattée, meaning literally "footed cross", from the noun patte, meaning foot, generally that of an animal. [1] The cross has 4 splayed feet, each akin to the foot, for example, of a chalice or candelabrum. In German it is called Tatzenkreuz from Tatze, foot, paw. Planché provides a dubious suggestion that the term comes from the Latin verb pateo, to lie open, be spread. He states it to be discernible on the standard of King Stephen (1135–1154). [2]


Several variants exist as follows:

Use in crowns

Many crowns worn by monarchs have jewelled crosses pattées mounted atop the band. Most crowns possess at least four such crosses, from which the half arches rise. Some crowns are designed so that the half-arches can be detached, allowing the circlet to be worn separately on occasion.

A cross pattée is particularly associated with crowns in Christian countries. It is often heavily jewelled, with diamonds and precious stones. The Koh-i-Noor diamond is set in a cross pattée on the Crown of Queen Elizabeth. The British Imperial State Crown has a base of four crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis. A cross pattée on the Imperial State Crown holds the Black Prince's Ruby. The cross pattée also features in many of the other British Crowns including the St Edward's Crown, used for coronations, and the Imperial Crown of India created for George V as Emperor of India to wear at the Delhi Durbar of 1911.

Use by Crusaders, Prussia and Germany

Teutonic Knights

German Iron Cross, World War I EK II 1914.jpg
German Iron Cross, World War I
Modern Bundeswehr emblem Bundeswehr Kreuz Black.svg
Modern Bundeswehr emblem

This cross is often associated with the Crusades. The heraldic cross pattée was sometimes used by the Teutonic Knights, a Crusader order, though their more usual emblem was a plain straight black cross on white,[ citation needed ].

Iron Cross

In 1813, King Frederick William III of Prussia established the Iron Cross as a decoration for military valor, and it remained in use, in various forms, by Prussia and later Germany until 1945. A stylized version of the Iron Cross is used to date by the German army (Bundeswehr) as its symbol of nationality, and is found on vehicles, aircraft and publications.

Prussian and Imperial German Landwehr and Landsturm troops used a Cross Pattée cap badge to distinguish them from regular army troops. A stylized version of the Cross Pattée is used by the modern German military ( Bundeswehr ) as its symbol of nationality, and is found on vehicles, aircraft and publications, with no border of any kind at the ends of each arm (as was the case with the Balkenkreuz used on German aircraft in 1918-1945).



Guards at Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw. Behind them, the Virtuti Militari emblem. Polish Unknown Soldier.jpg
Guards at Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw. Behind them, the Virtuti Militari emblem.


The Bolnisi cross (Georgian :ბოლნისის ჯვარიbolnisis ǰvari) is a cross symbol, taken from a 5th-century ornament at the Bolnisi Sioni church, which came to be used as one of the oldest national symbol of Georgia. It was used on the flags and coat of arms of the Kingdom of Georgia and the current Republic of Georgia, with its various organizations and administrative divisions.


The Montenegrin cross-flag ( Krstaš-barjak ) has been used in Montenegro since medieval times to represent the state, and lately its military divisions. The earliest documented use of this flag has been recorded in 1687. [3] [ better source needed ] During the 1990s, it was used as a symbol of Montenegrin independence movement, most notably by the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro. Nowadays, Montenegro's Royal Capital City Cetinje uses krstaš flag as its flag. It is also used as an unofficial alternate Montenegrin flag, as well as by local trademarks and societies related to Montenegro.




Eastern Podolia

Poltava (Myrhorod [Cossack] Cross)

Other uses

The cross pattée is also placed before the name of the bishop who issues a Catholic imprimatur, and is occasionally found as a map symbol indicating the location of a Christian site.

It appears in the emblem of:

Firefighters, especially in the United States, commonly use a version with triangular arms for patches and medals, though the cross pattée and the cross of St. Florian are both commonly mistaken for the Maltese cross. The cross pattée is used on the Marksmanship Badge in the United States Army, and United States Marine Corps.


In Unicode, a Cross pattée character is encoded under the name "Maltese Cross" in the Dingbats range at code point U+2720 ().

The character "X" is rendered as a cross pattée in the Microsoft Wingdings font.

See also

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  1. Larousse Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise Lexis, Paris, 1993, p.1356
  2. Planché, J.R. The Pursuivant of Arms; or Heraldry Founded upon Facts. London, 1859, p.29
  3. Cetinje, Official website (English). "Symbols" . Retrieved 18 April 2014.