History

The Swiss Cross

History

Until the 19th century, the confederate states had no common flag. Soldiers on campaign carried the banners of their cantons. Since the Battle of Laupen in 1339, combatants attached white crosses to their clothing and armour as a field mark for identification. In 1815 a Federal Agreement formally established the Swiss cross as the coat of arms for all states in the Confederation; in 1889 the white cross in a red field was specified as the national flag. The exact dimensions were formally laid down for the flag: The arms of the cross are to be one sixth longer than they are wide and the distance to the edge of the flag is to be equal on all sides. In imitation of the battalion flags to which the first Swiss crosses were sewn, the Swiss national flag was also designed to be square rather than rectangular as are most other national flags. The white cross on a red field symbolizes Christendom and stands for neutrality, democracy, peace and protection.