The Coat of Arms of Romania

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With all peoples the national coat of arms - the supreme heraldic sign - is of special importance. Its images evoke history, through it tradition remains alive, while its bearings awaken the national feeling. In most states' coats of arms, the bearings are devoted to the specific national past and are commonly recognised by citizens. Such lofty symbols however are not established only by laws and decrees. They are equally the melting pot for the citizens' ideas and aspirations, for their common thoughts.

In Romania the preoccupation with a representative, synthetic coat of arms dates back to the 19th century. It led to the formation of a fine team of heraldry specialists rallying outstanding Romanian scientific figures. As the State Archives were set up and sigillography studies developed, the heraldry experts identified the coats of arms of districts, provinces, the heraldic bearings of the big landowners, a.o.

After 1859 (when Wallachia and Moldavia united into one state) the question of a representative coat of arms arose. In 1863 the solution was found of joining the ancient, traditional symbols of Wallachia (the golden eagle with cross) and Moldavia (the auroch with a star between its horns). Later (1872), Romania's heraldry commission proposed a synthetic coat of arms that combined the traditional symbols of all the Romanian provinces: Wallachia, Moldavia, Bukovina, Transylvania, Maramures, Crisana, Banat and Oltenia.

The coat of arms was adopted by the Government of Romania and was in use until 1921 when, following the great Union of December 1, 1918, the new coat of arms of Greater Romania was devised, with the addition of the symbols instituted in 1872: the insignia of the House of Hohenzollern (a European royal house with origins in the early Middle Ages, which gave Romania four kings, the first of whom - Carol I, 1866-1914 - was the one that raised the country to the rank of a kingdom in 1881), the crown of Romania (made from the steel of a cannon captured at Pleven, during the 1877-1878 Independence War through which the country, by the valour of the Romanian soldiers, won its independence from the Ottoman Empire) and two face-to-face dolphins with their tails up, symbolising the Black Sea.

The coat of arms of Greater Romania was replaced in 1947, when the Romanian People's Republic was proclaimed under pressure from the Soviet occupation troops, with a decorative effigy symbolising the country's riches guarded by ears of wheat and a rising sun as a background as well as a red star in the chief.

Immediately after the 1989 Revolution, the idea came up of giving Romania a new, representative coat of arms. In fact, the very symbol of the Revolution was the flag with a hole in its middle wherefrom the communist coat of arms had been cut out.

The heraldic commission set up to design a new coat of arms for Romania worked intensely, subjecting to Parliament two final designs which were then combined. What emerged is the current design adopted by the two Chambers of Romania's Parliament in their joint session of September 10, 1992.

Romania's coat of arms has as a central element the golden eagle with cross. Traditionally, this eagle appears in the arms of the Arges county, the town of Pitesti and the town of Curtea de Arges. It stands for the "nest of the Basarabs," the nucleus around which Wallachia, was organised, the province that determined the historical fate of the whole Romania.

The eagle, being the symbol of Latinity and a heraldic bird of the first order, symbolises courage, determination, the soaring toward great heights, power, grandeur. It is to be found also in Transylvania's coat of arms.

The shield on which it is placed is azure, symbolising the sky. The eagle holds in its talons the insignia of sovereignty: a sceptre and a saber, the latter reminding of Moldavia's ruler, Stephen the Great (1456-1504), also called "Christ's athlete" whereas the sceptre reminds of Michael the Brave (1593-1601), the first unifier of the Romanian Countries. On the bird's chest there is a quartered escutcheon with the symbols of the historical Romanian provinces (Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, Banat and Crisana) as well as two dolphins reminding of the country's Black Sea Coast.

In the first quarter there is again Wallachia's coat of arms on azure: an eagle or holding in its beak a golden Orthodox cross, accompanied by a golden sun on the right and a golden new moon on the left.

In the second quarter there is Moldavia's traditional coat of arms, gules: an auroch head sable with a mullet of or between its horns, a cinquefoil rose on the dexter and a waning crescent on the sinister, both argent.

The third quarter features the traditional coat of arms of Banat and Oltenia, gules: over waves, a golden bridge with two arched openings (symbolising Roman emperor Trajan's bridge over the Danube), wherefrom comes a golden lion holding a broadsword in its right forepaw.

The fourth quarter shows the coat of arms of Transylvania with Maramures and Crisana: a shield parted by a narrow fesse, gules; in the chief, on azure, there is an eagle sable with golden beak coming out of the fesse, accompanied by a golden sun on the dexter and a crescent argent on the sinister; on the base, on or, there are seven crenellated towers, placed four and three.

Also represented are the lands adjacent to the Black Sea, on azure: two dolphins affronts, head down.

Click here to see a slideshow with the Coats fo Arms of Romania since 1866