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Spanish Cross of Burgundy Flag
(c. 1520 - 1785)
After Castile and Aragon were united to form Spain in 1516, Charles I's royal banner was the country's only flag. By 1520, Spain had adopted a new national flag, as shown above. The saltire design, known as the Cross of Burgundy, was a symbol of Philip I, Duke of Burgundy and father of Charles I, who became Spain's king in 1516.
There were many versions of this flag, but in its most simple form consisted of a red saltire (diagonal cross) on a field of white. Actually, the design was supposed to represent two crossed branches, the extension on either side representing bases of limbs which have been cut off, and a few Cross of Burgundy flags [see example] actually do show limbs. Variants of the Burgundy cross flag--principally versions with smooth-edged saltires--became widely used by the Spanish military on both land and sea
The flag shown above is the principal flag that flew over Spain's colonial empire in the New World until 1785, when a new flag was adopted. Likely, Spanish ships exploring the southeastern coast of North America flew this flag. Almost surely, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón brought this flag to Georgia in 1526, when he arrived with 600 Spanish colonists to found the ill-fated settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape. Given the number of Spanish missions, garrisons, and settlements that would follow, the Cross of Burgundy flag must have flown over Georgia. Moreover, given Spain's role as an ally during the American Revolution [see flag at Battle of Mobile], and its presence in East and West Florida and portions of Georgia's western territories, there can be no question that this flag flew over Georgia.
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