THE WHITE EAGLE - 700 YEARS OF THE COAT OF ARMS OF THE POLISH STATE
The White Eagle is the national coat of arms of Poland. It is a stylized white eagle with a golden beak and talons, and wearing a golden crown, in a red shield. The Crowned White Eagle has been the Coat of Arms of the Polish State for seven centuries now. It is one of the oldest State Coats of Arms in the world. There are very few other countries who have managed to maintain their coats of arms for such a long period of time.
Several historic traditions and legends have referred to the origin of the White Eagle, moving it back to the times when the Polish State was being established, and even earlier. The Eagle was connected with Poland's first capital, Gniezno, where Lech, the legendary ancestor of the Piast dynasty was to find an eagle's nest (in Polish: "gniazdo"), and thus took the eagle as his coat of arms. On the other hand, Jan Dlugosz, Poland’s most distinguished chronicler living in the 15th century, wrote that Duke Boleslaw Chrobry was granted the Eagle as his coat of arms by the Emperor Otto III during the meeting of both Monarchs in Gniezno in the year 1000. The origin of the White Eagle is neither as fine nor as distant in time however. Generally, coats of arms did not exist before 12th century.
The Legend behind the Polish White Eagle.
A thousand years ago, or maybe even more, there lived three brothers, Lech, Czech, and Rus. For many years they had been content in their villages, but the families grew larger and they needed more room to live.The brothers decided to travel in different directions to search for new homes. Lech, Czech, and Rus traveled with their troops for many days. They rode their horses over mountains and rivers, through forests and wild country. There were no people to be found anywhere, not a town or tiny village. On the crest of a mountain top, they separated, each going in a different direction. Czech went to the left, Rus went to the right and Lech rode straight ahead, down the mountain and across vast plains. One day Lech saw a spendid sight. He and his troops had come to a place where a meadow surrounded a small lake. They stopped at the edge of the meadow as a great eagle flew over their heads. It flew around in great swooping circles, then perched on its nest, high on a craggy rock. Lech stared in awe at the beautiful sight. As the eagle spread its wings and soared into the heavens again, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on the eagle's wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the bird was pure white. "Here is where we will stay!" declared Lech. "Here is our new home, and we will call this place GNIEZNO ... (the eagle's nest). He and his people built many houses and it became the center of his territory. They called themselves Polonians, which means "People of the Field". They made a banner with a white eagle on a red field and flew it over the town of Gniezno, which became the first historical capital of Poland.
And, now you know how Poland began . Thank you Ada Lewandowska for this card.