Cross pattée

Not to be confused with Bolnisi cross.
Standard form of the cross pattée

A cross pattée (or "cross patty" or "cross Pate", known also as "cross formée/formy") is a type of cross which has arms narrow at the center, 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 pattée 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 (Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). 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

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,.

Iron Cross

German Iron Cross, 2nd Cl., World War I

In 1813, King Frederick William III of Prussia established the Iron Cross as a decoration for military valor. It remained in use as a military decoration, in various forms, by Prussia and later Germany until 1945.

Prussian and German Imperial 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, much like the March/April 1918-May 1945 Balkenkreuz used.

Knights Templar

The cross pattée is sometimes associated with another Crusader order, the Knights Templar, though as with the Teutonic Knights, it was not used consistently. The Templars did adopt a red cross on their white robes in 1147,[3] but there was no specific style designated, and different Templars used different versions of the cross. The cross pattée was by no means their official symbol. Some modern Freemason organizations do use the cross pattée in an official way, and this use occasionally causes confusion as to which version was used by the medieval order of Knights Templar .


Main article: Bolnisi cross

The Bolnisi cross (Georgian: ბოლნისის ჯვარი bolnisis 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. its is used on Flag and coat of arms of republic of Georgia and various organizations and administrative divisions within.


Main article: Flag of Montenegro

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.[4] During the 1990s, it has been 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.

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:

It is also associated with the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Derivatives of the cross pattée are popular amongst bikers, hot rodders and metalheads.

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 codepoint U+2720 ().

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

See also


  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. Barber, Malcolm. The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple. Cambridge University Press, 1994. p.66 ISBN 0-521-42041-5
  4. Cetinje, Official website (English). "Symbols". Retrieved 18 April 2014.


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