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Arch-duke of Austria placed his banner on one of the towers, but Richard no sooner saw it than he tore it down with his own hands, rent it to pieces, and trampled it under foot. The insult was afterwards revenged on Richard by his imprisonment in Austria, and his life was saved only by the payment of a heavy redemption by his country.*
No nation, enlightened on the subject, and having a due regard to its own honour and independence, would accept a national banner from any foreign
The foregoing sketch of the principles and practice of heraldry is necessary for the illustration of the figure of the cross, adopted as a standard or banner by nations during peace or war. We now apply the argument which the art of heraldry affords. The figure of the cross is the insignia or badge on earth of the King of Kings, whose kingdom is not of this world, and it is demanded of Christian nations to produce in the high court of honour their charges, or patents, or warrants for the uplifting and display of the sacred ensign. This appeal This appeal is made to the Heralds' Colleges of the British and the Northern Teutonic and Gothic nations, whose banners bear the figure of the cross. In a preceding section will be found the names of the nations, states, and cities, that assume that banner; and in another place will be stated the authority under which, in particular circumstances, kings and warriors displayed it. The religious wars that were carried on for nearly two centuries, under the figure of the cross, against the infidels, did not originate the use of that banner. They were the fourth great crusade in the transactions of Europe and Asia since the Christian era. Considering the object * James's Hist., pp. 251–260.
of those wars, their religious character, and the state of civilisation, and the excitement of feeling of the European population at the time, the banner of the cross was probably the most natural and appropriate that could be assumed. At the same time it was dangerous to the cause of Christianity, and fatal to its establishment in Western Asia, to carry the cross as the standard of armies sent forth by Europe to invade, and, if possible, conquer that country, and in the operation to devastate fields, storm cities, plunder, ravage women, and massacre the inhabitants, and commit all the crimes and atrocities usual in such enterprises.
In heraldry there are various classes of armorial ensigns, the names of which denote their character, such as Arms of Dominion, of Pretension, of Assumption, of Adoption, of Concession. To one or other of these will belong the arms of the cross.
The decision of the appeal to heraldry, on the question of the use and display of the cross as an armorial bearing, will extend much further than at first sight appears; and should the award be to throw aside the pretensions to the display of that badge, then it may be at once stated that the whole system of heraldry, as it is at present constituted, will be torn up by the abstraction of that figure from it. There are enumerated no less than about eighty distinct varieties of the cross used in heraldry, and if these, considered the most honoured charges, shall be removed, it follows that the whole heraldic fabric tumbles to the ground. Taking again the example of the crusaders, each European nation distinguished its cross by the colour, red, blue, green, white, black, and yellow. Now, had the great object of the crusades been achieved, namely, the conquest of the Holy Sepulchre, and the planting
of the cross upon it, then, according to the principles of chivalric heraldry, the conquerors would have acquired the right, and gained the honour of wearing the insignia of victory, always understood with the consent and approbation of the great King of Kings, whose sign it is; but although the crusaders fought valiantly and perseveringly for the great object, still it is the historic fact that they did not conquer, but were finally repelled and driven out of the country, and the melancholy result was the military fall of the cross under the standard of the crescent. Is the Christian cross to be used as a profane show in wars between modern nations, or is it to be raised as a sign before which the soldiers are to bow, as they mutter their prayers and enter on slaughter? Let Christian people think of this! Apart from superstitious feelings, and laying aside all false views of glory, it may be affirmed that the cross ought not to be lifted up in battle and stained with blood; and, if raised at all in a material form, it ought only to be reared upon the temple or inscribed on the tomb.
This discussion on the claims which heraldry or nations may have to the assumption of the banner of the cross, is not one of a mere literary nature, or antiquarian research, but it is one connected with questions relating to the independence of nations, and to civil and spiritual liberty. There is now going on in Europe a mighty change of opinion, and a social and political revolution has reached one of those crises which may form the turning point in the history of mankind. The world is weary of shams and pretensions, while the impostures of a thousand years are detected and exposed, and will assuredly be brought to an end. One of the pretenders, who still puts forward his claims to the reverence of men, and to the as
sertion of his sole right and power over their minds
*Times newspaper, Feb., 1851.
The bishop of Rome has an army with banners, and a military power: his priests are his diplomatists and ambassadors, and his name is registered among the potentates of Europe; and therefore any aggression or interference by him with the internal affairs of any nation, ought to be repelled by physical force. *
* In correcting this sheet for the press, we avail ourselves of the opportunity of referring to two facts connected with the bishop of Rome, illustrative of the extraordinary pretensions of that prelate, and of his anomalous condition as a civil and political ruler. He sent a letter of recommendation to the President of the United States of America, in favour of M. Bedini, his Nuncio, and put forth his claims to Divine authority in the following words: "And inasmuch as we have been intrusted by Divine commission with the Lord's flock throughout the world, we cannot allow this opportunity to pass without earnestly entreating you to extend your protection to the Catholics inhabiting those regions, and to shield them at all times with your power and authority." The letter was dated from the Vatican, 31st March, 1853. We do not know what answer his Excellency returned to the demand of the Pope to be acknowledged as the possessor of a Divine commission, nor do we know of what religious persuasion he is; but as the head of one of the most powerful and independent nations of the world, he must surely have resented such pretensions by a very weak European potentate.
In January, 1854, M. Bedini, the Nuncio, asked of the American Secretary of State a diplomatic recognition in Washington, to afford him position and protection; but the Secretary refused to give him more than a passport, and referred the case to the Senate.
The second fact is connected with the British Government, and refers to the bishop as a party to a commercial treaty to admit vessels and merchandise on equal terms into the ports of the respective countries. This is a nautical and commercial agreement on principles of reciprocity between Queen Victoria and Pope Pius IX.; but the great principle of equality and reciprocity in religious matters is entirely thrown aside by the British Government; for while Roman cardinals and bishops