On the union of the two crowns at the accession of James VI. of Scotland and I. of England to the English throne, the Cross of St. Andrew, Fig. 92, was combined with that of St. George.
Cross of St. Andrew Flag
Use: Civil and state flag
Adopted: 16th Century
Design: A blue field with a white diagonal cross that extends to the corners of the flag. In Blazon, Azure, a saltire argent.
Brief History of the Cross of St. Andrew Flag
The Cross of St. Andrew has been held in the same high esteem north of the Tweed that the Southrons have bestowed on the ensign of St. George. It will be seen that it is shaped like the letter X. Tradition hath it that the Saint, deeming it far too great an honor to be crucified as was his Lord, gained from his persecutors the concession of this variation. It is legendarily asserted that this form of a cross appeared in the sky to Achaius, King of the Scots, the night before a great battle with Athelstane, and, being victorious, he went barefoot to the church of St. Andrew, and vowed to adopt his cross as the national device. The sacred monogram that replaced the Roman eagles under Constantine, the cross on the flag of Denmark, the visions of Joan of Arc, and many other suchlike illustrations, readily occur to one’s mind as indicative of the natural desire to see the potent aid of Heaven visibly manifested in justification of earthly ambitions, or a celestial support and encouragement in time of national discomfiture.
Figs. 75 and 76 are examples of the Scottish red and blue ensigns. The first of these is from a picture at Hampton Court, where a large Scottish warship is represented as having a flag of this character at the main, and smaller but similar
The famous flag, the historic “blue blanket,” borne by the Scots in the Crusades, was on its return deposited over the altar of St. Eloi in St. Giles’ Church, Edinburgh, and the queen of James II, we read, painted on its field of azure the white Cross of St. Andrew, the crown, and the thistle. St. Eloi was the patron saint of blacksmiths, and this craft was made the guardian of the flag, and it became the symbol of the associated trades of ancient Edinburgh.
King James VI., when venting his indignation against his too independent subjects, exclaimed, “The craftsmen think we should be contented with their work, and if in anything they be controlled, then up goes the blue blanket.” The craftsmen were as independent and difficult to manage as the London Trained Bands often proved, but King James VI. found it expedient to confirm them in all their privileges, and ordered that the flag should at all times be known as the Standard of the Crafts, and later Sovereigns found it impossible to take away these privileges when they had once been granted. This flag was borne at Flodden Field.
Beside the cross, crown, and thistle it bore on a scroll on the upper part of the flag the inscription, “Fear God and honor the king with a long lyffe and prosperous reigne,” and on the lower portion the words, “And we that is trades shall ever pray to be faithfull for the defence of his Sacred Majesties’ persone till deathe,” an inscription that scarcely seems to harmonise with the turbulent spirit that scandalised this sovereign so greatly.
The flags borne by the Covenanters in their struggle for liberty varied much in their details, but in the great majority of cases bore upon them the Cross of St. Andrew, often accompanied by the thistle, and in most cases by some form of inscription. Several of these are still extant.