Brewer's: Standards

Standard of Augustus. A globe, to indicate his conquest of the whole world. Standard of Edward I. The arms of England, St. George, St. Edmond, and St. Edward. Standard of Mahomet. (See Sandschaki.)

Standard of the Anglo-Saxons.
A white horse.

Royal Standard of Great Britain.
A banner with the national arms covering the entire field. The Celestial Standard. So the Turks call their great green banner, which they say was given to Mahomet by the angel Gabriel. (See Sandschaki.)

Constantinople (Standard of),
called Labarum. It consisted of a silverplated spear with a cross-beam, from which hung a small silk banner, bearing the portrait of the reigning family and the famous monogram.

Danish Standard.
A raven. Egypt (ancient). An eagle stripped of its feathers, an emblem of the Nile; the head of an ox. Franks (ancient). A tiger or wolf; but subsequently the Roman eagle.

Gauls (ancient).
A lion, bull, or bear.

Greco-Egyptian Standard.
A roundheaded table-knife or a semicircular fan. Greece (ancient). A purple coat on the top of a spear.

(1) Athens, Minerva, an olive, an owl.

(2) Corinth, a pegasus or flying horse.

(3) Lacedaemon, the initial letter L, in Greek .

(4) Messina, the initial letter M.

(5) Thebes, a sphinx.

On the top of a staff, the head of a white eagle, with the breast stripped of feathers and without wings. This was the symbol of Jupiter and of the Lagldes.

Jews (ancient),
(“degel”) belonged to the four tribes of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan. The Rabbins say the standard of Judah bore a lion, that of Reuben a man, that of Ephraim a bull, and that of Dan the cherubim (Gen. xlix. 3-22). They were ornamented with white, purple, crimson, and blue, and were embroidered.

Persia (ancient).
The one adopted by Cyrus, and perpetuated, was a golden eagle with outstretched wings; the colour white.

Persian Standard.
A blacksmith's apron. Kaivah, sometimes called Gao, a blacksmith, headed a rebellion against Biver, surnamed Deh-ak (ten vices), a merciless tyrant, and displayed his apron as a banner. The apron was adopted by the next king, and continued for centuries to be the national standard. (B.C. 800.)

Roman Standards.
In the rude ages a wisp of straw. This was succeeded by bronze or silver devices attached to a staff. Pliny enumerates five- viz. the eagle, wolf, minotaur, horse, and boar. In later ages the image of the emperor, a hand outstretched, a dragon with a silver head and body of taffety. Marius confined all promiscuous devices to the cohorts, and reserved the eagle for the exclusive use of the legion. This eagle, made of gold and silver, was borne on the top of a spear, and was represented with its wings displayed, and bearing in one of its talons a thunderbolt.

Turkish Standards.

(1) Sanjak Cherif (Standard of the Prophet), green silk. This is preserved with great care in the Seraglio, and is never brought forth except in time of war

(2) The Sanjak, red.

(3) The Tug, consisting of one, two, or three horse-tails, according to the rank of the person who bears it. Pachas with three tails are of the highest dignity, and are entitled beglerbeg (prince of princes). Beys have only one horse-tail. The tails are fastened to the end of a gilt lance, and carried before the pacha or bey.

(4) The Alem, a broad standard which, instead of a spear-head, has in the middle a silver plate of a crescent shape.

Standards of Individuals

AUGUSTUS (Of). A globe, to indicate his “empire of the world.”

EDWARD I. (Of). The arms of England, St. George, St. Edmund, and St. Edward.

MAHOMET (Of). See under Turkish Standards.


(Size of) varied according to the rank of the person who bore them. The standard of an emperor was eleven yards in length; of a king, nine yards; of a prince, seven yards; of a marquis, six and a half yards; of an earl, six yards; of a viscount or baron, five yards; of a knight-banneret, four yards. They generally contained the arms of the bearer, his cognisance and crest, his motto or war-cry, and were fringed with his livery.

The Battle of the Standard,
between the English and the Scotch, at Cuton Moor, near Northallerton, in 1138. Here David I., fighting on behalf of Matilda, was defeated by King Stephen's general Robert de Moubray. It received its name from a ship's mast erected on a waggon, and placed in the centre of the English army; the mast displayed the standards of St. Peter of York, St. John of Beverley, and St. Wilfred of Ripon. On the top of the mast was a little casket containing a consecrated host. (Hailes: Annals of Scotland, i. p. 85.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

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