Coat of arms of Poland
Who are you? A Polish child. What's your emblem? The eagle in white.’ – The first words of the ‘Katechizm dziecka polskiego’ [‘The Polish Child's Creed’], a neo-romantic poem by Władysław Bełza written in 1900, has been repeated by subsequent generations of Poles.
Poland's emblem is a white eagle with its wings spread out, with a crown, golden beak and claws and the coat of arms - an eagle with a red emblem shield backdrop.
The white eagle, probably white-tailed eagle, features on coins, seals, ensigns and shields of the Piast dukes from the 12th century. An eagle with a crown on its head as the official state coat of arms was used for the first time in 1295 by King Przemysł II on the reverse side of the royal seal.
The Union of Lublin in 1569 saw the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania become a single state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, for over 200 years. They were united under a shared emblem - next to the white eagle on a red shield appeared the Lithuanian Coat of Arms, a knight galloping on a horse. Poland's national colours were derived from the coat of arms of both nations, which was confirmed by a resolution of the Polish Kingdom's Sejm in 1831. However, the first seal bearing the design of the coat of arms with an eagle and pursuer emerged already in the 14th century under the reign of Wladyslaw Jagiello, who as a great Lithuania prince formed a union with Poland in Krev in 1385.
As a result of the partitions of the 18th century, when the Polish-Lithaunian Commonwealth ceased to exist, states and governorates received new coats of arms. Despite this, many of them continued to use the white eagle. After regaining independence, Poland adopted the white eagle as its official emblem in a parliamentary resolution passed in 1919.
After World War II, the communist authorities decided that the eagle should lose its crown, and the removal of the ‘symbol of sovereignty’ was finalised by a resolution passed in 1955. The crown came back in December 1989 after the fall of Communism.
The coat of arms in its current form was designed by Zygmunt Kaminski, a graphic designer, painter and architect.