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Nidwalden canton (Switzerland)


Last modified: 2024-06-01 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | nidwalden | canton | half canton | key | german |
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[Flag of Nidwalden] image by António Martins

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[Banner of Nidwalden, carried in the Burgundian Wars (1474–77) (source: [b7b42]). –
Julius Banner (1512), drawing. The defacements of the keys and the Zwickelbild have been removed and are missing. The Latin writing along the four borders of the banner reads as follows: "IHS ANNO A NATIVITATE CHRISTI CCCLXXXVIII POPVLVS VNDERIVALDLEN (!) SVBTVS NEMVS SVB ANASTASIO PAPA PRO FIDE CRISTIANA IN VRBE ROMANA FELICITER PVGNANS INSIGNVM VICTORIE AC PREMIVM VIRTVSTIS (!) EC (!) ARMORVM INSIGNIA OBTINVIT QUE POSTEA A IVLIO SECVNDO PONTIFICE MAXIMIANO (!) PREDICTO POPVLO PRO LIBERTATE ECCLESIE IN LOMBARDIA PVGNANTI ANNO SALUTIS CRISTIANE MDXII CONFIRMATA" (Transl.: "In the year of the Christian era 388, the people of Unterwalden below the forest [= Nidwalden] fought bravely under Pope Anastasius for the Christian faith in the city of Rome and received this coat of arms [armorum insignia] as a symbol of victory and reward for their bravery, which were later confirmed by Julius II, the Maximian pontiff, to the aforesaid people for the freedom of the church in Lombardy in the year of Christian salvation 1512"). This inscription is based on the legend about the origins of the keys in the two flags of Unterwalden: "When the Goths under their king Alaric were harassing Italy and were already approaching its capital, the pope and emperor, in need and distress, sent for help to the inhabitants of the primeval mountains. Their lively youth immediately rushed over the mountains, lined up under the banners of Emperor Honorius and courageously and powerfully helped to repel the advancing enemy from the walls of the capital of Christianity. For such a laudable feat of arms, Emperor Honorius declared the three countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden as liberated from all princely rule. Pope Anastasius I, who was sitting on Peter's chair at that time, also expressed his gratitude and sent precious standards and war banners to each of the three mountain valleys. The field banner issued to the people of Unterwalden had a double, white, upright key in a red field."
The very same inscription on the banner of Nidwalden appeared – without spelling errors – some decades later "suddenly" also on the Julius Banner of Obwalden (some suppose in 1552), with the only difference that "Nidwalden" was replaced by "Obwalden" ("VNDERWALDEN SVPRA NEMVS"). Probably the Obwaldners argued that they had the right to do this because in the legend of the keys both countries are mentioned as "Unterwalden". Nevertheless the operation was a scam, the inscription was not part of the original banner donated by Pope Julius (sources: [mro42], [b7b42]). –
Stained glass plate of Nidwalden (1564). Flag bearer with Nidwalden flag and trefoil with coats of arms of Obwalden, Nidwalden and the Holy Roman Empire (as a sign of imperial immediacy). Presumably the right half of a status disc showing both Obwalden and Nidwalden. Nidwalden had used the double key as a pattern for its war flag since the early 15th century. The red and white pattern that used to represent Unterwalden as a whole was now used by Obwalden. Location: Sułkowski Castle in Bielsko-Biała, Poland (source). –
Banner of Nidwalden (ca. 1601), gift from Landammann (governor) Johannes Waser to the state of Nidwalden, silk damask, key made with gold and silver brocade, Zwickelbild with Jesus on the cross with John and Mary. Location: town hall, Stans (source). –
Flag of Nidwalden (18th c., b/w photo) (source: [b7b42])]

Variant of the flag

[Original Kraepfligriff flag] image by António Martins

Original Kräpfligriff grip.
Antonio Martins, 11 December 1997

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag NW] image by Ole Andersen

Simple rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Mader (1942) (So-called colour flag [Farbenfahne in German]).
Martin Karner

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours

    [Knatterfahnen] images by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms – not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.

Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.
Željko Heimer, 16 July 2000


image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)