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  The Sardinian Flag

The flag of the Italian region of Sardinia, popularly known also as the Four Moors flag, consists of a red cross on a white background (St. George's cross) with a moor's head in each quarter. The origin of the flag is not exactly clear, but there are various explanations, all of which involve the struggles in the Mediterranean 1,000 years ago between the forces of Islam and those of Christianity. One Spanish tradition dates the appearance of the flag to celebrations following the victory in the Battle of Alcoraz by King Peter I of Aragon and Navarre in 1096; the four moors refer to the Arab defeat at his hands. Another Spanish explanation is that the figures on the flag represent four specific battles all ending in Christian victories over Islam: the battles were at Saragozza, Valencia, Murcia and the Balearic islands. Sardinian tradition, however, puts the origin somewhat earlier at the year 1017 when Pope Benedict II is said to have given the flag as a symbol to the Pisans in order to help the Sardinians against Saracen (Muslim pirate) attacks against the island.

hatever the case, the first historically documented appearance of the emblem is dated 1281, as a seal used by the royal chancellorship of Peter III of Aragon; it thus became associated symbolically with the entire Crown of Aragon, a confederation that included Sardinia. It was then the symbol of the short-lived Regnum Sardiniae et Corsicae, a union of Corsica and Sardinia proclaimed by the Pope in 1297.

Paradoxically, Sardinian independence movements over the centuries included movements against, first, the Aragonese and then their successor state in the late 1400s, the new nation state of Spain; thus, the flag that has now become the symbol of Sardinia was often viewed as the flag of the enemy! The use of the Moor's Head is not unique to Sardinia; a single, identical head is also the symbol of the island of Corsica.

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