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LinePolitical Identities

Eagles of National Identity

• Other Eagles of Significance

Eagles often represent power, beauty, and independence, and since they lend themselves to being powerful symbols, they have a long history of being emblematic of nations, polities, and communities. For example, in the ancient Persian Empire, the Persian army depicted an eagle, and the Ptolemaic rulers of Hellenistic Egypt used it as their seal. The Roman Empire used the eagle on the standards of its armies, leading to the late Byzantine Empire's use of a two-headed golden eagle as its symbol. After the fall of Constantinople, the Russian Empire adopted the two-headed eagle as its emblem. Charlemagne adopted the ancient Roman eagle, thus perpetuating the Holy Roman Empire from ancient Roman roots. Later the Hapsburgs replaced the golden eagle by an imperial eagle and from this came the two-headed eagle as the symbol of the Austrian Empire. Napoleon Bonaparte used the Roman golden eagle as the symbol of his new French empire. Other countries that have used images of eagles as symbols of national identity include the Czech Republic, Germany (and earlier, Prussia), Ghana, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, the United States of America, and many other nations or polities.


Bald Eagle Flying
Photo courtesy Robert Seaton