National and historical symbols of Hungary

In this section you can find the crests of almost 2400 settlements of Hungary with notes. Find the starting letter of the settlement in the list and click if you want to see it.

The Coat-of-Arms of the Town of Szeged [** ¤]
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(The County of Csongrád)

Renaissance shield erect, party per pale azure and or. The dexter field bears: azure, two bendlets argent. The sinister field bears: or, a dimidiated double-headed eagle displayed reversed sable, armed, holding in its claw a sceptre or.

Across the top a helmet affronty argent with a closed visor, round the gorget on a ribbon a medaillon, all or, and for the crest a five-pointed open coronet verdured or (with two pearls between the three verdures), adorned with rubies and sapphires, and a lamb trippant argent on a field vert thereon. Mantling: dexter gules and argent, sinister azure and or.

In the Roman times a camp (Partiscum) had already been located in the area of Szeged, but the name of the settlement was given by the Magyar conquerors according to their own practice, which indicates its Hungarian origin. First it was a crown possession and a salt deposit; then, following the Mongol invasion, it became a county seat. The right of its inhabitants, dated 1247, to be responsible to the crown alone developed in 1498 into the privilege of a royal free borough. In the Turkish times the town was a fortress and district (szandzsák) centre. After the expulsion of the Turks the citizens managed to regain the title of royal free borough, which was endorsed by Emperor Charles III on 21 May, 1719.

The royal charter describes the town's coat-of-arms as follows: "Military shield erect, parti per pale. In dexter field azure two rivers, symbolising the Tisza and the Maros, are running bendwise. In sinister field argent a demi-eagle displayed, proper, holding in its claw a spectre or. ... Over the shield, hardly touching the top a barred or open military helmet ensigned with a royal crown, and crested with a lamb argent... Issuing from the top of the helmet a mantling or scarves argent and gules on the dexter, azure and or on the sinister." The difference is striking in the case of the sinister side, but no data are available as to when the change occurred. However, this latter description is given by a decree issued in 1993 by the town's general assembly containing provisions as to the use of the symbols of the town of Szeged.

The coat-of-arms of Szeged, like every well-defined symbol, serves as a guideline for the historical progress of the town.

The fragmented prototype of the current coat-of-arms is reputed to have been found in 1704 on a damaged seal print allegedly fished out of the river Tisza, bearing the legend "Sigillum Regiae Civitatis Segediensis * A. 1200 *. The seal was obviously a fake, meant as an evidence proving the town's former status as free royal borough.

Szeged played an important role as early as the foundation of the Hungarian feudal state, serving as a storage and distibution centre of the royal salt floated down the river from Transylvania. Consequently, it was inhabited by servants of the crown who, following the principle of ius nullius (what belongs to nobody belongs to the King) grazed their cattle freely all over the sandy area (sabulum) between the Duna and Tisza rivers.

With the settlement of the Cumans this privileged status was strongly restricted, but for the citizens of Szeged it was important to symbolically express their claim for the territories along both rivers. This is the reason for the inclusion of the two bendlets in the town's coat-of-arms.

On the first known seal of the town from 1474 the charges of King Sigismund's coins bearing an eagle are displayed, together with the legend reading "The seal of Szeged city with the eagle" (cum Aquilla).

In order to avoid losing the grazing fields, the town of Szeged had its right to graze cattle confirmed in writing by King Matthias, Vladislav II and other rulers several times.

Finally, at Whitsun 1498, Vladislav II gave Szeged the title of free royal borough, which the town had always longed for. He probably acknowledged the eagle borne on the former seal as the town's coat-of-arms. (The charge could not have been unfamiliar for him as the eagle was the dominant figure of his shield as well.)

In the middle of the 17th century the palatine demanded a rental fee for the use of the pastures that had once been owned by the Cumans. With this, the possibility for endowment became feasible again. (This was actually done in 1702, when the king put the fields in pledge in favour of the Teutonic Knights.) The officers of the Tisza Militia serving in Szeged and Szabadka, who themselves took part in rearing cattle in the open air, as well as the Archbishop of Csanád, who had moved his residence to Szeged, wanted to expand their authority over the town.

The reason for the helmet to appear on top of the shield (a rather unusual feature in the case of early municipal coats-of-arms) was that the town wanted to avoid permanent military "occupation". On the other hand, as an expression of resistance against the bishop's claims for authority, the helmet is crested with the 'Lamb of God' (agnus Dei), which at the same time symbolises the town's right for the free election of its priests.

It was on 21 May 1719 that Emperor Charles VI issued his diploma comfirming Szeged's status of free royal borough. This documents also contained the painted picture and a description of the town's "renewed" coat-of-arms.