England (Saint-Georgs-Cross) flag 10 x 15 cm
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population, whilst its mainland territory occupies most of the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain. England shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west and elsewhere is bordered by the North Sea, Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, Bristol Channel and English Channel. The capital is London, the largest urban area in Great Britain, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most, but not all, measures.
England became a unified state in the year 927 and takes its name from the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes who settled there during the 5th and 6th centuries. It has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world being the place of origin of the English language, the Church of England, and English law, which forms the basis of the common law legal systems of countries around the world. In addition, England was the birth place of the Industrial Revolution and the first country in the world to industrialise. It is home to the Royal Society, which laid the foundations of modern experimental science. England is the world's oldest parliamentary system and consequently constitutional, governmental and legal innovations that had their origin in England have been widely adopted by other nations.
The Kingdom of England (including Wales) continued as a separate state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union, putting into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulted in political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1800, Great Britain was united with Ireland through another Act of Union 1800 to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1921, the Irish Free State was created, and the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act in 1927 officially established the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which exists today.
The Flag of England is the St George's Cross. The red cross appeared as an emblem of England during the Middle Ages and the Crusades and is one of the earliest known emblems representing England. It achieved status as the national flag of England during the 16th century.
Saint George became the patron saint of England in the 13th century, and the legend of Saint George slaying a dragon dates from the 12th century.
The proportions of the flag are that the red cross has a width of 1/5 of the height of the flag.
The exact origins of the Flag of England are unclear and there are multiple supporting theories, though it is known that the flag appeared during the Middle Ages. It has been recorded that the first known recorded use of the St George's Cross as an emblem (but not as a flag) of England was in a roll of account relating to the Welsh War of 1275.
The use of a red cross on a white background was a symbol of St. George in the Middle Ages. This is seen, for example, in the flag of Georgia, another country with St George as their patron saint.
The first theory states that the flag was adopted during the Crusades. At the beginning of the Crusades, a red cross on white was already associated with England. Although the Pope decided English crusaders would be distinguished by wearing a white cross on red, and French crusaders a red cross on white (Italian knights were allocated a yellow cross on a white background), English knights soon decided to claim "their" cross of red on white, like the French. In January 1188, in a meeting between Henry II of England and Philip II of France, the two rivals agreed to exchange flags (France later changed its new white cross on red for a white cross on a dark blue flag). Some French knights carried on using the red cross however, and as English knights wore this pattern as well, the red cross on white became the typical crusader symbol regardless of nationality.
St. George seen in the act of slaying the dragon. He is depicted wearing a surcoat displaying the St. George's Cross.A second theory states that St. George's cross was originally the flag of Genoa and was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the powerful Genoese fleet. The maritime Republic of Genoa was rising and going to become, with its rival Venice, one of the most important powers in the world. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege.
The St George's cross may not have achieved the full status of national flag until the 16th century, when all other saints' banners were abandoned during the Reformation. Thereafter it became recognised as the flag of England and Wales. The earliest record of St George's flag at sea, as an English flag in conjunction with royal banners but no other saintly flags, was 1545.