The '''double-headed eagle''' is the most recognizable symbol of Orthodoxy today (other than the cross) and was the official state symbol of the late [[Byzantine Empire]], symbolising the unity between the Byzantine Orthodox Church and State, which was governed by the principle of ''Symphonia'' or ''Synallelia'', that is, a "symphony" between the civil and the ecclesiastical functions of Christian society.
In addition, the heads of the eagle also represent the dual sovereignity of the Byzantine Emperor, with the left head representing Rome (the West) and the right head representing [[Constantinople]] (the East). The claws of the eagle hold a [[cross]] and an orb ''(this combination is on the official flag of the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarchate]] today)'', or in some similar depictions with a sword and an orb.
Byzantine Emblem ==
Emperor Isaacius Comnenus (11th century AD), the first ruling member of the Comnenus dynasty, was the first Emperor who adopted the two headed eagle as the symbol of the Empire.
Orthodox Provenance of the Double- Headed Eagle ==
The following gallery shows heraldic usages of the double-headed eagle in the history of the [[Orthodox Church]], including
1) its use starting in the theocratic [[Byzantine Empire]] , followed by 2) its use by Orthodox churches today, and 3) modern secular usages by some Orthodox nations.
Image:Dikefalos Aetos.jpg|Emblem of the [[Church of Cyprus]].
Image:1684_Tomb.JPG|Double-headed eagle on a 1684 tomb at the [[Church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani - Hundred Doors (Paros)]], Greece.
Empire's Big Coat of Arms. jpg|Great Coat of Arms of the [[w:Russian Empire|Russian Empire]] (1721-1917).
Image:Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation.JPG|Coat of Arms of the [[w:Russia|Russian Federation]].
Image:Flag of Montenegro.JPG|Flag of [[w:Flag of Montenegro|Montenegro]]. Adopted July, 2004.
== Emblem of Church of Constantinople and Mount Athos ==
The modern ''double-headed eagle'' flag for the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople]] and of [[Mount Athos]], features the eagle with a [[cross]] in the right claw symbolizing spiritual authority, and an orb in the left symbolizing secular authority. Above the eagle, is a crown, and the background colour of the flag is yellow or gold. (''see image above)''. This flag is often used also by the Greek Orthodox Churches in the diaspora under the Patriarchate as their official flag (such as in America, Canada, Australia, etc), and is not to be confused with the ''double-headed eagle'' used by the [[Church of Greece]].
== Emblem of Russian Empire and Modern Russia ==
The two major symbolic elements of Russian state and church symbols (the two-headed eagle and St. George slaying the dragon) predate Peter the Great. The ''double-headed eagle'' was adopted by Ivan III after his marriage with the [[Byzantine]] princess ''Sophia Paleologo'', whose uncle Constantine was the last Byzantine Emperor. After the [[Fall of Constantinople]] to the Turks in 1453, Ivan III and his heirs considered Moscow to be the last stronghold of the Christian faith, and in effect, the last Roman Empire (hence the expression "Third Rome" for Moscow and - by extension - for the whole of Imperial Russia).
From 1497, on the double-headed eagle proclaimed a Russian sovereignty equal to that of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The first remained evidence of the double-headed eagle officialised as an emblem of Russia is on the great prince's seal, stamped in 1497 on a Charter of share and allotment of independent princes' possessions. At the same time the image of gilded double-headed eagle on red background appeared on the walls of the Palace of Facets in the Kremlin.
== Diffusion from Byzantium to
Various Usages ==
The two-headed Byzantine Eagle is currently the emblem on the Flags of the [[Church of Constantinople|Patriarchate of Constantinople]] and of [[Mount Athos]], as well as those of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. It has also become the Coat of Arms of modern States including Serbia, Russia, Albania, and most recently Montenegro.
The historic spread of its use
occured because the nations that officially adopted Orthodox Christianity - the religion of the Eastern Roman Empire (ΡΩΜΑΝΙΑ/Romania) - as their state religion, had the right to bear the byzantine eagle on their arms if they wanted to, with the corollary that the bearing of the byzantine eagle in gold was a priviledge that only belonged to the sovereign of Constantinople.<ref>Military Photos. [http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=112459 Byzantine Army and Navy Ranks.]</ref> ''(See for example, the image of the Imperial Palaeologan eagle, below).''
Therefore, the Serbian eagle is depicted in silver. Russia also had the eagle in silver but they changed it to gold ''(probably in the 15th century after the marriage of Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow with Sophia Palaeologina, the daughter of the last Byzantine Emperor & after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans),'' to justify their claim as the "third Rome". Austria on the other hand, earned the right to bear the byzantine eagle, after the marriage of the first German Emperor Otto I in 972, with the niece of Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Tzimiskes, Theophano ''(and of course the Austrian Empire claimed to be the continuation of the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans)''. They adopted the byzantine eagle, in black though, as the "shadow of the Imperial Eagle".<ref>Military Photos. [http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=112459 Byzantine Army and Navy Ranks.]</ref>.
=== Use on
Coats of Arms ===
The two-headed eagle appears on the '''coat of arms''' of the following countries<ref>Wikipedia. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_headed_eagle Double-headed eagle].</ref>:
* [[Byzantine Empire]] (historical)
* Flag of the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarchate]] of Constantinople.
* Flag of [[Mount Athos]].
* Flag of [[w:Flag of Montenegro|Montenegro]] ''(adopted July, 2004).''
== External links ==