What is the reason/story behind the look of one of the former Portuguese flags, which is extremely similar to Finnish current one?

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Wikipedia dates the flag within 1095–1143 AD.

Nowadays, we can find this flag for example hanging on Castle of Guimarães.

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    Hi lugo and welcome to History SE. There are several flags which are the same or similar without there being a connection / reason (Chad / Romania, Cote d'Ivoire / Ireland). Just coincidence I think. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 13:23
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    Why is this "ancient" when the date is given as 11th century? WP also lists this as hypothetical reconstruction and the we have the problem of personal coat of arms and the definition of "country" in that timeframe. Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 17:08
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    @LangLangC I ve altered to "former", sorry for misleading context
    – ludgo
    Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 17:23
  • 2LangLangC When I was a child, I read a cihldren's story, possibly a version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, which mentioned an "ancient" Spanish Gallon. That annoyed me because Spanish Gallons were early modern or Renaissance, separated by a thousand years of medieval time from Antiquity which I considered to be ancient times. And so I learned that "ancient" is sometimes used to refer to something very old, but still centuries or millennia later than what I consider Ancient times.
    – MAGolding
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 19:43
  • @Iudgo Do you know how many times representatives of two different countries learned that their countries used the same flag? procaffenation.com/the-countries-with-strikingly-similar-flags
    – MAGolding
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


The first flag of Portugal was the coat of arms of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal and father of Afonso I (1109-1185), the first king of Portugal.

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It's an azure cross over a silver field. Crosses were popular motifs of the first coats of arms (perhaps because they were used in the First Crusade in 1099). According to the early heraldic rules of the 12th century, the only traditional options for a tincture (color) over a metal (silver) were red, black, blue, green and purple.

So, while the Finnish flag might have a meaning (blue for lakes, white for snow), the similarities are just a coincidence because there wasn't much room for innovation for Afonso I.

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    Somehow "before 1911" a lot of other flags seem to be used other than the hypothetical one of Alfonso? Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 18:15

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