Cross pattée

Cross pattée
Standard form of the cross pattée

A cross pattée (or "cross patty", known also as "cross formée/formy") is a type of cross which has arms narrow at the centre, and broader at the perimeter. An early English example from the start of the age of heraldry proper (i.e. about 1200) is found in the arms of Baron Berkeley.



The word is a French adjective in the feminine form used in its full context as la croix pattée, meaning literally "footed cross", from the noun patte, meaning foot, generally that of an animal. [1] The cross has 4 splayed feet, each akin to the foot, for example, of a chalice or candelabrum. In German it is called Tatzenkreuz from Tatze, foot, paw. Planché provides a dubious suggestion that the term comes from the Latin verb pateo, to lie open, be spread. He states it to be discernible on the standard of King Stephen(1135-1154).[2]


Several variants exist as follows:

Use in British crowns

The British Imperial State Crown has a base of four crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis. The cross pattée also features in many of the other British Crowns including the St Edward's Crown, used for coronations, and the Imperial Crown of India created for George V as Emperor of India to wear at the Delhi Durbar of 1911.

Use by Crusaders

Teutonic Knights

This cross is often associated with the Crusades. The heraldic cross pattée was sometimes used by the Teutonic Knights, a Crusader order, though their more usual emblem was a plain straight black cross on white,[citation needed] and later became associated with Prussia and the 1871-1918 German empire. It continued to be used by the German military after 1918. A version of the Iron Cross is used to date by the German army (Bundeswehr) as its symbol and nationality marking and found on vehicles, aircraft and publications.

Knights Templar

The cross pattée is also sometimes associated with another Crusader order, the Knights Templar, though as with the Teutonic Knights, it was not used consistently. The Templars did adopt a red cross on their white robes in 1147,[3] but there was no specific style designated, and different Templars used different versions of the cross. The cross pattée was by no means their official symbol. However, some modern Freemason organizations do use the cross pattée in an official way, and this use occasionally causes confusion as to which version was used by the medieval order of Knights Templar[citation needed].

Other uses

The cross pattée is also placed before the name of the bishop who issues a Catholic imprimatur, and is occasionally found as a map symbol indicating the location of a Christian site.

It appears in the emblem of:

It is also associated with the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Derivatives of the cross pattée are popular amongst bikers, hot rodders and metalheads.

Firefighters, especially in the United States, commonly use a version with triangular arms for patches and medals, though the cross pattée and the cross of St. Florian are both commonly mistaken for the Maltese Cross. The cross pattée is used on the Marksmanship Badge in the United States Army, and United States Marine Corps.


The character "X" is rendered as a cross pattee in the Microsoft Wingdings font.

Unicode defines:

  • the "Maltese Cross" in the Dingbats range at codepoint U+2720.

See also


  1. ^ Larousse Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise Lexis, Paris, 1993, p.1356
  2. ^ Planché, J.R. The Pursuivant of Arms; or Heraldry Founded upon Facts, London, 1873, p.50
  3. ^ Barber, Malcolm. The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple. Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-521-42041-5

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