The Republic of San Marino also known as
Repubblica di San Marino (Most Serene Republic of San Marino), claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign
state and constitutional republic in the world as the continuation of the
monastic community founded on 3 September 301, by stonecutter Marinus
of Arbe. Legend has
it that Marinus left Rab, then the Roman colony of Arba, in 257 when the
future emperor, Diocletian, issued a decree calling for the
reconstruction of the city walls of Rimini, which had been destroyed by Liburnian
Marinus left the island of Arba in present-day Croatia with his lifelong
friend Leo, and went to the city of Rimini as a stonemason. After the
Diocletianic Persecution following his Christian sermons, he escaped to the
nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is
now the city and state of San Marino. The official date of the founding of
what is now known as the Republic is 3 September 301.
San Marino is
governed by the Leges Statutae Republicae Sancti Marini,
a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century, that dictate
the country’s political system.
In 1631, its
independence was recognized by the Papacy.
The advance of
Napoleon's army in 1797 presented a brief threat to the independence of San
Marino, but the country was saved from losing its liberty thanks to one of
its Regents, Antonio Onofri, who managed to gain the respect and friendship
of Napoleon. Thanks to his intervention, Napoleon, in a letter delivered to Gaspard
Monge, scientist and commissary of the French Government for Science and
Art, promised to guarantee and protect the independence of the Republic, even
offering to extend its territory according to its needs. The offer was
declined by San Marino, fearing future retaliation from other states
(revanchism). During the later phase of the Italian unification process in
the 19th century, San Marino served as a refuge for many people persecuted
because of their support for unification. In recognition of this support,
Giuseppe Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated
into the new Italian state.
During WW. I
& II San Marino remained neutral. It became a member of the Council of
Europe in 1988 and of the United Nations in 1992. It is not a member of the
European Union, nor of the Eurozone although it does use the euro as its
of the community is known from 1465. It showed three breadths orange, white
The three towers are known from 1600.
St. Marinus presenting the three towers of San
As on Statuta
Decreta ac Ordinamenta illustris reipublicae ac perpetus libertatis.
Rimini 1600. Frontispiece
Seal of San Marino, 1662
St. Marinus seated. Legend: D X M X P X ET LIBERTATIS X AVCTORI X MDCLXII X
3rd Seal of San Marino
Mountainrange with three towers crested with ostrich
feathers. Legend: LIBERTAS PERPETVA TERRE SANTI MARINI
Ancient seals of San Marino
A coat of arms of the Republic is known at least
from 1628. It is on the crowned bust of Saint Marino containing his relics
and shows the three towers on the mountain tops within a cartouche, crowned
with a crown of seven pearls.
Arms of San Marino 1628
A new design for a coat of arms was adopted on 6
April 1862 by treaty with the Kingdom of Italy.
5 centesimi 1864 --‘94
The arms as on this coin have remained unchanged
until the present day. They are:
of San Marino, 1862-2011
on three rocks issuing in base as many towers all proper, and from the
battlements of each tower an ostrich feather erect Argent.
Crown: A crown
with nine points and three hoops
branch of olive and a branch of oak proper.
(Liberty) in blue lettering on a white ribbon.
In these arms the three towers symbolize the castles
on the three highest peaks of mount Titano: La Guaita, La Cesta and La
By Constitution of 22 July 2011, approved on following 9 August, the parliament of San Marino has laid down the flag and the arms of the Republic affirming a law of 1974. It only differs on minor points from the arms of 1862.
illustration in the head of this essay
Arms from “The Book of Public Arms”, 1915
© Hubert de Vries 2014-08-19