Your Guide to the Six Flags over Texas
Since Cortez first explored the area now known as Texas in 1519, six different nations have held sovereignty over it. Six nations, each with their own flag: the origin of the saying ”six flags over Texas.” If it sounds familiar, you may recognize it from one of the many businesses who have drawn inspiration from it when taking a name, including the Six Flags theme park.
To limit confusion and ensure accurate representation of history, the Texas Historical Commission determined which versions of each nation’s flag should be part of the six flags over Texas. The six flags they identified are represented on the reverse side of the State Seal of Texas.
Let’s take a look at these flags and the nations who flew them.
THE SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS
After becoming the first European nation to rule over Texas, Spain remained sovereign over the land for 302 years—longer than any other nation. During this time, two versions of the Spanish flag were used. Both incorporated similar design aspects, like color and the castle and lion emblems from the Crown of Castille. Of the two flags, the Texas Historical Commission chose the simple flag with horizontal stripes of red and gold and an emblem to be part of the official six flags. The flag they chose is very similar to the current Flag of Spain; it just has a different coat of arms.
The French flag included in the six flags of Texas is simple: almost completely white, the only color or design found on the flag are the gold fleurs-de-lys strewn across it. The number of fleurs-de-lys is not specified, and changes based on the size of the flag.
France ruled over Texas when nobleman Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, founded a colony named Fort St. Louis. Unfortunately, his efforts were met with a variety of disasters, including shipwreck, disease, and famine. France’s rule over Texas ended abruptly after La Salle was murdered by one of his own men.
The flag of Mexico that flew over Texas is very similar to the current Mexican flag. It features vertical stripes of green, white, and red, as well as an image of an eagle standing on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth. While the Mexican flag that flew over Texas featured a natural-looking eagle, the current flag of Mexico features a more stylized eagle.
Texans revolted and gained independence from Mexican control after Mexican General Santa Anna declared himself dictator.
The Republic of Texas had two national flags during its existence. The first is known as the Burnet Flag. It was straightforward, featuring a large golden star atop a blue ground. The Burnet Flag served as the Flag of Texas until 1839, when the Lone Star Flag was adopted. The Lone Star Flag was the nation’s flag until Texas joined the United States. At that point, it was preserved as the state flag. If you’d like to learn more about the Lone Star Flag, check out this blog post.
You can also get your own wooden replica of Texas’ flag: learn more about Patriot Wood’s Texas Wood Flag here.
The Flag of the United States has flown over Texas twice: before and after the Civil War. The current US flag is included in the six flags of Texas, and, should it change, would be updated as well.
Texas was the seventh state to join the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The Confederacy flew a number of different flags: the “Stars and Bars”, the “Stainless Banner,” a revision of the “Stars and Bars.”
While it would be historically correct to choose any of these flags for inclusion in the six flags over Texas, the state has chosen to use the seven-star “Stars and Bars.” According to the Texas Historical Commission, this flag was chosen because it is “most recognizable and least inflammatory of the three Confederate Flags.”
If you’d like to read more about the six flags over Texas, see the entire report from the Texas Historical Commission here.
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