The maroon-white-maroon flag of Latvia is one of the oldest in the world and dates back to a battle against Estonian tribes near the Latvian town of Cēsis in the 13th century. According to one legend, it originated from a white sheet used to carry a mortally wounded Latvian tribal chief from the battlefield. Soaked with his blood on two sides, his soldiers hoisted the warrior’s sheet as a banner as it led them to victory.
In the 1860’s Latvian student Jēkabs Lautenbahs-Jūsmiņš discovered a written reference to this flag in a collection of 13th century rhyming verse chronicles popular among the knights of the Livonian Order. These ‘songs’ glorified the feats of the Germanic Crusaders that sought to Christianize the pagan Latvian tribes.
The flag’s colour proportions are 2:1:2 (the upper and lower maroon bands are twice as wide as the white band in the middle), and the correlation of the width and length of the flag is fixed as 1:2. The distinctive maroon colour of the Latvian flag is officially known as “Latvian red” in the rest of the world.