Medieval History/phrase


As I was looking into Scottish history I came across a phrase "Neither Cross nor Crown" It sounded interesting and I tried finding out from where it comes and its meaning. However I have come up with nothing, could you shed some light on this at all?

Hi Alexander,
It's not my area, but I googled "Neither Cross nor Crown" and found 'Athens, an Ode' by Algernon Charles Swinburne which contains the lines:

"Drive the Cossack bear against the tiger Turk.
Neither cross nor crown nor crescent shall ye bow to,
Nought of Araby nor Jewry, priest nor king"

The poem seems to have been written, or at least first published, in 1904 which isn't medieval, although the subject of the poem seems be some kind of crusade. Swinburne was English, not Scottish, so I don't get the connection to Scottish history. The use of 'ye' does kind of suggest that Swinburne was writing in a Scottish style. In writing the poem, Swinburne may have immersed himself into some aspect of Scottish history, but what that event might be, I do not know.

Swinburne was not the first to use the phrase or a similar one. J.C. Ryle, first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, who died in 1900, wrote "...and the cross comes before the crown." in his paper "Holiness."

My google search also turned up other references. The fact that several people are using the phrase "cross and crown" this way suggests the origin is much older. It's probably a generic reference to church and state as in 'Not the church nor the state...'although Ryle used 'crown' to refer to money, not politics.

Hope this helps,    C.M.

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C.M. Aaron


I've been studying the early medieval period for almost 20 years. In particular, I've studied the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions/migrations, early barbarian law codes, the early medieval church, technology of the period, military campaigns and tactics, and some of the early barbarian dynasties, especially the Merovingians in Gaul (France).


Twenty years of self study. I also write historical fiction of this era.

Bachelor's degree.

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