Two-Headed Eagle(redirected from Double-headed eagle)
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fantastic heraldic figure symbolizing authority, strength, and unity. The oldest depiction dates from the seventh or sixth century B.C., discovered on archaeological monuments of ancient Media. From the fourth through the 15th centuries the two-headed eagle was the state emblem of Byzantium, the symbol of the unity of the Eastern and Western Roman empires, and later of Byzantium’s claim to the territories of the former Western Empire. Beginning in the 14th century it was depicted on the coins of Louis the Bavarian and of other monarchs who considered themselves the heirs of the Roman Empire. Beginning in the 15th century it was the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire from which it was taken over in the 19th century as the coat of arms of Austria-Hungary. In Russia the two-headed eagle became the state emblem after the marriage of Ivan III to the Byzantine princess Sophia Paleólogos and embodied the claim of Rus’ to the Byzantine legacy. Later it served as an emblem of the indivisibility of European and Asian Russia. The two-headed eagle has been preserved to this day in the coat of arms of the People’s Republic of Albania; it comes from the depiction of a two-headed eagle on the banner of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg.