The Republic of San Marino also known as the Serenissima 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 pirates.

Saint 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 currency.




A flag of the community is known from 1465. It showed three breadths orange, white and purple.

The three towers are known from 1600.


St. Marinus presenting the three towers of San Marino

As on Statuta Decreta ac Ordinamenta illustris reipublicae ac perpetus libertatis. Rimini 1600. Frontispiece


Seal of San Marino, 1662




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:

Achievement of San Marino, 1862-2011


Arms: Azure, 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

Garland: A branch of olive and a branch of oak proper.

Motto: LIBERTAS (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 Montale.


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.


Ć Legge Costituzionale 20 luglio 2011 n.1 "Bandiera e stemma ufficiale della Repubblica di San Marino - Integrazione alla legge 8 luglio 1974 n. 59"


Ć See illustration in the head of this essay

Arms from “The Book of Public Arms”, 1915


Police - Gendarmerie




Armed Forces




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© Hubert de Vries 2014-08-19