The ancient coat of arms of the Land of Friuli is the heraldic golden eagle on a light blue background. "The eagle, official arms of the Land and common symbol of all historical Friuli - explains Gianfranco Ellero in Friuli-A Homeland - appeared on state seals (Marquardo of Randeck's is well-preserved), on the coins minted by the Patriarchs (from Bertoldo of Andechs, Volchero, Ottobono and Bertrando, for example) and on murals that can still be viewed in Udine on the door of Saint Bartolomio in Via Manin".
The most famous and ancient patriarchal banner is on display in Udine Cathedral: it consists of a magnificent quadrangular silk cloth with a big golden eagle on it. It was sewn on the white linen gown wrapping Patriarch Bernardo of Saint Genis's body, on the throne of Aquileia from 1334 to 1350 when he was savagely killed by a conspiracy of noble Friulians. The eagle on the banner with its spread wings, head to the left, open bill and red claws is characteristic of the Friulian flag.
The ancient banner still represents the universally recognized flag in Friuli. It should not be confused with Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region's flag that is a very recent (1963) and purely administrative institution having a completely different historical meaning.
Friulian is a Romance language belonging to the Ladin group. It formed as a language around the year one thousand and it has maintained its originality through the centuries, making it even today very different from the other languages spoken in the neighbouring territories (German, Slovene, Venetian). Friuli was inhabited in ancient times by the Carni, a Celtic population, then it was conquered by the Romans in 181 BC. After the Longobardic and Frankish domination, in 1077 an autonomous state, ruled by the Patriarch of Aquileia and a Parliament (the Parliament of the Land of Friuli), were founded. In 1420 it was conquered by the Venetians that governed it keeping some autonomy until 1797 when, after the disintegration of the Serenissima, it passed under Austrian domination. In 1866 Friuli became part of the Italian Kingdom except for the eastern part that became Italian in 1919.
The first documents in Friulian date back to the XII and XIII centuries just like the first poems. Since then the Friulian literary production has constantly grown reaching high quality stylistic results like in Ermes of Colloredo, Caterina Percoto, Pier Paolo Pasolini. Besides, around XIX century a codified literary koine started to develop representing an important reference point for the standardization of the language. Friulian has many dictionaries, grammars, it is studied at the University of Friuli, Trieste, Prague, Moscow and Ljubljana. The Church has always adopted the language in religious ceremonies and in Catechism and in recent years the Bible, the Lectionary and the Missal have also been translated.
Friulian is spoken by about 600.000 - 650.000 people in 178 provinces of Gorizia, Pordenone, Udine and in seven municipalities in the province of Venice. According to socio-linguistic surveys 52,2% of the interviewees understand and speak Friulian on a daily basis, 20% understand but occasionally speak it, 19,9% understand but do not speak it, while 2,6% do not speak or understand it.
The first official recognition of Friulian dates back to 1996 with the approval of the Regional Law 15/1996. Some years later the State recognized the Friulian minority with the law 482/1999 after over fifty years since the approval of article 6 of the Constitution which reads: 'The Republic protects linguistic minorities by special laws'. The Region has recently enacted a new organic law of protection: LR 29/2007.
Marilenghe, or Friulian, is used by the media, in various art forms such as literature, theatre, cinema and music.
Parliament of Friuli
The Parliament of the Land of Friuli was born out of the advisory assemblies of nobles and clergymen summoned by the Patriarch of Aquileia since XII century for monetary contributions and men to fight. But since the beginning next to the nobles and the clergymen sat the representatives of the communes. Parliamentary work was in Friulian. The patriarch represented the feudal state, that is the principatus Italiae et imperii created on the third of April ten seventy-seven by Emperor Henry IV, the parliament represented the universitas friulana with the prince.
In the XIV century the Parliament had already become the legislative assembly, the most important administrative court of appeals that even managed to control the patriarch.
It is certainly an honour for all the civil institutions of the historical provinces of Friuli for having established, among the first European communities on our territory, that original form of representation.