Last modified: 2015-10-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: coat of arms: quartered (castle: yellow) | coat of arms: quartered (lion: purpure) | coat of arms: quartered (pallets: red) | coat of arms: quartered (chains: yellow) | coat of arms: columns |
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image by Antonio Gutiérrez, taken with permission from the S.E.V. website
Coat-of-arms adopted 19th December 1981
This is the official description of the Spanish coat-of-arms (Law 33/1981, October 5th 1981), taken from the S.E.V. website:
Artículo 1º. El Escudo de España es cuartelado y entado en punta. En el primer cuartel, de gules o rojo, un castillo de oro, almenado, aclarado en azur o azul y mazonado de sable negro. En el segundo, de plata, un león rampante, de púrpura, linguado, uñado, armado de gules o rojo. En el cuarto, de gules o rojo, una cadena de oro, puesta en cruz, aspa y orla, cargada en el centro de una esmeralda de su color. Entado de plata, una granada al natural, rajada de gules o rojo tallada y hojada de dos hojas de sinople o verde.My proposal of an English blazon (escutcheon only):
Acompañado de dos columnas, de plata, con base y capitel, de oro, sobre ondas de azur o azul y plata, superada de corona imperial, la diestra y de una corona real, la siniestra, ambas de oro, rodeando las columnas, una cinta de gules rojo, cargada de letras de oro, en la diestra "Plus" y en la siniestra "Ultra."
Al timbre, corona real, cerrada, que es un circulo de oro, engastado de piedras preciosas, compuesto de ocho florones de hojas de acanto, visibles cinco, interpoladas de perlas y de cuyas hojas salen sendas diademas sumadas de perlas, que convergen en un mundo de azur o azul, con el semimeridiano y el ecuador de oro, sumado de cruz de oro, la corona forrada de rojo.
Artículo 2º. El Escudo lleva escusón de azur o azul, tres lises de oro, puestas dos y una, la bordura lisa, de gules o rojo, propio de la dinastia reinante.
Quarterly, 1. Gules a castle embattled Or gate and windows Azure masoned Sable (Castile); 2. Argent a lion Purpure langued and armed Gules crowned Or (Leon); 3. Or four pallets Gules (Aragon); 4. Gules on a chain in cross saltire and orle Or an emerald Proper (Navarre). Base: Argent a pomegranate Proper seeded Gules slipped with two leaves Vert (Granada). Inescutcheon: Azure three fleurs-de-lys (2,1) Or a bordure Gules (Bourbon-Anjou).
Santiago Dotor, 29 Oct 1998
The oval escutcheon is not simply azure three fleurs-de-lys or, arms of the Kingdom of France, but it also has a bordure gules, making it identical with the arms of Anjou. This is a brisure, because King Juan Carlos does not have the right to have the plain arms of France. Only his uncle [the late Jaime de Borbón – currently his grandson Luis Alfonso de Borbón, count of Anjou], who is a direct descendant of the Bourbons (Louis XIV etc) could claim the throne of France, if France were to be a monarchy again.
The yugo and flechas of the old arms still exist on the royal standard.
Pascal Vagnat, 17 Apr 1996
The escutcheon in the Spanish coat-of-arms represents the currently reigning dynasty – today that of Bourbon-Anjou, but in 1870-1873 that of Savoy, so the escutcheon was then Gules a cross Argent.
Santiago Dotor, 24 Sep 1998
As happens with several other national flags, the Spanish flag depicted at the Quid website has several mistakes: the lion's crown (should be or/gold), and the dexter/left crown (should be imperial). The red lion (should be purple) is a common mistake even in Spain... Also the azure/blue should be a darker shade and the pearls on the crown arches should be argent/white.
Santiago Dotor, 28 Dec 1998
The motto is "PLVS VLTRA," which in Latin means "More Beyond," referring to the Spanish lands (in America) beyond the strait of Gibraltar (symbolized by the pillars). The Arms bear the royal Spanish crown, as does one of the two columns. The other is an Imperial crown, again making reference to Spain's former Imperial possessions.
Santiago Dotor, 26 Jun 2000
Interestingly enough, those pillars and ribbons are what the "$" symbol of the U.S. dollar derives from.
José Carlos Alegría, 26 Jun 2000
A much more heraldically correct design – except for the oval escutcheon – has been used in the arms of the Prince of Asturias adopted in 2001.
Santiago Dotor, 19 Mar 2001
Both columns of Hercules in Spain´s arms are surrounded by bands carrying the motto PLUS ULTRA. It's origin goes way back to the early days of the Roman Republic, when Rome signed a treaty with Carthage, with each power recognizing the preeminence of trade of the other power in certain areas. The sea beyond the pillars of Hercules (strait of Gibraltar) was forbidden to the Romans: NON PLUS ULTRAE (no further). After Columbus, Charles V changed the motto, getting rid of the NON: yes, there was a world beyond, and it was ours.
One of the theories about the origin of the dollar sign refers also to these pilars and the bands that bind them (on some coins, there is only one band that embraces both pillars), from which: $ (with two I's, of course).
Paco C., 23 May 2005
The colours of the Spanish Arms were regulated by Royal Decree No. 2267/1982, of September 3 as follows:
Real Decreto 2267/1982, de 3 de septiembre (BOE nº 221).Recently, the Spanish Government has issued the Manual de Identidad Institucional (Institutional Image Handbook), theoretically available in PDF format at this webpage. Unfortunately, availability is restricted, and only some government institutions can read/download the entire manual. Fortunately, in another related page, an image shows the colours of the arms and their respective Pantone correspondences, as follows:
Especificación técnica de los colores del escudo de España.
Artículo 1º. Los colores del escudo de España, especificados en el sistema internacional CIELAB, serán los siguientes:Color Denominación color Tono H en º Croma C Claridad L Sinople Verde bandera 165.0 41.0 31.0 Azur Azul bandera 270.0 35.0 26.0 Oro Oro bandera 90.0 37.0 70.0 Plata Plata bandera 255.0 3.0 78.0 Sable Negro bandera 0.0 10.0 Gules Rojo bandera 35.0 70.0 37.0 Púrpura Púrpura bandera 0.0 52.0 50.0Artículo 2º. La correspondencia de las especificaciones del sistema internacional CIELAB con el sistema internacional CIE-1931, se establecerá de la siguiente manera:Denominación color Y x y Verde bandera 6.7 0.223 0.438 Azul bandera 4.7 0.168 0.171 Oro bandera 40.7 0.395 0.403 Plata bandera 53.2 0.303 0.311 Negro bandera 1.1 0.310 0.316 Rojo bandera 9.5 0.614 0.320 Púrpura bandera 18.42 0.426 0.263
Black (no specs) Red Pantone 186 Argent Pantone 877 Gold Pantone 872 Green Pantone 3415 Blue Pantone 2935 Purpure Pantone 218 Granada Pantone 1345
Granada is the reference term to describe the colour of the pomegranate, prescribed in the Arms blazon as proper.
Antonio Gutiérrez, 30 Dec 1999
Using these specifications, here the CMYK equivalents and the recommended browser-safe colours, rounded by me from the RGB values given by PhotoShop 4:
António Martins, 31 Dec 1999
[Some corrections and additions to the browser-safe RGB shades suggested image by António Martins.] Blurring the images at the Spanish Government website to get an uniform colour, I got:
Jorge Candeias, 01 Jan 2000
The Pantone specs above are not the ones in Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] but in official Spanish documents – by the way, do they match?
Santiago Dotor, 04 Sep 2001
No, they do not. But they are not far away, I think. Notably, the official specifications do not define yellow but gold (and silver) metallic Pantones for the arms (which is fine for the arms, but useless for its display on flags). For reference, Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] indicates as approximations:
Željko Heimer, 11 Dec 2002
Showing a (bright) red instead of a purple lion in the Spanish coat-of-arms is a usual mistake even in Spain, see for instance the naval jack. My understanding is that the Spanish coat-of-arms has always been blazoned with a purpure lion for León, that is a lion rampant Purpure (and usually also crowned and armed Or langued Gules). Such is the coat-of-arms of the city of León. It can be argued that the old Kingdom of León used a red lion, but I believe in Medieval Spanish heraldry red (sometimes "dark red") and purple were often used as equivalent.
In spite of the Medieval identification of red and purple, I believe the use of red for the lion is of a more political nature. Since the Spanish Republicans adopted a red-yellow-purple tricolour, the purple colour tended to be seen as a republican or, more generally speaking, left-wing colour. This in spite of the purple being used by Republicans to represent the ancient Castilian pendón which was allegedly purple in colour (actually medieval purpure and hence indistinguishable from gules...). But I believe that it is frequent to find right-wing groups, and occasionally the Army, still using a red lion whereas the government etc. display a purple one.
Furthermore, even though the 1981 Law describing the coat-of-arms blazons a purple lion, the "official coat-of-arms design" which was made available shortly after shows a "violet pink" one, as can be seen above. Most heraldry specialists in Spain criticize this "official design," not only because of the lion's colour, but it still is the one used officially in flags and elsewhere.
Santiago Dotor, 11 Jan 1999
"Purple" versus "purpure": originally "purpure" was a colouring matter made of the so called Purpurschnecke (purple-snail). The purple fluid was of a slightly bluish, brilliant medium dark red (a nice interpretation, isn't it?) colour shade and extremely rare, so it became the colour of rulers and kings. FIAV and some printers soon made it look more blue than it exactly should be shown. By the way, most crowns of kings and queens are purple inside! Have you ever seen a British crown printed in purple? No, they all are shown dark red...
Ralf Stelter, 27 Jun 1999
Editor's note: see also The Tincture Purpure article in François Velde's Heraldica website.
According to heraldical rules, inescutcheons ought to follow the shape of the outward (main) escutcheon. If the main escutcheon is depicted as oval – for historical, aesthetic or whatever other reasons – then any inescutcheon should be equally represented. That was the case with the Spanish royal arms – later also used as state arms – up to 1931.
When the arms for the then Prince of Spain, nowadays King, Juan Carlos was approved in 1971, some ignorant of heraldry draughted a French – also known as Iberian – escutcheon but copied the (oval) design of the inescutcheon from the former arms, thus placing an oval inescutcheon within a non-oval escutcheon. The same mistake was made in the official design of the national arms in 1981 and once more, 20 years later, on the arms of the Prince of Asturias. However, the inescutcheon is blazoned as such (escusón) in the law and some heraldic illustrators have represented it appropriately, for instance on the front cover of Símbolos de España 1999 [cpc99].
Santiago Dotor, 23 Dec 2002
Somebody asked, "which is the national emblem of Spain, such as the rose is for England?". The Tudor rose is one of the heraldical badges of England, the one which has been preferred and used far above others. To my extent of knowledge, the rose – or rather, probably, a certain variety of it – is also the national flower of England.
There is no such single heraldical badge for Spain – as happens with Great Britain, Spain is too a "united kingdom" made up of the historical kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. Each of these, or rather some of the Kings and Queens of each of these, had their own badges. None of them has had enough popularity to become a Spanish badge.
The following three are frequently considered heraldical badges of Spain (though as I have said, none is really correct):
Santiago Dotor, 24 Jun 1999
The arms of the Reyes Católicos [Catholic Kings], Isabel and Fernando, whose marriage unified Spain, were: Quarterly, 1. and 4. quarterly Castile-Leon, 2. and 3. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily. The arms were borne by the eagle of Saint John, sable, with an open royal crown. Fernando himself often used different arms, namely tierced per pale Castile-Leon, Aragon-Sicily, and Aragon. The conquest of Granada was symbolized by the addition enté en point of a quarter for Granada. The annexation of Naples and Navarra brought about the final change in the arms of the Rey Católico: the second quarter was changed to: per pale, 1. per fess Aragon and Navarre, 2. per fess Jerusalem and Hungary.
The arms as used in Navarre (until 1700) were: Quarterly, 1. quarterly Castile and Navarre; 2. per pale Aragon and per pale Leon and Jerusalem; 3. per pale, a. per pale Hungary and Aragon, b. Aragon-Sicily; 4. quarterly Castile and Leon; enté en point Granada.
The arms used in Aragon were either Aragon, or per pale, Castile-Leon and Aragon or tierced per pale, Aragon-Sicily, Aragon and tierced per pale Hungary, Anjou-Naples and Jerusalem.
In Naples, the arms were: Quarterly, 1. and 4. Castile-Leon, 2. per pale Aragon and per pale Jerusalem-Hungary; 3. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily. Carlos V, from 1516, used as arms a quarterly of Spain (quarterly Castile-Leon and Aragon-Aragon-Sicily, with Granada enté en point) and Austria (quarterly Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant) with an escutcheon overall per pale Flanders and Tyrol. In 1520, the quarter of Aragon and Aragon-Sicily was replaced with a tierced per pale Aragon, Jerusalem and Hungary.
At the same time, especially in Flanders, a simplified version appeared, which placed the Spanish quarters and the Austrian quarters per fess. In this case the Spanish quarters are: per pale, Castile-Leon with Granada and per fess, a. tierced per pale Aragon, Jerusalem and Hungary, b. per pale Aragon-Sicily and Navarra.
The imperial arms used after 1530 were: quarterly: 1. and 4. Spain, which is quarterly A. and D. Castile-Leon, B. per pale a. per fess Aragon and Navarra, b. per pale Jerusalem and Hungary; C. per pale a. per fess Aragon and Navarra, b. Aragon-Sicily. 2 and 3. Austria, which is quarterly Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant. Enté en point Granada. Overall an escutcheon per pale Flanders and Tyrol. The arms are borne by an imperial double-headed eagle sable, surmounted by an imperial crown, surrounded with the collar of the Golden Fleece and accompanied by the pillars of Hercules and the motto PLUS ULTRA.
In Sicily Carlos V used Quarterly 1. and 4. Castile-Leon, 2. per pale Aragon and per pale Jerusalem and Hungary, 3. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily, enté en point Granada. Overall in chief a double-headed eagle sable crowned or bearing an escutcheon of Austria.
Later, he used quarterly, 1. Castile-Leon, 2. quarterly Aragon, Aragon-Sicily, Navarre and Aragon, 3. quarterly Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant, overall an escutcheon per pale Flanders and Tyrol; 4. per pale Jerusalem and Hungary. Enté en point Granada, these arms borne by an imperial eagle.
With his son Felipe II came the adoption of the form per pale Spain and Austria, with the Spanish quarters further simplified. The resulting arms were: per pale: Spain, which is quarterly, 1. and 4. Castile-Leon and 2. and 3. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily; enté en point Granada; Austria, which is quarterly Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant. Overall an escutcheon per pale Flanders and Tirol.
From 1580 to 1666 an escutcheon of Portugal was added in honor point, and the escutcheon of Flanders-Tyrol shifted to nombril point.
In Sicily, the arms used were: per pale, 1. per fess Castile-Leon and Austria (Austria, Bourgogne modern and ancient and Brabant, overall Flanders and Tyrol); 2. quarterly Aragon, Aragon-Sicily and Hungary. These arms remained in use in Sicily until 1700.
Felipe V, grandson of Louis XIV of France, introduced changes in the royal arms of Spain. The king's new arms were designed by the French heraldist Clairambault in November 1700, and were as follows: per fess: 1. per pale, quarterly Castile and Leon, enté en point Granada, and per pale, Aragon and Aragon-Sicily; 2. Quarterly, Austria, Burgundy ancient, Burgundy modern and Brabant; enté en point, per pale Flanders and Tyrol. Overall an escutcheon Anjou. The abbreviated arms were quarterly Castile and Leon, enté en point Granada, overall Anjou.
In 1761 Carlos III modified the arms as follows: Quarterly of six (in three rows of two each): 1. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily; 2. per pale Austria and Burgundy modern; 3. Farnese 4. Medici; 5. Burgundy ancient; 6. Brabant; enté en point per pale Flanders and Tyrol. Overall an escutcheon quarterly of Castile and Leon enté en point of Granada, overall Anjou. Around the shield are the collars of the Golden Fleece and of the French Holy Spitirt. The abbreviated arms remained the same (they form the escutcheon en surtout of the state arms). They are accompanied by the Pillars of Hercules and the motto PLUS ULTRA and crowned with the royal crown, but do not show the collars. Already at this time the Anjou escutcheon was sometimes represented without its bordure gules.
In 1808, José Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon I of France) proclaimed a new coat-of-arms: Quarterly of 6, in three rows of two each, 1. Castile; 2. Leon; 3. Aragon; 4. Navarra; 5. Granada; 6. Indies (Azure, the old and the new world or between the pillars of Hercules argent). Overall an escutcheon with France Imperial.
In 1813 Fernando VII re-established the arms of Carlos III, both the state arms and the abbreviated arms. The Anjou escutcheon became increasingly frequently an escutcheon of France.
The Provisional Government of 1868 adopted the following territorial arms: Quarterly, Castile, Leon, Aragon, Navarra, enté en point of Granada. The crown was a mural crown.
During the brief reign of Amadeo of Savoy, the crown was a royal crown and an escutcheon of Aosta (Argent, a cross gules within a bordure compony azure and or) was placed en surtout.
When the Bourbons were restored with Alfonso XII, the same territorial arms were used with the Anjou (most frequently France) escutcheon; but the king also used the grand as well as the abbreviated arms of Carlos III as personal arms.
Alfonso XIII did away with the distinction between state and personal arms by combining the two. He took the arms of Carlos III, substituted the Aragon quarter with Jerusalem, and replaced the escutcheon with the former national arms: Quarterly of 6, in three rows of two each: 1. per pale Jerusalem and Aragon-Sicily; 2. per pale Austria and Burgundy modern; 3. Farnese 4. Medici; 5. Burgundy ancient; 6. Brabant; enté en point per pale Flanders and Tyrol. Overall an escutcheon quarterly of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra enté en point of Granada, overall France.
The Republic of 1931 used again the territorial arms, while Franco adopted in 1938 a variant: Quarterly, 1 and 4. quarterly Castile and Leon, 2 and 3. per pale Aragon and Navarra, enté en point of Granada. The arms are crowned with an open royal crown, placed on an eagle displayed sable, surrounded with the pillars of Hercules, the yoke and the bundle of arrows of the Reyes Católicos [as on the 1938-1945, 1945-1977 1977-1981 flags].
Juan Carlos uses as personal arms those of the last kings of Spain, Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII, with the closed crown and the collar of the Golden Fleece. The same arms without the France escutcheon were already in use in the last years of the Franco regime as abbreviated arms.
In 1981, Franco's national arms were abolished and the following state arms were adopted, namely: Quarterly Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra, en surtout France. Closed crown, pillars of Hercules.
Description of Spanish and Austrian quarters [see the arms of the Two Sicilies for images of all the escutcheons]:
Source: Menéndez Pidal 1982.
François Velde, 30 Jun 1995
Many countries – such as those that endured Communist rule during some time – have had alternative arms that were very different from the arms most associated with those countries. Has any person or political entity ever proposed Spanish arms that did not include the Castle, the Lion, the Pallets, the Chain and the Pomegranate?
Juan Jose Morales, 30 Sep 2005
I guess if the original Falange (as oposed to the post-unification FET y de la JONS) would have come to power, they might have used only the yoke-and-arrows.
Marc Pasquin, 01 Oct 2005
It looks like there was no CoA without the lions and the castles since Ferdinand and Isabella. Here you can see the CoAs of the last 200 years.
J. Patrick Fischer, 01 Oct 2005
yes, but that's not quite the original question. It wasn't "have any arms been used with out the castles and lions?", but "has any group ever proposed arms without...?" which is an interesting question. Probably some groups have – groups demanding more autonomy for the various regions and not liking the dominance of the main ones on the arms, for instance – but what symbols would they use?
James Dignan, 01 Oct 2005
Not at all. Nobody has. The only flag changes were, or are, proposed by republicans. Independist groups just care about the arms of their "state." Whatever the rest of Spain uses doesn´t bother them. As for "the dominance of the main ones on the arms", it should be explained that the Spanish arms include every single territory of Spain, even if the administrative subdivisions of today (autonomous communities) are not exactly the same as in the past, as they are smaller territories.
Jose C. Alegria, 02 Oct 2005
Probably not. When Falange Española (FE) merged the more national-socialist Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (JONS), José Antonio's speech contained the words,
"vamos a reponer en el escudo, en el cuadrante solar de las Españas, yugo y haz; equilibrio perfecto de la pastoral y la epopeya."Which suggests something similar to what actually happened with the 1938 arms, which were almost an exact copy of the Catholic Kings'.
"we shall place back on the coat-of-arms, on the solar quartering of the Spains, [the] yoke and arrow; the perfect equilibrium of the pastoral and the epic."
Santiago Dotor, 01 Oct 2005