- Coat of arms of Spain
Coat of arms of Spain Versions
Corrections suggested by heraldic experts
Details Armiger Juan Carlos I Adopted 5 October 1981 Crest Spanish Royal crown Escutcheon Quarterly: Castile, León, Aragon, and Navarre; enté en point: Granada; inescutcheon Bourbon (Anjou Branch) Supporters Pillars of Hercules with a top of supporters: Dexter An Imperial crown (Holy Roman Empire, Austrian version); Sinister A Spanish Royal crown Motto Plus Ultra
The current coat of arms of Spain, although it has its roots centuries ago, was approved by law  in 1981, when the present established replaced the interim version which, in turn, replaced the official arms of Francoist Spain. The coat of arms appears in the flag of Spain.
The Spanish coat of arms symbolizes the country, the old kingdoms of Spain, the Royal Crown, the Imperial Crown, the Constitutional monarchy, the Spanish national motto: Plus Ultra, and the Pillars of Hercules with the Spanish geographic situation.
The Spanish coat of arms is composed of six other arms and some additional heraldic symbols:
Kingdoms of Spain Additional heraldic symbols Arms Meaning Details Kingdom of Castile 1st quarter
Gules, a three towered castle Or, masoned sable and ajouré azure.
Kingdom of León 2nd quarter
Argent, a lion rampant purpure(sometimes blazoned gules) crowned Or, langued and armed gules.
Crown of Aragon 3rd quarter
Or, four pallets gules.
Kingdom of Navarre 4th quarter
Gules, a cross, saltire and orle of chains linked together Or, a centre point vert.
Kingdom of Granada enté en point
Argent, a pomegranate proper seeded gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves vert.
Arms Meaning Details House of Bourbon
Azure bordure gules, three fleur-de-lis Or
Oval in the official version.
Pillars of Hercules Supporters
an ancient name given to the Strait of Gibraltar. The motto plus ultra means 'further beyond' in Latin
Imperial crown (Holy Roman Empire) Top of supporter
King Charles I of Spain's crown. He was also Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Imperial crown's later appearance)
Spanish Royal crown
Helm & Top of supporter
Or and precious stones, with eight rosettes, five visible, and eight pearls interspersed, closed at the top by eight diamonds also adorned with pearls and surmounted by a cross on a globe
The present design, despite criticism by heraldic experts, is regulated by:
- Act 33/1981, dated 5 October, on the Coat of Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 250, dated 19 October)
- Royal Decree 2964/1981, dated 18 December, approving the official Coat of Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 221, dated 15 September)
- Royal Decree 2267/1982, dated 3 September, technically specifying the colours of the Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 221, dated 15 September)
The Monarch has his own personal arms.
INSTITUTIONAL VARIANTS The Senate The Council of State The General Council of the Judiciary Variant of the Judiciary Badges The Customs Surveillance Service The Body of Legal Representatives of the State The General Council of Lawyers The General Council of Solicitors
Historical Spanish coats of arms
During history, the Arms of the Kingdom of Spain was the official coat of arms of the Monarch of Spain since the Catholic Monarchs, and was used as the official arms of the Kingdom until the First Spanish Republic in 1873. Afterwards, the arms became an integral part of the Coat of Arms of Spain. The different governments since (whether republicans or monarquics) have led to the arms being changed in various occasions, but always respecting the main heraldic design (the former kingdoms and in many cases, the pillars of Hercules).
- 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.
- The conquest of Granada was symbolized by the addition enté en point of a quarter for Granada
Ferdinand himself often used different arms, namely tierced per pale Castile-Leon, Aragon-Naples-Sicily, and Aragon. The annexation of Navarre brought about the final change in the arms of the Rey Católico (Catholic King): the second quarter was changed to: per pale, 1. per fess Aragon and Navarra, 2. per fess Jerusalem and Hungary.
The arms as used in Navarra (until 1700) were Quarterly:
- 1. quarterly Castile and Navarra;
- 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.
At the death of Isabella I of Castile in 1504, Archduke Philip the Handsome immediately staked his claim to her inheritance by quartering his own arms with those of the Catholic Monarchs. He had previously borne quarterly: Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant, with an escutcheon overall per pale Flanders and Tyrol. Since his highest title was archduke and the Spanish titles were all royal, the Spanish quarters were given precedence over his. Hence the arrangement became, quarterly: 1. and 4. grand quarters, quarterly: A. and D. quarterly Castile-Leon, B. and C. per pale Aragon-Sicily, the grand quarter enté en point for Granada; 2. and 3. grand quarters, quarterly Austria, Burgundy ancient, Burgundy modern, Brabant, with an escutcheon per pale Flanders and Tyrol.
Lesser or Abbreviated Coat of arms of the Spanish Monarch,
Charles I marshalled his arms in a number of ways. In the first years of his reign, he most frequently used the same arrangement as his father. After his election as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519 he placed it on the breast of an imperial eagle. Later in his reign a simplified version appears. The arms are per fess with the Spanish quarters in chief and the Austrian quarters in base. This version became very popular in the Netherlands. There it is often seen with the imperial eagle placed on a golden shield, ensigned with the imperial crown and supported by a lion and a griffin. The Order of the Golden Fleece then hangs suspended round the main shield.
In other parts of his extensive monarchy, a number of variations are to be found. Many concern the way in which the Aragonese realms are represented and therefore probably relate to the Crown of Aragon or to one of its constituent parts. In 1516 for instance, he is found using arms 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 are replaced per pale Aragon and Naples (per pale Jerusalem and Hungary).
After 1530 some versions display quarterly: 1. and 4. grand quarters Spain, which is quarterly A. and D. Castile-Leon, B. and C. per pale a. per fess Aragon and Navarra, b. per pale Naples (Jerusalem and Hungary); 2. and 3. grand quarters Austria, (as above); enté en point Granada. These 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 on the other hand, Emperor Charles V used quarterly 1. and 4. Castile-Leon, 2. tierced per pale Aragon, 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, his arms in that realm were quarterly, 1. Castile-Leon, 2. quarterly Aragon, Aragon-Sicily, Navarra and Aragon, 3. quarterly Austria, Burgundy modern, Burgundy ancient and Brabant, overall an escutcheon per pale Flanders and Tyrol; 4. per pale Naples (Jerusalem and Hungary); enté en point Granada, these arms borne by an imperial eagle.
Phillip II to Charles II
During the reign of King Phillip II the arms of the Spanish Monarchy become fixed for the remainder of the House of Austria. Originally Philip II used the simplified arms as deviced for his father, namely per fess with the Spanish quarters in chief and the Austrian quarters in base.
After the unification with Portugal in 1580 (due to the death of the Portuguese king), the arms of the Monarchy became per fess, in chief per pale, A. quarterly Castile and Leon, B. per pale Aragon and Aragon-Sicily, the whole enté en point Granada and with an escutcheon of Portugal on the honor point; in base quarterly Austria, Burgundy ancient, Burgundy modern and Brabant, with an escutcheon (in the nombril point) per pale Flanders and Tyrol. The arms were crowned with a royal crown with three visible arches and the Order of the Golden Fleece was suspended round them. In the Netherlands the arms were regularly supported by two golden lions guardant.
Even though Portugal and its possessions were lost in 1640, the Spanish kings retained the use of the Portuguese arms as arms of pretence until 1668.
Philip was born in Versailles. He was made the Duc d'Anjou upon his birth. He was the second son of Louis, le Grand Dauphin. In the year 1700, the King of Spain, Charles II, died. Charles' will named the 17-year old Philip, the grandson of Charles' sister Maria Theresa, as his successor. Upon any possible refusal the Crown of Spain would be offered next to Philip's younger brother Charles, Duke of Berry, or to Archduke Charles of Austria.
Lesser or Abbreviated Coat of arms of the Spanish Monarch,
1700-1868 / 1875-1931 (eventually).
* Pillars of Hercules version.
* Golden Fleece version.
* Golden Fleece and Mantle version.
Both claimants had a legal right due to the fact that Philip's grandfather, Louis XIV of France and Charles's father, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, were both the husbands of Charles' older half sisters and sons of Charles' aunts.
Philip had the better claim because his grandmother and great-grandmother were older than Leopold's. However the Austrian branch claimed that Philip's grandmother had renounced the Spanish throne for her descendants as part of her marriage contract. This was countered by the French branch's claim that it was on the basis of a dowry that had never been paid.
After a long council meeting where the Dauphin spoke up in favor of his son's rights, it was agreed that Philip would ascend the throne but would forever renounce his claim to the throne of France for himself and his descendants. It was not difficult to see whether Louis would have refused anyway as a Habsburg ruler in Spain would've put a possible enemy on three frontiers.
The arms of Bourbon-Anjou were added in 1700 when Phillip V became king of Spain. He 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 Charles 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 Spirit (After the Order of Carlos III).
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.
House of Bonaparte
Joseph Napoleon I (born Corte 1768, died Firenze 1844), king of Spain (1808–1813), was the elder brother of the Emperor Napoleon I. Following his conquests, the Emperor placed members of his family on the throne of various European states, some of them being created accordingly. Joseph was first king of Naples (1806).
When Napoleon expelled the Bourbons from Spain, he placed Joseph on the throne and gave the throne of Naples to Marshal Murat, former Commander-in-Chief of the French troops in Spain and husband of Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. The long and difficult Spanish War of Independence or Peninsular War, famously illustrated by the painter Francisco Goya, ended with the overthrow of Joseph in 1814.
In 1808, Joseph Napoleon 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 (Gules often Azure, the old and the new world or between the pillars of Hercules argent). Overall an escutcheon with Imperial France's eagle.
House of Bourbon 1st restoration
National Coat of Arms, 1875-1931 (Bourbonic Restoration).
* Pillars of Hercules version.
* Order of the Golden Fleece versión.
* Golden Fleece and Mantle versión.
In 1813 the Allies returned Ferdinand VII of Spain to Madrid. The Spanish people, blaming the liberal, enlightened policies of the Francophiles (afrancesados) for incurring the Napoleonic occupation and the Peninsular War, at first welcomed Fernando. Ferdinand soon found that while Spain was fighting for independence in his name and while in his name juntas had governed in Spanish America, a new world had been born of foreign invasion and domestic revolution. Spain was no longer an absolute monarchy under the liberal Constitution of 1812. Ferdinand, in being restored to the throne, guaranteed the liberals that he would govern on the basis of the existing constitution, but, encouraged by conservatives backed by the Church hierarchy, he rejected the constitution within weeks (May 4) and arrested the liberal leaders (May 10), justifying his actions as rejecting a constitution made by the Cortes Generales in his absence and without his consent. Thus he had come back to assert the Bourbon doctrine that the sovereign authority resided in his person only. Ferdinand VII of Spain reestablished the arms of Charles III, both the state arms and the abbreviated arms. The Anjou escutcheon became increasingly frequently an escutcheon of France.
First Spanish Republic (1873-1874)
The First Spanish Republic started with the abdication as King of Spain on February 10, 1873 of Amadeo I of Spain, following the Hidalgo Affair, when he had been required by the radical government to sign a decree against the artillery officers. The next day, February 11, the republic was declared by a parliamentary majority made up of radicals, republicans and democrats. It lasted twenty-three months, between February 11, 1873 and 29 December 1874 and had five presidents: Estanislao Figueras, Pi i Margall, Nicolás Salmerón y Alonso, Emilio Castelar y Ripoll and Francisco Serrano.
The Provisional Government of 1868 adopted the present territorial arms: quarterly of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre enté en point of Granada. The crown was a mural crown.
During the brief reign of Amadeo I of Spain, the crown was a royal crown and an escutcheon of Aosta (Gules, a cross argent within a bordure compony azure and or) was placed en surtout.
House of Bourbon 2nd restoration
When the Bourbons were restored with Alfonso XII of Spain, a decree (8 January 1875) restored the use of the coat of arms as it stood until September 29, 1868. In practice the Anjou escutcheon (actually called Borbón in Spanish) was displayed without the bordure, because the bordure was considered inessential, and the escutcheon an indication of lineage from the French Bourbon dynasty. With the death of Henri, comte de Chambord in 1883, Alfonso XII became the senior male representative of the French royal dynasty, and thus bore its arms without difference. A striking example is given by the royal arms as they appear on the reverse of a 5 pesetas coin of Alfonso XII (1885). The king also used the grand as well as the abbreviated arms of Charles III as personal arms. In 1931 Alfonso XIII did away with the distinction between state and personal arms by combining the two. He took the arms of Charles 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 Aragon-Sicily and Jerusalem ; 2. 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.
Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939)
The Second Spanish Republic is the name of the democracy that existed in Spain between April 14, 1931, when King Alfonso XIII left the country, and April 1, 1939, when the last of the Republican (Loyalist) forces surrendered to Francoist (Nationalist) forces in the Spanish Civil War.
The Republic of 1931 used again the territorial arms as in the First Spanish Republic but depicting in the second
quarter an uncrowned lion.
Dictatorship of General Franco (1936-1975)
The Spanish Civil War officially ended on 1 April 1939, the day Francisco Franco announced the end of hostilities. The Republican regime had been defeated and Franco became the undisputed leader of Spain. He ruled Spain until he died on November 20, 1975. The Nationalist senior generals had held an informal meeting in September 1936, where they elected Francisco Franco as leader of the Nationalists, with the rank of Generalísimo (sometimes written in English as Generalissimo, after the Fascist Italian fashion). He was originally supposed to be only commander-in-chief, but after some discussion became head of state as well with nearly unlimited and absolute powers.
Quarterly, 1 and 4. quarterly Castile and León, 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 Catholic Monarchs.
- Coat of arms of the King of Spain
- Coat of arms of the Prince of Asturias
- Coat of arms of Charles I of Spain (Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor)
- Coats of arms of Philip II of Spain
- Coats of arms of Spanish Monarchs in Italy
- Coat of arms of the Second Spanish Republic
- List of coats of arms of Spain
- Spanish heraldry
- ^ Ley 33/1981, de 5 de octubre (BOE nº 250, de 19 de octubre de 1981). Escudo de España
- ^ (Spanish) Heraldica Hispanica
- ^ (Spanish) Kingdom of Naples arms in the heraldry of Ferdinand II of Aragon as King of Naples, De Francisco Olmos, José María, La moneda napolitana de Fernando el Católico, documento porpagandístico de la unidad de las coronas; . Madrid (2001), p.156.
- Centro de Estudios Políticos y Consitucionales, Símbolos de España (Madrid, 2000).
- Hubert De Vries, Wapens van de Nederlanden (Amsterdam, 1995).
- Web of the Spanish Presidency of the Government - The National Coat of Arms
- Origins and history of the Spanish coat of arms (in Spanish)
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