Heraldry in Spain

  • The National Arms of Spain
  • Regulation of Heraldry in Spain
  • Miscellaneous Topics
  • See also José-Maria Valladolid y Manzano's excellent Heràldica Española page; in particular for a heraldic dictionary and national, provincial and municipal arms of Spain (link broken as of 7/2000).

    The National Arms of Spain

    Reference: Faustino Menendez Pidal de Navascues, Heraldica Medieval Española, Madrid, Hidalguia, 1982. See also the article by Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent, Puntualización en relación al nuevo escudo de España, Hidalguia, no 170, 1982.

    The arms of the Reyes Católicos, Isabel and Fernando, whose marriage unified Spain, were: Quarterly, 1 and 4. quarterly Castile-Leon, 2 and 3. per pale Aragon and Argon-Sicily. (A representation in black and white can be found on the seal of the University of Valencia). The arms were born by the eagle of San Juan, 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 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.

    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, Bourgogne modern, Bourgogne 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 (see a color version, not without inaccuracies, on the seal of the University of Granada). At the same time, especially in Flanders, a simplified version appears, which places 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, Bourgogne modern, Bourgogne 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, Navarra and Aragon, 3. quarterly Austria, Bourgogne modern, Bourgogne 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, Bourgogne modern, Bourgogne 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 Aragon, enté en point Granada, and per pale, Aragon and Aragon-Sicily; 2. Quarterly, Austria, Bourgogne ancient, Bourgogne 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 Bourgogne modern; 3. Farnese 4. Medici; 5. Bourgogne 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 Saint-Esprit.

    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, Jose Napoleon (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 reestablished 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 Savoia, 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 Borbóns were restored with Alfonso XII, a decree (8 Jan 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. 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 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. 2. per pale Austria and Bourgogne modern; 3. Farnese 4. Medici; 5. Bourgogne 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 Catolicos.

    Juan Carlos used 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. By a law of October 5, 1981, Franco's national arms were abolished and the following state arms were adopted, namely:

    Quarterly Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra, en surtout Anjou (France with a bordure gules). Closed crown, pillars of Hercules.

    Spanish and Austrian quarters:

    Regulation of Heraldry in Spain

    Under construction.

    Heraldry is not regulated in Spain, in the sense that there are no laws or rules on who can take what arms, and no official has ever had enforcement powers of any kind. There are, however, heralds (Cronistas Reyes de Armas), an office dating back to the 16th century, which have judicial powers in matters of nobiliary titles, and also serve as a registration office for pedigrees and grants of arms.

    The heralds of Spain will grant arms to residents of areas currently or formerly under the government of the Spanish Crown. This means that a resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, could get a grant of arms. The fees as of 1995 are US$ 650. The address is:

       
                 Ilmo. Sr. Don Vicente de Cadenas Y Vicent
                 Cronista Rey de Armas
                 Decano Del Cuerpo
    	     Calle De Aniceto Marinas, 114
    	     28008 Madrid, SPAIN
    

    Miscellaneous

    Titles of the King of Spain

    Laws of Succession to the throne of Spain

    Spain has known many constitutions since 1812. Each one contained clauses about rules of succession.

    The original documents are available.


    National Heraldry Page | Search Heraldica | Heraldic Glossary | Contact

    François Velde

    Last modified: Jun 23, 2003