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The coat of arms

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El Escudo

The present Coat of Arms of Spain summarises a substantial part of our history. The elements thereof reflect a long tradition spanning over more than nine centuries.

The Coat of Arms is regulated by:

  • Act 33/1981, dated 5th October, on the Coat of Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 250, dated 19th October) 
  • Royal Decree 2964/1981, dated 18th December, approving the official Coat of Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 221, dated 15th September)
  • Royal Decree 2267/1982, dated 3rd September, technically specifying the colours of the Coat of Arms of Spain (Official Gazette nº 221, dated 15th September)
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The heraldic process of the Coat of Arms of Spain has gone through the following periods:

HOUSE OF TRASTÁMARA: The Coat of Arms of the Catholic Monarchs (1474-1492) included the Coat of Arms of the Kingdoms of Castile, León and those of the Crown of Aragon. As from the conquest of Granada, the Coat of Arms of this Kingdom was incorporated to the Coat of Arms of the Catholic Monarchs.


HOUSE OF HABSBURG: During a first period (1504-1506), the Coat of Arms of Burgundy, Flanders, Brabant and Tyrol were incorporated. Charles I timbred the escutcheon with the Imperial Crown, incorporated Hercules's Pillars, with the motto "Plus Ultra", and accolled the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Philip II, Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II, whose reigns encompass from 1556 to 1700, used the aforesaid Coat of Arms, devoid of the Imperial Crown. In 1580, Philip II incorporated the Coat of Arms of Portugal.


HOUSE OF BOURBON-ANJOU: Philip V's Coat of Arms (1700-1759) incorporated the fleurs-de-lis of the House of Bourbon, within a central oval with a  bordure in gules, continuing to use the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece and adding the Collar of the Order of the Holy Spirit. Charles III (1759-1788) added the Coat of Arms of the Duchies of Parma and Tuscany and substituted the Collar of the Order of the Holy Spirit by that of the Order that carries his name. Charles IV followed the same line as his father.


HOUSE OF BONAPARTE: Joseph I divided the Coat of Arms into six quarters, namely: 1st Castile, 2nd León, 3rd Aragon, 4th Navarre, 5th Granada and 6th the New World, represented by Hercules's pillars, with the inescutcheon of the Bonapartes.


HOUSE OF BOURBON- ANJOU: Ferdinand VII recovered the Coat of Arms of his ancestors and his daughter, Isabella II, toed the same line.


PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT (1868-1870): Following a learned opinion given by the Royal Academy of History, the Coat of Arms of Spain was unified with the following quarters: 1st Castile, 2nd León, 3rd Aragon, 4th Navarre and 5th Granada, indented with point, timbred by the mural crown, suppressing the inescutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Anjou and placing Hercules's Pillars, without crowns.


HOUSE OF SAVOY (1870-1873): Continued with the preceding Coat of Arms, re-established the Royal Crown and inserted the inescutcheon of the House of his family.


1st REPUBLIC (1873-1874): Re-established the mural crown and suppressed the inescutcheon of the House of Savoy.


HOUSE OF BOURBON-ANJOU: Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII re-established the Royal Crown, added the fleurs-de-lis with the bordure in gules of their family and accolled the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.


2nd REPUBLIC (1936-1939): The mural crown was again re-established and the inescutcheon of the House of Bourbon-Anjou is removed, using the same Coat of Arms as during the 1st Republic.


DICTATORSHIP OF GENERAL FRANCO (1938-1975): A heraldry similar to the one used by the Catholic Monarchs was adopted, substituting the Coat of Arms of Aragon-Sicily by that of Navarre, adding Hercules's Pillars and the motto "una, grande y libre" (one, great and free).


TRANSITION (1977-1981): Royal Decree 1511/77, dated 21st January, approving the Regulations pertaining to Flags, Insignia and Emblems, amended the way the escutcheon was placed. The main change consisted in that the Eagle of Saint John appeared in a position on the verge of flying, harbouring under its wings Hercules's Pillars that, until then, where placed outside the wings.


This Coat of Arms remained in force from 1977 until it was substituted by the present one in 1981, pursuant to Act 33/1981, dated 5th October, on the Coat of Arms of Spain.


 

B I B L I O G R A P H Y


"SÍMBOLOS DE ESPAÑA". Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales

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