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Spanish Heraldry

Spanish heraldry appeared in the 11th century in Spain and came from the need for knights and noblemen to be identified in battles, tournaments, and when jousting. Since the armor they wore covered almost their entire body, it was impossible to distinguish one from another.

Spanish Heraldry

About Spanish Heraldry

Through the middle ages, the coat of arms from the father's side of the family was displayed, but after that, coats of arms from both sides of the family, paternal and maternal, were displayed. Beginning in the 18th century, the shield was divided into four parts, or quartering, with each grandparent being represented. There was a certain order for placement of the coats of arms. Coat of arms belonging to the paternal grandfather was placed in the upper left hand corner, maternal grandfather in the upper right hand corner, paternal grandmother in the lower left hand corner and the maternal grandmother in the lower right hand corner.

In Spanish heraldry, the coats of arms symbolize ancestry and represent the family. They can also be inherited, like property. Most of the Spanish nobility gained that status through military service. However, there were some noble families who came from the church, the law, or from commerce.

A coat of arms in Spain has a shield and a cape. Options are a helmet, a crown, and a motto. A coat of arms in Spain does not have as many parts as those of England, Scotland, or Ireland. Theirs can include a wreath, a crest, a chapeau, supporters, standards and ensigns (flags), coronets, insignia, and badges. In Spanish heraldry, the most important things are the symbols placed on the shield itself.

The Laws Regarding a Coat of Arms

The use of Spanish coats of arms is regulated like others in Europe. This means it is illegal to use someone else's coat of arms. The shields of the coat of arms are divided in the same way as others in Europe. It can be divided in half with a vertical or horizontal line. It can also be divided with a diagonal line. Another option is to divide it into four quarters and a final option is to place an escutcheon in the very center, making five parts. These are the basic divisions and there can be variations of them.

The Spanish Coat of Arms

The coat of arms of Spain was made official on October 5, 1981 and it appears on the national flag. The shield is divided into quarters and the upper left quarter has a castle symbol for the Kingdom of Castile. The upper right quarter has a lion that represents the Kingdom of Leon. The bottom left has four lines representing the Crown of Aragon, and the bottom right has links of chains for the Kingdom of Navarre. In the center are three fleurs-de-lis for the House of Bourbon and at the center bottom is a pomegranate representing the Kingdom of Granada. On either side of the shield are the Pillars of Hercules with a ribbon draped around them with the Latin phrase "plus ultra" which means, "further beyond". At the very top above the shield is the Spanish Royal Crown.

The Spanish flag has three horizontal stripes of red, yellow, and red. The yellow stripe is twice as wide as each red stripe. The length of the flag is 3/2 the width. The coat of arms is not in the center as some might expect. Rather, the center of the coat of arms is exactly one third of the distance of the length from the left side of the flag. That distance is half of the width of the flag. If for some reason the flag is a square shape, then the coat of arms would be placed in the center.