The Spanish Coat of Arms is a composition of six other coat of arms:
On either side of the Coat of Arms are the Pillars of Hercules, the mythological name given to the Straits of Gibraltar. The banner round the pillars says "Plus Ultra" which means more beyond' in Latin, referring to the Americas and the former Spanish territories. Over the pillars are two crowns, one an Imperial Crown and the other a Royal Crown. King Charles I of Spain was also the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, hence the Imperial Crown. Before the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the motto was "Ne plus ultra", nothing more beyond, because the Pillars marked a limit of the known world.
In heraldic language
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).
The colours of the Spanish Arms were regulated by Royal Decree No. 2267/1982:
Real Decreto 2267/1982, de 3 de septiembre (BOE nº 221).
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 50.0
Artículo 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
Tthe Spanish Government has issued the Manual de Identidad Institucional (Institutional Image Handbook), the colours of the arms and their respective Pantone correspondences, are :
Black (no specs)
Red Pantone 186
Argent Pantone 877
Gold Pantone 872
Green Pantone 3415
Blue Pantone 2935
Purpure Pantone 218
Granada Pantone 1345
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", but it still is the one used officially in flags and elsewhere.
Historical Evolution of the Coat of Arms
The base of the present coat of arms is the coat of 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. The reconquest of Granada from the Moors 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.
In 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, and were : 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: 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 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.
In 1868 The Provisional Government 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 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 the territorial arms.
1938 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
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 state arms were adopted: Quarterly Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra, en surtout France. Closed crown, pillars of Hercules.
Official Spainsh Government Site on Coat of Arms
The Spanish flag