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Valls d’Andorra









IN THE THIRTEENTH-CENTURY, THE DOMINION OF THE VALLEYS OF ANDORRA was disputed by the Bishop of Urgel and the Count of Foix. By treaty it was agreed in 1278 that the sovereignty over the principality would henceforth be shared by the Bishop and the Count.

After the extinction of the house of the Counts of Foix, the co-regency was continued by their successors in rights: from 1472 the kings of Navarre and from 1589 the kings of France. Napoleon changed the principality to a Republic in 1806 but left the condominium unaffected. The presidents of the French Republic, as successors of the kings of France, are also co-regent of Andorra. With an area of 465 km ², the Republic is the largest of the five smallest states in Europe.

The coat of arms of Andorra is composed of the symbols of the ecclesiastical power of the bishop of Urgel: mitre and crozier; and the coat of arms of the Counts of Foix.

The original arms of Foix is Or, three pales Gules. According to legend, the pales come from the (apocryphal) coat of arms of Wilfred the Hairy (874-898), who would have drawn stripes on his golden shield with three fingers dipped in his own blood. More likely, however, is that the arms are a version of the arms of the counts of Barcelona to which the counts of Foix would be related.

The arms Foix appears for the first time on the seal of Roger Bernard II from 1229. [1]

Even before the Viscounty of Bearn came into the possession of the House of Foix in 1290, Gaston I of Foix in 1281, on the occasion of his marriage with the daughter of Gaston VII the Great of Bearn, quartered the pales of Foix with the red cows of Bearn. [2]


In the fourteenth century a crest was added to the arms. It consists of a cow’s head from the Bearn coat of arms between two rigid wings (the so-called vols banneret) with the Foix pales. In this form it appears in the armorial of the Heraut Gelre. [3]. On the epitaph of Jean de Grailly, Count of Foix († 1436) in the Celestine Church in Avignon, the achievement is supplemented with a supporter: a green dragon with the helmet with its crest over the head. [4]  This achievement was used after the extinction of the House of Foix with Frans Phoebus in 1483 by the heirs of the title until at least the seventeenth century. It disappeared with the provincial reorganization of France whereby Bearn and Foix became separate provinces.


The Republic


(Foto H.d.V. 2007)

Oldest version of the arms of Andorra on the façade of the Casa de la Vall in Andorra.

The date of this sculpture is uncertain


There are three versions of the coat of arms of the Republic. In the eldest, the exact datum of which can not be determined, but which must in any case has to be from after the marriage of Gaston of Foix in 1281, the mitre and the crozier of the bishop are in the upper half. In the bottom half on the dexter the cows of Bearn and on the sinister the pales of Foix.


Arms of Andorra in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century


Around around the middle of the nineteenth century the order was changed. The episcopal attributes are now, still at the preferred location, on the dexter  side of the shield. The sinister side is reserved for the quarters of Foix and Bearn. [5] At the beginning of the twentieth century, these arms are placed in a cartouche, supplemented with a crown of a count and the motto: "virtus unita fortior" (Unity makes strong).

Arms  of Andorra in the version of ca 1950 to 1960.

Mitre and crozier in saltire in the first quarter. In the third quarter the arms of the counts of Barcelona


After the Second World War, the dexter half was changed. Mitre and staff came side by side in the first quarter. Below, in the third quarter, came the pales of Aragon to symbolize the ties of the Republic with Aragon. From the fifties, mitre and staff are no longer next to each other, but the staff is placed per bend sinister behind the mitre. [6]


foto H.d.V 2007

Arms of Andorra on the façade of the Casa de la Vall in Andorra.

The cows in the fourt quarter turned to the sinister. This version matches the version on stamps 1961-‘71


A first version of the arms without the crown occurs from around 1960 onwards. Here the arms are placed on a cartouche and the cows in the fourth quarter are turned to the sinister. The crown is missing but the motto is maintained.


The latest version of the arms is identical to that of 1960, with the difference that the cows are now turned to the sinister. The represented version in the head of this article hangs on the façade of the new parliament building in Andorra. A similar version is, in color, in the old parliament in the Casa de la Vall. The cows in the fourth quarter are red in a golden field.




Sleeve patch1970-‘80


foto H.d.V. 2007


The arms of the police of Andorra consist of an open book of law charged with a sword upright with a crown of laurel. On the bordure is the anme of the service: Ÿ POLICIA Ÿ PRINCIPAT D’ANDORRA. On the car badge the arms are on an eight-pointed police star



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© Hubert de Vries Updated 2008.05.21; 2009-10-12; 2018-10-22




[1] 1229 IX: Equestrian seal of  Bernard II: A.: D’or, trois pals de gueules. L.: Bernardi comitis Fuxensis.  Douët d’Arcq n° 662.

[2] 1281VII 18: Equestrian seal of Roger Berard III: A.: ¼ de Foix et Bearns. L.: S. rogerii B. Comitis Fuxi. Douët d’Arcq n° 666.

[3] Brussel KB, Ms 15652-56 Armorial  Heraut Gelre fol. 122 v°. 

[4] Hefner, O.T. von: Die Wappen der ausserdeutschen Souveräne u. Staaten. Nürnberg, 1870 p. 14, Taf. 29.

[5] Der Deutsche Herold, 1877, p. 67.

[6] Ruhl, J.M. Die Wappen aller Souveränen Länder der Erde. Leipzig 1928, Taf. IX. Neubecker O. Wappen Bilder Lexicon. München, 1974. Hesmer, K.H. Flaggen Wappen Daten. Gütersloh, 1975. The arms of Andorra also represented on stamps and coins.

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