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Early Arms


Patria Vieja


Patria Nueva

President’s  Flag






Usually it is supposed that Diego de Almagro was the discoverer of Chile. Almagro was Francisco Pizarro's partner, and he received Nueva Toledo (the Southern area). He organized an expedition that brought him to central Chile in 1537. After this initial excursion there was little interest from colonial authorities in further exploring Chile. However, Pedro de Valdivia, captain of the army, realizing the potential for expanding the Spanish empire southward, asked Pizarro's permission to invade and conquer the southern lands. He subdued the local inhabitants and founded the city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura, now Santiago de Chile, on February 12, 1541. Valdivia became the first governor of the Captaincy General of Chile. In that post, he obeyed the viceroy of Peru and, through him, the King of Spain and his bureaucracy. Responsible to the governor, town councils known as Cabildo administered local municipalities, the most important of which was Santiago, which was the seat of a Real Audiencia (Royal Court of Appeal) from 1609 until the end of colonial rule.

The Capitanía General de Chile  (Captaincy General of Chile) or Gobernación de Chile, was an administrative territory of the Crown of Castile in the Spanish Empire from 1541 to 1812, and of Spain from 1812 to 1818, the year in which it declared itself independent. It had a number of governors over its long history.

The Captaincy General of Chile was incorpored to the Crown of Castile as were all the other Spanish possessions in the New World. The Captaincy General of Chile was first known as Nueva Extremadura (a name subsequently given to a part of Mexico) and then as Indian Flanders. It was a part of Viceroyalty of Perú.

The administrative apparatus of the General Captaincy of Chile was subordinate to the Council of the Indies and the Laws of the Indies, like the other Spanish colonial possessions. The day-to-day work was handled mostly by viceroys and governors, who represented the king's will. The areas of the Americas, which had been the site of complex civilizations or became rich societies were usually referred to by the Spanish as "kingdoms," such as the "Kingdom of New Granada," the "Kingdom of Mexico," or the "Kingdom of Guatemala."

Chile never reached the status of a viceroyalty and was instead classified as a captaincy general because this was a very warlike territory and thus was ruled by a military and not a nobleman like a viceroy.


After the usurpation of the Spanish throne by Joseph Bonaparte an Independence Movement sprang up in Chile in 1810, when a national junta was established to govern Chile in the name of Ferdinand VII. This initiative for temporary self-rule quickly escalated into a campaign for permanent independence. After the fall of Napoleon and the return of Ferdinand VII in Spain, Spanish troops from Peru reconquered Chile in1814 at the Battle of Rancagua.

The reconquest caused a guerilla directed against the restoration of Spanish rule which eventually was won by the independence movement at the Battle of Chacabuco (February 12, 1817).

Chile won its formal independence when the last large Spanish force on Chilean soil was defaetad at the Battle of Maipú on April 5, 1818. Fighting continued in Chile's southern provinces, the bastion of the royalists, until 1826.

A declaration of an independent Republic of Chile was officially issued by Chile on February 12, 1818 and formally recognized by Spain in 1840, when full diplomatic relations were established.




As a part of the Spanish Empire the royal arms of Castile were also valid in Chile. These consisted of a quarterly of Castile and Leon, surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Fleece and royally crowned.


The royal achievement of the Indies consisted of the royal arms, at first, in the time of Charles I supported by a two-headed eagle and later between or supported by the Piles of Hercules.


The achievement of the Supreme Council of the Indies consisted of the arms of the King of Spain, crowned and surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Fleece, between the Pillars of Hercules and with a sailing ship below.


16th century Arms and Crest of the Indies [1]


The arms of the Indies were:


Arms: Per pale, Or, Azure and Sable, the piles of Hercules Gules both surrounded by a ribbon with the motto PLVS VLTRA, the dexter imperially crowned and the sinister royally crowned, rising from a sea in base proper.

Crest: On a wreath a bunch of Ostrich feathers of the colors.


In the time of Bourbon rule the emblem of the Indies consisted of a picture of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres between the Piles of Hercules.


Early Arms


Diego de Almagro


In 1534 the Government of Nueva Toledo was created. It comprised today’s Peru, Bolivia and the north of Chile. In the same year Diego de Almagro (*1475-1538) became its first governor residing in Cuzco. The next year he undertook a tour to the south for two years, to explore the riches of the country.


A coat of arms had been granted to him in an act of  27 November 1532.  It was:


Arms: A point reversed arched, the chief Or, an eagle Sable, the dexter  Gules, a castle Argent, its windows and gate Azure, rising from the main tower a spear Or, its point Azure, flying therefrom a banner Argent inscribed with a crowned letter ‘K’ Or; the sinister Azure, a lion rampant Or, in his claws a spear Or, its point Azure, flying therefrom a square banner Argent, inscribed with a crowned ‘J’ Or; all within a bordure Ermine of eight tails.

Crest: On a closed helmet, lambrequined Azure and Or, a lion rampant Or, in his claws a banner inscribed with the crowned letters ‘K’ and ‘J’.[2]


The act reads:


Don Carlos & por quanto vos don diego de almagro nuestro mariscal de la probincia  del peru y cibdad detumber nos fue fecha relacion que ya sabiamos  y nos hera notorio los muchos y muy señalados servicios que nos aviades fecho en el descubrimiento y conquista de la dha provincia  del peru y tumber e otras muchas provinciasdondeaviades espendido la mayor parte de vuestros bienes y perdido un hijo e pasado muchos y diversos trabajos suplicándonos que porque de vos e de los dichos vuestros servicios quedase perpetus memoria vos hiziesemos merced de vos dar por vuestras armas conociadas un escudo partido en contra mantel y an el quarto principal alto una aguila negra en campo de oro y en el quarto de la mano derecha un castillo de plata con las ventanas y puertas azules y campo colorado e de la torre del homenaje mayor del dho. castillo que salga una lança el hasta dorada y el yerro azul con una bandera quadrada blanca y en ella una K de oro con una corona real que es la primera letra de nuestro nombre y en el otro quarto izquierda un leon de oro rampante en campo azul que tiene en las manos otra bandera blanca quadrada y en ella una J con una corona real que es la primera letra de mi la reyna y la hasta de la lança de oro yerro azul y una orla en el dho. escudo blanca con ocho armiños negros epor timble unyelmo cerrado que salga por encima del un leon rampante de oro que tenga en las manos un lança con una bandera y en alla las dos primera dichas letra de los dichos muestros nombres con sus coronas y un rollo torzido ençima del dho. yelmo con sus trascoles y dependendias azul y oro o comola nra merced fuese, e nos acatando los dhos vuestros servicios y porque de vos y dellos quede memoria y vuestros descendientes seays mas honrados por  la presente vos hazemos merced y queremos y mandamos que podays traer y tener por vuestras armas conoscidas las dhas arms que de suso se hazen mynçion en un escudo a tal como este segund que aqui va figurado y pintadfo las quales dichas armas vos damospor vuestra arms coniscidas &.

Dada en la villa de madrid a veynte e syete dias del mes de noviembre año del nascimiento de nro salvador Ichucripto de myll e quynientoe e treynta y dos años yo la reyno &.


1091-1-6, lib. 5. f.73 vto


Pedro de Valdivia


Pedro de Valdivia (*1500-’53), the first governor of the Captaincy General of Chile bore the arms of Valdivia impaled with the arms of the Guzman family.


Arms of Pedro de Valdivia


It was:

Arms: Per pale: 1. Or, two basilisks interwined respecting, biting a beam, Vert, in chief threesix-pointed stars Gules; 2. Argent, two kettles chequy Or and Gules, issuing therefrom six snakes Vert per pale.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter, lambrequined Or and Vert, the crown of a baron and an arm in armoury swinging a banner.

Motto: LA MUERTE MENOS TEMIDA DA MAS VIDA (The less fear of death, the more joy of life) [3]


In a smaller version the motto was inscribed on a bordure:


Smaller version of the arms of Pedro de Valdivia


Santiago de Chile


The arms of Santiago de Chile in an ancient document. [4]


Nine years after the foundation of the city its council charged Alonso de Aguilera to obtain privileges of a town and city-arms from the Spanish crown. As a result Emperor Charles V granted  the city the status of a city on 12 February 1552 and a coat of arms on the following 5 April.

The coat of arms was:


Arms: Argent, a lion rampant, in his dexter paw a sword upright proper, within a bordure Azure charged with eight shells Or.


The grant reads:


“por cuanto Alonso de Aguilera, Procurador General de las provincias de Chile, en nombre de la ciudad de Santiago, que es en las dichas provincias nos ha hecho relación que los vecinos y moradores de dicha ciudad nos han servido mucho en la conquista y pacificación de aquella tierra donde pasaron muchos trabajos en ella y en poblar la dicha ciudad y en sustentarla; Que los pobladores de ella son gente honrada y leales vasallos nuestros; y nos suplicó que en dicho nombre, que acatando lo susodicho mandásemos señales por armas a la dicha ciudad, según como las tenían las otras ciudades y villas de las nuestra Indias o como nuestra merced fuese; Y Nos, acatando los susodicho, tuvimoslo por bien, y por la presente hacemos merced, queremos y mandamos que agora y de aquí adelante la dicha ciudad de Santiago haya y tenga por sus armas conocidas un escudo que haya en él un león de su color, con su espada desnuda en la mano en campo de plata y por orla 8 veneras de oro en campo azul, según que aquí va pintado y figurado, en un escudo a tal como este; Las cuales dichas armas damos a la dicha ciudad con sus armas e divisas”.


These arms, which were crowned in the 17th century, were used by the city for many years but in 1863 new arms were adopted:


Arms: A fess Or, the word MAPOCHO Sable, the chief Azure a mountain ridge of five mountains proper, the base Vert; all within a bordure Or.


The Mapocho is the river flowing through Santiago de Chile.


These arms were abandoned in 1913 and the ancient arms restored. [5]






Arms of 1913

Present arms of Santiago de Chile




Patria Vieja



The first emblem was established during the office of  President José Miguel Carrera, in 1812. It was designed over an oval in which centre was depicted a pillar representing the Tree of Freedom. On top of this pillar was a terrestrial globe; over the globe, a lance and a palm leaf crossed and over these two, a star.

Standing, on both sides of the pillar, were the figures of a native man and woman, dressed in loin cloths, the man keeping a spear and a club, the woman keepinga bow. On top of everything was written, in latin, POST TENEBRAS LUX (Light After Darkness) and at the bottom,  AUT CONSILIO AUT ENSE (By Consultation or by Sword).


On the flag this emblem was put in a white oval in the middle of a cloth of three horizontal breadths blue, white and yellow. At the same time the two natives were dressed  more decently and each given a spear in their hand.


Emblem on flag





In the time of the Reconquista after the Battle of Rancagua the ancient royal emblems were restaured. An example is on the Piramid commemorating the Battle of Chacabuco. It is an augmented version of the Royal arms for the Indies. It is:


Royal Achievement of the Indies, about 1817.

on the  Pirámide del Campo de Batalla de Chacabuco. By Andía y Varela (1757-1822).


Arms: Quarterly of Castile and Leon with an escutcheon of Bourbon.

Orders: The collars of the Order of the Fleece and of the Order of Charles III ((Spain, 1771)

Supporters: Two crowned lions, each supporting one of the Piles of Hercules withthe motto PLUS ULTRA on a ribbon.

Mantle: A vaulted mantle, royally crowned

Trophy: Aroundthe achievement is a trophy of banners, armoury, drums, cannon,mortars &c..


Because of the armoury the achievement is the emblem of the Royalist Army.


Patria Nueva / Independent Chile



In 1817 two new emblems emerged, both variations of the first, but they were abandoned soon.


On the one of June of that year the supporters were omitted but the pillar, the globe and the star were maintained. The motto in chief was replaced by the word LIBERTAD and the motto in base by UNION Y FUERZA


On the reverse of coins there appeared the Andes mountainridge with a working volcano in the middle, surrounded by the legend CHILE INDEPENDIENTE SANTIAGO .


In October another emblem was created resembling the one before but with the motto LIBERTAD replaced by two flags, their poles in saltire.


The flag, adopted 18 October 1817 was of two breadths white and red with a blue canton charged with a white five-pointed star:




After the  declaration of Independent Chile on 12 February 1818, a provisional emblem appeared  on coins. It showed the Andes mountainridge with two working volcanoes and a sun radiant above. The emblem was surrounded by branches of laurel and the legend EL ESTADO D CHILE CONSTIT INDEPENDIENTE.


A new emblem was approved by the Senate on 23 September 1819. It was an achievement:


Arms: Azure, a pillar on its plinth, standing on the ground, crested with a globe showing the western hemisphere, proper, between three eight-pointed stars 1&2 Argent, and a scroll Argent inscribed LIBERTAD in chief, between the first star and the globe.

Crest: A fan of five ostrich-feathers proper

Garland: Branches of laurel

Supporter: A native man, one foot resting on a cornucopia and sitting on an American caiman, in its jaws the lion of Leon, whose crown lays fallen on one side, holding the ripped spanish flag with its front paws. On the background the Andes mountain ridge with two smoking volcanoes.

Trophy: National flags and banners and armoury of the cavalry, infantry, dragons, artillery and bombardiers in saltire

Motto: POR LA RAZON O LA FUERZA (By Right or Might).


The arms of  Chile on a painting of José Gil de Cast


In this achievement the stars symbolize the cities of Santiago, Concepción and Coquimbo.

The supporter symbolizes the victory of the people and the killing of the spanish ruler and the Chileon people. A large part of the achievement is dedicated to the army and as such the achievement seems to have been  inspired by the former royal achievement as on the Piramid of Chacabuco.


On this version of the arms of 1819 the motto POR LA RAZON O LA FUERZA is readable.


A lesser, probably newer version of the achievement shows:



In this version ther are “the evil chains of slavery that America will break” around the cannon.


The smaller emblem, consisting of the pillar, the globe and the star was maintained on coins unil 1828 with the smoking volcano on the reverse.



The arms of1819 met with much criticism and on the frontispiece of the “Constitucion Politica de la Republica de Chile” of 6 August 1828, a new emblem was printed. It was based on the mountainridge with the volcano, apparently meant to be the seal of Independent Chile. It is:


Achievement on the Constitution of 6 August 1828


Arms: The Andes mountainridge with a working volcano, washed by the sea [proper]

Crest: A five pointed star radiant

Garland: Of leaves of laurel

Supporter: A Condor (Vultur gryphus - Cathartidæ), sejant.

Trophy: Pennons, national flags and cannon in saltire.


The government of Joaquín Prieto (1831-’41), after a call for a contest to make a new design of he emblem, approved the design proposed by the able artist Charles Wood Taylor on 24 June 1834. It is:


Achievement of Chile on coins, 1835 -


Arms: Per fess Azure and Gules, a five-pointed star Argent.

Crest: A fan of three ostrich-feathers Azure, Argent and Gules.

Supporters: A female huemal (Hippocamelus bisulcus - Cervidæ) on the dexter and a crowned condor (Vultur gryphus - Cathartidæ) on the sinister, proper, both crowned with a naval crown.


The crest of blue, white and red feathers was a badge of distinction that former Presidents of the Republic used to wear on their hats.

The huemal, which is unique for Chile, and the condor symbolize the fauna of Chile.


Female Huemal

Hippocamelus bisulcus - Cervidæ


Vultur gryphus - Cathartidæ


The naval crowns symbolize the victories of the Chilean Navy in the Pacific Ocean.


At the end of the 19th century the huemal often had the form of a horse:

Ancient Achievement of Chile

 in the US “Flags of all Nations” (Washington, 1899)


A lesser coat of arms appeared at the same time. It is:


Arms: Per fess Azure and Gules, a five-pointed star Argent.

Crest: A fan of three ostrich-feathers Azure, Argent and Gules.

Garland: Of branches of laurel.


On 18 October 1920 the motto POR LA RAZON O LA FUERZA was added on a ribbon in base. This was confirmed by

Decreto Supremo Nº 1534 del Ministerio del Interior de Chile, sobre el uso de los Emblemas Nacionales. Santiago, 18 de octubre de 1967.” 


The first article of this decree reads:


Artículo 1°.- Los emblemas nacionales son el Escudo de Armas de la República, la Bandera Nacional, la Escarapela o Cucarda y el Estandarte Presidencial o Bandera Nacional Presidencial.

El Escudo de Armas presenta una estrella de plata de cinco picos al centro de un campo cortado, azul turquí el superior y rojo el inferior y su forma es la fijada por el modelo oficial aprobado por decreto de Guerra N° 2.271 de 4 de septiembre de 1920, conforme a la ley, y el cual, además, tiene por timbre un plumaje tricolor de azul turquí, blanco y rojo; por soportes un huemul rampante a su derecha y un cóndor a su izquierda en la posición que fija ese modelo, coronado cada uno de estos animales con una corona naval de oro; y por base un encaracolado cruzado por una cinta con el lema “por la razón o la fuerza”, todo en conformidad al referido modelo.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


President’s Flag


The president’s fl;ag is the successor of the Royal Arms from the time of Spanish Rule.


The President’s flag was introduced by order of the Ministry of the Navy of 7 July 1854.

It consists of the National Flag, charged in the center with the National Achievement.


President’s Flag and its measures, 1854. [6]


When the National Achievement was changed  in 1920 the president’s flag was changed accordingly:


President’s flag 1920 - present  [7]











Air Force




The motto  QUAM CELERRIME AD ASTRA means: As quickly as possible to the stars.


Pilot Wings




Policia de Investigaciones


The the civil police of Chile, the Policia de Investigaciones de Chile, PDI  was created in 1933. 


Ancient PDI badges


Present badge





The Carabineros de Chile (Carabiniers of Chile) were created on 27 April 1927 their mission is to maintain order and create public respect for the laws of the country.



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© Hubert de Vries 2013-01-26. Updated 2013-03-13


[1] From: Chifletius, Johan: La magnifiqve et svmptvevse pompe fvnebre avs obseqves et fvnerailles dv tresgrand, et tres victorievs emperevr charles cinqvie’me, celebrées en la ville de brvxelles le xxiv. iovr dv mois de decembre m.d.lviii. par philippe roy catholique d’espaigne son fils. Chistophle Plantin m.d.l.ix.

[2] Montoto de Sedas, Santiago: Nobiliario de Reinos, Ciudades y Villas de la América Española. Madrid, 1925. Pp. 23-24.

[3] Roa y Ursúa, Luis de:  La familia de don Pedro de Valdivia. Conquistador de Chile. Sevilla, Imprenta de la Gavidia. (1935).

[4] Coll. Fundacion Casa de Alba. http://www.looc.es/la-casa-de-alba-destapa-sus-tesoros/

[5] El Escudo de Armas de la Ciudad de Santiago de Chile: http://urbatorium.blogspot.nl/2008/07/el-escudo-de-armas-de-la-ciudad-de.html

[6] From: Flags of All Nations, Washingtom 1899.

[7] See also: http://www.rbvex.it/ameripag/cilealtre.html

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