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Republica del Ecuador

Armed Forces


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In 1531 the Spanish, led by Francisco Pizarro, landed in Ecuador. At that time a Inca Civil War raged which was eventually won by the Inca emperor Atahualpa. An attack by Pizaarro directed against Atahualpa led to an easy defeat and the capture of the Incan Emperor. During the next year Pizzaro held Atahualpa for ransom. The Incas filled the Ransom Room with gold and silver awaiting a release that would never happen. On August 29, 1533 Atahualpa was garroted. The Spanish then set out to conquer the rest of Tawantinsuyu capturing Cuzco in November 1533.

Sebastian Belalcázar (1480-1551), Pizarro's lieutenant and fellow Extremaduran founded the city of Guyaquil in 1533. A year later he founded the city of San Franciso de Quito on the ruins of the ancient Inca city of Quito  set in fire by the great Inca warrior Rumiñahui to prevent the Spanish from taking it, thereby destroying any traces of the ancient pre-Hispanic city. In December 1540 Quito received its first captain-general in the person of Francisco Pizarro's brother, Gonzalo Pizarro.

Between 1544 and 1563, Ecuador was under the Viceroyalty of Peru, having no administrative status independent of Lima. In 1563 however, Ecuador was awarded its own audiencia within the viceroyalty, allowing it to deal directly with Madrid on certain matters. The Quito Audiencia, which was both a court of justice and an advisory body to the viceroy, consisted of a president and several judges (oidores).

It remained a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1720, when it joined the newly created Viceroyalty of New Granada.

In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain and deposed King Ferdinand VII. In July 1808 he placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne.

Soon, Spanish citizens in Ecuador, unhappy at the usurpation of the throne by the French, began organizing local juntas loyal to Ferdinand. A group of Quito's leading citizens followed suit, and on August 10, 1809, they seized power in the name of Ferdinand from the local representatives, whom they accused of preparing to recognize Joseph Bonaparte.

The actions of the returning Spanish authorities bred popular resentment among Quiteños, who, after several days of street fighting in August 1810, won an agreement to be governed by a junta with the Peninsular president of the Royal Audience of Quito acting as its head.

In spite of strong opposition from the Quito Audiencia, the Junta called for a congress in December 1811 and declared the entire area of the Audiencia to be independent of any government currently in Spain. Two months later, the Junta approved a constitution for the state of Quito that provided for democratic governing institutions but also granted recognition to the authority of Ferdinand should he return to the Spanish throne.

Shortly thereafter, the Junta launched a military offensive against loyalist regions to the south in Peru, but the Viceroy of Peru finally crushed the Quiteño rebellion in December 1812.

After de defeat of the Spaniards at the Battle of Boyaca  the Audiencia of Quito became a part of the Republic of Colombia created on 17 December, 1819.

Another chapter in Ecuador's struggle for emancipation from Spanish colonial rule began in Guayaquil, where independence was proclaimed in October 1820 by a local patriotic junta under the leadership of the poet José Joaquín de Olmedo.

Antonio José de Sucre, a brilliant young lieutenant of Bolívar arrived in Guayaquil in May 1821, and became the key figure in the ensuing military struggle against the royalist forces.

After a number of initial successes and his defeat at Ambato in the central Sierra, a string of victories he was victorious in the decisive Battle of Pichincha (24 May 1822).

Two months later Bolívar, the liberator of northern South America, entered Quito to a hero's welcome. Later in July of that year the Guayaquil conference resulted in that Guyaquil became the District of the South within the Republic of Gran Colombia, which had Bogotá as its capital. This status was maintained for eight tumultuous years.

Ecuador was a part of the Republic of Colombia up to 1830 when, on the death of Bolivar, the Federation was torn to pieces.

On the 13th of May, 1830, it was resolved in Quito, to separate Ecuador from Colombia, and on the 14th of August Juan José Flores was elected President of the new nation.




In the time of Spanish rule in present Ecuador the heraldic emblems of the Spanish Empire were valid in the Vice Kingdoms of Peru and of New Granada from which the Audiencia de Quito was a part.

These consisted of the Royal Arms of Spain, the Royal Arms of Castile, the Arms of the Spanish Empire, the arms of the Spanish Indies and the arms of the Supreme Royal Council for the Indies.

On the local level some settlements received their own coats of arms.


Royal achievement for use in the Audiencia of Quito.

On a Map of ‘El Gran Rio de Maranon o Amazonas’ for the Audiencia de Quito.

By the Societas Jesu in Maranon, 1707


The royal achievement is of Philip V Bourbon


The achievement is:

Arms: Per fess, the chief per pale of a quarterly of Castile and Leon and a quarterly of Aragon, Siciliy-Trinacria, Navarra and Jeruzalem; the base quarterly of Austria, Valois, Burgundy and Brabant with an escutcehon per pale of Flanders and Tirol; and in nombril point Bourbon.

Crown: A royal crown of five leavens and five hoops, lined with a velvet cap.

Order: Of the Fleece

Supporters: A wreath of laurel with a ribbon inscribed PLUS ULTRA. And four allegorical figures, the first a crowned lady with a shield with the arms of the Societas Jesu; the second a lady with a trumpet; the third a fallen men with a sun, a star and a crescen in his hands; the fourth an Indian with a headdres of feathers, a bow and a bundle of arrows.


The Jesuits had missions in Quito and New Granada from 1638 until 1756 when they were expelled.


Philip V was king of Spain from 1700-’24 and of Sicily-Trinacria from 1700-’13. His arms on this map are a mixture of the two royal arms and in the achievement elements for the Indies are added, the fallen ruler symbolizing the Inca-emperor.


In 1720 the Audiencia of Quito was made a part of New Granada




Royal Warrant of King Charles I , granting the arms of Quito, 14.03.1541.

Page 1 of 2. No transciption available.  [1]


The arms of San Francisco de Quito were granted by Royal Warrant of King Charles I dated Talavera, 14 March 1541. They are:


Arms: Gules, a castle Argent standing on the top of two mountains proper, with a cave Vert in their foot and a latin cross Or on a hill Vert, supported by two flying eagles Sable, clawed Or in chief, all within a bordure Azure, charged with a cordon of S. Francisco Or.


The relevant part of the grant reads:


Un castillo de plata metido entre dos cerros o peñas, con una cava al pie de cada uno de ellos de color verde, y asimismo encima de dicho castillo una cruz de oro con su pie verde que la tengan en las manos dos águilas negras grietadas de oro, la una a la mano derecha y la otra a la izquierda, puestas en vuelo, todo en campo de colorado, y por orla un cordón de San Francisco de oro en campo azul.




The city was founded in 1533 by Sebastian de Belalcazar. It received the title of Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil.



It is thought that Diego de Urbina de Pastrana (†1623) invented the arms which were adopted by the city of Guayaquil. [2]  He was the first Spanish herald of the modern era to issue armorial certificates regularly, in large numbers, and to form an archive out of them. Named to the office of Castile King of Arms in 1580, he held the office till his death in 1623. In addition to reviving the issuance of armorial certificates, Urbina acted as Regidor of Madrid, Procurador en Cortes, and made several trips to deliver Golden Fleeces to foreign knights. [3]

The arms of Guayaquil are supposed to be derived from the arms of the city of Orduña (Basque Country, Spain) augmented with a bordure of the arms of the Urbina-family. The arms of Orduña were a castle and a lion rampant supporting a square cross on a pole, but its colors are uncertain, the field being sometimes Or (gold) or sometimes Gules (red). [4] The arms of Urbina were Argent, a tree Vert its trunk charged with two sheep Argent catched by wolves Sable, within a bordure Gules charged with a chain of eight shackles.


The arms of the city of Guayaquil, invented by Urbina are supposed to haver been:


Arms: Argent, a castle proper, and on its sinister a crowned lion Gules, supporting a pole proper, flying therefrom a banner Gules, charged with a saltire Argent, and a base barry wavy Azure and Argent. Surrounded by a bordure Gules charged with a chain of eight shackles Or.


As the original grant had disappeared already in 1775 and it took quite a lot of 20th century research to find these colonial arms, we may be certain that the arms were hardly used. [5]


Provincia Libre de Guayaquil


Star of October on stamped paper.


The so-called Star of October was adopted by the Government of Guyaquil on 9 October 1820 to represent the Free Province of Guayaquil which then comprised the territories of present Guayas, Manabí, Los Rios, El Oro and Santa Elena.

José Joaquin de Olmedo, president of the Supreme Council of the Government of November 1820 ordered that on the official papers of the council  there would be a star of five points and a crown of laurel, a red bow and the motto POR GUAYAQUIL INDEPENDIENTE (For an Independent Guayaquil).

This emblem was used from 1821 until June 1822 when the Star of October became  known as ‘The Star of the West’ because the province of Guayaquil was the most western province. After the annexation of Guayaquil by Colombia on 26 July 1822 it was replaced by the arms of Colombia and later by the arms of Ecuador.

It was readopted on 6 November 1916. [6]


República del Ecuador

13.05.1830 - present


Arms of 1830




On the 13th of May, 1830, it was resolved, in Quito, to separate Ecuador from Colombia, and on the 14th of August Juan José Flores was elected President of the new nation. The Constitutional Congress of the 19th of September, 1830, decreed that, while keeping a common blue center to symbolize the union of the three Stars of Colombia, in order to differentiate the arms of Ecuador, the arms of Colombia of 6 October 1821 were to be used, but on a sky-blue field there should be added a sun in the equinoctial, and over the fasces a motto saying: “El Ecuador en Colombia”. The arms were adopted on 27 Decmeber 1830. The decree reads:


(Artículo 1) Se usará en adelante el de las armas de Colombia - se refería al escudo - en campo azul celeste, con el agregado de un sol en la línea equinoccial sobre las fases, y un lema que diga "El Ecuador en Colombia".


Picture: Carlos Trujillo Matamaros

Great Seal of the Republic of Ecuador, 1830 [7]


Arms of  1833.




In 1833, without any decree an Arms of State (Escudo de Armas del Estado) was introduced on coins and stamped paper which did no replace but was used together with the arms of the Republic.

The emblem consists of two mountains with eagles on top and a sun radiant above. The motto reads: EL PODER EN LA CONSTITUCIÓN (The Power is in the Constitution), a motto that was adopted by decree of 12 January 1833.


Arms of 1835.



In 1835 when the fiction of a ‘State of Ecuador of the Republic of Colombia’ had come to an end and became just the ‘Republic of Ecuador’, another coat of arms was adopted without any decree. On the Constitutional Convention of Ambato however a decree on stamped paper was issued on 10 August reading:


Artículo 2°: "En el sello se pondrán las armas de la república con el lema República del Ecuador..."


(on the seal will be the arms of the Republic with the legend República del Ecuador…..)


It was only in 1836 that the arms of the republic were described in a decree about coinage of 14 June. It is:


Arms: A landscape with a rock with a tower with a condor sejant on top on the dexter and Mount Guagua with a condor sejenat respecting on top and a smoking volcano on the sinister , all proper. And in the sky a zodiac with the signs of Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpius, charged with a sun radiant and in chief a semicircle of seven stars Or.


The mountains on the sinister represent the Guagua Pichincha with a condor on its top and the Ruco Pinchincha volcano. The mountain on the dexter is a rock with a tower on top on which is seated another condor which is turned to the one on the Guagua Pichincha.

The signs of the Zodiac represent the the months of the revolution of 1820, that is to say from Leo (July-August) until Scorpius (October-November).

The seven stars represent the provinces of Azuay, Chimborazo, Guayas, Imbabura, Loja, Manabí and Pichincha.


The arms have a simple oval form and no exterior ornamets are added.

They were in use until 1843


Achievement of 1843



By the law of 18 June 1843, the coat of arms was to be twice as long as wide, the upper part rectangular and the lower ellipical. The field was divided into three quarters; in the upper one, on a blue field was the sun on a section of the zodiac. The central quarter was divided into two parts; in the right one, on a gold field an open book in the form of tables, in which the Roman numbers I, II, III, and IV, representing the first articles of the Constitution, were inscribed; and in the left-hand portion, on a field of sinople or green, a horse. The lower quarter was also divided in two; in the right, on  blue, a river with a vessel, and in the left, on silver, a volcano. Above the shield and in lieu of crest a condor ( with its open wings extending to the two angles. On the exterior border and sides, flags and trophies.


The single article of the law of the National Convention of 18.06.1843 reads:


Las Armas de la República serán en la forma siguiente:

*El escudo tendrá una altura dupla a su amplitud; en la parte superior será rectangular, y en la inferior elíptico. Su campo se dividirá en su interior en tres cuarteles: en el superior colocará, sobre fondo azul, el sol sobre una sección del zodíaco; el cuartel central se subdividirá en dos; en la derecha, sobre fondo de oro, se colocaró un libro abierto en forma de tablas, en cuyos dos planos se escribirán los números romanos, I, II, III, IV, indicantes de los cuatro primeros artículos de la Constitución; en el de la izquierda, sobre fondo, sinople o verde, se colocará un caballo. En el cuartel inferior, que se subdividirá en dos, se colocará en fondo azul un río, sobre cuyas aguas se representa un barco; y en el de la izquierda sobre fondo de plata, se colocará un volcán; en la parte superior del Escudo, en lugar de cimera descansará un cóndor, cuyas alas abiertas se extenderán sobre los dos ángulos. En la orla exterior y en ambas partes laterales se pondrán banderas y trofeos.*


Contrary to the law the shield of the achievement on coins is usually an accolade-shield and no contemporary versions with an elliptical lower side are available.



Achievement of 1845

The decree the National Convention  of November 6, 1845, modified the coat of arms and flag. The first was to consist of an oval shield containing thereon, in the upper part of the same, a representation of the sun, with that part of the zodiac in which the signs corresponding to the memorable months of March, April, May and June are found; and in the lower part of the same, to the right, a representation of the historic Mount Chimborazo, from which a river shall issue, and there was to be, in the widest part thereof, a representation of a steamship having as mast a caduceus as a symbol of navigation and commerce, which are the sources of the prosperity of Ecuador. The shield rested on a bundle of consular fasces as emblem of republican dignity, and was ornamented from without with national flags and branches of palm and laurel and crowned by a condor with outstrechtched wings. The flag was the one of Quito of 1820. It consisted of three quarters divided vertically, the center cerulean blue and the sides white, denoting the natural colors of the sky of Ecuador. In the blue quarter seven stars were to be placed, representing the seven Provinces which composed the Republic at the time.

The achievement was drawn by Don José Joaquín de Olmedo.


The decree reads:


“Las Armas del Ecuador seráan: un escudo ovalado que contenga interiormente, en la parte superior, el sol, con una porción del zodíaco en el que se hallan los signos correspondientes a los meses memorables de marzo, abril, mayo y junio. En la parte inferior, a la derecha, se representará el monte histórico del Chimborazo, del que nacerá un río, y donde aparesca más caudaloso, estará un buque a vapor que tenga por mástil un caduceo como símbolo de navegación y el comercio. El Escudo posará sobre un lío de hases consulares, como insignia de la dignidad republicana; será adornada exteriormente por banderas bicolores y ramas de palma y laurel, y coronado por un cóndor con las alas desplegadas”.


The achievement, of which there are many modern reconstructions in circulation, is supported by four flags as adopted on the same day consisting of three vertical stripes white, blue and white, the blue charged with seven white five-pointed stars in several configurations. In the achievement the arrangement of 3-1-3 is preferred but sometimes, as in the version above on a coin of 1890, the stars are omitted.

The position of the condor has to be to the sinister and looking to the dexter.

Around the shield is no frame, this was only added in 1900.


Achievement of 1860


By the decree of President Garcia Moreno, of 27 September 1860, the tricolor of Venezuela was readopted, but the achievement formally remained the same. It is on stamps and coins and other publications. Nevertheless there are also versions with the new national flags supporting the shield. This version, we may suppose, was used by government departments, consulates and embassies.





5 Francos, 1858

Revenue Stamp, 1881



Achievement in a European Armorial, 1870 [8]

Six 1860 flags

Achievement on a publication of the Ministry of Finance, 1873


Achievement of Ecuador in a European roll of arms, 1895  [9]

Four 1860 flags


Achievement of 1900


Finally, by legislative decree of 31 October 1900, put in force by President Eloy Alfaro on 7 November 1902, the achievement is the same as the one of 1845 and the flag the one of the Colombian Federation, that is to say the Venezuelan of 1811. It is provided in the said decree that the flags raised over national buildings, war ships, fortresses, and those hoisted by the diplomatic and consular agents of the Republic in foreign countries shall bear the coat of arms of the nation in the center on the yellow and blue stripes; that the flags over municipal buildings shall not bear the coat of arms of the nation, but a circle of white stars placed on the blue stripes and of a number equal to that of the Provinces which compose the Republic; and that the army shall use the same national flag as that raised over the national buildings, and each battalion or regiment shall have on its flag or standard its corresponding number, in accordance with the orders of the War Department concerning the same. [10]


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay



·         Mount Chimborazo (6,268 m.) is the highest mountain in Ecuador. It is a currently inactive stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD.

·         The river Babahojo and the Gulf of Guyaquil connecting the regions symbolize the unity of the country.

·         The steamboat with a caduceus for mast is the symbol of shipping trade and commerce.

·         The fasces is the symbol of the republic (the Res publica or public cause).

·         The sun above the territory of Ecuador symbolizes the location of Ecuador at the equator. From ancient times it was a venerated from ancient times as a divine benefactor and is the most elevated symbol of the people of Ecuador. 

·         The condor (Vultur gryphus - Cathartidæ) is the symbol of the power and liberty which tolerates no infingements.


Armed Forces


Ministry of Defense




Tri Service




Pictures: H.d.V. 2013















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© Hubert de Vries 2013-03-11


[1] Sevilla. Archivo General de Indias. M. y. P. Escudos y arboles Genealogicos 76; Inv. N°: 164. N. 2. año 1541.R.1.   http://www.trenandino.com/escudo-del-quito4.php

[2] Chambers, Pedro Robles: Estudio Sobre el Origen del Escudo de Armas Colonial de la Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil. Centro de Investigaciones Históricas de Guayaquil, 1952. Based on research of J. Gabriel Pino Roca and Pedro José Huerta.

[3] http://heraldry.freeservers.com/certificates.html: Note [18] Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, Heraldos y Reyes de Armas en la Corte de España, Prensa y Ediciones Iberoamericanas S.A., Madrid, 1993, Pp. 108, 263.

[4] Juan Carlos de Guerra describes it as: En campo de oro, una cruz de gules, acompañada, en el franco derecho de un castillo, y en el franco izquierdo, de un león rampante.

[5] After: Hoyos, Melvin and Efrén Avilés Pino: Libro Historia de Guayaquil.

[6] http://www.enciclopediadelecuador.com/temasOpt.php?Ind=991&Let=

[7] El Primer Escudo del Ecuador. In: Boletin filatelica N° 2 del Club Filatelica “Guayaquil”.

[8] Hefner, O.T. von: Die Wappen der außerdeutschen Souveräne und Staaten. Nürnberg, 1870, Taf. 157.

[9] Heyer von Rosenfeld, Friedrich: Die Staatswappen der bekanntesten Länder der Erde. Frankfurt a/Main, 1895.

[10] Lit.: Bulletin of the Pan American Union 190?, pp.??. La Bandera, el Escudo, el Himno Patrios. Dirección de Estudios, Guayaquil, 1917. http://estrada.bz/escudo_del_ecuador.htm


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