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Early Heraldry

The Royal Arms

The Crowned Arms

The Achievement

The Kingdom

The Monarchy

The Court


Back to Spain



Before Aragon came into being as a self-proclaimed kingdom in 1035, the northern counties of Jaca, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were all independent marches and Frankish feudal fiefdoms. In a bid to stem Frankish and Moorish invasions, the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, and the duchy of Castile united under the Kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarre). After King Sancho's death, the kingdom was divided between his sons. Ramiro I was initially named king of Aragon in 1035; later, after his brother Gonzalo's death, he was also named king of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza in 1044. The new kingdom grew quickly, conquering territories from the Moorish kingdoms to the south. Huesca was taken in 1096 and Zaragoza in 1118. According to Aragonese law, the monarch had to swear allegiance to the Kingdom's laws before being accepted as king. The King was considered "Primus inter pares" (first among equals) within the nobility. A nobleman with the title "Justicia"  acted as ombudsman and was responsible for ensuring that the King obeyed the Aragonese laws. There is an old saying "En Aragón antes de Rey hubo Ley" which can be translated as "In Aragon the law was before the king".

In the 12th century Aragon was united with the county of Barcelona by the marriage of the queen of Aragon with the then count of Barcelona. In the 13th century the possessions of the House of Barcelona were enlarged with the kingdoms of  Valencia, Sardinia and the Island of Sicily. In the fourteenth century the kingdom of Majorca was added. At the end of the 15th century a new personal union made Aragon, together with Castile and Leon into the nucleus of the Kingdom of Spain which was achieved by the final reconquest of the kingdom of Granada in 1492.

The next two centuries Aragon remained one of the kingdoms of the spanish monarchy until at the beginning of the 18th century, the kingdom was liquidated by king Philip V of the house of Bourbon.

Several attempts were made to regain its autonomy, albeit within the kingdom of Spain but it was only in 1978 that Aragon regained an autonomous status within the kingdom.

In the twelfth century a kind of board of representatives emerged which developed into a parliament consisting of representatives from the clergy, the nobility and the cities and subjects of the king. This parliament, which had a great say in the affairs of Aragon, was liquidated together with the kigdom by Philip V and the aragonese affairs were decided since then by the spanish government in Madrid.




Early Heraldry


See for the early heraldry until 1134 Æ Pamplona


Royal Arms


House of Navarre


Ramiro I


Sancho Ramirez

King of Aragon 1069-1094

King of Pamplona 1076-1094

Peter I

King of Pamplona and Aragon 1094-1104

Alfonso I the Battler

King of Pamplona and Aragon 1104-1134


In his will Alfonso left his kingdoms to the three Orders, the Templars, the Hospitallers and the Holy Sepulchre.


Ramiro II the Monk


 King of Aragon 1134-1157


The testament of Alfonso leaving his kingdom to the three orders was dismissed out of hand by the nobility of his kingdoms, and possible successors were sought. The Aragonese nobility rallied around the abbot-bishop Ramiro, Alfonso's only brother, who had been a Benedictine monk since childhood, even when his commitment to the church, his temperament and vow of celibacy made him ill-suited to rule a kingdom under constant military threat and in need of a stable line of succession.

The Aragonese nevertheless took Ramiro out of his monastery and made him king, marrying him without papal dispensation to Agnes, sister of the Duke of Aquitaine, then betrothing their newborn daughter to Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, who was then named Ramiro's heir.


In 1137 he yielded his executive powers to Raymond Berenger of Barcelona, the husband of his two-year old daughter Petronilla, providing that the kingdom should be inherited by their son.


For his tomb in the S. Pedro la Vieja a tomb of a roman official from the 2nd-3rd century AD was reused. It shows a clipeus with the portrait of the official  supporterd by two angels. 




Queen of Aragon 1157-1164

¥ 1137/1151 Raymond Berengar IV, Count of Barcelona *1113-1161


Petronilla was two years old when she inherited the crown of Aragon from her father and married with Ramon Berenguer IV, count of Barcelona who reigned in name of his spouse with the title of Prince of Aragon only.

The marriage was ratified in 1151 and after the death of Raymond in 1162 Petronilla convocated a General Assembly in Huesca and approved all the dispositions of her husbands will and abdicated in favor of her son Alfonso II.


Raymond Berengar IV, the Saint


Count of Barcelona 1131-1162

¥ 1137/115 Petronilla, queen of Aragon 1137-1164

Prince of Aragon 1137-1162


At the age of 24 he married Petronilla, the two-year old daughter of the king of Aragon. The marriage was ratified in 1151. In the act by which king Ramiro abdicated Raymond is called the prince of Aragon and the count of Barcelona to be respected as a king (tamquam regi) by his subjects.

This position seems to have been intended to be equal to an alférez as Raymond should command the army for his father-in-law who had proved to be utterly un-suited to command an army as had his brother before.


í In medieval Iberia, an alférez was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The term is derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "cavalier", and it was commonly Latinised as alferiz or alferis, although it was also translated into Latin as armiger or armentarius, meaning "armour-bearer". The connexion with arms and armour is visible in several Latin synonyms: fertorarius, inferartis, and offertor. The office was sometimes the same as that of the standard-bearer or signifer. The alférez was generally the next highest-ranking official after the majordomo. He was generally in charge of the king or magnate's mesnada (private army), his personal retinue of knights, and perhaps also of his armoury and his guard. He generally followed his lord on campaign and into battle. [1]




The seals of Raymond Berengar are his seals as a prince of Aragon by right of his marriage.

On these seals he is represented as a warrior, dressed in a coat of arms of which the arms show vertical bars and a gironny of narrow lines which is thought to have been a carbuncle or thunderbolt.

Of this shield the carbuncle was copied from the shield of Alfonso I the Battler.

As such the shield is an early example of a mark of cadency (the pales Or added to the red shield of Alfonso) or of marshalling (the conjoining of the carbuncle of Alfonso with the pales of Ramon Berenger).


The vertical bars later developed to a paly Gules and Or. Opinion agrees that these are the colours of the county of Barcelona which in last instance were the colours of temporal power of the Empire and of France of which Barcelona was a fief.


About the carbuncle much confusion and difference of opinion exists. The supposed office of a kind of alférez or commander of Aragon suggests that the figure was taken from the shield of Alfonso I the Batallador, the immediate predecessor of Raymond in Aragon.


1150 Equestrian seal: Arms: Pales (?) and studs. L.: ...MES : BARCHIONE.... On the reverse .... PRINCEPS R ..... (Arch. Hist. Nac.)



1157 Equestrian seal: Arms: Pales (?) and studs. L.: [et princebs regni a] rago [nensis]. On the obverse the same picture and legend [X RAIMUNDU]S BEREN [GARII COMES BARCHIONENSIS]. [2]


House of Barcelona


Alfonso II the Chaste


Count of Barcelona 1162-1196

King of Aragon 1164-1196


During his reign Aragonese influence north of the Pyrenees reached its zenith, a natural tendency given the affinity between the Occitan and Catalan dominions of the Crown of Aragon. His realms incorporated not only Provence (from 1166 or just before), but also the counties of Cerdanya (1168) and Roussillon (inherited in 1172). Béarn and Bigorre paid homage to him in 1187. Alfonso's involvement in the affairs of Languedoc, proved highly beneficial, strengthening Aragonese trade and stimulating emigration from the north to colonise the newly reconquered lands in Aragon.


From 1162 until 1196, the office of alférez was held by Jimeno de Artosilla, Gonzalvo Copelino, Sancho Ramirez and Artoldo de Alagón, Tarino and Portolez (who was also Grand Senechal). [3]


Æ This may explain why the studs, carbuncle or thunderbolt disappeared from the arms as the command of the army was not in the hands of the king.

Equestrian seal. Arms: Pales on shield and horse-cloth. L.: ...... CIE  Date: 1186 [4]



Equestrian seal. Arms: Pales on horse-cloth. L.: COMITIS BARCH     MARCHIO PROVINCIA. Date: 1193

Reverse of the seal of Alfonso II. 1195


Seal of majesty. The king on his throne. L.: X  SIGILLUM ILDEFONSI REGIS [GO] NENSIS. Date: 1195

Equestrian seal. Arms: ? Pales on horse-cloth. L.: COMITIS BARCHIONENSIS MARCHIONIS ... VINCIE. Date: 1195. [5]

Union of Barcelona with Aragon


Peter II, the Catholic



Crowned 1204


The idea of hereditary succession gained early acceptance, but the vestiges of election could still be detected in the acclamation of a new king. Following Visigothic custom, the king occasionally was anointed and crowned. Peter II of Aragon, who received his crown in Rome from the pope, became a papal vassal and held his kingdom as a papal (i.e. Innocentius III) fief.


The renewal of the infeudation of Aragon (after the renouncement of the will of Alfonso I) took place by the coronation of Peter II by Pope Innocentius III in St. Pancratius church in Rome on 4 Februari 1204. From that date and by grant of the Holy See of 6 June 1205, the monarchs of Aragon could be crowned by the archbishop of Tarragona after having obtained the approvement of the Pope. This applied also to the queen.


It is only after the coronation of Peter II in 1204 that his arms as a count of Barcelona became also his arms as a king of Aragon and consquently his personal arms. This is demonstrated by this fragment of his seal of 1207 on which the knight on horseback is called “king” and wears a coat of arms with pales formerly being only the coat of arms of the count of Barcelona. Nevertheless, Barcelona and Aragon remained separate domains as Barcelona was a fief of the crown of France and Aragon was a papal fief, be it in a personal union.


Equestrian seal. Arms: Pales on shield and horse-cloth. L.: ... P REG   Date: 1207 [6]


On his two-sided seal of 1210 this is more clear as Peter is called there a king of Aragon as wel as a count of Barcelona on both sides. 



1210 Seal of majesty. The king on his throne with sceptre and globe. A sword on his knees. L.: P DE GRA REG ARAG COMIT BARCE DNI MOIRE ISSVLI.

1210 Equestrian seal. Arms: Pales on shield and horse-cloth. L.: As before.


James I the Conqueror



King of Valencia 1238

French suzereinty of Catalonia abolished 1258


By the middle of the 13th century, the kingdoms of Castile-León, Aragon-Catalonia, Navarre, and Portugal reached the frontiers that they would keep, with minimal alteration, until the end of the Middle Ages. As a confederation of the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, and Majorca and the principality of Catalonia, the Crown of Aragon had a distinctive character among the Christian states.





Equestrian seal (fragment): Crowned knight on horseback. Arms: Aragon/Barcelona. Date: 1220 [7]


Detail of the York glasses with the Arms of Aragon

Peter the Dene Window, York Minsterl, north aisle. 13th cent


In York Minster there is a painted window on which the arms of the emperor and of the king of the Roman Empire are represented. Also there is a coat of arms with the pales of Barcelona/Aragon and this representation is the oldest known representation of the arms in color.


The window certainly has been made after 1234 because the arms of Navarre with the carbuncle dates from that time (after 7 April 1234). [8] The imperial arms with the two-headed eagle disapperared for some time after the reign of Frederick II which dates the window before 1245-’50. In that period Henry VII was the only crowned Roman King because his half-brother Conrad IV was elected a Roman king indeed but was never crowned. We cannot suppose that Henry Raspe and William of Holland have contributed to the window [9] Also the arms of the papacy are on the window and it is unlikely that this was represnted together with the arms of Fredrick II after he had been excommunicated for the second time in 1239. [10] This taken into account the program for the window was made before about 4 July 1235 because at that date Henry VII was deposed by his father, and taken prisoner even before the marriage of Frederrick II with Isabella Plantagenet of England in 1235. The window for that reason has been finished even during the negotiations for that marriage between 1234-’35. [11]


After the Conquest of Valencia in 1238 the title of James I read: X IA: DI: GRA: REG: ARAG: ET MOIORI ET VALENCIE X COMITIS : BARCHI: ET URGELLI: ET DNI: MONTIS: PLANI


It is on bothe sides of his seal:

Seal of majesty: James I on his throne with a sword on his knees. L.: ...A DI GRA REG ARAG & MAIOR .

Rev.: Equestrian seal. Arms: 7 Pales. On the horse-cloth: Pales. In front of the rider , armed with a spear with pennon an 8-pointed star.. L.: .......ELLI & DNI  MONTIS PLANI [12]


It was not until 1258, by the Treaty of Corbeil, that the king of France formally relinquished his feudal overlordship over the counties of the Principality of Catalonia to the king of Aragon James I, descendant of Ramon Berenguer IV. This Treaty turned the de facto independence into a full de jure direct transition from French to Aragonese rule. It also solved a historic incongruence. As part of the Crown of Aragon, Catalonia became a great maritime power, helping to expand the Crown of Aragon by trade and conquest into Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and even Sardinia or Sicily.


Å The arms of the le.Roy darragon were represented in color by the Armorial of Wijnbergen (1272 ca.) n° 1262



..... and in 1275 ca. by Walfords Roll: Le roy de Aragon, paly d'or et de gules  [13]


Peter III the Great


King of Aragon 1276-1285

King of Valencia

King of Sicily-Trinacria 1282-1285


1280 ca. Le rey de Aragon ... l'escu palé d'or et de goules. (Camden D6)


Goldcoin of Peter and of Aragon and Constance Hohenstaufen, 1282

The arms of Barcelona and the eagle of Sicily




Alfonso III the Liberal



James II the Just

King of Sicily 1285-1296

King of  Aragon and Valencia 1291-1327

King of Sardinia 1297-1327


For his arms as a king of Sicily see: Sicily-Trinacria Æ Royal Arms


King of Aragon and Valencia


1293 Seal of majesty: De Koning op zijn troon met leliescepter en rijksappel met dubbelkruis. (CASC [= Cagliari Archivo Storico del Comune]. On the reverse the Heraldic seal with moors’ heads


Count of Barcelona

Equestrian seal. Crowned knight on horseback. Arms: Pales. Date: 1300 ca (?)  [14]



Equestrian seal. Crowned knight on horseback. Arms: Barcelona. Date: 1317


Alfonso IV, the Benign





Equestrian seal: Crowned knight on horseback. Arms: Barcelona. Date: 1331 [15]


Peter IV, the Ceremonious


King of Aragon 1336-1387

King of Majorca 1343

¥  1349 Eleonor of Sicily († 1374)


Equestrian seal. Arms:  Barcelona. L.:  ?  Date: 1337 [16]


After the conquest of Majorca in 1343 and the Union of Valencia of 1348 the crown on the helmet was completed with blue lambrequines charged with a cross patée fitchée and a crest consisting of a dragon issuant.


1363 Equestrian seal. W.: Palen. Helmteken: een uitkomende draak.


Arms of Pedro the Ceremonious

above the Kings Gate of the Monastery of Poblet (Catalunya), showing the dragon crest.

The inscription means: This work was begun in the time of Pedro, king of Aragon.


The arms of the king of Aragon and his vassals

Armorial du Héraut Gelre, KB. Brussel, Ms. 15652-56 fol. 62v.


Arms: Or, four pales Gules (Barcelona)

Crest: On a crowned helmet, lambrequiened Azure a cross patée fitchée Argent, a dragon issuant Or.

Legend: Die Conic va arragoen.



They are:

Valencia: Azure, a square cross patée fitchée Argent. L.: Arragoen.

Aragon: Argent, a cross Gules between four moor’s heads Sable.L.: Sardaenge

Majorca: Paly of nine Gules and Or. L.: Mayurc

Sardinia and Corsica: Or, a moor’s head Sable with a headscarf Argent. L.: Corse.


This leaf represents [a part of] the structure of command of the royal army. The supreme commander is the king and there are four divisions from the nations of his kingdom. Lower commands are of his marshal (a prince Moncada) and the heads of several families being his vassals.


John I, the Hunter




Equestrian seal. Arms: Barcelona. Crest: Dragon issuant Date: 1387


Martin I the Humane


King of Aragon 1395-1410

King of Sicily 1409-1410


As a second son of Peter IV, Martin bore: Or, four pales Gules and a label of four Argent, each label charged with an eagle sable. These arms are documented in the Bellenville Roll of Arms, fol. 7v°.


As a king of Aragon he bore the usual arms of the House of Barcelona. This is to be seen on his equestrian seal.





Shield with the arms of Martin the Humane,

 used at his wedding with Mary de Luna, 1372.

Museum of the Monastery of Poblet



Crest of King Martin the Humane.

Made in Majorca between 1396 and 1410. Gilt parchment and plaster. Madrid, Real Armeria.





House of Castile-Trastamare


Ferdinand I of Antequera


King of Aragon & Sicily 1412-1416



As an Infante Ferdinand bore a parti of the arms of his mother Eleonore of Aragon and of his father John I of Castile, surrouned by the kettles of the arms of his great-grandmother Eleonore Guzman (†1351)

Arms of Infante Ferdinand of Castile.

In the museum of Poblet Monastery


Arms: 1|2: 1. ½ van Castile and Leon; 2. Aragon; and a bordure of Guzman.


King of Aragon

As a king of Aragon he could bear the pales of Barcelona.  In the Chronicle of the Council of Constanz by Ulrich Richental fol. 138v°, his arms with the pales are given with the legend Regis portigalie.


As a king of Sicily he bore the quarterly in saltire.


Also he can have borne the arms parti of Aragon and Sicily-Trinacria like his uncle and nephew, however no seals or other representations of these arms from his short reign are available.


Alfonso V the Magnanimous


King of Aragon and Sicily-Trinacria 1416-1458

King of Sicily-Naples 1442-1458

Knight T. d’O N° 42, 1445


1440 ca. Mannequin of the  King of  Aragon:


Arms: Barcelona. Crest: On a crowned helmet, lambrequiened Azure a cross patée fitchée Argent, a dragon issuant Or. (Toison d’Or pp. 158-159).


In his kingdoms of Sicily-Trinacria and Sicily-Naples he bore bore the arms quarterly in saltire of Sicily-Trinacria and a quarterly of Hungary-Anjou-Jeruzalem and Aragon respectively.


His dynastical arms however were the arms of the House of Barcelona.


Photo H.d.V.

Arms of Alfonso V as a knight of the Fleece for the Chapter at The Hague, 1456

Grote Kerk, The Hague


John II

*1397 - †1479

¥ 1425 Blanche of Navarre                                                                                  

King of Navarre 1425-1479

King of Aragon etc. 1458-1479

King of Sicily-Trinacria 1458-1468

Knight T. d’Or. N° 59, St. Omaars 1461


The arms of Juan II are described in an armorial of the Golden Fleece written somewhat after 1478. It is blasoned in spanish as follows:


Juan II de Aragón y de Navarra: Trae de Aragón, que es de oro con cuatro palos de gulas [Aragón-Barcelona]; con el tymbre de Aragó debat escrit (una corona de oro con la rrata penada de mismo con lengua de gulas teniendo un dardo en la mana con un cuento de plata. [18]



On these coins of John II there are his crested arms and the arms of Barcelona crested with the cross patée fitchée of the lambrequines. On the coin below are his titles of Aragon, Naples, Sicily, Valencia and Majorca.


In 1479 John II legated Aragon to his son Ferdinand and Navarre to his daughter Leonore who died the same year.


Counterkings in Catalonia


During the Civil War (1462-’72), John II was declared “an enemy of the country” and dethroned by the autonomous institutions, and the Catalan crown was bestowed successively and with little fortune on three foreign princes, descendants of the House of Barcelona on the female side: Henry of Castille, Peter of Portugal and Renat of Anjou.


See: Catalonia


House of Castile-Trastamare


Ferdinand II, the Catholic


King of Sicily-Trinacria 1468-1515

¥ 1469 Isabella I of Castile

Knight T. d’Or. n° 73, Valencijn 1473

King of Castile 1474-1516

King of Aragon 1479-1516

King of Granada 1492-1516

Koning of Sicily-Naples 1503-1515

¥ 1506 Germaine of Foix

King of Navarra 1512-1516


Before Ferdinand succeeded in Aragon after the death of his father John II, he bore several  coats of arms corresponding with his kingship of Sicily and his co-regency of Castile and Leon.

Coins struck in Sicily for example, show a quarterly of: 1. Aragon, 2&3 Castile, 4. Leon. On others there is a quarterly of: 1. Castile, 2. the eagle of Sicily, 3. Aragon and 4. Leon.[19]

On still others the arms of Castile-Leon and of Sicily are separated:


Coin of Isabella and Ferdinand with their respective coats of arms


Obv.: Crowned arms of Castile-Leon supported by a nimbused eagle. L.: FERNANDVS * ET * ELISABET

Rev.: Crowned arms of Aragon and Sicily-Trinacria. L.: DOMINVS * MICHI * ATIVTOR.


or in alliance:


When Isabella had ascended the throne of Castile and Leon in 1474 it was agreed the next year that both Isabella and Ferdinand should bear the same coat of arms quarterly of Castile and Sicily, but with that difference that the arms of Isabella were supported by a nimbused eagle and the arms of Ferdinand II should be crested, symbolizing his armed authority.

So, when at last in 1479 Ferdinand succeeded in Aragon he bore:

Seal of Ferdinand II until 1492


Heraldic seal: Arms: ¼: 1&4: ¼ Castile and Leon; 2&3: 1|2 Aragon and Sicily. Crest: Crown and dragon issuant. L.: SIGILLVM FERDINANDI REGIS CASTELLE : ARAGONUM LEGIONIS SICILIE. Date: 1488/1492  [20]


After the conquest of Granada in 1492 the arms of Granada were enté en point:

Seal of Ferdinand II the Catholic dated 18.02.1496


Heraldic seal. Arms: ¼: 1&4 Castile and Leon; 2&3: 1|2 Aragon and Sicily; Enté en point of Granada. Crest: Crown and dragon issuant. L.: SIGILLVM FERDINANDI REGIS CASTELLE ARAGONVM LEGIONIS SICILIE TOLETI VALENCIE. Date: 1496.02.18 [21]


The arms are blasoned in spanish as follows:

El rrey de Castilla y de león, de Aragón y de Cecylia y de Granada. Trae por armas un escudo escuartelado, y el prymer cuartel es escuartelado de Castilla y de León; de Castilla, de colorado con un castilla levantado de oro y aventananado de azul, y el de León de plata con un león de púrpura; y el segundo cuartel es partido en palo de Aragón y de Çeçylia: el de Aragón es de oro con cuatro palos de colorado, y el de Çeçylia son las armas de Aragón con dos flans de Çeçylia, que son de plata con cada un ágila de negro myrando el una a la otra; el escudo partydo en punta de las armas de Granada, que es de plata con una granada muy madura y endida, con sus ramas verdes. [22]


To be continued at Spain


The Crowned Arms


In the time of Peter IV, when the crest appeared on the royal arms, the arms were crowned at the same time. This is not a great development because in fact the kings bearing the arms were crowned earlier on equestrian seal of James I and his successors. So the crowned arms was just a matter of presentation of crown and arms.

A representation of the crowned arms as such can be seen on the counterseal of the wife of Peter IV Eleonore (do. of Peter II of Sicily).

These arms symbolize the royal administrative authority, the crown being a badge of administrative rank.


Seal of Eleonora. The queen standing between D.: The arms of Aragon and Sicily; S. The arms of Sicily and Aragon. L.: A/LIENORA DEI GRACIA REGINA ARAGONUM / VALENCIE  MAIORICANUM  SARDINIE ET C/O//RSICE COMITISSAQ(UE) BARCHINO/NE ROSSILIONIS ET CERITANIE.

Counterseal: Arms: Barcelona, crowned. Date: 1374  [23]


Afterwards the crowned arms appears regularly until about the middle of the 17th century.


Crowned arms of Alfonso V, 1450 ca

San Martino Museum, Naples


Ferdinand II, the Catholic presiding the States of Catalonia

From a 15th c. mansucript.


Albrecht Dürer 1517

Virgil Solis 1555


Martin Schrot 1581

Ad Regum Aragonum, 1587

Aragonensium Rerum, 1588


Coin of Philip III, 1611


After the reign of Philip III the crowned royal arms for Aragon disappeared



Liquidation of the Kingdom of Aragon, 1713


After the liquidation of the United Kingdom sometimes the royal arms for the different former kingdoms were used for the purpose. These were:


  • For  Aragon the arms of the House of Barcelona: Or, four pales Gules
  • For Valencia:  Gules [Azure], a castle Argent
  • For the Principality of Catalonia: Quarterly of the the cross of the county of Barcelona and the arms of the House of Barcelona
  • For Majorca the royal arms of Majorca from the House of Barcelona being Or, four pales Gules and a bend Azure.


An arrangement of the Royal arms of king Charles III of Bourbon (1759-‘88) and the royal arms of the former parts of the United Kingdom is on a charter giving permission for the transfer the archives from the Royal Palace to the Palace of Justice, dated El Pardo, 18 February 1772.


Front cover of the a charter of King Charles III, 18.02.1772

Showing the royal arms of  surrounded by the arms of the former United Kingdom of Aragon.


To demonstrate the satisfaction of the king with the efforts of the officials of the archives the charter is written on parchment an has a luxuriuosly decorated cover.


The Achievement


The principal officials of the royal household were the chancellor, usually an ecclesiastic, who was responsible for the issuance of royal letters and the preservation of records; the mayordomo, a magnate, who supervised the household and the royal domain; and the alférez (Catalan: senyaler), also a magnate, who organized and directed the army under the king's command. The merinos or, later, adelantados, who functioned as provincial governors in Castile, were also drawn from the nobility. The Catalan counties initially were part of the Carolingian empire, but the various counts gradually achieved independence. The counts of Barcelona had gained an effective sovereignty over all of Catalonia by the 11th century. Under the count's direction, vicars (vegueres) and bailiffs (batlles), responsible respectively for justice and taxes, administered the Catalan territorial subdivisions. The privilege of immunity granted to bishops, magnates, monasteries, and military orders prohibited royal officials from dispensing justice or levying taxes in immune lands, except in cases of negligence. The immunities of the archbishop of Compostela in Galicia and those of the military orders south of Toledo were among the most important.

Feudal ideas emphasizing private and personal relationships exerted great influence on the governmental and military organization of the Christian kingdoms—most fully in Catalonia, where French influence was strong. As vassals holding fiefs of the count of Barcelona, the Catalan nobles owed him military and court service, and they often had vassals of their own. In the western states, royal vassals usually held land in full ownership rather than in fief. As vassals of the king or count, the magnates, called ricos hombres (i.e., rich or powerful men) in the west and barones in Catalonia, functioned as his chief counselors and provided the bulk of the royal military forces. Nobles of the second rank, known variously as infanzones, caballeros, or cavallers, generally were vassals of the magnates.


In a very early stage the kingdom of Pamplona and its successor kingdom of Aragon had an achievement which usually was the emblem of the government consisting of the officials of the royal household. In Pamplona the nucleus of such an achievement was a combination of the square cross for the administration and the christogram of the armed forces, supoorted by angles or lions.

From Aragon an achievement is known consisting of the christogram supported by angels and consequently being the emblem of the (autonomous) army staff.


Achievement above the entrance of St. Nicolas Church in El Frago (12th Century)


another achievement dates from somewahat later and is above the entrance of St. Felix in Uncastillo a quarter of Zaragoza. This was made about the turn of the 12t and 13t century


Christogram supperted by two angels

San Felix de Uncastillo


From 1162 until 1196, that is to say during the rreign of Alfonso the Cbaste the office of alférez was held by Jimeno de Artosilla, Gonzalvo Copelino, Sancho Ramirez and Artoldo de Alagón, Tarino and Portolez (who was also Grand Senechal).


Such an achievement became obsolete after teh renewal of the infeudation of Aragon by the Pope in 1204.


For some reason no emblems of the royal household are known from the next hundred-and-fifty years, be it because they were not used and made, be it that they were destroyed later. On the other hand the arms of the ecclesia, being a red cross on a white field were introduced in Aragon after 1204. Later these arms were “supported” by St. George which became the patron saint of Aragon.

Still later St. George became the charge of the seal of the Cortés of Catalonia and the arms of Aragon became the red cross between four moor’s heads, which, maybe somewhat farfetched, may have been intended as a kind of “supporters” of the arms of the ecclesia in Aragon.

In any case, the arms with the moor’s heads were used by the aragonese cortés and an achievement symbolizing the royal aragonese household only ocurred in the middle of the 14th century, in the time of Peter IV, the Ceremonious (1336-’87).


For sure, this cries for research!


Achievement of Aragon in Poblet monastery, about 1350


Arms: Aragon/Barcelona

Crown: A royal crown

Supporters: An angel behind the shield and two lions.


In the Royal Palace of Santa Creu, dating from the time of Martin the Humane (1395-1410) the achievement is augmented with another angel:


Achievement of Aragon in the Monastery of Santa Creu

Arms: Aragon/Barcelona

Crest: A latin cross

Supporters: Two lions and two angels


On the seal of majesty of Martin the Humane the lions and the cross are omitted:


Seal of Martin the Humane, 1399


Seal: The king on his throne with sceptre and globe crested with a patriarchal cross. L.: DILIGITE IUSTITIAM QUI IUDICATIS TERRAM ET OCCULIVESTRI VIDEANT EQUITATEM. Date: 1399


The arms, crowned and supporterd by two angels are also in a manuscript from his reign



By Alfonso V however, the angels were replaced by griffins:


Smaller Seal of Alfonso V, with the achievement of Aragon


Arms Aragon/Barcelona

Crown: A crown of 5 large and 4 small leaves

Supporters: Griffins



Achievement of Alfonso V, Porta Nueva, Naples


After Ferdinand had succeeded in Aragon a new achievement was sculptured in the Aljaferia in Zaragoza. This showed the arms of Ferdinand after 1475, crowned  and supported by two lions.


Achievement of Ferdinand II

 over the entrance of the throne hall in the Aljaferia in Zaragoza (1488-’95)


After the conquest of Navarra in 1512  another achievement was made in the Aljaferia, the shield augmented with the arms of Navarra and the supporters replaced by griffins.

As in 1485 the Aljaferia was made the seat of court of justice and the prison of the Inquisition this may have been the achievement over the entrance of the Court of Justice of the Aragonese Inquisition (1507-’17).


Achievement of Ferdinand II after 1512

In the Aljaferia in Zaragoza


To be continued at Spain


Æ Part 2



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© Hubert de Vries 2013-10-29


[1] Wikipedia

[2] Arch. Dept.s de Marseille. Vicente  Cascante, op. cit. fig. 257) 

[3] Sanchez Casabon, Ana Isabel: Los cargos de mayordomo, senescal i dapifer en el reinado de Alfonso II de Aragon

[4] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit.. fig. 261

[5] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit.. fig. 253 A-B.

[6] Arch. Hist. Nac. Vicente  Cascante, op. cit.. fig. 263

[7] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit.. fig. 264

[8] That is to say when the House of Champagne succeeded in Navarre. The oldest seal with the carbuncle of Navarre is from 1247: Douët d’Arcq, n° 11372. The nave of  York Minster dates from 1296 and for that reason the stained glass has to be from an older church. A representation of the glass  in 1666 in Dugdale’s Yorkshire Arms fol. 96c. (Coll. College of Arms, Londen). Photographies from  before the restoration in 1946 were placed at disposal by the Dean and Chapter of York. 

[9] Henry Raspe of Thuringia was crowned a German King but not a Roman king. William II was only crowned a Roman King in 1252.

[10] Which are the arms of Gregorius IX (1227-’41).

[11] Dress and armoury of the persons represented does not contradict the dating of 1234.

[12] Enc. Illustrada / Arch. Hist. Nac. Madrid

[13] Brault, Gerard J.: Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. London, 1973. Walford C7, Cl9, Cd9.

[14] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit. fig. 262. A.C.A.

[15] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit. fig. 265.

[16] Vicente  Cascante, op. cit. fig. 254.

[17] Arch. Hist. Nac. Vicente  Cascante, op. cit. fig 255

[18] Riguer, Martin de: Heraldica Castellana en Tiempos de los Reyes Catholicos. Barcelona, 1986. N° 382. Juan II de Aragón y de Navarra; N° 366.

[19] Menéndez Pidal, Faustino: El Escudo de España. Madrid, 2004. p. 207

[20] Archivo de la Corona de Aragon. Vicente Cascante op.cit.. fig. 299.

[21] Vicente-Cascante op.cit. fig. 300

[22] Riquer, Martin de: Heraldica Catalana des de l'any 1150 al 1550. Barcelona, 1983. N° 410

[23] ASV,  Atti diplomatici e privati, b.22, n. 669. Bibl.: Douët D’Arcq, III, 1868, p. 441, n° 11232

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