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Le Grenade







Grenada was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498. He gave it the name Isla de Concepción, and later called it Granada. The Spaniards did not permanently settle on Granada. Later the English failed in their first settlement attempts. The French conquered Grenada from the Caribs circa 1650 and named the new French colony La Grenade. La Grenade prospered as a wealthy French colony; its main export was sugar. The French established a capital known as Fort Royal in 1650 as ordered by Cardinal Richelieu. No other French colony had a natural harbour to even compare with that of Fort Royal (later renamed St. George's). The colony was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. The French  reconquered the island in 1779 but they were dislodged by the English a little later. Finally the two contestants signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. Provoked by Victor Hugues a pro-french revolt broke out in 1795 but was suppressed by English troops. In 1877 Grenada was made a Crown Colony.

The island was a province of the Windward Islands which was succeeded by the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1967, Grenada attained the status of “Associated State of the United Kingdom”, which meant that Grenada was now responsible for her own internal affairs, and the UK was responsible for her defence and foreign affairs. Independence was granted in 7th of February 1974 under the leadership of the then Premier, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, who became the first Prime Minister of Grenada.




Sceau de la Compagnie des Indes Occidentales


Armoiries de la Compagnie d'Occident


In the French era Grenada and some other Antilles were under the jurisdiction of French Companies or the French Crown. The first was the Compagnie Française des Indes Occidentales which existed from 1664 to1674. A second company, the Compagnie d’Occident  was founded in 1717 but merged into the Compagnie Perpetuelle des Indes in 1719. This last company was mainly interested in the trade with the East, disposed itself of La Louisiane in 1731 and did not worry much about its posessions in the Antilles.

The achievement of the Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales was of France ancient, that is to say Azure, strewn with fleurs de lys Or, crowned with a ducal crown and supported by two savages in skirts of leaves, armed with cudgels.


The achievement of the Compagnie d’Occident  was: Vert, a pile wavy Argent, charged with a river couchant proper, leaning on a cornucopia Or, and a chief Azure semy of fleurs de lys Or, supported by a fess of the last. Crowned with a ducal crown and supported by two Indians, dressed in loin-clothes and feather-crowns and armed with bows and arrows.  The Compagny Perpetuelle used the same achievement until its dissolution.


More about the French Companies: HeraldicAmerica in articles by Daniel Cogné and  Auguste Vachon.






A seal for the colony dates from the end of the 18th century. It is on a Proclamation written to put peace to the resurrection (the pro-french revolt) by Governor McKenzie on 26 May 1795, and authorized by King George III. It shows a picture of an oxen-propelled water pumping station and the motto hæ tibi erunt artes, all within a proper legend.[1] Probably the seal was much older and dates from 1763 or 1783.

The motto is a quotation from Vergil's Aeneid VI. 851 : "Hae erunt tibi artes: (imponere morem pacis, parcere subjectis et debellare superbos), meaning: “These shall be your arts: (impose the habit of peace, forgive subdued people and vanquish the proud persons)”.


A badge for Grenada was adopted in about 1889. It consists of a full colour picture of the seal (without the legend). This badge was replaced by a new one in 1903. It is a picture of Columbus’ Concepción, his ship when he discovered the island, in the roads before Grenada together with the motto clarior e tenebris (Even clearer in the darkness) on a listel in base.  The badges were displayed on the blue ensign.


Post war version of the badge








Between 1967-1974 a new flag was used in the colony. It consisted of three breadths of blue, yellow and green. In the middle there was an eggshaped locket charged with a twig of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans - Myristicaceae).





When Grenada became an independent state within the Commonwealth, a new achievement of state was adopted with many references to the past. The shield is quartered by a golden cross, at the junction charged with a picture of Colombus’ Santa Maria. In the first and fourth is the british lion passant guardant, symbolizing the strong ties with the British Commonwealth. In the second and the third there is a golden crescent from which rises a golden lily, the symbol of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, to the memory of the name Concepción given by Columbus to the island. The crest consists of seven roses, symbolizing the seven parishes of the country, surrounded by a garland of flowering bougainvillea. For supporters there are a armadillo on the dexter and a pigeon on the sinister, together with a stalk of maize and a banana tree, symbolizing the fauna and main trade crops of the country. The shield is placed on Mount St. Catherine, the highest mountain of the island, with the Gran Étang (Great Lake) on its slopes. Finally below the achievement is the motto EVER CONSCIOUS OF GOD WE ASPIRE, BUILD  AND ADVANCE  AS ONE PEOPLE, expressing the devotion and aspirations of the population. [2]


Arms: Quarterly, a cross Or, 1&4: Gules, a lion passant guardant Or, 2&4: Vert, a crescent and a lily Or; and in nombril point a picture of the Santa Maria.

Crest: On a golden helmet guardant, lambrequined Gules and with a wreath Argent and Gules, seven red roses surrounded with a garland of Bougainvillea-flowers.

Supporters: An armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus – Dasypodiæ) on the dexter, supporting  a stalk of maize, and a pigeon (Columba leucocephala, Columbæ) on the sinister, supporting a banana tree.


Compartment: Mount St. Catherine and the Grand Étang.

Adopted summer 1974.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.       



The flag, adopted on the 7th of February 1974 has a field quarterly of yellow and green  within a red bordure, and is charged with five five-pointed stars. In the left green part of the flag is the fruit of nutmeg as in the earlier flag.





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© Hubert de Vries 2008.09.18; Updated 2010-02-19; 2012-03-29; 2012-10-23


[1] Grenada National Museum. Info: Kenrick Fletcher

[2] After: Herzog, Hans-Ulrich, & Georg Hannes: Lexicon Flaggen und Wappen. Leipzig, 1990. Pp. 92-93

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