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Part 1



The Royal Arms




The Royal Arms

The Smaller Arms

The Achievement


The Triquetra




Back to Sicily




The island of Sicily, Sicily-Trinacria, was a part of the Kingdom of Sicily given by pope Clemens IV to Charles of Anjou on 28 June 1265. As a result Charles felt free to make war against the sitting king Manfred which he defeated at the battle of Benevento on 26 February 1266. The would-be successor of Manfred, Conradin, underwent the same fate at the battle of Tagliacozzo in 1268. In August of the same year Conradin, then 14 years of age, was beheaded in Naples.

In the following years Charles secured his position by killing or imprisoning all remaining Hohenstaufen who could possibly have a claim on the kingdom. Only Constance, the oldest daughter of Manfred and married with Pedro of Aragon, escaped.

The citizens of Palermo, dissatisfied with the feudal style of government of Charles, rebelled on the monday after Easter 1282 at the famous Sicilian Vespers and elected Pedro of Aragon as their king. Constance became regent in Sicily.

The sons of Constance and Pedro were considered by the Staufic party to be the legal successors of Manfred. After the death of Pedro in 1285 his oldest son Alfonso succeded him in Aragon. At the insistence of the Sicilians, who did not like a personal union with Aragon, the second son, James I became king of Sicily. At the death of Alfonso he succeded in Aragon and a new personal union was imminent. For that case Pedro had prescribed that his third son, Frederick, would succeed in Sicily but James limited himself to appoint Frederick as his regent there. In 1295 he thought about rendering the troublesome kingdom to the Pope but at that moment the Sicilians elected Frederick as their king. He founded a dynasty which would rule over Sicily until 1392.




Royal Arms


The arms of the Kings of Sicily-Trinacria were, in the first few centuries, a quarterly of the arms of the House of Barcelona and the House of Hohenstaufen-Sicily.


Pedro I



Goldcoin of Pedro I (III) of Aragon and his wife Constance Hohenstaufen

showing the arms with the pales of Aragon and the royal eagle of Sicily.


The Children of Peter III of Aragon and Constance, oldest daughter of Manfred of Sicily.



In this short family-tree we may see how the arms were used:

  • Peter III and Alfonso III bore the arms of the House of Barcelona during their rule in Aragon
  • James I bore as a king of Sicily a quarterly of Barcelona and Sicily but, when King James II of Aragon the arms of Barcelona
  • As a third son of Peter III and king of Sicily, but probably also as a regent of Sicily Frederick II bore a quarterly in saltire of Barcelona and Sicily.


The quarterly in saltire became the arms of the Younger branch of the House of Barcelona, founded by Frederick II and was borne by all his descendants, independent of the royal title of Sicily.  For that reason it can be qualified to be a real family-arms. In line with this, the successor bore a little crown on the heads of the eagles. These crowns are known from the arms on the tomb of William, Duke of Athens (†1338) in the Duomo of Palermo


Pedro and Constance have tried to reunite the two parts of the kingdom by strategic marriages. Three of the children of the married couple were married with children of Charles II of Naples, that is to say James in 1295 with Blanche (†1310), Yolante in 1297 with Robert, later King of Naples (1309-’43), and Frederick II in 1302 with Eleonore (†1341). As the Pope definitively separated the two parts by Treaty of Caltabellotto in 1302, the children from these marriages were prospectless for the succession in Naples in advance. After 1302 the Sicilian kings for that reason have looked elsewhere for their candidates


James I


King of Sicily 1285-1296

King of Aragon and Valencia 1291-1327

King of Sardinia 1297-1327


Seal of Jaime II, el Justo.

Rider on horseback. Arms.: ¼ of Aragon and Sicily. L.: ?. (Archivio Historica Nacional.) [1]



Arms.: ¼: 1&4: Or, two pales Gules; 2&3 Argent an eagle Sable.

Foto H.d.V. 03.1997

Fresco with the coats of arms of the Empire or the Order of St John and James I. [2]

From tad Dejr, Rabat (Malta). Coll. National Museum of Art, Valetta.

Frederick II  


Regent of Sicily 1291-1296

King of Sicily 1296-1336


Piece of a harness, 13th c.

An eagle catching a hare between two riders on horseback,  the one on the right with a shield per saltire of Aragon and Sicily.

Enclosing a reconstruction of the arms


Pedro II

Louis I




Frederick III







Arms.: ¼ in saltire, the chief and the base Or, four pallets Gules for Aragon; the dexter and sinister Argent, an eagle Sable for Sicily.

Crest: On a helmet, lambrequined Or (and Gules), issuant from a crown Gules, an eagle’s-head Or, billed and crowned Gules.

From: Armorial du Héraut Gelre. 1370-1386. Brussel K.B. nr. 15652 fol. 68. 


In the beginning of the 15th century by a series of dynastic coincidences a personal union between Aragon and Sicily came into being when Martin I of Aragon succeeded his son Martin I of Sicily in 1409 (as Martin II). His arms combined the blasons of Aragon and Sicily, even when

A change in the royal arms of Sicily occurred when Martin I from the House of Barcelona became a king of Sicily in 1392 by his marriage with his niece (fa-mo-bro-dau) Mary and the two lines of the House of Aragon and the House of Sicily converged.. After his death in 1409 a personal union between Aragon and Sicily became a fact when he was succeeded in Sicily by his father Martin I of Aragon (II of Sicily) who, in his turn was succeeded by his sisters’ son Ferdinand I.

The arms of Martin I (1392-1409) as on his seal dated 1403 was per pale of Barcelona and Sicily (being the dynastical arms of himself and his wife and anticipating the personal union of his son).


Seal of Martin I of Sicily, dated 1403:


Rider on horseback with a palette-shaped shield per pale of Barcelona and Sicily. On his helmet a winged dragon issuant for crest. Unreadable legend.



Ferdinand I of Antequera



King of Sicily & Aragon 1412-1416


A panel from the tomb of King Fernando I of Aragón  in the Monastery of Poblet (Catalonia)

The panel, sculpted by Pere Oller, is now  in the Louvre Museum, Paris.


Alfonso V the Magnanimous


King of Aragon and Sicily-Trinacria 1416-1458

King of Sicily-Naples 1442-1458

Knight Toison d’Or n° 42, 1445


Alfonso V bore the coats of arms of his kingdoms separately and so there are documents showing his arms as a king of Aragon: Or, four pales Gules, and as a king of Sicily-Naples: Quarterly of Barcelona and tierced per pale of Hungary, France & Jeruzalem. For his Kingdom of Sicily-Trinacria he bore the quarterly in saltire of Sicily. This can be seen on his equestrian seal:



Equestrian Seal of Alphonso IV el Magnamimo


Arms: Sicily-Trinacria.

Crest.: A dragon issuant


Date: 1443

(Archivo de la Corona de Aragón.) [3]


John II

*1397 - †1479

¥ 1425 Blanche van Navarra

Koning van Navarra 1425-1479

Koning van Aragon etc. 1458-1479

Koning van Sicilië - Trinacria 1458-1468

Knight Toison d’Or n° 59, 1461


John II also bore different arms in his kingdoms. In Navarra (and as a Knight Toison d’Or) he bore a quarterly of Barcelona and Navarra but as a king of Sicilia (according to a younger source [4]) a quarterly of Barcelona and Sicily:

Arms of Juan II after 1458

(As on the triptych of Jan van Battel, 1520ca.)


Ferdinand II, the Catholic


King of Sicily-Trinacria 1468-1515

¥ 1469 Isabel I of Castile

Knight Toison d’Or n° 73, Valencijn 1473

King of Castile 1474-1516

King of Aragon 1479-1516

King of Granada 1492-1516

King of Sicily-Naples 1503-1515

¥ 1506 Germaine of Foix

King of Navarra 1512-1516


Right after his marriage with Isabel of Castile he bore a parti of Castile/Leon and Barcelona, crowned with a crown of five leaves and four pearls.


When Ferdinand  had become a king of Aragon he bore:

Arms.: ¼: 1&4: ¼ Castile and Leon; 2&3: 1|2 Aragon and Sicily.

Crest: Crown and dragon issuant.

Seal of Ferdinand II until 1492


Arms of Ferdinand II

in Alfajereria Palace in Zaragoza



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




The Habsburg Kings



After the crowns of Aragon and Castile were united in 1479,  Sicily was ruled directly by the kings of Spain by governors and viceroys. As a consequence the arms of the kings of Sicily were the arms of the Kings of Spain, descendants of the Kings of Sicily. 

Those of Joanna the Mad and Charles I (V) were:

Those of Philip II initially were:


Throughout the 17th century these were:


Arms of Philip IV at the entrance of the Chiesa Sant’Antonino, Palermo


The arms are:

Arms: ½: 1: ½ of Castile and Leon; 2. 1|2 the dexter of Barcelona, the sinister ½ of Sicily and Jeruzalem, enté en point of Granada and in chief point Portugal; 2. ¼ of Austria, Valois, Burgundy and Brabant, i fess point 1|2 Flanders and Tirol.

Crown: A royal crown

Order: The collar of the Order of the Fleece.


The Savoy King



Sicilian Royal Arms of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy

In Palermo Cathedral


As Victor Amadeus was not a descendant of the Kings of Sicily, he could not bear the arms of Sicily.


Arms: ¼: 1. ¼: Jerusalem, Lusignan, Armenia and Cyprus. 2. tierced per pile: Westfalen, Saxony and Angaria; 3.1|2: Chablais and Aosta; 4. 1|2: Genève and Montferrat. In nombril point: Argent, an eagle Sable with an escutcheon Savoie.

Order.: SS. Annunziata

Crown: A royal crown of five hoops.


Charles III & Charles IV



Spanish Royal arms of Charles VI

At the Bellomo Palace, Siracuse


Royal Arms of 1735-‘38

Palermo Cathedral


Arms: Per fess, the chief per pale the first quarterly of Castile and Leon, the second per pale of Barcelona and Sicily, enté en point of Granada and Portugal in nombril point for Spain; the base quarterly of Austria, Valois, Burgundy and Brabant, in nombril point per pale of Flanders and Tirol, for the Netherlands.

Order: Du Toison d’Or.

Crown: A royal crown of five hoops.



The quarters somewhat disarranged.


Arms: ½: I The chief per pale the first 1|2 the dexter impaled of Parma (the fleurs de lys omitted) and Burgundy ancient; the sinister per fess the chief quarterly of Castile and Leon, the base an escucheon Portugal; the second per pale of Barcelona, Sicilyand Arpad and a base of Jeruzalem. Enté en point of Granada II. ¼ of Austria, Valois, Burgundy and Brabant; in fess point a parti of Flanders and Tirol. In nombril/chief point: France.

Crown: A royal crown of five hoops.


Æ It is tried to insert a quarter for Parma.


Smaller Arms


From the time of Martin I, when the arms of the Younger Branch of Aragon-Sicily were marshalled for the first time by impaling the shields of Barcelona and Sicily, a smaller version of the arms of Sicily was in use. [7] This consisted of the quarterly in saltire only, crowned with a royal crown, meaning it represents the administrative authority of the king, contrary to the crested version which represents his armed authority.



Arms of Sicily in the Ulrich Richental Chronicle, 1420ca


The legend reads: Von dem durchluchtigen fürste kung vernadus zu Cecilie base dz ist dz nider zu Arago ny in Hispania [8]

The arms of Sicilia ultrafarum

On  Maximilians’ Triumphal Arch, by A. Dürer, 1517.


Arms of Sicily by Virgil Solis, 1555


Counterseal of King Philip II, 1563


On the equestrian seal to which this counterseal belongs, King Philip II has these arms in his hand. This may be the last equestrian seal of Sicily in the mediaeval tradition. [10]

Arms of Sicily

In the armorial of Martin Schrot, 1581

with the revenues a year


Arms of Sicily on a playing card, 1700 ca.

Province of Sicily


                                                             The Triquetra


Because the quarterly in saltire for Sicilia had always been a dynastic coat of arms, borne by right by the descendants of King Frederick II, it could not possibly be used as a part of the arms of the Two Sicilies of Joseph Bonaparte.

A new emblem was invented for the island, actually not in the posession of Joseph but nominally a part of the newly founded kingdom. For the Island a triskeles or triquetra was chosen as its emblem. It was inspired and based on coins and decorations from Siracusa  of the 6th century BC.


The triquetra (greek: triskèeles) is a figure consisting of  a triangle of bended legs, charged with a gorgoneion. About 289 BC it is on coins struck in Siracusa and on sicilian pottery. After the roman conquest of Sicily in 241-227 BC it is the emblem of the island, then called Trinacria. [11] In the 16th and 17th centuries AD the triquetra was reintroduced and it was also known by the advisers of Joseph Bonaparte looking for a symbol for Sicily that would not refer to the spanish rule of the island. [12]


It was introduced by law of Joseph Napoleon of 1 December 1806 and it was blasoned: Regno di Sicilia: Trinacria d’argento in campo d’oro. That is: For the Kingdom of Sicilia and consequently they are not the royal arms of Sicily.


The emblem is also on a medallion of the collar of the Order of the Two Sicilies founded by Joseph Napoleon on 24 February 1808. In both cases the triquetra consists of  three bended legs turning counter-clockwise charged with a gorgoneion.


Doppia Oncia d’Oro, 1814

Struck by King Ferdinand III (I) of Sicily


Imitating Joseph Bonaparte the triquetra was also adopted as a symbol of the island by King Ferdinand III of Bourbon. It is on the reverse of a double oncia minted in 1814. On the obverse the head of the king and the legend: FERDINAN . III . P.F.A. SICILIAR .ET . HIER  . REX. 1814.


The  triquetra  here consists of the three legs counterclockwise, separated by three ears of wheat and charged with a winged gorgoneion (much looking like a cherub).


The Sicilian revolution of independence of 1848 started on 12 January 1848. A parliament elected on 15 March declared the Bourbon dynasty deposed on the 25th and made Ruggiere Settimo regent of the provicional government. Later it offered the crown to Ferdinand of Savoy, duke of Genoa (second son of Charles Albert of Savoy).[13]

A constitution was adopted on 10 June 1848 to replace the constitution of 1812 suspended by the Bourbon kings. The Independent State of Sicily survived for eleven months, with the Bourbon army taking back by force full control of the island on 15 May 1849.

For the independent state the triquetra was adopted as an emblem, the legs first turning counter-clockwise and later clockwise:


Emblem of  Independent  Sicily, 1848-‘49


On a document of the Commissariato del Potere Esecutivo, 25 April 1848

Ears of wheat between the legs, cherub


On a document of the Parlamento Generale,

12 September 1848

The legs turning counter-clockwise, the gorgeoneion restored


This emblem was tinctured “proper” in the middle of the green-white-red revolutionary tricolore.


On 14 March 1849 it was decided to issue its own coins showing the triquetra “being the symbol of liberty in pre-roman times and in the time of the Sicilian Vespers” and the legend “Sicilia Independente” and “Patria Gloria Amore/ Viva la Sicilia indipendente.” No pictures of such coins have shown up until now.


After the revolutions of 1848 a coat of arms for the Two Sicilies was designed combining the (napoleonic) emblems for the island and the terra ferma with the arms of Bourbon, thus reviving the smaller arms of Joseph Napoleon and Joachim Murat. In this coat of arms Sicily was represented by the well known triquetra of napoleonic design.


Stamp from the time of Francis II, 1860


Incorporation into the Italian Kingdom, 1861-present


A Sicilian Independence Movement (Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano, MIS) existed during WWII but did not result in an independent sicilian government. Instead, soon after the war autonomous regions were formed of which Sicilia was one (together with Sardinia, Val d’Aosta and Trentino Alto Adige.) For these regions coats of arms were proposed, published in the Gazeta Ufficiale n° 80 of 2 april 1958. For Sicily this should have been: Argent, a triquetra Or. [14]


Coat of arms of the Sicilian Region, 1958


Many years later however, according to the regional law of 28 July 1990 n. 12. a different coat of arms was adopted It is:

Arms: Per bend Gules and Or, a triquetra in fess point.


The triquetra is of the Bourbon model with the ears of wheat between the legs and charged with a cherub. Initially the colour was white but nowadays it is also seen coloured ‘proper’.



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© Hubert de Vries 2012-10-13



[1] Vicente Cascante, Ignacio: Heraldica General y Fuentes de las Armas de España. Barcelona, 1956. Figs. 266 & 267).

[2] The Order of St. John resided on Cyprus from 1292-1310.

[3] Vic. Casc. op.cit.  pp. 422 & 425, Fig. 268.

[4] On a triptych of Jan van Battel depicting young Charles V, today in Malines.

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

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

[7] ..the conjoiing of two or more coats of arms upon one shield for the purpose of indicating sovereignty, dominion, alliance, descent, or pretension.... (A.Fox-Davies)

[8] Richental Ulrich: Das Konzil zu Konstantz MCDXIV-MCDXVIII. Faksimile Ausgabe. Josef Keller Verlag. Hamburg, 1964.  Fol 137v°                                                                                                        

[9] Valk, Gerard: Seer Aardig en Net Wapen Boeck. Waar in te vinden zijn de Wapenen van alle Koningen, Hertogen, Princen, Vorsten en landen van Europa. Samengesteld tot gebruyk van een Kaartspel. Tot Amsterdam bij Gerard Valk. Z.j. (ca. 1700).

[10] Vredius, Olivarius:Genealogica Comitum Flandriae a Balduino Ferreo usque ad Philippum IV Hisp. Regem. Brugge, 1642.   P. 226   The seal is on an act given in Brussels and it is unknown why Philip presented himself as a king of Sicily there.                                                                                               

[11]  Encyclopedia Italiana. 1929: Triscele.

[12]  Colocci-Vespucci, A. : La Trinacria nel simbolismo e nell’araldica. In: Rivista Araldica 19?? pp. 407-408.

[13] Gules, a cross Argent and a bordure compony Argent and Gules.

[14] Héraldique Italienne. In: Archivum Heraldicum, 1960, pp.38-39

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