Archive for August 2009

Arms of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin

Barbarin cardinal

In a recent email conversation I had with that most excellent heraldic artist Laurent Granier, about whom I had written back on January 29th and whose website is, he brought up the arms of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon.


In my post of June 2nd, I had shared some pictures from my latest trip to Rome where I had taken several pictures of some of the coats of arms I had come across. In that post, I shared the following picture taken in front of the Trinità dei Monti.

As you can see, the arms are not the same!

The Cardinal’s arms displayed in Rome are wrong!

Laurent Granier was surprised to discover this as he was the one who designed the arms for Cardinal Barbarin and the ones displayed at the church entrance are those from one of the many sketches the two went over before His Eminence finally chose the one displayed at the beginning of the post.

I must say that I prefer the correct arms as they make the French connection clear.

Hopefully this gets resolved and the right arms make it to the church’s entrance.

Spanish genealogical resource

The Royal Academy of History of Spain (Real Academia de la Historia) has created a database collection of the biographies of thousands of historical persons.

The database is the outcome of the project Diccionario Biográfico Español or “Spanish Biographical Dictionary” of the Royal Academy and for the creation of the Center of Biographical Studies. The project intends to cover persons from all regions of the world that were under the Spanish Crown: the Iberian peninsula, the Americas, the Low Countries, the Philippines, etc.

At present, the database contains the data of over 40,000 persons and can be accessed via the link:

Some information about Spanish heraldry

In general, one can group the heraldry of the Spanish kingdoms into three: those of the Basque and Navarre regions, the rest of Spain and the New World.

In the Basque & Navarre regions in the north of the Iberian peninsula, heraldry is inspired by nature and has some motifs that are found in the arms of the families, town, etc. Animals, birds, trees and stars are very common with certain species more so than others.

Escudo de Vergara

It is especially common to find an oak tree as a principle charge as Basque towns usually had a large one in the town center where the inhabitants would meet to discuss matters of importance. Kind of like the modern town halls or the Athenian Agora.

Just as common as the oak tree is the wolf. Wolves used to be a major plague in Europe up until about a century or so ago. Especially in regions where mutton was a staple food, wolves would literally eat the food of the locals. This is why one sees wolves as charges on the shields in the Basque & Navarre regions.

On the other hand, the more southern parts of the peninsula is inspired by symbols, local scenery and the wars against the Moors. Perhaps the most common charges are castles, lions, bordures and Moors themselves.

The use of a castle or a lion more often than not allude to a descent or origin from the homonym kingdoms of Castille (castle in Spanish) or Leon (lion in Spanish).

What is, to me at least, very interesting is the use of specific bordures to commemorate a battle. Those who participated in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa use a bordure with 8 crosses fleury, those in the battle of Baeza use 8 saltorels and those who participated in the battle of Salado use the motto Ave Maria gratia plena.

When it comes to the New World, a whole new selection of possible charges entered Spanish heraldry. All of the local fauna and flora were possible charges, from llamas to corn to potatoes to indigenous symbols, all were used by the conquistadors. It is said that the Spanish heralds of the 17th and 18th century treated the blazon as secondary part of the coat of arms and went crazy with the new designs. Designs that today we could call lucky charmish.

Genealogical discoveries – Order of Alcántara

Cross_AlcantaraCross of Alcántara

Over the past 2+ years I have been doing a lot of genealogical research. Though I took a sabbatical for a few months, I restarted me research and have spent hours upon hours on it.

Most of the time, I’ve spent it researching my mother’s side of the family as that part is very well documented while, on the other hand, the Greek side is not at all. Some day I may get lucky though…

In my latest foray into the murky past of my family, I made a very interesting discovery. I am a descendant of Ruy Vásquez (de Quiroga) also known as Rodrigo Vázquez who was the Grand Master of the Order of Alcántara from 1312-1318.

The Order of Alcántara was created in the during the Reconquista in the Kingdom of León and originally it’s knights were exclusively from the region of Extremadura. It was one of the various Military Orders created at the time to fight against the Muslim Moors of the south of the Iberian peninsula. For a while during it’s early years it was part of the Order of Calatrava, in around 1218 it broke away and became known as the Order of San Julián de Pereiro with the approval of Alfonso IX of León and based in the city of Alcántara. It wasn’t until later that century (about 1253) that the Grand Masters of the Order started calling themselves the “Grand Masters of Alcántara”.

The descent is through Milla Vásquez de Quiroga, the daughter of Ruy Vásquez de Quiroga and his wife Teresa Gómez de Losada

  1. Milla Vásquez de Quiroga m. Gonzalo Rodríguez de Valcarcé
  2. García Rodríguez de Quiroga (Valcarcé) m. Marí Álvarez de Losada
  3. Juan de Losada m. Violante de Ribadeneira Pardo
    (interestingly enough, his brother Rodrigo de Quiroga was a commander of the Order of Santiago)
  4. Rodrigo de Quiroga m. Inés de Escobar
    (this Rodrigo de Quiroga is not to be confused with his paternal 2nd degree cousin Rodrigo de Quiroga, Royal Governor of Chile)
  5. Juan de Losada m. Constanza de Villasur
  6. Bernardino de Quiroga (y Villasur de Balboa) m. Juana de Miranda (y Rueda)
  7. Constanza Quiroga m. Antonio Chacón (y Sánchez de Morales)
  8. Luisa Chacón y Quiroga m. Martín Hurtado de Mendoza
  9. Leonor Hurtado de Mendoza m. Francisco Riveros Figueroa
  10. Josefa de Riveros (y Hurtado de Mendoza) m. Rodrigo de Aránguiz (y Alvarado)
  11. Catalina de Aránguiz (y Riveros) m. Juan Madrazo de Santelices
  12. María Mercedes Santelices Aránguiz m. Manuel José de Vial Xarabeitía
  13. María del Carmen Vial m. José María Prieto Sotomayor
  14. María del Carmen Prieto Vial m. Manuel José Bulnes Quevedo
  15. Manuel Bulnes Prieto m. Enriqueta Pinto Garmendia
  16. Elena Bulnes Pinto m. Ángel Ortúzar Montt
  17. Javiera Ortúzar Bulnes m. Carlos Fernando Edwards Garriga
  18. Javier Edwards Ortúzar m. Luisa Hurtado (de Mendoza) Olea
  19. Eliana Edwards Hurtado m. Fernando Antonio (Martínez de) Vergara Ortúzar
  20. Maria Eliana Vergara Edwards m. Evangelos Kimon Andreou
  21. Kimon Andreou (that’s yours truly)

How’s that for a blast from the past?

Now, what does this mean? Nothing more than just interesting information and that I can trace my ancestry all the way to the late 13th century.


  • Espejo, Juan Luis – Nobiliario de la Antigua Capitanía General de Chile (1967 edition)
  • Morales Guiñazú, Fernando – Genealogía de los Conquistadores de Cuyo y Fundadores de Mendoza
  • Retamal Favereau, Julio; Celis Atria, Carlos; y Muñoz Correa, Juan Guillermo – Familias Fundadoras de Chile, 1540-1600
  • Millas, Hernán – La Sagrada Familia
  • Barrios Barth, Juan E. – Algunos Extranjeros llegados a La Serena y su jurisdicción durante el siglo pasado
  • Birth, marriage & death certificates of the Government of Chile
  • de la Cuadra Gormaz, Guillermo – Familias chilenas (Origen y desarrollo de las familias chilenas)
  • Medina, José Toribio – Diccionario biográfico colonial de Chile
Josefa de Riveros

Memoria Chilena

COA Chile

While looking for some genealogy books I need for my research, I came upon an amazingly valuable resource for anyone doing research in Chile that’s absolutely free!

It appears that the government of Chile has created a website that contains hundreds, if not thousands, of scanned images, articles, books, etc. from sources from the early 1900’s and older.  It is a veritable treasure trove for anyone doing research.

In my case, I had been unable to find many books that I had leads that may contain information on my family and had resigned to the fact that I had to plan a trip to Washington, DC to visit the Library of Congress as that was the only place I could find them. On the rare occassion that I did find a book for sale, its price would range from the mid $100’s (USD) all the way to close to $1,000!

The name of the site is called Memoria Chilena and is located at this address:

It has a very powerful search engine that can search by either title, author, publisher or any other keyword. The results returned will include, perhaps, an information page a list of books, articles and photographs.

All books or articles are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to be read electronically on your computer, PDA, etc.

One of my favorite features is the e-Libros section whereby there is a list of recommended resources for researchers and enthusiasts alike. What’s great about the list is that it changes monthly which means that you may find a gem there that you never knew existed.

Any researcher of genealogy or history will be well served to use this most excellent resource.

Just be aware that you will not be able to find any of the books or articles published after around the 1930’s. This means that one of the books I’m looking for “El linaje de Vial” by Raúl Díaz Vial, published in 1960 is still to be found by me outside of the Library of Congress… If anyone knows where to find it, please let me know!