Posts tagged ‘Spanish heraldry’

Dibujo Heráldico

A new Spanish language blog has been inaugurated in the heraldry space by Xavi García titled “Dibujo Heráldico” or “Heraldic Design”.

The theme of the blog is unique as it does not cover heraldry in general, like most blogs (including this one), but is dedicated to the specifics of the art & science of heraldic design. Topics such as proportions of shields, ordinaries and sub-ordinaries, tricking & hatching, etc. are all under the purview of this blog.

The site currently only has a few entries but, I look forward to knowledge Mr. García will be sharing in the future.

I recommend you take a look and see for yourself.

The URL to this new blog is:



The end of an era – Blog de Heráldica

On February 20th, 2010 what in my opinion has been the best blog on heraldry in any language, Blog de Heráldica, posted its final entry.

The blog was maintained by the Spanish Air Force Major José Juan Carrión Rangel, a knight of the Cofraternity of San Fernando (Hermandad de san Fernando) and certified by the Spanish Armed Forces as a military herald. A man I have the honor of calling a friend.

Over the period of time that the blog was active, it was the forum where some of the top heraldic experts of the Spanish speaking world congregated.

Who can forget the discussions on the lack of a national Chronicler of Arms and the potential for a future one. Or the most interesting essays by the Marquess de la Floresta, shining a light on all things heraldic in Spain. Or even the ongoing discussions on the Order of St Lazarus.

It is no small feat that the publication of the Heraldry Society of England, the “Coat of Arms” recognized it, a non-English blog, among the top blogs on heraldry.

It was José Juan’s blog that inspired me to start my own and I modeled mine after his. However, I was unable to keep up with him with the daily and sometimes more frequent updates.

It was this frequency of updates that tired him and understandably so. I know I can’t do it and I’ve tried! It is hard to do so with the busy schedule he has and a family!

I do sincerely hope though that he reconsiders his decision to retire from the blog world and return with his postings but, with a more reasonable frequency. Perhaps weekly or monthly.

The heraldic world is a small one and with the silence of his blog, heraldry online will be much poorer.

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.