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Coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon

Arms of the Crown of Aragon
Page of a manuscript of the Book of Knowledge of All Kingdoms (14th century) showing the coat of arms of Aragon.

The so-called Bars of Aragon, Royal sign of Aragon, Royal arms of Aragon, Four Bars, Red Bars or Coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon, which bear four red pallets on gold background, depicts the familiar coat of the Kings of Aragon.[1] It differs from the flag because this latter instead uses bars. It is one of the oldest coats of arms in Europe dating back to a seal of Raymond Berengar IV, Count of Barcelona and Prince of Aragon, from 1150.[1][2][3][4]

Today, this symbol has been adopted and/or included in their arms by several former territories related to the Crown of Aragon, like the arms of Spain, which wears it in its third quarter (whereas the Kings of Spain are heirs of those of Aragon); or the arms of Andorra, which shows it on two of its quarters. It is also the main element of the arms of the present Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands; the fourth quarter of the Spanish autonomous community of Aragon; it is present on the arms of the French administrative regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Occitania (whose department of the Pyrénées-Orientales regroups the old provinces of Roussillon and Upper Cerdanya); and in the Italian provinces of Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro in Calabria, and Lecce in Apulia. It figures also in numerous located municipal blazons in the former territories of the Crown, either by explicit concession of the king, or because they were cities or towns of realengo (that is, directly dependent on the Crown and subject to no kind of manorialism); and others outside it, in which case the symbol is because of the presence of the king or knights of the Crown at some moment of their local history.

Heraldic description

Seal of Ramon Berenguer IV, count of Barcelona

The blazon of the arms is: Or, four pallets of gules.[5] In heraldry, the escutcheon is commonly known as that of Aragon.[6]

These pallets of gules are commonly named in popular usage and culture as the "red bars"[7] or the "four bars".[8]

It has been described on the Middle Ages armorials as in "Armorial du Hérault Vermandois", 1285–1300,[9] as that of the King of Aragon, naming specifically Peter III as one of the bearers, is described as These are the arms of the Counts of Barcelona who acquired Aragón by marriage (...), the one of Count of Barcelona is the same or three pallets gules,[10] the arms of the King of Majorca are those of Aragon, with the coat of arms of James II, King of Majorca being or four pallets gules a bend azure[11] and the one of the King of Ternacle d Aragon et Ternacle en flanquiet lun dedans lautre (...) Per pale or four pallets gules and argent (...).[11] The coat of arms with the four red pales on a gold background appears on several other coats of arms, named as "of Aragon".[12]

Gelre Armorial, page 62r

Also mentioned in Armorial de Gelre, 1370–1395, the coat of arms of Peter IV Die Coninc v[on] Arragoen is golden with four pallers of gulets[13] or the Armorial d'Urfé, 1380, sont les armes de le Conte de Cathalogne, and in armorial de Charolais, 1425, arms conte de Barselongne and armorial Le Blanq (sources from 1420 to 1450) venant des contes de Barselone,[14] armorial Wijnbergen, King of Aragon or four pallets gules[15]


Version of the coat of arms of the kings, created by the king Peter IV of Aragon, with the blue and white cross flag attributed by Peter to the old kings of Aragon and the pales to the counts of Barcelona.[16][not specific enough to verify]

Originally it was the familiar emblem of the Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona.[1] In 1137, when Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged by dynastic union[17] by the marriage of Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona and Petronila of Aragon, these titles were finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. Slowly the various entities and territories over which the House of Aragon-Barcelona ruled and came to rule came to be called the Crown of Aragon.

"The new ruler of the united dynasty (Raymond Berenger IV of Barcelona) called himself count of Barcelona and "prince" of Aragón."[16]

The son of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronila, Alfonso II, inherited both the titles of King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona, in a style that would be maintained by all its successors to the crown. Thus, this union was made while respecting the existing institutions and parliaments of both territories.

It constitutes the third quarter section of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Spain.

Theories of origin

Theories of Catalan origin

The oldest evidence where the arms can be seen is from 1150, in a seal of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona.[18] The seal evidence is disputed by some Aragonese authors who claim that the first documented evidence dates from the reign of Alfonso II, king of Aragon and count of Barcelona.[19]

As a pre-heraldic symbol, the red bars on a yellow background are found on the Romanesque tombs of Barcelona's Count Ramon Berenguer II Cap d'estopes, who died in 1082, and his great-grandmother Ermessenda, who died in 1058, wife of Count Ramon Borrell I,[20] both of whose tombs were at the portico of the old Romanesque Cathedral of Girona; it is not sure that the 15 bars of gold appearing in a painting are contemporary to the tombs.[21] It is a proof that relates the arms to the Counts of Barcelona lineage and the pre-heraldic forms indicate pre-heraldic times, before the second third of the 12th century.[22]

Theories of Aragonese origin

The exact origin of the four bars symbol is obscure, and for long it has been explained by legends, now proven false. The first undisputed evidences are from the Alfonso II (king of Aragon and count of Barcelona) reign.[19]

Even though a purely Aragonese origin for the four bars symbol has been proposed, the main point held by Aragonese authors (Fatás, Ubieto, Montaner), partially supported by some Catalan historians like Ferran de Segarra,[23] is that the key evidence for the Catalan origin, the Marseilles seals, is dubious. The lines in the monochrome Marseilles seals are interpreted as mere scratchings by some, and as representation of a shield reinforcement by others.[19] This theory was rejected by Aragonese member of the International Heraldry Academy Faustino Menéndez-Pidal.[3]

A second point put forward by Aragonese authors is that Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona was the de facto ruler of Aragon, even if only his son Alfonso II would become de jure king of Aragon. Therefore, any symbol associated with Ramon Berenguer IV can also be attributed to the then budding Crown of Aragon.[19]


Arms of Sovereign States

Arms of modern administrative Regions

The Bars can be seen in the arms of several administrative divisions of Spain, France and Italy, all of them former territories of the Crown of Aragon.

Arms of Cities

See also


  1. ^ a b c " Léon Jéquier. Actes du II Colloque international d'héraldique". Breassone.1981. Académie internationale d'héraldique. Les Origines des armoiries. Paris. ISBN 2-86377-030-6.
  2. ^ Paul Adam Even. "L'heraldique catalane au moyen age" in Hidalguia, 22, Mayo–Junio 1957. Madrid. p465.
  3. ^ a b Faustino Menéndez-Pidal. "Palos de oro y gules" in Studia in honorem prof. M. de Riquer (pars quarta). Quaderns Crema.1991.p669. ISBN 84-7727-067-8
  4. ^ Martí de Riquer. "Heràldica catalana: des l'any 1150 al 1550". Quaderns Crema.1982. ISBN 84-85704-34-7
  5. ^ Ampelio Alonso de Cadenas y López; Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent. (1985a). Heráldica de las Comunidades Autónomas y de las capitales de provincia. Ediciciones Hidalguía: Madrid (Spain). ISBN 8400060407
  6. ^ Presidencia del gobierno. "The coat of arms"
  7. ^ "E es cert quel senyal per los molts alts Reys darago atorgat e confermat a la dita Ciutat era e es lur propri senyal Reyal de bastons o barres grogues e vermelles". Manual de Consells de 1377 (Archivo Histórico Municipal de Valencia, años 1375–1383, n. 17, sig. A)
  8. ^ "Estará formado por dos óvalos: uno exterior de trazo grueso y uno interior de trazo delgado, con las cuatro barras inscritas y sobrepasando el óvalo interior hasta alcanzar el exterior". Decreto 97/1981, de 2 de abril (DOGC nº 123, de 29 de abril. Correcciones en DOGC nº 141, de 10 de julio). Signo de la Generalitat.
  9. ^ Armorial du Hérault Vermandois, Introduction[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Armorial du Hérault Vermandois, Le Royaume d Arragon, Nos 1047 – 1061[permanent dead link] see 1047 Le Roy d Arragon and 1051 the entry for the Conte de Barsellonne
  11. ^ a b Armorial du Hérault Vermandois, Rois[permanent dead link] King of Majorca entry
  12. ^ Armorial du Hérault Vermandois, Le Royaume d Arragon, Nos 1047 – 1061[permanent dead link] see 1054 Le Duc de Monblanc, 1055 Le Conte de Daigne Marquis de Villames, 1056 Le Conte d Ourgel, 1057 Le Conte de Prades, 1058 Le Compte d Ampures,
  13. ^ "Folio 62r 637.Pierre IV, R. d'Aragon" (in French). Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2008. 637. Pierre IV, R. d'Aragon (...) Description : D'or, à quatre pals de gueules. Cimier: Un buste de dragon d'or, lampassé de gueules, dans un vol de chauve-souris du même, issant d'une couronne sur une capeline d'Aragon ancien. (638)
  14. ^ Michel Poppof. "L'heraldique espagnole et catalane a la fin du Moyen-âge". Editions Leopard d'Or. 1989. ISBN 2-86377-078-0. Paris.
  15. ^ Armorial Wijnbergen, Rois, Nos 1257 – 1312 Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, see 1263 le Roy darragon
  16. ^ a b "Chapter Five The Rise of Aragón-Catalonia". A History of Spain and Portugal. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  17. ^ Clarendon Press – Oxford, ed. (1986). "II. The age of the Early Count-Kings (1137–1213) (The Principate of Ramon Berenguer IV 1137–1162)". The medieval Crown of Aragon. A short story. p. 31.
  18. ^ see picture
  19. ^ a b c d "Palos de Aragón" Archived 7 May 2021 at the Wayback Machine Entry on Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa
  20. ^ original Romanesque tomb of Ermessenda
  21. ^ This theory was rejected by the member of the International Heraldry Academy Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués. Cfr., Símbolos de España (2000). Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, pp. 95–138. ISBN 978-84-259-1110-1: In 1982 it was given great importance to the discovery of red and golden vertical stripes on the exterior of the sarcophagus of Ramon Berenguer II Cap d'Estopes († 1082) and which is attributed to Ermesenda de Carcasona when opening the tombs of the cathedral of Girona worked by mandate of Peter IV in the fourteenth century. It was attempted to present the finding as the definitive proof of the origin of the bars in the counts of Barcelona previous to Ramon Berenguer IV. What would have been conclusive [is] that those pigments were not used on the XIV [...] It could only be concluded that such paintures are not posterior to 1365, when the sarcofagus was covered with the new tomb [...] Moreover, the paintures are in a good state of conservation and without retouches[,] how could they have resisted three centuries in its old emplacement on the entry of the temple since the century XI until the XIV? It's very probable that the sarcofagus were decorated by outside, on the said manner, in times of Peter IV; there are news of having procured this king in 1384 heraldic ornamentations of old tombs of his ancestors (RUBIÓ Y LLUCH, Antonio, Documents per l'historia de la cultura catalana mig-eval, II, Barcelona, 1921, p. 296.). But the objection of most weight proceeds from other considerations [...] It would have to be accepted that were used then emblematic ornamentations on tombs. [...] It doesn't exist, of course, any such case, be it known by material proof or by reference. [...] Pedro IV accepted prolongating the use of his arms to the ascenstors by varony [meaning by male line], that's why were his bars figurated on the new tombs of Gerona. [...] the first authentic testimonial of the arms that use the Kings of Aragon is found on the seals of Ramon Berenguer IV, whose oldest mark is from year 1150. Since in them he titles [himself] already Prince of Aragon, the matrixs result posterior to 1137. On those seals we find already the pallets or bars in the [blocado, I don't know the translation of this word] shield of the equestrian representations of the Count and maybe on the ensign of his lance [...] The struggle for finding the antecedents is directed to attributing it to the anterior counts of Barcelona, aliens to the Kingdom of Aragon. [...] [Ramon Berenguer IV] was a full right member of the Royal House of Aragon, as the traditional juridic formula of "marriage at home". In Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués (2000), Símbolos de España, Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, pp. 95–138.
  22. ^ Marti de Riquer. "Llegendes històriques catalanes. Quaderns Crema. 2000.pag.16. Barcelona. ISBN 84-7727-296-4
  23. ^ Ferran de Sagarra, Sigillografia catalana, 1932, apud F. Menéndez Pidal de Navascués (2004), El escudo de España. Madrid: Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía; Hidalguía, p. 107. ISBN 978-84-88833-02-0


  • Fatás, Guillermo; Guillermo Redondo (1978). La bandera de Aragón (in Spanish). Zaragoza: Colección Básica Aragonesa, 3. Retrieved on 9 September 2007.
  • Fatás, Guillermo; Guillermo Redondo (1995). Blasón de Aragón : el escudo y la bandera Zaragoza (in Spanish). Diputación General de Aragón, D.L. Retrieved on 9 September 2007.
  • Fluvià I Escorsa, Armand de (1994). Els quatre pals: l'escut dels comtes de Barcelona (in Spanish). Barcelona: Episodis de la Història, 300. Retrieved on 9 September 2007.
  • Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, Faustino (1991). Palos de oro y gules (in Spanish) (vol. IV ed.). Barcelona: Episodis de la Història, 300. pp. 669–704. Retrieved on 9 September 2007.
  • Montaner Frutos, Alberto (1995). El señal real del rey de Aragón: historia y significado (in Spanish) (vol. IV ed.). Zaragoza: Fernando el Católico. pp. 669–704. Retrieved on 9 September 2007.
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Coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon
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