History of the flag
The first heraldic symbol of Portugal, which is mentioned in the sources, was a blue cross on a white background. So looked the shield of Henry of Burgundy in the 11th century.
Under Afonso the Great, who was the first king of Portugal, the same blue cross on a white square field was depicted on the flag. After the recognition of independence in the middle of the 12th century, King Afonso added to his shield 5 images of small bezants (armorial figures in the form of small circles) nailed on the blue cross.
During the time of his son Sanshu I, the blue paint of the cross faded and faded away. Because of this there was an important stage in the evolution of the state symbol. The small shields became isolated, their position only resembling the former blue cross. The lower corners were pointed toward the center.
The appearance of the little blue shields with bezants is associated with a legend. In the 12th century, on the eve of an important battle, a hermit appeared to the future King Afonso, declaring that he was a messenger of God. The old man advised him to come out of his tent in the morning, at the first sound of the bell, and look up into the sky. Afonso did so. When he left the tent at dawn, he saw Christ crucified on the cross in front of him. The Savior proclaimed victory and God’s protection. Inspired by this apparition, the prince defeated a powerful enemy. In the battle he killed five Moorish rulers and took their shields as trophies. In honor of this event, Afonso placed the image of the 5 shields on his coat of arms. And the five bezants on each of them symbolized the wounds of the crucified Christ.
The legend is doubtful, as it appeared only in the 15th century. It is quite possible that it has the purpose to explain the Portuguese history by divine providence.
Further heraldic changes in Portugal took place in the middle of the 13th century. The heraldic symbols of the previous king were not directly heir to the throne, and Afonso III had no right to use them without making changes. By marrying the daughter of the Castilian king, the monarch put on the red border of the shield the image of several castles, borrowed from the shield of Castile. Their exact number was recorded only at the end of the 16th century.
King João I added a green lily to the border of the shield on four sides. The flag with this shield lasted for 100 years.
At the end of the 15th century the flag changed. The lilies disappeared from the shield, the number of locks was reduced to 7, and the number of bezants was reduced to 5. This was the last rectangular shield.
At the end of the 15th century radical changes were made. The shield loses its rectangular shape, the lower edge is made elongated. A crown appears above the shield.
The design of the flag with minor changes lasted until 1830. Then the white cloth was divided vertically into two equal strips of blue and white with a shield superimposed on them.
In 1910 the monarchy was overthrown in Portugal. There was a need for new national symbols. the choice of colors was unanimous. They were red and green.
A special commission was created to approve the flag. It consisted of the Prime Minister, an artist, a writer, and public figures from the ranks of officers. The commission decided that the color red was chosen because it symbolized passion, selfless struggle, blood, victory and joy.
Green, on the other hand, was an unconventional color in the Portuguese symbolism. The creators of the flag explained its choice by the fact that it was present in the flag of the revolutionaries in 1891.
White, according to the committee, means beauty, purity, modesty, peace and prosperity. It combined the other colors.
One of the elements of the flag was chosen an armillary sphere representing the great geographical discoveries made by the Portuguese.
The shield placed over the sphere, according to the members of the commission, should mean the past and present greatness of the Portuguese, their courage, tenacity and energy.
The new flag was first hoisted in Lisbon on December 1, 1910.
A rectangle divided vertically into two parts. The width of the left part is 2/5 of the length, the width of the right part is 3/5 of the length of the cloth. The left part is painted green, the right is red.
The ratio of the width to length of the flag is 2:3.
On the line dividing the stripes and at equal distances from the upper and lower edges is the coat of arms of Portugal. It is an armillary sphere and a shield superimposed on it.
The armillary sphere was an important device of the first Portuguese navigators. Its diameter on the flag is 1/2 the width of the cloth. The sphere consists of several arcs. The Portuguese flag shows 1 wide arc and 4 small ones. The large one corresponds to the trajectory of the annual movement of the Sun. Small arcs denote the equator and the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The sphere is golden (yellow) with elements drawn in black.
The modern design of the shield is a quadrilateral with a rounded bottom side. The height is 7/10 the diameter of the sphere and the width is 6/10. The middle of the shield is silver (white). Along the perimeter is a wide red border, encircled by a thin white stripe.
Inside the shield, on a white background, there are 5 blue shields. They are in a vertical position. Their arrangement forms a cross. Each has 5 silver (white) bezants – 2 at the top, 2 at the bottom and 1 in the center.
There are 7 gold (yellow) castles with three turrets each on a red border. Their gates are closed. The upper 5 locks are vertical, the lower 2 are inclined.
The disrespectful attitude to the state symbol in Portugal is a criminal offense. The punishment can be up to 2 years imprisonment.
The colors of the Portuguese flag
The exact shades are not legally established. Roughly, the shades of primary colors are defined as follows.
- red corresponds to 255-0-0 according to the RGB system;
- green is 0-102-0 RGB;
- yellow – 255-255-0 RGB;
- blue 0-51-153 RGB;
- white 255-255-255 RGB;
- black 0-0-0.
Meaning of colors and symbols of the flag
Green and red were not the colors of the national banner until 1910. However, they were both present on the symbols of the rulers of the country.
- Green is the symbol of the Republican Party. It was interpreted as the color of hope.
- Red is the color of blood, courage and perseverance, the desire to win.
- The armillary sphere is the symbol of the great Portuguese navigators who contributed much to the exploration of new lands.
- The shield superimposed over it is one of the oldest symbols of the country. It signifies the glorious history of Portugal.
The flag of the Portuguese Navy is a red square in a wide green frame. In the center is a shield placed on top of an armillary sphere.
The flag of the Portuguese Armed Forces is a rectangle with an aspect ratio of 12:13. It is divided vertically into left red and right green rectangles. In the center is a shield over an armillary sphere surrounded by branches. At the bottom is a white ribbon with an inscription stating love and loyalty to the fatherland.
The presidential flag is a green rectangle with an armillary sphere and shield.
Interesting facts about the flag
Responsibility for desecration of the flag was introduced immediately after its creation in 1910. The perpetrator was sentenced to imprisonment or exile.
At official events there is a special procedure for folding the flag. Four people holding the cloth horizontally must perform a series of manipulations so that when folded, the shield is on top.
General information about Portugal
Miranda (regional language)
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