The flag is the most recognizable symbol of the country. The history of its creation is inseparable from the history of the state itself. The Spanish flag has undergone many changes and witnessed many coups d’état before it was embodied in the one that we are familiar with and bears the beautiful name of Rojigualda.
This is what the modern Spanish flag looks like:
History of the flag
The first flags flying in what is now Spain belonged to the warring Muslims and Crusaders. At that time flags served to indicate the personal armies of kings or lords. They were not a symbol of the Spanish nation, but they served as the progenitors of the idea of a national flag.
In the 16th century, Queen Juana I of Castile married Philip the Fair, Archduke of Austria, and in honor of this event appears the first Spanish flag – a red Burgundian cross on a white background. It symbolizes the unification of Castile – a white field and a royal branching, also called a stumpy, cross. This design, with minor changes, remained the symbol of Spain until 1713, when the country began to be ruled by the Bourbon dynasty.
With the ascension to the throne of Philip V, the first representative of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain, the image on the flag changes dramatically. The Bourbon family coat of arms was placed on a white cloth, the same flag the Bourbons had in France.
A close-to-modern form of the Spanish flag was chosen from twelve designs developed at the request of King Charles III in 1785. At that time Spain was still under the Bourbon dynasty, and all the countries under its rule, France, Parma, Tuscany, the two Sicilies, had the same kind of flag: white, with the Bourbon coat of arms in the center. This created great confusion at sea, for from a great distance it was impossible to distinguish to whom exactly the ship belonged.
On May 28, 1785, Charles III held a competition to design the best flag for military and merchant ships. The Spanish consider this day as the birthday of their national flag.
Practically in this form the flag existed until 1931.
In 1931, in connection with the proclamation of republican rule, the current Spanish flag was cancelled and replaced by a version with three stripes: red, yellow and purple, of equal width. Eight years later, after the civil war, the republic was overthrown, and the old flag returned to use.
It is worth mentioning the time when Spain was “under the wing” of the dictator Francisco Franco. From 1938 to 1981, the Spanish flag had a black eagle surrounding the coat of arms on both sides with its large wings. It was a heavy burden as the nationalist regime cracked down on the whole country.
In 1981 the eagle disappeared from the Spanish national flag, Franco died, and Juan Carlos became king of Spain. He converted the country to a democratic regime with parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy and restored the red-yellow-red flag with crowned coats of arms, an oval with lilies in the center and crowned columns on the sides.
The current form of the Spanish flag with coat of arms was officially adopted on December 19, 1981. It is used on land and at sea, as a national, civilian and military flag. The national flag must necessarily have the image of the national coat of arms, for the civil flag the presence of the coat of arms is not mandatory, but in practice the flag with coat of arms is used everywhere.
The Spanish Constitution has official regulations regarding the appearance of the Spanish flag, introduced on December 19, 1981: “The Spanish flag shall consist of three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red, with the yellow stripe being twice as wide as each red stripe. It should show the symbols of the national emblem, placed at 1/3 of the distance from the flagpole.
The modern Spanish flag shows three horizontal stripes: a yellow one and two red ones. The yellow one is in the middle and is twice as wide as the red stripes framing the flag above and below. The flag has a rectangular shape, with a 2:3 ratio between the sides.
There are two versions of the Spanish flag: simplified and full. The simplified version of the flag, without a coat of arms, is used as a civilian flag. Almost all fishing boats, passenger ferries, merchant ships and trawlers in Spain have a version of the flag without a coat of arms. But government agencies and members of the administration are required to display the full version of the flag inside and outside board buildings, at military installations and at the private residences of leaders and their vehicles.
The image of the coat of arms must always face the same end of the flag on both sides of the flag. It must be on the hoist side on both the front and back sides. On the front side is the usual image of the coat of arms, on the reverse side you can see a mirror image and an inverted inscription of the motto.
A vertical image of the flag is also possible: in the port city of Los Cristianos, La Gomera (Canary Islands), there is a flag with proportions 3:1, vertically divided by red – yellow – red stripes. The image was designed by Klaus-Michael Schneider and was displayed on March 10, 2010.
The largest Spanish flag is on display at the Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square) in the center of Madrid in October 2002. Its dimensions are 14 meters wide and 21 meters long. The total area of the cloth is 264 square meters.
Первоначальные дизайны современного флага имели вариации из красного, желтого, белого и синего цветов. Существует мнение, что желтый и красный цвета были выбраны для того, чтобы сохранить геральдические оттенки присутствующие в испанском гербе. Но, вероятно, в то время на выбор повлияли также стоимость и доступность сырья для окрашивания.
В народе флаг называли «рохигуальда«, это слово состоит из двух частей: rojo означает «красное». А вот вторая часть слова – обозначает просто желтый цвет – amarilo, а gualda – испанское название травы резеда. Резеду выращивали специально для того, чтобы окрашивать ткани в необыкновенный золотисто – желтый цвет и сок именно этого растения окрашивал первые испанские флаги, и стал частью его народного имени.
Meaning of colors and flag symbol
There is a legend that when the king was choosing a replacement for the old flag, he chose a golden version of the banner, symbolizing the fertility of the Spanish fields. But since the ruler was a passionate fan of bullfighting, he wanted to capture this traditional Spanish game, and ordered his servants to bring him a goblet of bull’s blood to draw two red stripes symbolizing the blood spilled in the arena. This is how the Spanish flag took on its present form.
The coat of arms reflects the territorial parts of Spain: Castile is represented as a stone castle, Leon, Asturias and Galicia as a lion, Aragon, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands are represented as red-yellow vertical stripes, and the metal chains represent Navarra. The coat of arms also depicts the pomegranate, the symbol of Andalusia, the place where the most famous Spanish pomegranates are grown.
During the raising and lowering of the flag the national anthem is usually sung, the score of which was given to Charles III by the Prussian King Frederick the Great.
The Spanish flag has survived a long history to become the symbol of all the country’s victories and defeats. It is beloved by its people and the citizens of Spain are proud and respectful of the symbol of their national unity.
General information about Spain
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