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Historical Flags 1945-1977 (Spain)

Spanish State, Estado Español

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by santiago dotor
Keywords: spain | spanish state | estado español | coat of arms (spain) | coat of arms: supporter (eagle: black) |
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[State and War Flag and War Ensign 1945-1977 (Spain)] 2:3
by Luis Miguel Arias, exported to GIF by Santiago Dotor
Flag and coat-of-arms adopted 11th October 1945, abolished 21st January 1977

See also:


On February 2, 1938 General Franco introduced a new coat-of-arms, more or less according to the heraldry of the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabel. A picture of that new coat-of-arms was published 10 days later in the official state gazette. The nationalist ministry of war issued an order of 27 July 1938, compelling the Navy to use the new coat-of-arms on their flags. (...) A new flag regulation was issued on October 11, 1945 and published one day later, slightly changing the coat-of-arms which is well known.

Emil Dreyer, 6 July 2003


There were three different National flags in the 1938-1981 period with a similar coat-of-arms:

  1. Approved by Decree 2nd February 1938: similar to the 1945-1977 one but with argent (white) instead of red ribbons, open royal crowns on both pillars and an upside down yoke
  2. Approved by Decree 11th October 1945
  3. Approved by Decree 21st January 1977
Some authors (cf. Calvo and Grávalos 1983) add to these a "1940 model", based on a confusing Order dated 30th April 1940 which included mistaken drawings —pillars on the eagle's wings, the eagle holding them instead of the escutcheon— of the 1938 arms.

Santiago Dotor, 27 November 1998

The arms were quartered, first and fourth quartered Castile and Leon, second and third per pale Aragon and Navarre, and in the base Granada. The crown is quite different [open]. Behind the eagle's head is a yellow disc, and motto VNA GRANDE LIBRE [One Great Free (country)], between the wings and the tail is a batch of arrows and a yoke. The pillars are basically the same, but are crowned with two different crowns, and the bands with motto PLVS VLTRA [(There is) More Beyond (the Gibraltar Strait)] have just one part in front of the pillar and two behind. The waves under them are stylized in a different way. The arms are stretch into the red stripes of the flag.

Zeljko Heimer, 16 April 1996

This is the Spanish flag used 1945-1977. It continued being used after Franco's death (20 November 1975), a similar version with only minor changes in the coat-of-arms being approved in 1977. The current coat-of-arms dates from 1981.

Santiago Dotor, 30 September 1998

A minor change took place in the coat-of-arms 11-10-1945. No other state flag was in use in the Franco era after the Civil War. The "civil" version, without arms, was frequently displayed in schools and other buildings.

Jaume Ollé, 3 October 1998

Coat-of-Arms as used on Flags

[Coat-of-Arms as used on Flags 1945-1977 (Spain)]
by Luis Miguel Arias, exported to GIF by Santiago Dotor
Coat-of-arms adopted 11th October 1945, abolished 21st January 1977

Vertical Variant

Spanish newspaper El País published in Summer 1999 a series titled "Main characters of the 20th century". Issue 18, page 423, speaks about sports under General Franco's regime and to illustrate the subject it shows a picture of Real Madrid football team in May 1960, holding a flag apparently before or right after a match — perhaps after winning its fifth European Cup that year. Even though the flag is being held on a horizontal plane, instead of a standard flag it is a version apparently intended to be displayed vertically, as the coat-of-arms has its vertical axis parallel to the fly and not to the hoist. Also, the centrepoint of the coat-of-arms is in the middle of the flag, and not offset to the hoist as usually. The size of the coat-of-arms is such that it fits inside the yellow stripe. Approximate dimensions 2 m x 3 m.

Santiago Dotor, 14 September 1999

Unidentified 1947 Flag

[Reported 1947 flag (Spain)]

Smith and Taylor 1946-1947 shows Spain with an eagle in the center holding a shield, this being the same as today's for Spain. Since this book was published in 1946-47, either the eagle changed to H. Gresham Carr 1956, or the artwork is wrong in this book (there are several mistakes in it).

Steve Stringfellow, 12 August 1997

The flag in use in 1947 was the 1945 one (see under Flag 1945-1977).

Jaume Ollé, 13 August 1997

Mistaken Variants used by Political Parties nowadays

[Incorrect reported 1939-1981 flag (Spain)]
by Jesús Manuel Aceves

Mistakes in the incorrectly reported 1939-1981 flag, supposing it intends to represent the 1945-1977 one:

  1. The coat-of-arms was offset to the hoist, as happens with the current flag. Only Spanish military Colours and car pennants (both usually square) have a centered coat-of-arms.
  2. The scroll around the eagle's neck should be red, not a Spanish tricolour.
  3. The "pillars of Hercules" should be at the sides of the eagle, not lying on its wings; the left (dexter) one should have an imperial crown, the right (sinister) an open royal crown.
  4. The eagle should be "membered gules" ie. have red claws, instead of black (scarcely visible in the GIF, though)
  5. The ribbons around the "pillars of Hercules" should be red instead of yellow
  6. Smaller coat-of-arms, only slightly exceeding the size of the yellow stripe
  7. The red ribbons holding the yoke and the arrows seem to be incorrectly depicted
It is also incorrect to say that that was also the 1976-1981 flag, since a slightly different coat-of-arms was adopted in 1977 (by the way, the date of Juan Carlos I's accession to throne was 22nd November 1975 and not 1976).

Santiago Dotor, 27 November 1998