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Coat of arms of Gibraltar
Coat of arms of Gibraltar1.svg
Details
Escutcheon Divided per fess:

1st Division: Two thirds Argent, a triple-towered castle of Gules, masoned and ajouré of Sable.

2nd Division: One third Gules, a key of Or hanging by a chain also of Or from the castle.
Motto Latin: Montis Insignia Calpe
English: Of the mountain called Calpe
Use 1502 - Present
Arms granted to the city of Gibraltar by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo on July 10, 1502 by Isabella of Castile.

The coat of arms of Gibraltar was first granted by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo on July 10, 1502 by Isabella of Castile during Gibraltar's Spanish period. The arms consists of an escutcheon and features a three-towered red castle under which hangs a golden key.

Contents

Heraldic description

The arms were described in the Royal Warrant as consisting of:

"An escutcheon on which the upper two thirds shall be a white field and on the said field set a red castle, and below the said castle, on the other third of the escutcheon, which must be a red field in which there must be a white line between the castle and the said red field, there shall be a golden key which hangs by a chain from the said castle".[1]

The arms consist of a shield parted per fess:

  • 1st Division: Two thirds Argent, a triple-towered castle of Gules, masoned and ajouré of Sable.
  • 2nd Division: One third Gules, a key of Or hanging by a chain also of Or from the castle.

The castle has its roots in the heraldry of the Kingdom of Castile, the largest and most important medieval Spanish kingdom, of which Isabella was queen. The key represents the Spanish dominions and signified Gibraltar's status as the "key" to Spain (or, alternatively, the key to the Mediterranean).[2] The idea of Gibraltar being the key to Spain or the Mediterranean originated well before the Spanish conquest. The followers of Tariq ibn-Ziyad, who invaded Spain via Gibraltar in 711, are said to have adopted the symbol of the key when they settled in Granada.[3] The coat of arms was accompanied by the inscription "Seal of the noble city of Gibraltar, the Key of Spain".[4]

Use

The coat of arms of the Government of Gibraltar combines that of Her Majesty's Government and Gibraltar's own coat of arms.

Today, the official coat of arms as used by the Government of Gibraltar consists of the original coat of arms with the addition of the motto, Montis Insignia Calpe (Of the mountain called Calpe), which was granted by the College of Arms[5] in 1836 to commemorate the 1779-83 Great Siege of Gibraltar.[6] It is the oldest coat of arms in use in an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and is unique in that it is the only armorial insignia that dates from before the period of British colonial administration.

The arms differ from the seal of Gibraltar, which is an image of the Rock of Gibraltar with a sailing ship in the forefront. There is no evidence available as to when this image was created. From 1982, a banner of the arms has been used as the Flag of Gibraltar. The arms also appear in the flag of the Governor of Gibraltar. The arms of the Government of Gibraltar are the same as the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom combined with a badge featuring the coat of arms of Gibraltar.

Variations

A very similar coat of arms is in use by the nearby Spanish municipality of San Roque, using a slightly different version of the same main heraldic elements (the escutcheon with the castle and key), with the addition of a Royal Crown above the escutcheon.

When Gibraltar was captured by an Anglo-Dutch force on behalf of the pretender to the Spanish Throne, the Archduke Charles, in 1704, the city council and much of the population established a new town near the existing chapel of Saint Roch to the west of Gibraltar, in an area that remained under Spanish control.[7] The Royal Warrant of 1502 which granted the coat of arms was taken by the city council to San Roque along with Gibraltar's standard and records, and is now in the San Roque municipal archives.[8] The establishment became a new town in 1706, addressed by King Philip V of Spain as "My city of Gibraltar resident in its Campo", and becoming the Spanish Gibraltar. Therefore, they kept the old coat of arms granted to Gibraltar in 1502.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Spanish Occupation", Gibraltar Tourist Guide. Accessed 2007-02-09
  2. ^ Robert Montgomery Martin, History of the Colonies of the British Empire, p. 559. W.H. Allan, 1843
  3. ^ Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, A Year in Spain, p. 332. Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1829.
  4. ^ Frederick Sayer, The History of Gibraltar and of Its Political Relation to Events in Europe, p. 82. Saunders, 1862
  5. ^ Discover Pocket Guide to Gibraltar. p. 68. http://discover.gi/dg/index.htm.  
  6. ^ Ian Sumner, British Colours & Standards 1747-1881 (2): Infantry, p. 9. Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1841762016
  7. ^ Rock of Contention: A History of Gibraltar, George Hills, p. 176. Robert Hale & Company, 1974. ISBN 0709143524
  8. ^ "Arms of Gibraltar", Government of Gibraltar. Accessed 2005-05-31
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