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Coat-of-Arms (Andorra)

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by eugene ipavec
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[Coat-of-Arms (Andorra)]
image by Jaume Ollé

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French and Spanish Variants

There are two versions of the Andorran coat-of-arms: French and Spanish. [Mauro] Talocci shows them in his book [one of these?]. The Spanish version has a "regular" mitre on a blue field, the cows are yellow on red and face right (viewer's right). The French version has a "weird" mitre on a white field, the cows are red on yellow and face left. This coat-of-arms is shown in the book on the state flag. I used this in my exhibit. Look at the big postcard – note that the carved coat-of-arms in the postcard is different from the stamp next to it. The stamp was issued by the French post and the cows are red on yellow, facing left. But on the other French-Andorra stamp, on the lower-left corner of the page, the cows are facing right. On the red Spanish-Andorra stamp next to it, the cows are yellow on red and face left. I just got today a French-Andorra booklet that has on the cover the coat-of-arms with red on yellow cows facing left. That is probably the correct version as it matches the Bearn arm[s], shown on the French stamp at top-left. Conclusion: chaos. On all the "philatelic" versions the mitre is "normal." Also, there is no green anywhere - only red and yellow where there are colours.

Nahum Shereshevsky, 20 Aug 1999

The situation about the Andorran coat-of-arms and flag really seems to be quite chaotic. However, I think that in any case it would be useful to contact the Valley to know which of these versions were official and when. Despite the "artistic liberties" that are common in heraldry, my impression is that these variations in Andorra are far too important to be due to those "liberties" only. Regarding my image and its original, I think they are simply wrong, regardless of any possible variations in the Andorran flag.

Jorge Candeias, 21 Aug 1999

According to Collins' Gem Book of Flags, the flag shown is correct as far as the Bearn Cows and the crown are concerned, however, there are two different versions of the Andorran Coat of Arms, a unique (?) situation brought about by the political situation in the country. The Spanish version of the arms is as shown, but the French one has the cows reversed and no crown on the shield. I recently visited Andorra and noticed that the State flag and Civil flag are used fairly interchangeably and usually as 1 of 4 flags flown – France, Spain, Andorra and Catalonia [sic].

Benjamin Mathis, 11 Sep 1999

Many days after the original post, I found a (long) text in Catalan at this Andorran Official Bulletin webpage. It's a law about the use of State symbols (flag, coat of arms, titles and names like the Co-Prince or the General Council). An annex depicts the coat of arms in this terms:

Escut tradicional andorrà
L'escut del Principat d'Andorra tradicionalment ha estat format per quatre cases, dues corresponents a cadascun dels dos Coprínceps. Les quatre cases tradicionals són:
  1. la del Bisbat, representada per una mitra i un bàcul daurats sobre fons vermell;
  2. la de Catalunya;
  3. la de Foix;
  4. la de Bearn.
L'escut pot anar acompanyat de la divisa "Virtus Unita Fortior." L'escut pot anar envoltat d'una aurèola, d'un pergamí o coronat amb els emblemes del senyor (corona, capell). En algun moment de la història d'Andorra els colors han sofert variacions, ha desaparegut una de les quatre cases dins l'escut i fins i tot s'han separat els elements d'una casa com, per exemple, quan s'ha posat la mitra i el bàcul en dos quadrants separats.
Translation of the beginning:
Traditional Andorran coat-of-arms
The coat of arms of the Principality of Andorra has been traditionnaly made of four quarters, two for each of the co-princes. The four traditional quarters are:
  1. that of the Bishopric, represented by a golden mitre and crozier on a red background;
  2. that of Catalonia;
  3. that of Foix;
  4. that of Bearn.

Joan-Francés Blanc, 21 Sep 1999

I think a great deal of artistic license has been employed over the years, but correctly the quarters bearing the arms of Foix and Bearn should be "or, three pallets gules" and "or, two bulls gules, horned, hoofed and belled azure" respectively. These two quarterings indicate the position of the old Foix family as co-princes of Andorra – my surname is Foix de Carmain so I am pretty "up" on the details. I think the tendency to reverse or alter the colors in the Bearn arms and face the bulls the other direction – right instead of left – is a Spanish innovation.

Timothy B. Carmain, 02 Nov 1999

I see three different shades of gold on the coat-of-arms image by Jaume Ollé: the cartouche, the quartering boundaries and the field of the escutcheons. Is there any justification for this?

António Martins, 10 Jan 2000

1939 Version

[Coat-of-Arms in 1939 Flaggenbuch (Andorra)]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 03 Mar 2010

The Flaggenbuch (1939) depiction of the CoA is mostly identical to the current version, with mitre, crozier, cows, etc.; the major exceptions are the background of the first quarter (with the mitre - here white, not red), the addition of a large coronet above the shield, and the subtraction of the motto below it. The scrollwork is executed farly differently too.

Eugene Ipavec, 03 Mar 2010

Erroneous Versions

[Andorra (incorrect flag)]
image by Jorge Candeias

In one of my very first web browsings in the hunt for flags and flag sites, I found a bad rendition of the Andorran flag, which I decided to reproduce to practice vectorial drawing. This is a wrong depiction of the flag of Andorra, because as far as I know (a) the proportions of the flag are wrong and (b) the coat-of-arms is wrong:

  • the Bearn cows should be yellow, not blue; they also should be facing the other side.
  • the Bearn field should be red, not green.
  • the Urgel field should be blue, not red. The mitre also looks weird.
  • the Catalonia quarter (3rd) should have 4 red stripes instead of 3.
This is what I know. But I don't know (and I'd like to) if the supporting stuff and the crown are / have been used. I'm quite sure they must be also wrong, but I don't know how wrong.

In the Andorran coat-of-arms in Crampton 1990, which I used as reference, it shows with the colours reversed. Also, I noticed that in the 3 Andorran GIFs Jaume Ollé posted some months ago, there are quite large variations in the coats-of-arms, namely the Bearn field green as in my GIF and the cows in red, the Urgel field in red, 4 red stripes in the Foix field, etc. What's up? Are all these variations variations admissible? Or is the Andorran flag the most commonly depicted wrongly of national flags?

Jorge Candeias, 01 Aug 1999

The Andorran Constitution says: "Article 2: (...) 2. L'himne nacional, la bandera i l'escut d'Andorra són els tradicionals." ["The national anthem, the flag and the coat of arms of Andorra are the traditional ones"]. No way to find out the tradition... The Head of Government page displays Mr. Forné with the Andorran flag on which are visible the right Urgell (gold on gules) and Bearn (gules on gold) quarters.

Joan-Francés Blanc, 04 Aug 1999

...and I noticed recently in an old dictionary yet another variation of the coat-of-arms: the Catalonian quarter was replaced by a kind of scepter with a curved extremity (like the scepters of bishops). The drawing was in black and white, so I can't tell anything about colours. This seems weird, because it would probably mean two quarters referring to Urgell (1st and 3rd).

Jorge Candeias, 22 Sep 1999