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Civil and War Ensign c.1520-c.1701 (Spain)

Possibly ensign of vessels operating in Spanish waters

Last modified: 2015-07-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: ensign: civil | ensign: war |
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[Ensign 1520-1701 (Spain)]
image by José Carlos Alegría

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A plain horizontal tricolour of red-white-yellow appears to have been used in many instances as an ensign. Siegel 1912 has it as 'special ensign' (table 46, besondere Flagge), as 'civil ensign' (table 46, Handelsflagge 1737, 1769) and as 'costumary flag' (table 33, Spanien, gewöhnl[iche] Fl[agge]). (...) Calvo and Grávalos 1983 mentions an article in The Flag Bulletin XI.3 about the origins of this flag.

Santiago Dotor, 26 Oct 2000

Hugo O'Donnell states in Símbolos de España 1999 that this ensign is documented as far back as 1588, when "84 banderas de lienzo de colores blanco, amarillo y colorado" (84 flags of linen in colors white, yellow and red), in several sizes, were given to the galleon San Martín for further distribution among the squadrons. Some had coat-of-arms, but most did not. The version without arms has been called Pabellón particular de España, besides Bandera de los Galeones de España.

In the same book, there is another reference, dated 1647. On the designation of the second Juan de Austria as commander in chief of the Armada (Real Instrucción dada al Srmo. Sr. D. Juan de Austria en 28 de mayo de 1647 al confiarle el gobierno de todas las fuerzas marítimas), one of the atlantic squadrons, called Flandes [Flanders], was to fly the mentioned red-white-yellow ensign, with a Burgundy cross on the white part. And another squadron, called América, the same ensign, but with the eagle and crown.

It seems Roger Harmignies wrote on The Flag Bulletin XI.3 that the origin of this ensign is the combination of the colors of Spain [the red and yellow of Castile and Aragon] and Austria, as it was the time when Joan of Castile married Philip [the Handsome] of Burgundy (early 16th century).

José Carlos Alegría, 10 Jan 2001