The old Spanish flag was drastically different from the one that we see today. What colors were on it? What was the symbol in the center back then? Find out about how the Spanish flag used to be in this article.
The tricolor flag of Spain has not always been the way we see it to be today. The finished version of the flag took around four centuries to arrive to what it is today. From the times when the purpose and concept behind national flags was completely different to what it is today the Spanish flag has changed with the changing times. The change however was forced on to it by the governing body of that time. Each government that had a chance to rule over Spain made some changes to the flag including the coat of arms. The old Spanish flag was strikingly different from the current one in more than one way.
Firstly the red and yellow stripes that are considered to be the national colors of the country were nowhere to be seen during much of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The latter years did see some color thrown into the Spanish flag but for much of the 15th century the Spanish flag had a simple white background. In those days the Royal arms was the main symbol that was used as a representation of the Country. All the European states had a similar kind of flag which was white with their own Royal arms placed in the centre.
The royal flag, national flag and the civil flag was all pretty much one during those days. Later years saw the royalty using a different colored background to identify itself as the governing authority. Yellow was the first color introduced into the old Spanish flag design. This was however pretty much confined to the use of the Royalty. The civil flag and the merchant marine flag remained the simple white one with the Royal arms pasted in the middle.
The fine line between old and new
Successive governments did modify the coat of arms in accordance with the territories they managed to win over or annex but no one really attempted to add any color to the flag. It was not until the Charles III came into power and made an interesting observation which led him to add some color on the old Spanish flag, especially the flag of the navy. He noticed that all the European flags were quite similar to each other in the respect that they had the Royal arms in the centre of a white piece of cloth. This made identifying your own people in between battles or ships on distant horizons difficult. To make the Spanish cavalry stand out from the rest of the European nations the king ordered a redesigning of the flag. The final flag that was chosen by him was the tricolor red and yellow one which we see today.
The symbol that occupied the center space in the old Spanish flag was an adopted one. It was known as the Cross of Burgundy. The symbol was also introduced into the uniforms of the cavalry and was embroidered on their uniforms. This helped to distinguish them from the others in between battles. The national flag of the Spanish empire was a symbol of Christianity more so than anything else. This was because these were the times when the Catholics were rising back in to power and trying to establish Spain as a catholic nation.