top of page
  • Writer's pictureCatarina

Flag of Portugal

Updated: 21 hours ago

Today we celebrate the Day of Portugal, we will talk about the symbolism of our flag and how it has changed over time to get to the colours and shape we have today.

It should be borne in mind that flags were used in medieval times to identify the armies of each feudal lord. Thus, until the reign of King John II (1481-1495), flags were armorial, i.e., they were square pieces of cloth bearing only the shield.

Likewise, the flags identified the reigning sovereign. Therefore, each king had his own flag, which changed when the monarch died or the kingdom incorporated new territories, which made it necessary to change the flag.

This was the case when Brazil's status changed. By decree of King João VI (1816-1826), the former colony was elevated to the category of kingdom within the Portuguese monarchy.

Thus, another flag was established, that of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. An armillary sphere in gold on a blue background representing the Kingdom of Brazil was introduced.

With the Liberal Revolution of Porto, which inaugurated the constitutional monarchy, and the independence of Brazil, another Portuguese flag will be created.

By decree of 18 October 1830, during the reign of Dona Maria II (1834-1853), it was decided that the flag should be vertically divided into white and blue, with blue next to the flagpole and the royal arms placed in the centre of the flag.

With the proclamation of the Republic in 1910, many republicans wanted to erase some symbols of the old regime. The monarchic flag had the colours white and blue.

This flag was used until the proclamation of the Republic in 1910.

Thus, these colours were replaced by green and red, meaning hope and courage, respectively. However, in Portugal they referred to the colours of the Portuguese Republican Party and Freemasonry, who were the ones who initiated the coup that overthrew the king.

It is important to note that the green occupies 1/3 of the flag and the red 2/3, as this recalls the project of Iberian integralism. Thus, the green would be Portugal and the red, Spain, united in the form of a utopian federalism.

The armillary sphere was introduced by King Manuel I (1495-1521) and represented the monarch as king of the five continents. The armillary sphere was a stylisation of the ancient globes used in the 16th century. It was also the personal symbol of Prince Henry the Navigator, who did so much for the development of navigation.

The shield is the oldest symbol of Portugal and refers to the origin of the country when it was still the Condado Portucalense.

In the red border there are seven castles and in the centre, on a white background, five blue shields with five white bezants arranged in the shape of a cross.

The origin of the castles is controversial, as they have been reinterpreted in various ways throughout history.

There are scholars who claim that they are the five Moorish kings vanquished by the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques (1139-1185).

Others say that its use began with King Afonso III, nephew of the Queen of Castile, who incorporated the symbol into his personal coat of arms.

There are currently seven yellow castles, each with three towers, set against a red background.

The term besante denoted the gold coins used in the Byzantine Empire. They were initially used to represent the wealth of the kingdom of Portugal. It was King Afonso Henriques, who incorporated them into the shield.

Later with the "Miracle of Ourique", before the Battle of Aljubarrota, it was reinterpreted as the five wounds of Christ. Only with King Afonso III (1248-1279) did this shield gain its cross shape linking Portugal to its Christian origin.


2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page