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Extremadura (Autonomous Community, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-10-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Extremadura, right, for official use - Images by Antonio Gutiérrez, 12 December 1997


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Presentation of Extremadura

The Community of Extremadura (1,079,224 inhabitants in 2017 - 12th rank among the Spanish autonomous communities; 41,635 sq. km, 5th rank among the Spanish autonomous communities) is located in the south-west of Spain. Extremadura is made of the two Provinces of Badajoz and Cáceres; its capital is Mérida (seat of the Assembly, of the Presidency, and of the Government).

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


Flag of Extremadura

Legal prescriptions

The symbols of Extremadura are prescribed by Article 4 of the Autonomy Status, established by Constitutional Law No. 1, promulgated on 25 February 1983 by King Juan Carlos and published on 26 February 1983 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 49, pp. 5,580-5,586 (text).

1. The flag of Extremadura shall be made of three equal horizontal stripes, the upper, green, the central, white, and the lower, black.
2. The coat of arms and anthem of Extremadura shall be regulated by a Law of the Assembly approved by a majority of 2/3 of the Representatives.
3. The Day of Extremadura shall be 8 September.
4. The protection of the symbols of Extremadura matches that of the symbols of the State, in compliance with legal procedure.

The flag is further prescribed in Chapter II of Decree No. 28, issued on 16 July 1985 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 23 July 1985 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 59, pp. 916-919 (text).

Article 2.
1. The flag of Extremadura, in compliance with Article 4.1. of the Autonomy Statutes, is made of three equal horizontal stripes, green, white, and black, in this order.
2. The flag of Extremadura shall bear the official coat of arms when hoisted on public buildings and in official events of the Autonomous Community.

Article 3.
1. The flag of Extremadura shall be hoisted together with the flag of Spain, outside the civil public buildings of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura.
2. The flag of Extremadura shall be displayed together with the flag of Spain when used inside civil public buildings located on the territory of the Community of Extremadura.
3. Also, the flag of Extremadura shall be used in all official non military events celebrated in the Autonomous Community.
4. When municipalities, provincial councils and other public corporations use their proper flag, they shall display it together with the flags of Spain and Extremadura, always placed in a prominent location.

Article 4.
1. In compliance with the previous Article, if the number of displayed flags is even, the position of the flag of Extremadura shall be at the left of the Spanish flag from the Presidency's point of view, if any, and at its right, from the viewer's point of view. If the number of displayed flags is odd, the position of the flag of Extremadura shall be at the right of the Spanish flag from the Presidency's point of view, if any, and at its left, from the viewer's point of view.
2. The size of the flag of Extremadura shall not be either bigger than that of the flag of Spain or smaller that that of other proper flags when displayed together.

Article 5.
1. The flags of Spain and of Extremadura shall be permanently hoisted on all buildings and administrative dependencies of the Government of Extremadura related with central bodies,such its delegations and provincial and local dependencies.
2. In the non administrative centers and establishments depending on the Government of Extremadura, the flags of Spain and Extremadura shall be permanently displayed on days specified by the Council of Government or the respective Councils, and, in any case, during the national, regional and local festivals.

Article 6.
The flags of Spain and Extremadura shall be mandatory displayed, in a prominent location in:
1. The office of the President of the Government of Extremadura, Councillors, Technical Secretaries Generals, Director Generals and office of similar rank, and of the Head of Peripheral Services, directly responsible for the relevant Council of the provincial or sectoral management.
2. The labor and meeting rooms at the seats of the Government of Extremadura and its provincial and sectoral delegations and dependencies.

Article 7.
The flag of Extremadura shall have a length equivalent to 3/2 of its width.

Article 8.
When the flag, in its ceremony or maximum respect copy, is displayed inside or is carried by a standard bearer, it shall be hoisted on a staff made of bamboo or varnished wood in light nut color, in length 2,400 mm from the finial to the base, with the following characteristics: [...] [See Appendix 1, Figs. No. 1 and 2]

Article 9.
The colors of the flag specified in the UNE 48.103 system, shall be the following:

Color			X	Y	Z
Green	Intense green	0.279	0.479	7.9%
White	Basic
Black	Basic

The coat of arms is prescribed in Chapter III of the Decree.

Article 10.
1. The definition of the coat of arms of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura is found in Article 3 of the Law of 21 May 1985, on the coat of arms, anthem and day of Extremadura.
2. Its heraldic design appears in Appendix II of the present Decree. For black and white reproductions, the design shown in Appendix III shall be used,
3. The dimensions of the coat of arms are in proportions 5/8, referring to the length-width ratio.

Article 11.
1. The coat of arms of Extremadura, in compliance with Article 2.2. of the present Decree, shall be set on the flag of Extremadura preferentially on both sides and shall have a height equivalent to 2/5 of the width of the flag of the Community, which results in the coincidence of the lower border of the coat of arms with the upper edge of the flag's white stripe.
2. When the flag of Extremadura has usual proportions, in length 3/2 of its width, the axis of the coat of arms shall be at one half of the flag's width from the hoist [that is, 1/3 of the flag's length]. When the length is smaller than usual or the flag has a square shape, the coat of arms shall be placed in the center of the flag.

The flag is widely used, either outdoors (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo,photo, photo, photo, photo, photo,) or indoors (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo).

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


Construction sheet

[Flag]

Construction sheet for the flag of Extremadura

The website of the Presidency of Extremadura once included construction sheets for the flag to be used outdoors (160 cm x 100 cm) and outdoors (240 x 160 cm). The two specifications differ only by the size of the flag.

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


History of the flag

The flag was officially unveiled on 27 February 1977. Its first public appearance, however, dates back to 14 November 1976 during an event organized by the Partido Socialista Popular (PSP) in Oliva de la Frontera.
[El Periódico Extremadura, 25 February 2003]

Although the flag of Extremadura is of recent creation, its origin and the identity of its designer are still a matter of controversy.
Authorship of the design was claimed in the local press by a Professor of History, Antonio Galacho Cortès:

My proposal extracted from the historical past the colors associated with the construction of the Extremaduran identity: green, white and black was my choice.
Green represents the Muslim peninsular period, during which Extremadura was an independent territory, as the Aftasi taifa [Moorish kingdom], which was a unique event in its history.
White represents the Leonese reconquest and the definitive integration of the territory to the emerging, future Spain.
Black is the color of the clothes of the Lusitanian natives, according to Strabo.

Galacho Cortès' claim was soon denied by Luís Ramallo (b. 1938), President of Extremadura during the pre-autonomy period (1978-1980). In an interview with Canal Extremadura, a local TV channel, he credited the design of the flag to Martín Rodríguez Contreras, a lawyer from Oliva de la Frontera. He was supported by Javier Marcos Arévalo, a Professor of Anthropology, author of a study on the Extremadurian identity:

As far as the flag of Extremadura is concerned, it was created from scratch a few decades ago; among different proposals finally emerged the design sketched by the lawyer Martín Rodríguez Contreras.
In the local press, the lawyer's widow deemed the late claim by Galacho Cortès "opportunistic" and questioned its coincidence with the death of her husband.

Different official publications explain the colors of the flag as follows:
Green is the color of the emblem of the Order of Alcántara, originally initiated on the territory of the present-day's Province of Cáceres, and which subsequently increased its domains to the area of Badajoz.
White is the color of the Royal pennant of the kings of León, who resettled the area.
Black is the color of the standard of the Aftasid rulers of the Kingdom of Badajoz, a big Muslim state that covered most of Extremadura in the 11th century and exhibited an unprecedented literary and cultural splendor.

Martín Rodríguez Contreras explained the color in a completely different manner.

The colors were inspired by the traditional colors of Cáceres (green and white) and by the genuine, classical colors of Badajoz (black and white), placed in a convenient conjunction, the white stripe serving as a fraternal tie and the whole resulting in a tricolor flag with green on top and black on bottom for geographical reasons.
Green is a symbol of hope, white represents the kindness of the people of Extremadura, and black recalls marginalization and backwardness, as well as the Almohad past.

The colors have also be interpreted as follows:
Green represents the aspiration to a new Extremadura.
White, a symbol of purity, highlights the significance of the natural environment of the region.
Black recalls the sadness of the several emigrants who had to leave their birth land.
[Historias de Extremadura blog, 18 July 2011]

Martín Rodríguez Contreras (1945-2000) appears now to be credited the design of the flag of Extremadura. Rodríguez, a lawyer and poet from Olivera de la Frontera, was a fierce defender of the Extremadurian identity and a significant actor of the democratic transition. A disciple of Enrique Tierno Galván (1918-1986; Mayor of Madrid from 1979 to 1986), he was the leader in Extremadura of Galván's Partido Socialist Popular (PSP) and the party's national spokesperson until its merging with the PSOE; Rodríguez was member of the first legislature of the democratic era (1979-1982).
Rodríguez was a co-founder of the Junta Democrática en Extremadura, a wide coalition of leftist parties, and a member of the pre-autonomy government of Extremadura. He contributed to the elaboration of the Autonomy Statutes.
Rodríguez admitted having imagined the flag of Extremadura during a concert of Luis Pastor and Pablo Guerrero. He insisted, however, on the fact that the flag was popularized by the people of Extremadura, who started to use it in demonstrations as a symbol of identity. Manual Cañada, the historical Communist leader in Extremadura, recalls a demonstration that rallied more than 9,000 in Badajoz on 14 August 1977; at the end, a teenager hoisted the flag of Extremadura, which had no official recognition yet, on the Town Hall.
[El Diario, 10 September 2016]

Martín Rodríguez Contreras was offered a late homage in June 2014 by his birth town, which named the municipal library for him.
[Hoy, 8 June 2014]

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


Coat of arms of Extremadura

Legal prescriptions

[Arms]

Coat of arms of Extremadura - Image by Antonio Gutiérrez, 12 December 1997

The coat of arms of Extremadura is prescribed by Law No. 4, promulgated on 3 June 1985 by the President of the Government of Extremadura and published on 15 June 1985 in the official gazette of Extremadura, Extraordinary Supplement (15 pages) (text), and on 2 September 1985 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 210, pp. 27,714-27,717 (text).

Article 3.
The coat of arms of Extremadura is made of a shield in Spanish shape. It is surmounted by an open crown, composed of eight florets of acanthus leaves, five of them visible, and set with gems.
Shield divided per fess, the upper quarter divided per pale.
1. Or a lion rampant gules armed and langued.
2. Gules a castle or masoned sable.
3. Azure two Corinthian columns or surrounded by a scroll argent inscribed "Plus Ultra" in letter gules. In base waves azure and argent. Inescutcheon argent a holly oak vert.

Article 4.
The line drawing of the coat of arms of Extremadura is given in Appendix of the present Law.

Article 5.
The coat of arms of Extremadura shall be used in:
1. The buildings of the Autonomous Community.
2. The flags of Extremadura displayed in buildings or establishments of the public organisms located on the territory on the Autonomous Community of Extremadura.
3. The official means of transport of the autonomous institutions.
4. The degrees and titles granted by the authorities representative of the autonomous institutions.
5. The documents, prints, seals and materials in official use in the autonomous institutions.
6. The official publications of the institutions of the Autonomous Community.
7. The official distinctive signs used by the authorities representative of the autonomous institutions.
8. The specially representative places and objects in official use.

Article 6.
The coat of arms shall not be used as a symbol of identification by any private of public entity other than the institutions of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura, as prescribed in Law No. 7. [...]

Article 7.
The coat of arms shall receive the same protection as the other symbols of the state the Autonomous Community of Extremadura is part of.

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


History of the coat of arms

The adoption process of the coat of arms of Extremadura is described by Pedro Coldero Alvarado (b. 1936; Official Chronicler of La Cordosera [Badajoz], member of the Royal Academy Matritense of Heraldry and Genealogy, and founding member of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogic Studies of Extremadura; biography), in the the book El escudo de Extremadura: precisiones y rectificaciones heráldicas (1994), and in the derived document Estudio crítico del escudo de Extremadura.

As reported in the book Asamblea de Extremadura (1983-1993), a commission of representatives at the Assembly of Extremadura was set up to deal with the symbols of the Autonomous Community. Admittedly lacking specific knowledge, the commission launched a call for proposals in different media, institutions and educational institutes. The announcement published on 8 August 1984 in Hoy, a daily from Badajoz, stated:

In order to initiate work required for the establishment of a proposal of coat of arms representing our Autonomous Community, the Assembly of Extremadura invites all people of Extremadura to contribute to the elaboration of our coat of arms and asks them:
- Which symbols do you find relevant to best represent Extremadura?
- Which of them shall be featured on the future coat of arms of Extremadura?"
No further direction or guideline was provided.

Asamblea de Extremadura (1983-1993) reports the outcome of the call for proposals as follows:

More than 300 proposals were submitted, including a contribution by the Royal Academy of Extremadura, commented and with relevant heraldic substance, which was used as the starting point to design the coat of arms. As suggested by the Academy, the coat of arms of Extremadura was designed in compliance with the most rigorous and strict tradition of heraldic science and essentially emphasized the historical and cultural values of the region.

The contribution of the Academy follows, as:

In the first quarter is featured a lion rampant, gules on a field or, as the heraldic element of Badajoz. Or is a symbol of light and immortality. In the second quarter is featured a tower or masoned on a field gules. This main heraldic element of Cáceres traditionally represents our connections with Castile. Gules, or red, is a symbol of talent, emotion and sovereignty and also a popular color. In the third quarter are featured, on a field azure, Corinthian columns over waves argent and "Plus Ultra". Azure, or blue, is a symbol of nobleness, justice and loyalty. The Corinthian columns over the waves represent our Roman past and its re-enaction in Mérida, the capital of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura. The columns also represent our American vocation, united by "Plus Ultra', since the people from Extremadura were strongly involved in the discovery, and were colonists who favored the miracle of mestizaje.
The waves argent symbolize the future of Extremadura.
Over the shield is placed an escutcheon featuring a holly oak vert on a field argent. Heraldically, an escutcheon, which is the third of a shield, is a first order-piece. Vert is green [...]

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019


Counter-proposal

Pedro Coldero Alvarado then provides a virulent analysis of the flaws of the proposed design, starting with his general impression:

We ignore who were the members of the Royal Academy of Extremadura who did the aforementioned study, but they could not have accumulated more historical errors and heraldic mistakes in so few lines, demonstrating their ignorance in these matters, [...], severely fooling our government [...], and producing a non-sensic coat of arms that means nothing but depreciating our region [...]

The flaws identified by Coldero are:
1. The field of the arms of Badajoz has always been azure, not or. Coldero is authoritative on this since he was in charge of the "rehabilitation" of the old arms of the town.
2. Cáceres never had for arms "Gules a tower or". Queen Isabel I of Castile granted on 9 July 1477 her own, royal arms to the town.
3. The castle - not a tower - cannot represent the "connections" of Extremadura with Castile since Extremadura was a part of Castile.
4. The two Corinthian columns, whose color is not even given, cannot have three meanings; the Roman past, Mérida as a capital, and Hispanism. In heraldry, each charge should have a single, specific meaning.
5. The waves are described as "azure and argent" but should be "argent and azure"; since the field is azure, the first wave cannot be azure, for the sake of visibility.
6. The waves have two meanings, first as supporters of the columns, then as the future of Extremadura.
7. The symbolic interpretation of the colors, borrowed from obsolete treaties from the 17th-18th centuries, should have been omitted.
8. The coat of arms is expected to represent the whole region, not only the two provincial capitals. Accordingly, it should feature the arms of the kingdoms that reconquered and reincorporated the area, that is the arms of the Castilian-Leonese kingdom, that is, the arms of the Kingdom of León ("Argent a lion purpure") and those of the Kingdom of Castile ("Gules a castle or port and windows azure"); these generic arm would equally represent all the municipalities in Extremadura.

Coldero then details the numerous errors he found in the official description of the coat of arms.
The Spanish text is deemed "an unintelligible gibberish" that should never have been published in an official gazette. The heraldic description is technically incorrect [the aforementioned English translation attempts to correct them].
The graphic representation of the arms is also incorrect, while it could have been modeled on the national coat of arms. The arrangement of the charges within each quarter is not compliant with the law of plenitude, which states that they should cover maximum space without touching the edge of the shield (heraldic rotundity). The lion is represented as castrated, standing on two paws while a lion rampant should stand on the left paw only. The shield is surmounted by a crown open, whose use in Spanish heraldry was dropped at the time of Philip II; its modern use is relevant only for submunicipal entities, sports clubs and other associations. The shield of Extremadura should be surmounted by a Royal crown closed, the symbol of highest dignity in modern Spanish heraldry. The crown should stand on the chief, without space left, on the model of the national coat of arms.

Coldero concludes that this coat of arms, if submitted today to the Government of Extremadura, would be turned down for non-compliance with Decree No. 63 issued on 23 May 2001, regulating the adoption of municipal arms. This Decree requires a comprehensive historical investigation, maximum simplicity in the design, a description fitting the norms and language of heraldry, and the used of the royal crown closed as a general norm.

[Arms]

Proposed coat of arms of Extremadura - Image by Pedro Coldero Alvarado

Finally, Coldero proposes as the corrected coat of arms of Extremadura:

Per fess, 1. Per pale León (Argent a lion purpure) and Castile (Gules a castle or port and windows azure), 2. Azure the Pillars of Hercules over waves argent and azure tied by a scroll argent inscribed with the motto 'PLUS' 'ULTRA' in letters sable. Inescutcheon argent a holly oak vert. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The graphical representation of these arms was supplied by Eduardo Pardo de Guevara y Valdés, member of the Royal Academy Matritense of Heraldry and Genealogy.

Ivan Sache, 26 July 2019