Spanish (Bourbon) Line Infantry Colours

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Spanish (Bourbon) Line Infantry Colours

Introduction

The accession of Philip V, the first Bourbon king, to the throne of Spain in 1700 was the main cause of the outbreak of War of the Spanish Succession where the Houses of Bourbon and Habsburg struggled for dominance of Spain proper and of its various European possessions and of its colonies. It is thus not surprising to see that one of the earliest measure of this first Bourbon king of Spain was to change all the regalia surrounding his court and his armed forces.

From 1700, the staff of the colour was covered with red velvet and a gold braid was coiled around it. A heart-shaped finial was placed at the top of the staff and a metallic butt at the bottom. Twisted crimson silk cords and interwoven with metallic threads (gold or silver depending on the metal colour of the regiment) and terminated with tassels were tied around the finial. Finally a red ribbon was tied around the base of the finial.

The household units (Reales Guardias Españolas and Reales Guardias Valonas) created after Philip's coronation immediately adopted the new regalia. However, several Spanish tercios may have retained their former colours until their reorganisation in 1704. From then on, the colours of the Spanish infantry adopted white as their basic colour.

Description

Ordenanza of 28 September 1704

In September 1704, when the Spanish tercios were reorganised in regiments composed of three battalions each, the first battalion received a white Bandera Coronela (Colonel Colour) carrying a red Cross of Burgundy. The two other battalions received Banderas Sencillas (Battalion Colours) with each of their four cantons subdivided into two triangles (the colour of these triangles was often determined by the colours of the arms of the colonel of the regiment) and with a red cross of Burgundy superposed on the four cantons.

Coronela in 1704 – Copyright: Kronoskaf
Sencilla in 1704 – Copyright: Kronoskaf

The colours were square-shaped, each side measuring 2.5 m.

N.B.: in these days, the reverse of Spanish infantry colours presented an inverted image of the device carried on the obverse.

Ordenanza of 30 December 1706

The new ordonnance issued in December 1706 specified that

  • the first battalion would receive a white Bandera Coronela (Colonel Colour) carrying a red Cross of Burgundy with a golden castle decorating the upper and lower triangles delimited by the branches of the cross and with a red lion decorating the left and right triangles delimited by the branches of the cross;
  • the two other battalions would receive Banderas Sencillas (Battalion Colours) with each of their four cantons subdivided into two triangles (the colour of these triangles was often determined by the colours of the arms of the colonel of the regiment) and with a red cross of Burgundy superposed on the four cantons and the arms of the regiment superposed on the cross of Burgundy in the centre.

N.B.: the new coronela was in fact similar to the sencillas issued to the Reales Guardias Españolas in 1704.

Coronela in 1706 – Copyright: Kronoskaf
Sencilla in 1706 – Copyright: Kronoskaf

From 1706 to 1728, two ribbons (a red and a white) were tied to staff of each colour to symbolize the alliance of Spain and France. In 1728, the white ribbons was removed and colours carried only a red ribbon tied to the base of the finial.

Ordenanza of 28 February 1707

The new ordonnance issued on 28 February 1707 specified that

  • the first battalion would receive a white Bandera Coronela (Colonel Colour) carrying a red Cross of Burgundy; each branch of the cross was terminated in a royal crown; a golden castle decorated the upper and lower triangles delimited by the branches of the cross and a red lion decorated the left and right triangles delimited by the branches of the cross;
  • the two other battalions would receive white Banderas Sencillas (Battalion Colours) carrying a red cross of Burgundy; each branch of the cross was terminated in a royal crown; the name of the regiment written on a scroll (or directly on the colour) in the upper triangle formed by the branches of the cross.
Coronela in 1707 – Copyright: Kronoskaf
Sencilla in 1707 – Copyright: Kronoskaf

The 64 infantry regiments who had succeeded to the old tercios each received a coronela and two sencillas. The colours were made in France. They measured 2.10 x 2.28 m.

References

Abeilhé, Juan Álvarez.: La Bandera de España'. El origen militar de los símbolos de España, Revista de historia militar, Madrid, 2010, pp. 35-44