Re: Spanish Rights
I hope the information below will help you in your search.
Heraldry first appeared in Spain at about the beginning of the eleventh century and its origin was the same as other European countries, the
need for Knights and Nobles to distinguish themselves from one another on the battle field, in jousts and tournaments. There really was no other
reason, although there are varying opinions. The fact that Knights wore armor from head to toe and were often in a leadership position made it
essential to be able see who was where on the battle field.
The design of the arms themselves, excepting for the rules of Heraldry, were pretty much up to the whim of the owner. Sometimes the design had
a specific meaning or symbolism and just as often it didn't. Originally, anyone could bear (display) arms. Later, it became more of a practice for
the nobility. In Spain, however, it was not difficult to be ennobled (made a member of the nobility)
Until the end of the middle ages only the paternal arms were used (those of the father) but, later both the paternal and maternal arms were
displayed. The arms of the maternal and paternal grandfathers were impaled (shield cut in half vertically, showing the respective arms on each
half). During the 18th and 19th centuries, the use of four quarterings came into use by the nobility (the shield was cut into four parts and the
design of the arms of each grandparent was placed in each quarter) There was an order of display as follows:
1) Paternal grandfather2) Maternal grandfather
3) Paternal grandmother4) Maternal grandmother
To this very day, the ideal proof of nobility (Hidalguia) is still the four quarterings.
The Spanish nobility, unlike their European counterparts, was based almost entirely on military service. Few families of eminence came from
the law, commerce or the church. The great families of Spain and Portugal fought their way to their rank. This may sound primitive on the surface,
but it was actually quite fair as it allowed commoners to join the ranks of the nobility through loyal and successful military service. Indeed, many
poor families came to prominence and wealth quickly as a result of their successful military exploits.
In Spanish/Hispanic Heraldry Arms are a symbol of ones lineage and a symbol of the family as well. Spanish arms are inheritable as any other
form of property.
The descent of Spanish arms and titles differs from much of Europe in that they can be inherited through females. Also, illegitimacy did not
prevent the descent of arms and titles. The great Spanish families believed that a family pedigree could be more damaged by misalliance than
by illegitimacy. Indeed, the patents of nobility of many Spanish families contained bequeathals to illegitimate branches in case no legitimate
heirs were found. Illegitimacy in Spain was divided into three categories.
1. Natural Children (Hijos Naturales)
Those born of single or widowed parents who could be legitimized by the marriage of their parents or by a declaration by their father that they
were his heirs.
2. The Spurious (Hijos Espurios)
Those whose parents, for whatever reason, were not in a position to marry. These hijos had to be legitimized by a petition of royal ratification.
3. Incestuous (Hijos Incestuosos)
Those born of parents too closely related to marry or who were under a religious vow. These hijos required a papal dispensation in order to
inherit their parent's arms or property. These papal dispensations were granted so often that every diocese in Spain had signed blanks ready to
affix the appropriate name.
Cronista-Rey de Armas
The office of the King of Arms originated in that of the Heralds (Heraldos), whose job was to determine the arms each noble family was entitled
to use, and arrange tournaments. The functions and duties of the King of Arms were clearly defined by the declarations of several Kings and are
still in force today.
The post of King of Arms took several forms and eventually settled on a Corps of Chronicler King of Arms (Cuerpo de Rey de Armas) which was
headed by an Elder or Dean (Decano). It usually consisted of four officers and two assistants or undersecretaries which usually acted as
witnesses to documents. The entire corps wore a distinctive uniform. The corps were considered part of the royal household and was generally
responsible to the Master of the King's stable (an important position in the middle ages)
Appointments to the Corps of King of Arms were made by the King or reigning Queen. These appointments were for life and while not intended
to be hereditary, often went from father to son or other close family member. The Spanish Heralds had other duties which pertained to matters of
protocol and often acted as royal messengers and emissaries.
In modern times the Corps of Chronicler King of Arms went through several changes. Important changes were made in 1915, it was abolished in
1931 and restored in 1947-1951. There were two Chronicler Kings of Arms and at least one undersecretary. Don Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent
(Decano)(Recently deceased) and Don Alfonso Ceballos-Escalera y Gil, Marques de la Floresta (Chronicler of Arms for Castille and Leon)
Everything that the Spanish Heralds do must be approved by the Ministry of Grace and Justice.
Sources of information:
Asociacion de Hidalgos Aniceto Marinas, 114 Madrid, España 28008
Asociacion de Diplomados en Genealogia, Heraldica y Nobiliaria Alcala, 20 -2-Oficina 7-B Edificio Teatro "Alcazar" 28014 Madrid,
Cronista de Armas Direccion y Administracion Aniceto Marinas, 114 Madrid, España 28008