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Maritime Provinces (Spain)

Registration Flags

Last modified: 2010-03-20 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: spain | registration flag | province: maritime |
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Former Maritime Provinces, currently part of another Maritime Province:

Obsolete Colonial Maritime Provinces, currently independent countries:

See also:


I have prepared the flags usually known as matricular flags or register flags, of Spain. The origin of these flags goes back to King Phillip III's Real Cédula of 5th October 1607 when Spain was first divided into three Maritime Provinces (Ferrol, Cádiz and Cartagena), to order the different seaports and their ships. In September 1815 [1845?], a Royal Decree assigns a flag for each province and orders the merchant ships to fly the flag of his harbour's maritime province al tope mayor (English at masthead or on top of the main mast, I guess). That way it was possible to identify not only the ship's nation, but his local provenance, where was it registered. The maritime provinces went through many changes, but the most important Decree was the one of 1845, establishing the 36 provinces and their flags. Many of these flags are today the actual municipal flags of the capital cities of the maritime provinces, and, of course, the origins of the local yacht clubs' burgees.

José Carlos Alegría, 28 Oct 1999

Ole Andersen asked, "is Calvo and Grávalos 1983 your source?." No, this is not my main source. It does have these flags, but they have written a better work (text image by Luis Gravalos and drawings image by José Luis Calvo) on Banderas, numbers 7 and 8. This work, together with the more extensive ones image by Emil Dreyer on number 11 and Sebastián Herreros on number 24-25, are my main source.

José Carlos Alegría, 30 Oct 1999

Among the original 1845 maritime provinces, apart from those of nowadays Spain, there were 6 overseas provinces, part of Spain back then. These were Filipinas (Philippines), Puerto Rico and other four belonging to Cuba. The difference between the European provinces and those from overseas territories are that the first were rectangular, while the latter were swallowtailed flags.

José Carlos Alegría, 05 Nov 1999

There were many changes to the 1845 maritime provinces until nowadays, due to independence of some countries and to administrative reorganization of the provinces. I just want to mention those involving changes in flags:

José Carlos Alegría, 07 -13 Nov 1999

The flag of Corunna is the origin of the current flag of Galicia, the same way as the register flag of Santander is the origin of the current flag of Cantabria. This as far as autonomous regions [are concerned], but the impact on municipal flags is great. Cities like Gijón, San Sebastián, Huelva, Alicante, Bilbao, Tenerife, Vigo, Las Palmas (the flag of Gran Canaria), Algeciras... come from the maritime [provinces'] flags.

José Carlos Alegría, 10 Nov 1999