Flag of Portugal

Flag of Portugal

Infobox flag
Name = Portugal

Use = 110111
Proportion = 2:3
Adoption = June 30 , 1911
Design = A 2:3 vertically striped bicolor of green and red, with the lesser

Use2 = 001000
Adoption2 = June 30, 1911
Proportion2 = 12:13
Design2 = As above, but evenly striped (1:1) and with the greater coat of arms, displaying a white scroll with the motto "Esta é a ditosa pátria minha amada" ("This is my beloved homeland"), taken from Os Lusíadas, III, 21, v. 1
Type = National
The flag of Portugal is a rectangle-shaped vertical bicolor featuring a field unequally divided into green, on the hoist, and red on the fly. The minor version of the national coat of arms (armillary sphere and Portuguese shield) is centered over the color boundary at equal distance from the upper and lower edges. Portugal officially adopted this design for its national flag, on June 30, 1911, replacing the one used under the constitutional monarchy, after it was chosen by a special commission, whose members included Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, João Chagas, and Abel Botelho, among numerous proposals.

The new field colors, especially the green, were not traditional in the flag composition and represented a radical republican-inspired change that broke the bond with the former religious monarchical flag. Since a failed republican insurrection, on January 31, 1891, the red and green had been established as the colors of the Portuguese Republican Party and its associated movements, whose political prominence kept growing until it reached a culmination period, following the Republican revolution of October 5, 1910. In the ensuing decades, these colors were popularly propagandized as representing the hope of the nation (green) and the blood (red) of those who died defending it, as a means to endow them with a more patriotic and dignified, therefore less political, sentiment.

The current flag represents a sweeping change in the evolution of the Portuguese flag, which had been always closely associated with the royal arms. Since the country's foundation, the national flag developed from the blue cross-on-white armorial square banner of King Afonso I to the liberal monarchy's royal arms over a blue-and-white rectangle. In between, major changes associated with important political events contributed to the evolution of the national shield into the current design.


The decree that legally replaced the flag used under the constitutional monarchy with the new National Flag ( _pt. Bandeira Nacional) was approved by the Constituent Assembly and published in government diary ( _pt. Diário do Governo) no. 141, on June 19, 1911. On 30 June, this decree had its regulations officially published in government diary no. 150.cite web |url=http://www.portugal.gov.pt/Portal/PT/Portugal/Simbolos_Nacionais/Decreto_Bandeira_Nacional.htm |title=Decreto que aprova a Bandeira Nacional |work=Símbolos Nacionais |publisher=Portal do Governo |accessdate=2007-02-18 |language=Portuguese]


The flag's length is one and a half times the width translating into an aspect ratio of 2:3. The background is vertically divided into two fundamental colors: dark green on the hoist side and scarlet red on the fly. The color division is made in such a way that green occupies two-fifths of the length and the remaining three-fifths are filled by red (ratio 2-3). A minor version of the national coat of arms (that is, without the laurel wreaths) — a white-bordered national shield resting on top of a black-highlighted yellow armillary sphere — is positioned over the border between the colors.

The armillary sphere has a diameter equal to half the width and is equidistant from the upper and lower edges of the flag. The sphere, drawn in perspective, possesses six edge-embossed arcs, of which four are great circles and two are small circles. The great circles represent the ecliptic (wider oblique arc), the equator, and two meridians. The latter three are positioned so that the intersections between each two arcs make a right angle; one meridian lies on the flag's plane while the other is perpendicular to this plane. The small circles consist of two parallels (the tropics) each tangent to one of the ecliptic-meridian intersections.cite web |url=http://jorgesampaio.arquivo.presidencia.pt/pt/main.html |title=Bandeira nacional da República Portuguesa - desenho |work=Símbolos da República |publisher=Presidente da República, Jorge Sampaio (1996–2006) |accessdate=2008-04-06 |language=Portuguese]

Vertically centered over the sphere is the national shield, a white-bordered curved-bottom ("Portuguese type") red shield charged with a white inescutcheon.cite web |url=http://www.tuvalkin.web.pt/terravista/guincho/1421/bandeira/pt.htm |title=Bandeira de Portugal |work=Bandeiras de Portugal |publisher=Bandeiras do Bacano|last=Martins |first=António |accessdate=2007-02-18 |language=Portuguese] Its height and width are, respectively, seven-tenths and six-tenths of the sphere's diameter. The shield is positioned in a way that its limits intersect the sphere:
*at the distal edge's inflection points of the Tropic of Cancer's posterior half and Tropic of Capricorn's anterior half (top and bottom);
*at the intersection of the lower edges of the ecliptic's posterior half and equator's anterior half (dexter or viewer's left side);
*at the intersection of the upper edge of the ecliptic's anterior half lower edge of the equator's posterior half (sinister or viewer's right side).

A curious aspect of the official design is the absence of a segment of the Tropic of Capricorn, between the national shield and the ecliptic arc.

The white inescutcheon is itself charged with five smaller blue shields ("escudetes" or "quinas") with their curved edges pointing down and arranged like a greek cross (1+3+1). Each "quina" holds five white bezants displayed in the form of a saltire (2+1+2). The red bordure is charged with seven yellow castles: three on the chief portion (one in each corner and one in the middle), two in the middle points of each quadrant of the curved base (rotated 45 degrees), and two more on each side of the bordure, over the flag's horizontal middle line. Each castle is composed by a base building, bearing a "closed" door (yellow-colored), on top of which stand three battlemented towers.

The flag's colors are not accurately specified in any legal document. Approximate colors are listed below:

Afonso III of Portugal was not the eldest son, therefore heraldic practices stated he should not take his father's arms without adding a personal variation. Before becoming king, Afonso was married to Matilda II of Boulogne but her inability to provide him with a royal heir led Afonso to divorce her, in 1253. He then married Beatrice of Castile, an illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X of Castile. It is more likely that it was this family connection with Castile (his mother was also Castilian) that justified the new heraldic addition to the royal arms — a red bordure charged with an undetermined number of yellow castles — rather than the definitive conquest of the Algarve and its Moorish fortresses, considering that the number of castles was only fixed in the late 16th century.

The inner portion contained the arms of Sancho I, although the number of bezants varied between seven, eleven and sixteen (the latter number was used on Afonso's personal standard while he was still Count of Boulogne). This same design was used by the Portuguese kings until the end of the first dynasty, in 1383; a succession crisis put the country at war with Castile and left it without a ruler for two years.

In 1385, in the wake of the Battle of Aljubarrota, a second dynasty was founded when John, Master of the Order of Aviz and illegitimate son of King Peter I, acceded to the throne as John I. To his personal banner, John I added his Order's fleur-de-lys cross, displayed as green flowery points on the red bordure; this inclusion reduced the number of castles to twelve (three around each corner). The number of bezants in each escutcheon was reduced from eleven to seven. This banner lasted a hundred years until John I's great-grandson John II restyled it, in 1485, introducing important changes — the removal of the Aviz cross, a downward arrangement and edge-smoothing of the "quinas", and the definitive fixing of five saltire-arranged bezants in each "quina" and seven castles on the bordure (as it is currently). [cite web |url=http://flagspot.net/flags/pt-1485.html |title=Portugal - 1485 historical flag |work=Portugal |publisher=Flags of the World |last=Candeias |first=Jorge |accessdate=2007-02-22] John II's banner was the last armorial square banner used as the "national" flag or standard. Following his death, in 1495, radical changes were made by his successor.


John VI died in Lisbon, in 1826. His elder son Peter, who had declared the independence of Brazil, in 1822, becoming Emperor Peter I, succeeded on the Portuguese throne as Peter IV. Because the new Brazilian constitution did not allow further personal unions of Portugal and Brazil, Peter abdicated the Portuguese crown in favor of his elder daughter Maria da Glória, who became Maria II of Portugal. She was only seven years old, so Peter stated she would marry his brother Miguel who would act as regent. However, in 1828, Miguel deposed Maria and proclaimed himself king, abolishing the 1822 liberal constitution and ruling as an absolute monarch. This started the period of the Liberal Wars. [cite web |url=http://www.balagan.org.uk/war/iberia/1833/chronology1826.htm |title=Chronology: 1826–34 (Portugal's) Liberal Wars |work=Luso-Spanish Military History and Wargaming |last=Thomas |first=Steven |accessdate=2007-03-05]

The liberals formed a separate government exiled on the Azorian island of Terceira. It was this government that issued two decrees establishing modifications to the national flag. While supporters of usurper King Miguel I still upheld the flag established by John VI, the liberal supporters imposed important changes on it. The background was equally divided along its length into blue (hoist) and white (fly); the armillary sphere (associated with Brazil) was removed and the coat of arms was centered over the color boundary; and the shield reverted to the "French type" shape of John V. This new flag configuration was decreed solely for terrestrial use, but a variation of it was used as the national ensign. This ensign differed in the way the colors occupied the background (blue 1/3, white 2/3) with a consequent positional shift of the arms.

With the defeat and exile of Miguel, in 1834, Queen Maria II was reinstated and the standard of the victorious side was hoisted in Lisbon as the new national flag. It would survive for 80 years, witnessing the last period of the Portuguese monarchy until its abolition, in 1910.

Flag protocol


The constitutional legislation concerning the use of the national flag is rather scarce and incomplete. In some cases, it still dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The regulations for its military and naval use, however, are more recent and complete.cite web |url=http://www.portugal.gov.pt/Portal/PT/Portugal/Simbolos_Nacionais/Regras_Uso_Bandeira_Nacional.htm |title=Regras que regem o uso da Bandeira Nacional |work=Símbolos Nacionais |publisher=Portal do Governo |accessdate=2007-02-27 |language=Portuguese]

A revision of the decree no. 150, published on March 30, 1987, states that the flag is to be hoisted from 9:00 a.m. to sunset (during the night, it must be properly lighted), on Sundays and national holidays, throughout the entire national territory. It can also be displayed on days where official ceremonies or other solemn public sessions are held — in this case, the flag is hoisted on-site. The flag can be hoisted in other days if it is considered appropriate by the central government, or by other regional or local governing bodies, or by heads of private institutions. It must follow the official design standard and be preserved in good condition.

On the headquarter buildings of sovereign bodies, the flag can stay hoisted on a daily basis. It can also be hoisted on civilian and military national monuments; on public buildings associated with the central, regional or local administration; and on headquarters of public corporations and institutions. Citizens and private institutions can also display it, on the condition that they respect the relevant legal procedures. In the facilities of nationally-based international organizations or in the case of international meetings, the flag is hoisted according to the protocol used on those situations.

If national mourning is declared, the flag will be flown at half-staff during the fixed amount of days; any flag hoisted along with it will be flown in the same manner.

When unfurled in the presence of other flags, the national flag must not have smaller dimensions and must be situated in a prominent, honorable place, according to the relevant protocol:

* Two flagpoles — right pole viewed by a person facing the exterior;
* Three flagpoles — central pole;
* More than three flagpoles::* Within a building — if odd number of poles, central pole; if even number, first pole on the right of the central point;:* Outside a building — always the rightmost pole;

If flagpoles are not level, the flag must occupy the highest pole. The poles should be placed in honorable locations of the ground, building façades and roofs. On public acts where the flag is not hoisted, it can be suspended from a distinct spot, but never used as decoration, covering or for any purpose that can diminish its dignity.


An early decree, from December 28, 1910, established that "any person who, through speech, published writings or any other public act, shows lack of respect to the national flag, which is the motherland's symbol, will be sentenced to a three to twelve-month prison term with corresponding fine and, in case of relapse, will be sentenced to exile, as stated in the 62nd article of the Penal Code".In its 332nd article, the current penal code punishes infractors with a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to 240 days. In case the offense is directed towards regional symbols, these previously mentioned penalties are applied with only half the duration. [cite web |url=http://www.presidencia.pt/?idc=38 |title=Símbolos Nacionais |publisher=Presidency of the Portuguese Republic |accessdate=2008-04-02 |language=Portuguese]


During formal occasions, four people are required to properly fold the flag, where each person holds one of the sides. A correctly folded flag must be a square limiting the national shield. However, the order by which the different folding steps are performed to achieve this result is not legislated.cite web |url=http://flagspot.net/flags/pt'fold.html |title=How to fold the portuguese national flag |author=Jorge Candeias |coauthors=António Martins |work=Portugal |publisher=Flags of the World |date=1999-12-19 |accessdate=2008-07-20]

The procedure begins with the flag fully extended and held in an horizontal plane with the obverse facing down. One of the possible folding sequences is demonstrated below:

Other flags

Besides the state and civil flag, Portugal has a specific war flag which represents the national military forces on land (note, however, that it is the state flag, and not the war flag, that is flown on military buildings and facilities. The war flag is mostly used on parades).

Other flag variants are used by different high-ranked state offices connected to the government and the armed forces:

War flag

The national standard used by the Portuguese Armed Forces ( _pt. Forças Armadas Portuguesas) differs from the one used as civil flag, state flag, and national ensign. The military, also adopted, in 1911, is a rectangle measuring 1.20 metres (3.94 ft) in width and 1.30 metres (4.26 ft) in length (ratio 12:13). Green and red, are positioned at the hoist and fly, respectively, but occupy the background field in an equal manner (1–1). Centered over the color boundary lies the "major" version of the coat of arms — the armillary sphere and Portuguese shield are enclosed by two yellow laurel shoots intersecting at their stems and bound by a white scroll bearing the verse by Luís de Camões "Esta é a ditosa pátria minha amada" ( _en. "This is my beloved fortunate motherland") as the motto. The sphere's outer diameter is ⅓ of the width and lies 35 centimetres (14 in) from the upper edge and 45 centimetres (18 in) from the lower edge. When used as the "color" of a military unit, it is a gold-fringed 1.25 metres (4.10 ft) square placed on a lance-pointed staff engraved with the unit's name (or abbreviation), and adorned with red, green and golden tassels. [cite web |url=http://flagspot.net/flags/pt%5E.html#mil |title=Military flags of Portugal |work=Portugal |publisher=Flags of the World |accessdate=2007-02-27]

Naval jack

The Portuguese naval jack ("jaco" or "jaque") is only hoisted at the prow of docked or anchored Navy ships, from sunrise to sunset. The national flag is permanently hoisted at the stern, when sailing, and from sunrise to sunset, when docked. [cite web |url=http://www.ancruzeiros.pt/ancdistintivos.html |title=Distintivos |publisher=Associação Nacional de Cruzeiros (A.N.C.) |date=1997-10-14 |accessdate=2007-02-27 |language=Portuguese] It is a square flag (ratio 1:1) bearing a green-bordered red field with the minor coat of arms on the center. The width of the green border and the diameter of the armillary sphere are equal to 1/8 and 3/7 of the side's dimension, respectively.

Governmental flags

Some high-ranked officials of the Portuguese State have the privilege to display a personal flag representative of their position. The President of Portugal ( _pt. Presidente da República) uses a flag largely similar to the national flag, except for having dark green as the only background color.cite web|url=http://flagspot.net/flags/pt_gov.html |title=Portuguese governmental flags |work=Portugal |publisher=Flags of the World |accessdate=2007-03-01] It is usually hoisted at the President's official residence, the Palace of Belém, as well as on the presidential car, as small-sized flags. The flag of the Prime-Minister is a white rectangle (ratio 2:3) with a dark green saltire, holding the minor coat of arms on its center, and a red bordure charged with a pattern of yellow laurel leaves. Other ministerial flags do not possess the red bordure. The flag of the Assembly of the Republic ( _pt. Assembleia da República) is also a white rectangle (ratio 2:3) with a centrally positioned minor coat of arms and a dark green bordure. [cite web |url=http://www.rtp.pt/index.php?article=265228&visual=16 |title=Nova bandeira da Assembleia da República. |work=Portugal |publisher=RTP |accessdate=2007-05-22 |language=Portuguese]

ee also

*List of Portuguese flags


Further reading


External links

* [http://www.presidencia.pt/ Presidency of the Republic — Official portal]
* [http://www.museu.presidencia.pt/ Museum of the Presidency of the Republic]

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