Spanish Armorials
By W.T.Collins, BA.
Coat of Arms No. 161, Spring 1993

This brief article is a result of the writer's interest in Spanish heraldry; it makes no claim to original research as it relies on secondary sources which are listed in the notes. The writer hopes that others will be able to comment on, correct, and add to the information contained here.

In England we call them rolls of arms: in Spain they are known as armoriales — armorials — or libros de armeria — books of arms, and books seem to outnumber rolls as such. Of nearly 30 Spanish armorials recorded, at least eleven are books,(1) and only one is definitely a roll.(2) Nine are original productions,(3) and six are known only from copies.(4) At least eight foreign armorials contain compilations of Spanish arms.(5)

Sir Anthony Wagner's "Catalogue of English Mediaeval Rolls of Arms" (CEMRA) lists all English rolls of before 1500: in Spain, as Señor Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués has observed, the problem is that "these works change gradually from the concept of armorial (lists of identified arms) to that of nobiliario (account of families with their origins, genealogies, etc., which also give their arms as mere illustration)".(6) Armorials produced down to the end of the 16th Century have been included in the list below.

There is evidence of lost armorials. In Navarra the testimony in a case heard in 1556 to decide the ownership of some books of arms suggests that there were armorials in existence from the preceding century; one witness testified that he had "seen and recognised this day the book, and as seems from their inspection, they are old ... older than the time of Graciàn del Bosque" (Navarra King of Arms, 1546-56).(7) Other evidence suggests that the three del Bosques, Navarra Kings of Arms from 1516 to 1556, compiled their own armorials. Señor Juan José Martinena Ruiz, Chief Archivist of Navarra, believes that there were Navarrese armorials in existence around 1500, possibly due to the heraldic interests of Jean d'Albret, the last true Navarrese king.(8) In 1660 P. Moret referred to a Navarrese armorial called the Libro de San Salvador de Leyre "which is ancient", and "many others which in imitation have been taken",(9) presumably copies of older armorials. About 1580 Don Fernando de Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza, owned an armorial which had belonged to Juan del Bosque, though whether an original or a copy is uncertain.(10) The archbishop copied some of del Bosque's manuscripts with the idea of compiling a more comprehensive armorial, though whether the project was completed is not known." A few years earlier, around 1562, Gonzalez de Tejada, of Lerín who spent 22 years compiling his own rhyming armorial, had borrowed the archbishop's compilations to make his own copy.(12) The "Vesió" of Bernat de So, a poem written 1381-2, contains Catalan blazons of the arms of fourteen Christian kings, which suggests to Dr Martin de Riquer that Catalan armorials existed in the 14th Century.(13) In Castilla, Argote de Molina refers to the armorial of the "Key de Armas Moxica" in his "Nobleza de Andaluzía" (1588).(14) Dr Martin de Riquer believes that a number of Spanish medieval manuscripts, originals and copies, exist, awaiting identification.(15) In 1990 the director of the Archivo de la Corona de Aragón purchased "a very beautiful Aragaonese armorial of the 16th Century, richly illustrated", and seemingly unrecorded before then.(16)

Some Spanish armorials are General in character: some include attributed arms and those of mythical characters. Garci Alonso de Torres includes the arms of the Nine Worthies, Arthur and the Round Table, Charlemagne and his Peers, and Alexander and his "knights".(17) Amongst Local armorials are the Libro de Armería del Reino de Navarra and the earlier, lost Libro de Armería de Navarra, both official records.(18) Steve Tamborino's Tratado de Blasón y Armorial is divided into provinces or "marches", sections containing Catalan, Aragonese and Valencian, Castillian, and Neapolitan arms.(19)

There are three good examples of institutional rolls: the famous Libro de la Cofradía de Santiago de Burgos,(20) the Armorial dels Canonges,(21) and the lost Armorial de San Pablo de Tarazona, which disappeared in 1931.(22) So far no Occasional armorial has been recorded, though sections of Bernat Mestre's Armorial I (23) and Llupia's Armorial (24) list the arms of the Knights of the Golden Fleece summoned to the 1519 Chapter in Barcelona. Neither is there any Ordinary, though the Libro de Armería del Reino de Navarra has sections where similar arms are grouped together.(25)

A number of armorials of other countries have sections devoted to Spanish arms, especially those French armorials arranged by marches; Aragonese arms are prominent, not surprisingly in view of the cultural and political links that existed between Aragón and southern France.(26)

Apart from Bernat de So's "Vesió", the earliest Spanish armorial whose authorship can be authenticated is the Armorial Cervellón, compiled between 1458 and 1479 by Diego de Cervellón, servant to Juan II of Aragón.(27) Garci Alonso de Torres, Aragón King of Arms, compiled three armorials,(28) and the official books of arms of Navarra were the work of the del Bosques, professional officers of arms.(29) Some of the armorials are important for their artistry. The Libro de la Cofradía de Santiago de Burgos contains 311 pictures of prancing cavaliers.(30) Dr Martin de Riquer has commented on "the elegant and perfect designs" in Steve Tamborino's armorials.(31)

Spanish armorials are listed by M. Santiago de Rodriguez in "Documentos y manuscritos genealógicos", Madrid, 1954, and Dr Martin de Riquer gives details of five Catalan armorials in "Heráldica catalana des de l'any 1150 al 1550". The seven armorials edited so far are indicated in the provisional list that follows. The writer is trying to compile a more detailed catalogue: any additional information on the armorials listed will be welcome, as will information on any not included. Can anyone supply details of the Armorials of Murcia and Castilla; are there any more Spanish armorials in collections in the Low Countries? Are there any Spanish armorials in Italy? Considering the political ties between Spain and Italy during the 16th and 17th Centuries there well might be.

PROVISIONAL LIST OF SPANISH ARMORIALS

1. Libro de la Cofradía de Santiago de Burgos (Burgos, Municipal Archives). Institutional armorial: original painted book of 311 knights with arms on shields and horse trappers; compiled between 1338 and 1543. Edited by F. Menéndez Pidal de Navascués as El libro de la cofradía de Santiago de Burgos, Bilbao, 1977.
2. Armorial de San Pablo de Tarazona. Institutional roll: lost parchment roll of statutes of Cofradía de San Pablo de Tarazona, with list of members and their arms; 1361.(32)
3. "Primer de Chrestià" of Fra Francesc de Eixemenis. Catalan descriptions, not blazon, of arms of 19 kings. 1379-81. Edited Valencia, 1483.
4. "Vesió" of Bernat de So: poem, containing Catalan blazons of arms of fourteenth Christian kings: 1381-82. Edition by A. Pages, La "Vesió" de Bernat de So et le "Debat entre Honor et Delit" de Jacme March, "Bibliothèque Méridionale", Toulouse-Paris, 1945.
5. Armorial Cervellón. General roll: lost painted armorial of 447 shields of Spanish nobility, compiled by Diego Cervellón, 1455-79. Edited by P. Adam as "Le recueil de noblesse d'Espagne fait par un historiographe du Roy Jean II nommé Cervellón", Hidalguía, Year XII (1964), 833-56, from 17th Cent, copy by P. Chifflet, Bibliothèque de Besançon, MS 165.
6. Blasón d'armas. Lost heraldic treatise and armorial: painted shields of Spanish and Neapolitan nobility and gentry, Knights of Golden Fleece, etc., compiled by Garci Alonso de Torres, Aragón King of Arms, c. 1496. 16th Cent, copy, Bibliotecade Catalunya, MS 529.(33)
7. "Un pequeño armorial". (Pamplona, private collection). Local Roll: original painted book of 86 shields of Navarrese families; 1500-30.(34)
8. Blasón y recogimiento de armas. Lost heraldic treatise and armorial recasting of Blasón d'armas: fabulous arms and arms of Castillian families, compiled by Garci Alonso de Torres, 1514/15. 16th Cent, copy by Pedro Morena, Madrid, Real Academia de Historia, MS 9/268, Colección Salazar, C. 45.(35)
9. Blasón de armas abreviada. Lost heraldic treatise and armorial, a summary of Blasón y recogimiento de armas: arms of emperors, kings, cities and Castillian families, compiled by Garci Alonso de Torres, 1515/6. 16th Cent, copy, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS esp. 247.(36)
10. Armorial de Steve Tamborino (Armorial de Salamanca). (Salamanca, Biblioteca de la Universidad, MS 2490). Original painted book: heraldic treatise and armorial of shields of kings, and Catalan, Aragonese, Valencian, Castillian and Neapolitan nobles and gentry, compiled by Steve Tamborino, c. 1516. Folios of Castillian arms reproduced by Martin de Riquer, Heráldica castellana en tiempos de los Reyes Católicos, Barcelona, 1986.
11. Armorial Catalan de Steve Tamborino (Toulouse, Municipal Library, MS 798). Probable original painted book: heraldic treatise and armorial, shields of Catalan nobility and gentry, copied from Catalan section of Armorial de Steve Tamborino, c. 1516/19. Edited by P. Adam as "Traité du blason et armorial Catalan de Steve Tamburini", Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona, XXIX, 1961-2, 359-407; some folios of arms reproduced by Martí de Riquer, Heráldica catalana des de l'any 1150 al 1550, Barcelona, 1983.
12. Armorial de Llupiá (Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, MS 698). Painted book, two volumes: shields of Catalan, Valencian, Aragonese Castillian families, and Knights of the Golden Fleece, 1530-45.(37)
13. Armorial dels canonges (Barcelona, l'Arxiu Episcopal). Institutional roll: drawings and blazons of 39 shields of arms of members of Chapter of Barcelona Cathedral, compiled by Francesc Tarafa, 1536. Edited by Martí de Riquer, Heráldica catalana des de l'any 1150 al 1550, Barcelona, 1983,745-55.
14. Libro de armería. Lost painted book: official armorial of Kingdom of Navarra, c. 1540.(38)
15. Armorial de Bernat Mestre I (Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, MS 301). Original painted book: Shields and blazons of arms of Castillian Valencian, Aragonese, Catalan, French, Sicilian and Neapolitan nobles and gentry, and Knights of Golden Fleece, compiled by Bernat Mestre, 1544.(39)
16. Armorial de Bernat Mestre II. Lost armorial of Catalan arms compiled by Bernat Mestre, 1544-56. 16th Cent. copy, Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, MS 510.(40)
17. Crónica de cavallers Catalans. Lost chronicle, by Francesc Tarafa, 1546-50, with 418 shields of Catalan arms. Edited by A. d'Armengol i de Pereyra, Crónica de cavallers Catalans, Barcelona, 1952-4, from 17th Cent, copy by Jaume Ramón de Vila.
18. Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra (Pamplona, Archivo General de Navarra, no. 302). Book, official armorial of Kingdom of Navarra: 784 painted shields of arms of Navarrese nobility and gentry, compiled 1572-5. Edited by (1) F. Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra, Bilbao, 1974; (2) Juan José Martinena Ruiz, Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra, Pamplona, 1982.
19. "Armorial espagnol" (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS esp. 192). Catalan armorial, c. 1572.(41)
20. Armorial espagnol (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Fr. 32675). Book: 62 painted shields of Spanish noble families, 1580. Edited by Michel Popoff, L'Héraldique espagnole et catalane a la fin du Moyen Age, Paris, 1989, 118-23.
21. Armorial Labrit. Lost book of three volumes, compiled by Basilio de Labrit y Navarra, pre-1592.(42)
22. "Armorial Aragones" (Barcelona, Archivo de la Corona de Aragón). Painted armorial, 16th Cent.(43)
23. Armorial de Fernando de Aragón. Lost armorial, 16th Cent. (44)
24. Armorial de Gonzalez de Tejada. Lost verse armorial, 16th Cent.(45)
25. Armorial de Moxica Rey de Armas. Lost armorial: date unknown.(46)
26. Libro de San Salvador de Leire. Lost armorial book; date unknown.(47)
27. Armorial de Murcia (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale).(48)
28. Armorial de Castilla (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale).(49)

REFERENCES

1. Libro de la cofradía de Santiago de Burgos; "un pequeño armorial"; Armorial de Steve Tamborino; Armorial Catalan de Steve Tamborino; Armorial de Llupiá, Libro de armería; Armorial de Bernat Mestre I; Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra; Armorial espagnol; Armorial de Basilio de Labrit y Navarra; Libro de San Salvador de Leire.
2. Armorial de San Pablo de Tarazona.
3. Libro de la cofradía de Santiago de Burgos; "un pequeño armorial"; Armorial de Steve Tamborino; Armorial Catalan de Steve Tamborino; Armorial de Llupiá; Armorial dels canonges: Armorial de Bernat Mestre I; Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra; Armorial espagnol.
4. Armorial Cervellón; Blason d'armas; Blason y recogimiento de armas; Blasón de armas abreviada; Armorial de Bernat Mestre II; Crónica de cavaliers Catalans.
5. Armorial Vermandois; Armorial Bellenville; Armorial d'Urfé; Armorial Charolais; Armorial le Blancq; Armorial de Valenciennes; Armorial Gelre; Reyneck Roll. The Spanish sections of the first six of these armorials have been edited by Michel Popoff as "L'héraldique espagnole et catalane à la fin du Moyen Age", Documents d'héraldique mediévale, 5, Paris, 1989.
6. Letter to the writer.
7. Juan José Martinena Ruiz, Libro de armería del Reino de Navarra, Pamplona, 1982,37-8.
8. Ibid. 32, 33.
9. Ibid. 41.
10. Ibid. 52-9.
11. Ibid. 59.
12. Ibid. 60-2.
13. Martin de Riquer, Heráldica catalana des de l'any 1150 al 1550, Barcelona, 1983, 61-2.
14. Martin de Riquer, Heráldica castellana en tiempos de los Reyes Católicos. Barcelona, 1986, 7.
15. Ibid., and letter to the writer.
16. Ex inf. Dr. Martin de Riquer.
17. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 307,311,305-6,310,309.
18. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. passim.
19. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 75.
20. Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, El libro de la cofradía de Santiago de Burgos, Bilbao, 1977
21. de Riquer, Heráldica catalana.... 745-55.
22. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 31.
23. de Riquer, Heráldica catalana.... 588.
24. Ibid. 595.
25. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit.: eg., ff. 41v-43, 15 shields with fesses or bars; ff. 73-74v, 13 shields with wolves.
26. Supra: n. 5.
27. P. Adam, "Le recueil de noblesse d'Espagne fait par un historiographe du Roy Jean II nommé Cervellón, Hidalguía, Year XII, (1964), 833-56.
28. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 69-74.
29. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. passim.
30. Pidal de Navascués, op. cit.
31. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana ...,77.
32. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 31.
33. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 284-311.
34. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 33.
35. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 254-5,276-9.
36. Ibid. 255,280-3.
37. de Riquer, Heráldica catalana..., 594-600.
38. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 42,60-1.
39. de Riquer, Heráldica catalana..., 587-9.
40. Ibid. 589-94.
41. P. Adam, "Traité du blason et armorial Catalan de Steve Tamburini", Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona, XXIX, 1961-2, 375.
42. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 63-4.
43. Ex. inf. Dr Martin de Riquer.
44. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 58-61.
45. Ibid. 60-1.
46. de Riquer, Heráldica castellana..., 54.
47. Martinena Ruiz, op. cit. 41,72.
48. Adam, Traité du blason..., 361.
49. Ibid.