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Historical Flags (Andorra)

Principality of Andorra, Principat d'Andorra

Last modified: 2015-05-06 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: andorra | historical | coronet | foix | bearn | mitre | crozier | cows: 2 (red) |
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Catalan "Quatre Barres" Flag


Yellow-Red Vertical Bicolor


Red-Yellow-Blue Horizontal Tricolor with Coronet


Blue-Yellow-Red Vertical Tricolor with Arms & Coronet, No Motto


Blue-Yellow-Red Vertical Tricolor with Current Arms

See also:

Other sites:

c.1939: Blue-Yellow-Red Vertical Tricolor with Modified Arms (Coronet, No Motto)

[Coat-of-Arms in 1939 Flaggenbuch (Andorra)]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 03 Mar 2010

The Flaggenbuch (1939) shows a vertical B-Y-R tricolour, with CoA in the centre of the yellow stripe. Within the limits of the printing, no evidence for the middle (yellow) stripe being wider than the other two. The CoA, however, seems to be a variant.

André Coutanche, 22 Jan 2010

The CoA is mostly identical to the current version, with mitre, crozier, cows, etc.; the major exceptions are the addition of a large coronet above the shield and the subtraction of the motto below it. The scrollwork is executed farly differently too, and the flag is ~3:4. I assume something resembling this was actually in use at the time, or are the details just an illustrator's fanciful interpretation?

Eugene Ipavec, 03 Mar 2010

1866(?)-c.1934/5: Red-Yellow-Blue Horizontal Tricolor with Coronet

[Andorra 1806-1866]
image by Ivan Sache
Flag adopted between 1866 and 1898, abolished c.1934/5

An Italian dictionary (Il Nuovissimo Melzi, 1952) displayed the flag of (...) Andorra with a crown [instead of a coat-of-arms] and horizontal stripes.

Alex Belfi, 02 Oct 2000

I've seen a strange flag of Andorra some while ago: a horizontal tricolor with a crown in the middle. Although a short-lived flag (July 12-20 1934, implied by English Wikipedia; 1931-1936/ maybe 1939, according to the German Wikipedia and Jaume Ollé's website), it is shown as such in the 1957 Romanian Language Dictionary.

Alex Danes, 20 Jan 2010

I have no doubt whatever that a horizontal tricolour has been used in the past (and the various dates given above suggest to me that such use could well have been particularly prevalent in the nineteen-thirties), as equally, have a number of variations in the arms, motto and surround. I remain however (and if Alex will excuse me saying so) totally unconvinced that was any flag-related legislation prior to that contained in the Constitution of 1993.

It is, none the less, interesting that the precise dates 12-20 July 1934 given above refer to the self-proclaimed monarchy of Boris I (Boris Skossyreff), which never had any legal standing in Andorra or indeed existence beyond the fantasy world of its author. He had been thrown out of Andorra when he made his declaration on the 12th and was arrested in Spain having – from memory – declared war on that country on the 20th?

Chris Southworth, 20 Jan 2010

If that flag has been adopted by Boris Skossyreff during his short "reign," it would be normal for it to have been abolished in late July 1934. But then, how come this particular design was known as the official flag of Andorra more than 20 years after its 8 days' life?

Alex Danes, 20 Jan 2010

While English Wikipedia links this flag with the "reign" of Boris (another mistake?), Jaume Ollé says he didn't have the time to design state symbols and that the horizontal tricolor + crown was reported to be used as official Andorran flag between 1931 and 1936 (perhaps 1939).

Let's take a look at the famous October 1917 issue of National Geographic: The horizontal tricolor is there, beside the old yellow-red bicolor (1806-1866):

732. [...] The blue, yellow and red flag of Andorra, with its coronet in the center, is the youngest thing in the nation. It is only fifty years old, having originated in the reform of 1866 to emphasize the autonomy of the valley; but neither of the co-suzerains has approved it. It is displayed when the council is in session.

This flag is present in the September 1934 issue of the same magazine.

Alex Danes, 20 Jan 2010

This is simply wild speculation on my part – not even sturdy enough to be called a guess: The 1930s were, of course, also the era of the Spanish Civil War, and much of that conflict's bloodier fighting was in the north of the country. One of the two sides in that struggle used a horizontally striped flag which could easily be mistaken for a horizontal Andorran flag. Given the proximity of Andorra and its constitutional links with Spain, could it have been prompted to change its flag for fear of confusion?

James Dignan, 22 Jan 2010

This seems plausible, but woud require some research – in Andorra itself, and not in various foriegn flag charts, that may be very misleading.

Another speculation may be that the orientation of the stripes was of no great importance. Even if it was already firmly determined by the law, it may well be that the actual flags were being used in this or that way, as it seemed convenient to whoever was putting them up. We know that the "confusion" (or carelessness, if you wish) was not at all unusual for the early tricolours – French, Belgian even Dutch were initially hoisted in either way. It may well be that such practice survived in Andorra much longer – as many other things going at slower pace there...

Željko Heimer, 22 Jan 2010

Supposing National Geographic 1934 issue is correct (which is not the case with the Romanian flag, for example), then the horizontal flag was used from 1866 until 1934/early 1935. As Marcus Schmöger said, it is possible that the vertical flag could have been used at the same time with the horizontal one, either by Andorra or by France or Spain who, as of 1917, did not approve the 50-year-old horizontal version.

I think it's just a matter of research now, trough various flag charts and books, to discover the earliest mention of the vertical flag.

Alex Danes, 22 Jan 2010

The world flags chart published in Dec 1927 in Japan shows horizontal tricolor with crown already and another chart published in Mar 1935 in Japan shows vertical tricolor already.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 22 Jan 2010

I haven't been able to find that yet, but I did find another reference, pre-dating the 1917 National Geographic issue, which confirms the use of the horizontal stripes with coronet, (or perhaps this was the source for Nat Geo's statement?). At Google Books there is a quote on page 67 of THROUGH THE HIGH PYRENEES by Harold Spender (1898):

We were not fortunate enough to see the Andorran Council General in session, any more than we witnessed the fetes and dances which were seen by M. Vuillier on the occasion of the Feast of St. Etienne. During the session the Andorran flag—with three horizontal lines of blue, yellow, and red, and a crown in the centre— hangs out of the window. A description of the meeting of the Council has been given by M. Vidal...

But two other sources, restricted to snippet views, seem only to muddy the waters: A DREAM OF CHARITY AND SOME IMPRESSIONS OF LONDON LIFE by James Thomas Grein (1910), contains the snippet

The flag of Andorra was hoisted on the balcony, displaying the colours red, white, and pale yellow in vertical stripes.
(page 67 in this work also). Too bad we can't get a better sense of the context in which the flag was viewed to analyze the probability of an error. ROUND ABOUT ANDORRA by Bernard Newman (1928) has a snippet on p. 32:
Alongside the picture stands the national flag of Andorra — blue, yellow, and red, with the twin coats-of-arms in the centre.
Unclear if vertical or horizontal stripes, but not the coronet apparently.

Ned Smith, 22 Jan 2010

If National Geographic is correct, it seems that the horizontal flag with coronet was officially used in Andorra, although not recognized by either Spain or France, between 1866 and 1934 aleast. But in 1939 the flag was already vertical; the horizontal version went out of use sometime between 1934 and 1939, although other countries were not aware of this change, such as Italy (1952) and Romania (1957). Is there any reliable flag book published between 1934 and 1939 which shows the flag of Andorra?

Alex Danes, 22 Jan 2010

Well, there are two kinds of problems with any clear look at Andorran flag history:

  • it is not impossible that both versions or several versions were in use at the same time, perhaps also in different places.
  • Andorra being a small, landlocked country, information about its flag use was not readily available; any information in flag books should thus be treated with a lot of care and might well be outdated or sketchy only.

Marcus Schmöger, 22 Jan 2010

1806-1866: Yellow-Red Bicolor

[Andorra 1806-1866]
image by Ivan Sache
Flag adopted c. 1806, abolished 1866

Andorra's current flag was introduced in 1866 by adding a blue field to the yellow and red flag of Foix. By doing so, both France and Spain were represented with two colors in Andorra's flag (red and blue for France and red and yellow for Spain).

Source: Herzog and Hannes 1990

Volker Mörbitz Keith, 11 Apr 2000

The source of my image is the flag plate in Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe Siècle, 1932. Since several sources stated that the Andorran tricolor flag was adopted at the end of the 19th century, one may wonder why Larousse showed such an outdated flag, especially for a country which is geographically and politically so close to France. Talocci 1993 says the current tricolour flag replaced the former yellow-red flag in 1866, and attributes the new design to Emperor Napoleon III (reigned 1852-1870). The only source I know mentioning the adoption date as 1806 is Pedersen 1971, who says the colours were those of the Counts of Foix, in agreement with Herzog and Hannes 1990. Finally, there is a question which remains to be answered, what was the flag of Andorra before 1806?

Ivan Sache, 24 Nov 2001

?-1806: Catalan Flag

[Andorra ?-1806]
image by Jorge Candeias
Flag abolished 1806

Andorra was part of Catalonia (first fully and then in condominium with France) and of course used the same flag. The Valleys of Andorra were given in fief by the Carolingian kings to the counts of Urgell in the VIIIth century, and given in fief by the counts to the Bishop of Urgell in 988. The counts Urgell were feudal subjects of the counts of Barcelona, who were furthermore de facto marquises and dukes of Septimania and Gothia and due to this had a prevalence to several small counties. The Urgell bishop sub-enfeoffed the valley to the Caboet dynasty, vicecounts of Castellbo, that after the death of the count Gaston Febus of Foix inherited this county. As the count was more powerful than the Bishop to which he was subject (and through the Bishop the Foix were subjects of the Catalan king and at the same time of the French king) were outlined frequent litigations until by duty of the Catalan crown were agreed the "pareatges" (double agreement) through which there was established the feudal condominium of both powers on the Valley, that is to say of Foix and of the Bishop of Urgell, feudatories of the French and Catalan kings.

The feudal lordship of the Foix happened to the French crown (of which the Republic is the declared successor, though its right is based on force and it has not yet found an acceptable legal – juridic, not political – recognition while there exist French kings). The Bishops of Urgell continue existing (if bishopric might have been extinguished, the right the right might have passed to the Catalan sovereigns, and from them, to the kings of Spain, but this never happened; now, after constitution, this will never occur.)

Andorra was isolated valley until this century and no other flag was known that the Catalan one before the XIX century.

Jaume Ollé, 29 Aug 2003