The Empire

The Ruler

The State

The Officials

Armed Forces



Air Force


Royal Guard




The History of Morocco spans over 12 centuries, without considering the Classical antiquity. The country was first unified by the Idrisid dynasty in 780, representing the first Islamic state in Africa autonomous from the Arab Empire. Under the Almoravid dynasty and the Almohad dynasty, Morocco dominated the Maghreb and Muslim Spain. The Reconquista ended Almohad rule in Iberia and many Muslims and Jews migrated to Morocco. Under the Saadi dynasty, Morocco would consolidate power and fight off Portuguese and Ottoman armies, as in the battle of Ksar el Kebir. The reign of Ahmad al-Mansur brought new wealth and prestige to the Sultanate, and an invasion of the Songhay Empire was initiated. However managing the territories across the Sahara proved to be difficult. After the death of al-Mansur the country was divided among his sons. In 1666 the sultanate was reunited by the Alawi dynasty, who have since been the ruling house of Morocco. The organization of the state developed with Ismail Ibn Sharif. With his Black Guard he drove the English from Tangier (1684) and the Spanish from Larache (1689). The Alawi dynasty distinguished itself in the 19th century by maintaining Moroccan independence while other states in the region succumbed to European interests. In 1912, after the First Moroccan Crisis and the Agadir Crisis, the Treaty of Fez was signed on 30.03.1912, effectively dividing Morocco into a French and Spanish protectorate. In 1956, after 44 years of occupation Morocco regained independence from France as the Kingdom of Morocco by declaration at Celle St. Cloud of 02.03.1956.


Morocco reached its height under a series of Berber dynasties, that arose south of the Atlas Mountains and expanded their rule northwards, replacing the local rulers. The 11th and 12th centuries witnessed the founding of several great Berber dynasties led by religious reformers and each based on a tribal confederation that dominated the Maghrib (also seen as Maghreb; refers to North Africa west of Egypt) and Al-Andalus for more than 200 years. The Berber dynasties (Almoravids, Almohads, Marinids and Wattasids) gave the Berber people some measure of collective identity and political unity under a native regime for the first time in their history, and they created the idea of an “imperial Maghrib” under Berber aegis that survived in some form from dynasty to dynasty. But ultimately each of the Berber dynasties proved to be a political failure because none managed to create an integrated society out of a social landscape dominated by tribes that prized their autonomy and individual identity.

In 1559, the region fell to successive Arab tribes claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad: first the Saadi Dynasty who ruled from 1511 to 1659 and then the Alaouites, who founded a dynasty that has remained in power since the 17th century. (Wikipedia)




‘Map’ of Tingitania in the Notitia Dignitatum


The far north eastern part of Africa, today known as Morocco was in Roman times, after the reorganisation of the Empire by Diocletian, the province of Tingitania and was administrated by a comes. His insignia were a Book of Mandates and a codicil. On the Book of Mandates is written the abbreviation of  Floreas Inter Allectos Comites Ordinis Primi (Mayst thou prosper amongst the chosen counts of the first rank). The codicil are early letters of credence.[1]


Almoravids and Almohads, Morocco


In the Almoravid and Almohad era the heraldic system of the Caliphate of Cordoba was continued but the testimonies of the system are not abundant. A reconstruction shows two-headed eagles, [eagles] griffins and lions. Also there are peacocks and unicorns.


The Empire


As a symbol of the Almoravid and Almohad Empires a sun can be accepted but examples of sucgh suns are quite sparse. Sometimes the domed ceilings of mosques or other buildings may be considered as such but also sun-like linear drawings on the frontispieces of qurans not being rub el hizbs or octograms.


Almoravid warriors

Palace of the Kings of Navarra, Estella.[2]


This capital depicts a battle between the spaniards and the moors, probably recalling the siege of Valencia in 1092-’94 by Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, (ca. 1040-‘99), the alfaréz of Sancho II and Alfonso VI of Castile. The moorish knights for that reason may be the then emir of Valencia Abu Ahmad Dja’far (1092-’94) and his squire. Usually however it is said to be a picture of the fight between Roland and the giant Ferragut. It was made in the second half of the 12th century by commission of Sancho VI the Wise of Navarra (1150-’94) a great-grandson of Rodrigo.

On the shield of the knight on the right is a square cross on a pole, probably the arms of Rodrigo. On the shields of the knights on the left are an eight-pointed star or or sun and a 16 rayed sun charged with another eight-pointed rosette. These figures may be the emblems of the Almoravid empire, the 8-rayed sun probably the emblem of the Taifa of Valencia.


Another picture of a sun is on the banner captured by the Castilians in a 13th century battle with the Almohads

Almohad Banner ca 1212-'50.

Silk and gilded parchmant, 330 Í 220 cm.

Patrimonio Nacional Museo de Telas Medievales Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas. Burgos. 006521923


The eight-pointed star may readily be considered to be a symbol of the empire defined as the Empire of the Believers, the eight-pointed sun developing from the rub el-hizb symbol of Islam.

The eight-pointed sun itself is derived from very ancient sun-emblems, also eight-pointed and symbolizing the eight points of the compass.

Babilonian Sun 2nd millennium B.C.


The inscriptions on the flag read:


A) In God I find refuge from satan, punished by stoning. In the name of a compassionate and merciful God. The blessing of God be upon our Lord and Master Muhammad, the honored prophet, and upon his family and friends. Health and Peace.

B) O believers, shall I direct you to a commerce that shall deliver you from a painful chastisement?

You shall believe in God and His Messenger, and struggle in the way of God with your possessions and yourselves. That is better for you, did you but know.

He will forgive you your sins and admit you into gardens underneath which rivers flow, and to dwelling-places goodly in Gardens of Eden; that is the mighty triumph. (Qur’an, 61 : 10-12)


On both sides and below is a little roundel Argent, a lion Purpure, which may be the Almohad style blazon of the amir silah (Roman magister officiorum, master of  offices). [3]



The banner can be considered to be the Great Army Banner. 


The Ruler


The Rulers Names and Titles


A long series of names of the moroccan rulers in arab script can be can found:


Gold Dinar  of the Almoravid ruler

 Yusuf ibn Tashufin (1061-1106)


The inscription in the center reads: “The imam Abdallah, Commander of the Faithful”, that is the titles of the Abbassid Caliph Al Mustazir (1094-1118), the (nominal) ruler of the Almoravid empire.


Gold Dinar of  the Almohad ruler

Abu Yusuf Ya’cub (1184-’99)


The inscription in the center reads: Al-Qa’im bi amr’ Allah, the caliph Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Mu’min, son of ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful, the Commander of the Faithful Abu Ya’cub Yusuf son of the Commander of the Faithful.


Letter of Caliph Umar al-Murtada to Pope Innocent IV

Marrakesh 10 June 1250. Parchment, 525´255 mm. [4]

Name of King Ismail of Morocco (1672-1727) on a letter of 1691

A.R.A. Den Haag. [5]


The Arms


As we have seen the shields of the Almoravids and Almohads  were sometimes charged with several badges. The documentation of these shields and badges is largely a matter of west-european interest and preoccupation.


The arms of the first rulers of the Marinid Dynasty were documented for the first time in the north by Conrad von Mure who writes in his Clipearius Teutonicorum (1240 ca):


            Vult Marrochi rex in auris dominans truculentis

            In croceo rochos tres forme ferre rubentis  [6]


(The king of Morocco, throning in shining gold / Uses to bear three red rocks (towers) in yellow)


Somewhat later the arms are documented by the Wijnbergen roll: n° 1284: le Roi de marroc: Azure, three rooks Or, 2 and 1. [7]



On a 14th century German table with heraldic decorations the arms of Maroch however are: Or, three rooks Sable.

Arms of Maroch, about 1350

(Musée de Cluny, Paris)


Medieval rook [8]

The three rooks of Maroc pose a problem because they are apparently canting arms, the rooks being the representation of the frankish or latin name Ma - roc.  


The fact however that the rook in Moorish chess represented the horseman commanding the army  may prove to be a solution. In any case there is a strong resemblance between this moorish rook and the pieces found on the arms of Maroc.

Taking this into acount the arms of the Almohad governor of Maroc may refer to his being the mounted commander of the army. It should be stressed however that there is no contemporary Almohad source confirming these arms.


At the beginning of the 16th century, obviously based on the Wijnbergen record, the arms with the rooks appeared again in the Portuguese Libro de Armeria Mor.



.....and a few years later on the medal made by Albrecht Dürer at the occasion of the coronation of Charles I (V) as an Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. 


Medal of Albrecht Dürer for Charles I (V), 1521

Detail showing the arms of Bugia (Bougye), Tlemcen (Tramessant) and Morocco[9]


After the fall of the Almohad Empire the ancient heraldy disappeared almost completely. Instead of the rooks representing the Moroccan ruler as a mounted commander of the Empire the hexagram, a universal emblem of armed authority was preferred to represent them. The oldest pictures of the Moroccan hexagram show it painted on a shield, thus identifying the bearer as the chief commander or, even better, as the Commander of the Faithful (amir al-muslimin), a title assumed by Ya’cub (1259-1286) and all of his successors.

An early picture of a shield charegd with a hexagram is in the Cantigas de Alfonso el Sabio (Chronicle of Alfonso el Sabio) [10]


Page from the Cantigas de Alfonso el Sabio, detail.


This detail shows a scene from a battle between Alonso Pérez de Guzmán (*1256-†1309), a general of Alfonso the Wise, and sultan Ya’cub of Morocco, the first with his arms Azure, two kettles Or, the second with a shield charged with a hexagram within a red bordure. [11] Their banners are paly indented Argent and Azure and a red banner with the Holy Virgin in the middle.

The shield is of the common Almohad shape still in use in the fifteenth century. Such a shield is preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


The shield with the hexagram is also documented on a map of North Africa of Johan Martines (1550 ca). This shows: Argent, a hexagram enclosing a ring, between five rings Sable 2 and 3.


Arms of the Rex de Fes


These are the arms of the Saadi Dynasty (1509-1659).


The style was changed by the Alawi Dynasty (1640-present)


A coat of arms is below a portrait of Al Rashid (Mulay Arxid) (1664-1672), printed in Paris:



The arms are:

Arms: Argent, a lion’s head Gules, and a chief Vert, a crescent Argent.

Supporters: Two flags Vert, three crescents Argent on their staffs, two cannon, two halberds, two spears and two branches of olive in saltire all proper.


In the 19th century this had been evoluated to an achievement:


Achievement of Morocco,  probably of ‘Abd al-Rahman (1822-’59)

from an unknown 19th century source.


After the partition of 1912 a hexagram was on the personal flags of the Vizier of French Morocco and of the Caliph of Spanish Morocco. [12]




Vizier’s Flag

Caliph’s Flag


Royal Emblem

On coins of Sultan Muhammad VI (1953-’55)


The emblem would mean: The armed authority (i.e. supreme commander) of Morocco.


After the declaration of independene in 1956 the sultan’s standard became: A red triangle charged with a green and yellow pentagram and a yellow bordure.



This was changed when a national and royal achievement was adopted in 1957:


Royal standard of King Al- Hasan II (1961-‘99)

Royal Standard of King Muhammad VI, (1999-present)


The State


A. The Crescent


The emblem of state of the Almoravid and Almohad empires was a crescent.


The Crescent of State


It can be found on the fringes of  a 13th century moorish banner captured by the Castilians (see above).

Crescents on the fringe of the Burgos banner


After the collapse of the Almohad Empire in 1269 the crescent was also introduced as an emblem for the successor states. In Morocco the crescent is documented on banners from the beginning of the 14th century but the introduction may have been earlier.

In the 20th century the emblem of the Moroccan state evoluated through a pentagram to a complete achievement western style.


Crescents are on two banners captured at the Battle of Salado on 30 October 1340 between the Portuguese and the Castilians on one side and the Nasrids and Moors on the other side. Two of these standards or banners are preserved in the Museo de Arte Catedralicio in Toledo and have belonged to sultan Abu al Hasan Ali (1331-1351).

Both banners are strewn with crescents enclosing an arab formula, arranged 4Í4 and 3Í3 in a square with a bordure with inscriptions in arabic.



The first banner is green, charged with 4Í4 crescents enclosing an arab formula, arranged in a square surrounded by a a broad bordure charged with texts in arabic within cartouches and medallions with arab formula in the corners. The suares are surround by a another green bordure, also inscribed.


The second banner is yellow and charged with 3Í3 crescents enclosing an arab formula and surrounded by bordures like of the first banner.



From the time of the Kingdom of Fez (1420-1454) a yellow flag charged with a red crescent is known. [13]


About 1650 in the time of the Saadi Dynasty (1509-1659) the arms are documented to be: Gules, a crescent Or.[14]


A single crescent corresponds with the Ottoman administrative level of a sançak (country) controlled by a sançakbeyi.


The later Morocco Sultanate of the Alaouite Dynasty (1666-present) had three white crescents on a green field which were considered to be the arms of Morocco until the establishment of the protectorate in 1912.

Achievement of Morocco according to the German heraldist Von Hefner  [15]


Arms of Morocco according to a Spanish Encyclopaedia.[16]


The three crescents correspond with the Ottoman administrative level of an eyâlet or beylerbeyilik (province) governed by a beylerbeyi. The color green is a privilege of the descendants of the prophet.


B. The Pentagram


The crescents were abandoned when Morocco became a French Protectorate in 1912. Instead the Moroccan state or administration, was represented by a pentagram which is a symbol of the five principles of Islam. The logic of the change is in the fact that the Moroccan administration of the protectorate was subordinated to the French government.

Coins were issued with the pentagram from 1912 until the end of the Protectorate in 1956.









In 1915 a green  pentagram was placed on the red national flag.


On the 17th of November 1915 H.M. Sultan MoulayYoussef signed the Dahir about the flag. It reads:


.….le drapeau adopté par nos ancêtres pouvant etre confondu avec d'autres pavillons, en particulier avec ceux qui sont usités comme signaux dans la Marine.


Art. unique.  Nous avons décreté de distinguer Notre drapeau en l'ornant au centre du Sceau de Salomon à cinq branches, de couleur Verte.


It seems that the change was instigated by General Lyautey when preparing to send Moroccan troops to the battlefields of World War I. The reasons why General Lyautey did this were neither clear nor valid. The Moroccan people however, were given another explanation that could be the right one: the new star was best adapted to the country’s religion and faith since the 5 branches could symbolize the 5 pillars of Islam.


There were also coloured versions of the pentagram. It was green and placed on a red disc, sometimes embellished with moorish ornaments like on the coins.



C. The Achievement



The achievement of the kingdom of Morocco (Al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiya) established 1956 was adopted when Mohammed V adopted the royal title (14.08.1957). It is:


Arms: Per fess Azure and Gules, a fess embowed  Argent charged with the Atlas Mountain range proper, in chief a rising sun Or, in base a pentagram Vrt, reaching over the mountain range.

Crown: The royal Moroccan crown

Supporters: On the dexter a lion rampant and on the sinister a lion rampant guardant both proper.

Motto: In Tançuron Allah Iançurkun (If you help Allah, He will help you), in black lettering on a golden ribbon.


The motto is a part of Surah 47 verse 7 of the Qu’ran: “O you who believe! If you help Allah, He will help you and will make your foothold firm”.


The achievement was designed by the French heraldist J. Hainaut and drawn by Suzanne Gautier.[17]


The arms contain symbols for the Empire (rising sun), the Territory (Atlas Range), the State (represented by the five principles of Islam), and the ruler, represented by a crown for his civil authority and lions for his armed authority.


A newer version shows the Atlas as an abstract ornament\


ð See illustration in the head of this essay


Ranges of Authority


Religious Authority



As far as our data reach, the Rub el-Hizb was introduced in the time of the Caliphate in the 10th century. A fine rub el hizb is on the banner captured by the Castilians in the 13th century as mentioned before.

Rub el-Hizb on the Burgos banner 1212-‘50


It was certainly reintroduced in Morocco after the union of all Morocco under the Saadi Dynasty in 1554. This is the symbol of a Sultanate, the Caliphate being dissolved in 1258. It is on the Banner of Cantoria captured at the battle of Corral de Arcoleas on 12 November 1569.


Banner of Cantoria, 1569

A rub el-hizb is above the white tower


Such rub el-hizb’s were also used in the empire of the Alouite Dynasty after 1669 and were placed on their banners.


Photo H.d.V. 2014

Flags captured by the French in 1844

Preserved St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Invalides in Paris


Photo H.d.V. 2014

Moroccan banners captured by the French in 1912

Preserved in St. Paul’s Cathedral of the Invalides, Paris


In the 19th century the emblem was engraved on coins until the establishment of the kingdom.







The first has the emblem of the Alouite Sultanate, the double square for Islam, the hexagrams for the the armed authority and the ruler (supreme commander).

The second, on a medal, shows the French view on the Empire Cherifien as a Protectorate of the French Republic, the Sharif being just a descendant of the Prophet, the olive branch for peace, the branch of oak for permanence.

The third shows the emblem of  Islam, the emblem being of Seljuq origin

The fourth shows the emblem of  the Moroccan Muslim Empire.


In 1957 the rub el-hizb disappeared into the integral achievement of the kingdom of Morocco.


Armed Authority


The symbol of armed authority was a hexagram or seal of David. This was probably introduced in the era of the Caliphate of Cordoba but an early example of it is only on the Almohad shield of the 13th century as illustrated above.

In the 16th century it was on the shield of the sultan (i.e. Muhammad as Sheikh (1544-’54/’57)) as illustrated.

Starting from the reign of the Sultans Hisham (1790/’92-’97) and Suleyman (1792-1822) the hexagram is uninteruptedly documented on coins until 1956:












The hexagram in the middle is on the cover of a treaty between Morocco and the Netherlands about commerce and shipping, dated 1858. [18]


Civic and Military badges of rank


The military badges of rank largely follow the ancient Byzantine-Visigotic-Caliphal scheme made up of the eagle-griffin-lion series.  To it were added a unicorn and a two-headed eagle originating from the seljuq series of badges of rank.

From the roman civic badges of rank the peacock was borrowed.




Peacocks confronting or supporting a tree

Almoravid, 1st half of the 12th c.

Detail of 10 Í 10 cm on a chasuble of 151 Í 287 cm

Basilique St. Sernin, Toulouse


The inscription reads: Perfect Blessing. [19] Below the peacocks are two unicorns supporting the tree.

A peacock was the insigne of office of a (Roman) prefect, paralleled by a sultan or executive officer of the caliph, [governor of the Almoravid Empire].


A tree is a symbol of a territory. It is of very ancient Mesopotamian origin and came to North Africa by way of the Phoenicians. In this case the territory of the Almoravid and Almohad empires in Northen Africa and Spain is meant.


Two-headed eagle


Two-headed eagles are known to have been the insignia of a rank equal to the Roman caesar.

Almoravid two-headed eagles are on two pieces of silk, today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York  and the Musée des Tissus in Lyon:


Textile Fragment with Two-Headed Eagles and lions

From the time of Yusuf ibn Tashufin 1071-1106, amir al-mu'min 1073


Islamic (Spain), 11th-12th century. Silk, 63 x 46 cm. Provenance: From the tomb of Saint Bernard of Calvó in the Cathedral of Vich, Catalonia, Spain. The Metro-politan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y. Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1941 (41.92).


This silk fragment belongs to one of several fabrics found in the tomb of Saint Bernard of Calvó (d. 1243) in the Cathedral of Vich in Catalonia. They are believed to be a part of a booty from the reconquest cam-paigns against the Muslims of  Spain that Calvó led as bishop of Vich. [..]

The provenance of the piece is secure, but the establishment of its origin has proved difficult. The fabric has been considered Byzantine because it strongly resembles Byzantine textiles of the Auxerre eagle-silk group and shares the twill-weaveing technique most commonly found in Byzantine silks. However, it also has been classified as a Hispano-Islamic work inspired by a Byzantine eagle silk from which it deviates significantly. The latter attribution is supported here. (Soucek, Priscilla: Byzantium and the Islamic East. In: Evans, E. ed. The Glory of Byzantium. New York, 1997. n° 270)



Textile with two-headed eagle and two chamois Æ

Spain, 12th c. (Ali  (1106-1143) or his successors)

Samit façonné 4 lats. Silk. 29Í19 cm. Purchase at Chamonton, 1906.

Musée des Tissus, Lyon. Inv. 28003.


This important piece of textile came from the “cloak of the Virgin” at Thuirs in the eastern Pyrenees. The textiles from the islamic world, like those from Byzantium were very appreciated for their luxuriancy. Often they were used for clothing of muslim and christian princes and for liturgical robes. Many mediaeval and renaissance paintings of the Virgin show her dressed in robes with arab inscriptions. Precious textiles also have the names of saints like, for example the great “veil of St. Anne” from Apt, in fact a piece of egyptian cloth decorated with a tiraz from the Fatimid era.




No pieces are known showing an eagle, the insignia of rank of a (Roman) consul. These are known from the Omayyad and Taifa periods.




Almoravid textile with a pair of griffins (detail)

43.2 Í 30.5 cm

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. n° 1958 (58.85.1)


These griffins have a strong resemblance with the so-called Pisa Griffin from the Taifa Period (1031-1086). [20] The piece may have belonged to a chanchellor with the rank of a (Roman) tribune but the achievement means: The office of the chancellor.




Lions were on the silk with a two-headed eagle from the time of Yusuf ben Tashufin. A pair of lions is on an Almohad textile from about 1200 


Roundel with two lions addorsed (reconstruction)

Detail from the ‘Coffin Cover of  María de Almenar’

Almohad period, ca. 1200. Silk and gold thread. Æ 62 cm ca.

Patrimonio Nacional, Museo de Telas Medievales, Monasteria de Santa Maria Real de Huelgas, Burgos 00650542


Lions addorsed are known to be the insignia of a vizier or prime minister. The legend around the lions reads: Faithfulness to God. The roundels are on a much larger piece which may have served as a wall hanging behind a seat or throne. [21]


The lions addorsed were a quite common motif on Almrovid and Almohad textiles. They are, for example, on the Chasuble of S. Juan de Ortega in Burgos; on a textile fragment today in the Istituto de Valencia de Don Juan in Madrid; and, together with sirens on the ‘Shroud of S. Pedro de Osma’. [22]

Another combination of the addorsed lions is with unicorns:


Tortosa Casket

Ivory casket with lions addorsed and unicorns

About 1200, 24 Í 36 Í 24 cm

Tesoro de la Catedral de Tortosa.


This casket repeats the lions addorsed from the ‘Coffin Cover of María de Almenar’ but is also decorated with unicorns. These are relatively young mythical creatures in islamic iconography. The unicorn is of very ancient Persian origin and is a corrupted form of an ibex, insignia of a military commander of the first rank, known in China as a qilin. As such it would be the substitute of an eagle but the unicorn doesn’t appear often enough in Almohad culture to confirm this hypothesis.  We may even doubt if the heraldic meaning of the unicorn was understood in the Almohad  empire at all. [23] For the time being we do not know what military or civil office the combination of the addorsed lions with another heraldic beast represents.

Such a heraldic beast occurs also on the shield of count Poncius of Castile (1146-’57) Æ Ibex


It would be of great help if we had an organigram of the Almoravid and Almohad states at our disposal. According to an organigram of the contemporary Mameluk Empire there were armed officials (Umara al-Mushara): a vice regent (naib al-sultana), a major-domo (ustadar), the public prosecutor (amir silah) and generals. [24]


Almohad Heraldry in the 13th century


As we have seen a heraldic system was developed in the Almoravid and Almohad empires as well as in other parts of the former Roman Empire, including Byzantium. This system was of a bureaucratic and not of a personal kind and resembling the heraldic systems of China and Persia.


The Wijnbergen Roll



















The Wijnbergen Roll  contains arms of North African princes probably recorded at the 8th crusade of Louis the Saint which ended in Tunis (1267-1270) in the last days of the Almohad empire († 1269). [25]

They are:


n° 1283 le de gaquart roi: Argent, a lion rampant Azure, and a bordure Gules strewn with besants (Oran)

n° 1284 le Roi de marroc: Azure, three rooks Or, 2 and 1. (Fez)

n° 1286 le Roy dauf’que: Azure, strewn with square crosses, three hearts 2 and 1 Or. (Kairuan)

n° 1287 le Roy de tunes: Argent a lion rampant Azure. (Tunis)

n° 1288 le Roy darrabe: Azure, three lions passant guardant Or. (Tlemcen)[26]

n° 1290 le Roy de danant: ¼ : 1& 4: Argent, an eagle Gules; 2&3: Azure, a castle with three towers Or, openend Sable. (Jaen)

n° 1294 le Roi de tunes: Gules, strewn with six-pointed stars, a decrescent Or. (Tunisia)

n° 1300 le roi daufrique: Or, a lion rampant Azure, crowned and armed Gules (Soussa?)

n° 1302 le Roy de grenade: Argent, a Lion rampant Sable and a bordure Gules charged with 14 castles with three towers Or. (Granada)

To which we may add the Argent a lion Purpure from the Burgos banner.



These arms can be classified in three groups:

1. The crescent and stars which could be the insignia of the head of state, that is to say of the sultan himself or of his vice-regent (naib al-sultana).

2. The shields charged with three pieces. These could be the insignia of the viziers or local administrators

3. The shields charged with a lion. These could be the insignia of the emirs (counts, dukes or generals).


It is remarkable that the insignia are individualized for the different districts.


After the fall of the Almohad empire the heraldic system of figurative badges of rank or office disappeared without leaving a trace. The use of emblems for the empire, the ruler and the state however was continued.


Armed Forces




Arms of the Royal Moroccan Army




Emblem of the Royal Moroccan Navy


Air Force


Arms of the Moroccan Royal Air Force




Royal Moroccan Air Force, cap badge and roundel




Police Emblem of the Protectorate

Arms of the Police of the Kingdom


Moroccan Police Cap Badge


Royal Guard


Banner of the Royal Guard



Back to Main Page




© Hubert de Vries 2011-08-07. Updated 2014-05-09



[1] Notitia Dignitatum fol 215v

[2] Picture:

[3] 13th century Muslim blazon of the southern mediterranean showed the charges on a disk instead of on a pointed shield. 

[4] A.A., Arm. I-XVIII, 1802 (3). Catalogo della Mostra di Manoscritto e documenti Orientali, S. 13; Tisserant-Wiet: Une lettre de l’almohade Murtada, Pp. 27-53.

[5] Exposed: Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, dec. 2000.

[6] Ganz, P.: Geschichte der heraldischen Kunst in der Schweiz im 12. und 13. Jahrh. Frauenfeld 1899. P. 174 vs. 8. Also: Liebenau, Th. v.: Das alteste Wappengedicht Deutschlands. In: Vierteljahrsschrift für Wappen- Siegel- und Familienkunde. Herold. VIII Jahrg. 1880, pp. 20 - 34.

[7] See note 8

[8] Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

[9] Somewhat later in the 16th century however: Marruecos: campo de gules con un triángulo. Vicente Cascante, Ignacio: Heraldica General y Fuentes de las Armas de España. Barcelona, 1956.  P. 534

[10]  España. dd. 1283. El Escorial. Biblioteca de San Lorenzo Ms. T. I.1.

[11] Alonso Pérez de Guzmán or Guzmán el Bueno (Leon 24.01.1256-Gaucin 19.09.1309) first Lord of Sanlucar de Barrameda, was a spanish knight pretending to be the founder of the House of Median-Sidonia. He was active between 1276 and 1309. As a warrior he intervened in the internal struggles of the Marinids. Against the invasions of the north-africans in Lower Andalucia in 1275 he mediated for peace between Sultan Ya’cub and Alfonso X the Wise in 1276. At the end of 1282 and the beginning of 1283 he negotiated with Ya’cub to help Alfonso X against his rebelling son Sancho for which he was rewarded with the city of Alcala Sidonia.

[12] From Larousse Encyclopedie 1938 and Flags of All Nations 1958 respectively.

[13] On a map of Johan Martines and Jacobo Russo (1550 ca), British Library.

[14] On a map of North Africa today at Edinburgh University

[15] Hefner, O.T. von, M. Gritzner & A.M. Hildebrandt: Die Wappen der Ausserdeutschen Souveräne und Staaten. Nürnberg, 1856.

[16]  Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana, Barcelona-Madrid 1905-

[17] Archivum Heraldicum, 1957, p. 44.

[18] National Archives The Hague,  II Buiten­landse Zaken ratificatie 209. 1858/1274. Exhibited Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, Jan. 2000.

[19] Dodds, Jerrilynn D. Ed.: Al-Andalus. The Art of Islamic Spain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1992. Pp. 318-319

[20] Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Pisa.

[21] See Dodds. op.cit

[22] Dodds, op. cit. pp. 105-109.

[23] See also: Gierlichs, Joachim: Drache . Phönix . Doppeladler. Fabelwesen in der islamischen Kunst. 1993, pp. 29 - 32. 62 - 63.

[24] Riley-Smith, Jonathan: Atlas of the Crusades. London 1991

[25] Adam-Even, Paul & Léon Jéquier: Un Armorial français du XIIIe siècle, l'armorial Wijnbergen. In: Archives Heraldiques Suisses. 1951 pp. 49-62, pp. 101-110, 1952 pp. 28-36, 64-68, 103-111, 1953 pp. 55-77.

[26] The three lions passant are the badge of a bailiff or similar office. Examples are: dukes of Normandy, kings of Denmark, kings of Georgia, truchsesses (bailiffs) of Suevia (Germany).They are the successor of the ancient thunderbolt.