Royal Arms





Royal Arms   

Crested Arms

Royal Achievement

Republic of Portugal

Portuguese Seaborne Empire







House of Burgundy







Countess 1095-1128


Alfonso I


Count 1128-1139




Alfonso I

King 1139-1185


King Alfonso I


Dating from the late 12th or early 12th century, this may be the earliest representation of the first Portuguese monarch. Already crowned  with sword in hand and orb, the king also wears the royal robe.

(Credits: Carmo Archaeological Museum / José Pessoa / IMC). [1]


1179 Pope Alexander III recognizes Portugal as an independent country and a vassal of the Church in the Manifestis Probatum


The bula reads:


Alexander, Bishop, Servant of’ the servants of God, to the Dearest son in Christ, Afonso, Illustrious King of the Portuguese, and to his heirs, in perpetuity:

It is clearly demonstrated that, as a good son and catholic prince, you have rendered innumerable services to your mother, the Holy Church, intrepidly exterminating through hardships and military prowess the enemies of the Christian name and diligently propagating the Christian faith, thereby leaving to generations still unborn a name worthy of memory and an example deserving of imitation.

The Apostolic See must love with sincere affection and strive to efficiently attend, in their just requirements, those chosen by the divine Providence for the government and salvation of the people.

We, therefore, because of your qualities of prudence, justice and worthiness of government, take you under St.Peter’s and our own protection, and grant and confirm by apostolic authority to your excellent domain, the kingdom of Portugal, full honours of kingdom and the dignity which corresponds to kings, as well as all places which, with the help of the celestial grace, you have wrested from the hands of the Saracens, and on which your neighbouring Christian princes may not claim any rights.

And so that your devotion and service to St. Peter, prince of the Apostles, and to the Holy Roman Church may grow, we decide to extend this same concession to your heirs and, with the help of God, to defend it for them, as far as our apostolic magistrature is concerned.


1183 Signal rodado de Afonso Henriques em um documento de –

Emblem 12 escutcheons charged wit besant cross wise.

L.: alfonsvs portvgalensivm rex; pax lvx rex lex.


Sancho I




1195 No selo do reinado de D. Sancho I (1185-1211) pendente de documento datado de 1 de Marco de 1195 (a.D.). vêem -se os cinco escudetes em amêndoa postos em cruz com os “pontos” ou besantes já delidos. Os escudetes laterais deitados. (Coleccao Especial, c. 28, n°7, do Acquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo).


Alfonso II, the Fat



Leaf with King Alfonso II and his seal

(not documented)


The picture on top is to be compared with the Alfred jewel of the english king Alfred the Great (897-899).


1211 Selo de D.Afonso II autenticando a carta de confirmaçao, feita em 1211, de uma doaçao de Afonso Henriques a D. Bernardo, abade de Claraval. (Arq. Nac. Da Torre do Tombo).


Arms: Five escutcheons strewn with besants cross wise.

L.: regis portvgalensis.


1217 No reinado de D. Afonso II num selo pendente de documento datado de 1 de Maio de 1217 (a.D.), os cinco escudetes em amêndoa e os “pontos” ou besantes estao nitodos. Os besantes enchem o campo. Os escudetes laterais mantêm-se deitados. (Coleccao Especial, c. 28, n° 34, do Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo).

Selo de chumbo autenticando a carta de confirmaçao, feita por D. Afonso II em 1217, de uma doaçao feita por D. Sancho I ao mosteiro de Alcobaça.


Arms: Five escutcheons strewn with besants cross wise. . L.: sigillum [......]onsis. 




1218 Sêlo de chumbo da carta de confirmaçao, feita por D. Afonso II em 1218, de uma doaçao feita por Afonso Henriques ao mosteiro de S. Vicente de Fóra. (Arq. Nac. Da Torre do Tombo).


Arms: Five escutcheons strewn with besants cross wise. L.: regis portvgalensis.


1221 Sêlo de chumbo de D. Afonso II, autenticando o testamento do monarca (1221) (Arq. Nac. da Tôrre do Tombo)


Arms: Five escutcheons strewn with besants cross wise. L.: regis portvgalensis.


Sancho II, Capelo



A document of D. Sancho II (Biblioteca Pública de Braga)


This document is dated „anno regni nostri undecimo mense iunio e M CC XXX IIII.” (the eleventh year of our reign in the month of June of 1234), and therefore dates from the reign of  Sancho II (1223-1248).


In the lower margin is a square cross which is the Christian symbol of administative authority, a symbol also in the beginning of the title of the ruler in the legends on seals.


In the cross:

Rex Sance (*1154-†1211)

Regina dõna mahalda (†1157, (mo))

Regina dõna dulcia (†1198, (wife))

Rex dõn fernand (of Leon, *1135-†1188)

Rex dõn petr (*1187-†1258 (2so))

Rex dõn alfons (*1183-†1223 (1so))

Regina dõna sãcia (fasis)

Regina dõna turasca (?) (†1220 1sowife)


Apart from Peter all these persons were deceased in 1234.


Alfonso III




1260 Sêlo de cera de Afonso III, autenticando uma carta de couto passado ao chanceler Estevam Anes em 1260


Arms: Five escutcheons strewn with besants cross wise and a bordure with 7 (8) castles. L.: X S: ALFONSI REGIS  [...] COMITES BOLONIE.

After Wijnbergen [2]


Arms: Argent five escutcheons Azure strewn wit besants, per cross saltire, and a bordure Gules strewn with three-towered castles  Or


Other arms with a bordure with castles in the time of Alfonso III:


1253 Charles d’Anjou, frère de St. Louis. A.: Semée de France à la bordure chargée de petits chateaux.  L.: sigillum karoli , filii regis,  comitis andegravensis. C.: A.: D’or a quatre pals de gueules. L.: comes et marchio provincie et comes forcalquieri. (Douët d’Arcq n° 340)


1272 D’argent au lion de sable, à la bordure de gueules chargée de 14 chateaux à 3 tours d’or. L.: le.Roy de Grenade (Wijnbergen n° 1302)


1680 Le Roy d’Affrique, (al. Anferique) [....] Peirescanus Codex Regi d’Anfrique pro insignibus adscribit d’argent a un lyon d’azure bandé de geules, a douze Chasteaux d’or sur la bordure. [....] Le Roy d’Anfrique, d’argent a un lyon d’azur, bordé de geules, douze chasteaux d’or sur la bordure. (Ducange  Tunisia)


Denis the Farmer



Obverse and reverse of the seal of King Denis


Equestrian seal , the King on horseback with a crowned helmet. On the reverse the royal arms


Alfonso IV



Wax seal of D. Afonso IV obverse and reverse


Pedro I the Justicer




Ferdinand I






House of Avis


John I



Royal Seal of King John I of Portugal.,1385-04-15

The National Archives: E30/307


Five escutcheons strewn with besants, cross wise, the dexter and the sinister transverse.

All surrounded by a legend.


To: Crested Arms





Seal of Duarte 1434

From: Sousa, Antonio Caetano de: Historia Genealogica da Casa Real Oirtugueza. Tomo 4. LIX [3]


Arms:  Portugal the border charged with the cross of the Order of Avis

L.: Sigillum Domini Eduardi Dæi gratie Regis Portugalite & Algarbii Domini Cepte.


Feita em Santarem aos 8 dias do mes de Abril. ElRey o mandou; Alvaro Ànnes o fas anno do acimento de Nosso Senhor Jesu Chrislo de 1434.


Alfonso V, the African





Sigillum Domini Alphons Dei gratia R.egis Portugalie Algarbii Cepteque Domini 1449-03-02

Sousa LXV



Arms with cross of Avis, 1457-04-14



Battle scene from the Portuguese conquest of Asilah (Arzila), 24.08.1471

from the Wattasids, took place on 24 August 1471.

Paço dos Duques de Bragança tapecaria


The picture is dominated by flags and shields with a red straight cross on a white field (the arms of the Holy See, the suzerain of Portugal, the royal coat of arms of Portugal and the personal arms of Alfonso V consisting of a red shield with a golden mill-wheel spilling blue drops, the Impresa of Alfonso. In addition, the shields of the soldiers can be seen of a heart-shaped model that can be associated with North Africa.

The waterwheel spreading drops may be a symbol of the Afonso the industrious alchemist shedding tears because of the death of Isabella, the wife of Alfonso on 2 December 1455. [4]


When the campaigns in Africa were over, Afonso V found new grounds for battle in neighboring Castile.

On 11 December 1474 King Henry IV of Castile died without a male heir, leaving just one daughter, Joanna la Beltraneja. However, her paternity was questioned; it was rumored that his wife, Queen Joan of Portugal had an affair with a nobleman named Beltrán de La Cueva. The death of Henry ignited a war of succession with one faction supporting Joanna and the other supporting Isabella, Henry's half-sister. Afonso V was persuaded to intervene on behalf of Joanna, his niece. He betrothed himself to her, proclaimed himself king of Castile and led troops into the kingdom. Because of their close blood-relationship, a formal marriage had to wait for papal dispensation.

An ensuing battle between the prtenders ended in a stalemate both sides claiming victory but Afonso's prospects for obtaining the Castilian crown were severely damaged.

After the battle, Afonso sailed to France hoping to obtain the assistance of King Louis XI in his fight against Castile. But finding himself deceived by the French monarch, he returned to Portugal in 1477. Disillusioned, he abdicated for a few days in November 1477 in favor of his son John II, then after returning to the throne, he retired to a monastery in Sintra, where he died in 1481


Seal of Alfonso V, 26.10.1475

Sousa LXI.


Arms: ¼: 1&4 ¼ Castile and Léon; 2&3: Portugal, the border charged with the cross of the Order of Avis

L.: D. Affonso pela graça de Deos Rey de Castella, de Leaó, de Portugal, e de Tolledo, e de Galiza, de Sevilha, de Cordova , e de Mureia, e de Jaem , e dos Algarves, da quem , e dalem mar em Africa, e de Aljazira, e de Gibaltar , de Bijcaya , e de Molina, a quantos esta Carta virem , &c.


Wax seal of the chancellery, on the letter of donation to D. Henrique de Menezes, Count of Loulé

Passed in its City of Çamora the 26 of October of the year of 1475.

In the Royal File of the Tower of Tombo in Caía of the Crown, drawer J, pack 10


Batalha Monastery: 134 Túmulo pequeno do primogénito de Dom Duarte, D. João.

foto Tripadvisor

Tomb of Infante João (*†1451) of Afonso V Batalha


Arms of Portugal with a label of three (= Infante)


To Æ Royal Achievement


John II, the Perfect Prince


Joao II o principe perfeito


Shortly after ascending to the throne in 1482, John II monopolized the exploration and commerce in the Costa da Mina and Gulf of Guiné by the crown, determining the construction of a factory to support the flourishing commerce of alluvial gold in the region. Under the command of Diogo de Azambuja was quickly built the "Castle of St. George da Mina" with stones previously carved and numbered in Portugal, sent as ballast in ships, and used for building numerous fortifications.

John II was a great defender of the policy of the Atlantic exploration initiated by his uncle, the Infante D. Henrique. The Portuguese discoveries became his government priority, as well as the pursuit of the sea route to India. During his reign the following discoveries were made:

• 1484 - Diogo Cão discovers the mouth of the Congo River and explores the coast of Namíbia

• 1488 - Bartolomeu Dias crosses the Cape of Good Hope, becoming the first European to sail in the Indian Ocean from the west

• 1493 - Álvaro de Caminha, the colonization of the islands of São Tomé e Príncipe,, the island of the Prince being baptized in honor of the only son and heir of the king, Afonso, Príncipe de Portugal (1475)

• Land expeditions led by Pêro da Covilhã and Afonso de Paiva to Cairo, Adém, Ormuz, Sofala e Abissínia, the land of the legendary Preste João, are sent from where they send reports on these stops, leaving D. João II with the certainty of power to reach India by sea.

• 1493-1494 - John II challenges the Bula Inter Coetera and negotiates a treaty directly with the Catholic kings: the Treaty of Tordesillas.

• 1495 - Delineated the first voyage on the sea route to India. The command was initially assigned to Estevao da Gama (1430-1497) Nevertheless, given the death of both, it was delegated in 1497 by the new king Manuel I of Portugal to the son, Vasco da Gama.


From 1482 to 1485, the improvement of the royal arms was on the agenda of the Cortes that had been called by King John II. Eventually it was decided to leave out the cross of the Order of Aviso as a heraldic anomaly in the future. At the same time, the escutcheons on the sides of the quinas were set upright and the number of castles was set at seven.


Seal of John II,  1484



Arms: Portugal, the border charged with the cross of the Order of Avis

L.: Sigillum... Dei gratia Regis Portugalie & Algarb..  1484


Seal of John II  1489

Sousa LXVI

Arms: Portugal

L.: Sigillum... Serenissimi Ioannis II Dei gratia Regis Portugalie & Algarbiorun Citra & ultra mare in Africa Guineæ Dominus. 1489-05-30



Portrait of a Portuguese king, probably John II  in  the »Livro dos Copos« (Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo). The picture should have been created after 1485 because the cross of the Order of Aviso is omitted in the arms. The crown is striking.


Manuel I, the Fortunate





25 february 1516 No legend



The impresa or personal emblem of King Manuel I was an amillary spherr which we notice on a tapestry from the eighties of the late (Æ Crest) 15th century. In a manuscript of Manuel I this armillary sphere is a the charge of a shield parted per pale of Gules and Argent (Æ Achievement)


These arms can be considered to be the arms of the Portuguese empire of the African possessions.


Æ See: The Portuguese Seaborne Empire: Armillary Sphere


Portrait of D. Manuel I

Crónica do rei D. Afonso V de Portugal. Rui de Pina (1440-1522)

Manuscript illuminated on parchment, Lisbon, 16th century 65 Î 36 Î6 cm.

Lisbon, A.N.T.T. Casa Forte-Crónicas Inv. 358. [5]


King Manuel I on his throne between the crowned arms of Portugal and a golden armillary sphere, mounted on a golden axis mounted on a pedestal



King Manuel I on horseback. Behind him his ensign.


The ensign shows the banner or ensign being Argent, a cross of five escutcheons Azure, five balls in saltire Argent. As a crest the armillary-sphere of the Empire and on the horse-clothes the symbol of the Ordem de Cristo. The armillary-sphere is repeated on the harness of the kings horse.

From: Francisco Álvares: Verdadera informaçam das terras do Preste Joam. (Lisbon, 1540, Frontispiece).


The book is a report of the diplomatic voyage of the author in 1515 tot the Ethiopian Court.[6]


João III



Knight of the Fleece n° 168, Doornik, 1531


Crowned arms of John III

With the Order of the St. Michel, France (1469)


The armilary-sphere, 20-05-1538









1559 Stall plate of John III as a Knight of the Fleece


Arms: Portugal crowned with acrown of thee leaves and two fleurs de lis

L.: Treshault Tresexellēt et Trespuissant Prince Jehan Par la grace de Dieu Roy de Portugal Trespassé. (Coll. St. Baafskathedraal, Gent.)







The crowned arms of King Sebastian [7]


The inscriptiosn reads: SAGITÆ TVÆ ACVTÆ POPVLI SVB TE CADENI IN CORDA INIMICORVM REGIS (sharp arrows will fall under you, the enemies of the king)


Cardeal d. Henrique



Coat of Arms of D. Henrique before his accession to the throne (1571)


Arms: Portugal, with a label of one between two banners: D. ¼ Castlla and Leon; S.: Vert, a cross patonce Argent. 

Crown: Ducal crown and cardinal’s hat.



Arms of Cardinal King Henry


The arms crowned with a royal crown and a cardinals’ hat with ten fiocchi. In the upper sinister corner an the lower dexter corner the arms of the Grand Inquisitor and in the two other corners the mitres of the Archbishop of Braga and the Archbishop of Évora.  


The arms of the Inquisition were:


Arms: Argent, a latin cross between an olive tree an the Sword of Justice surrounded by the motto EXURGE DOMINE ET JUDICA CAUSAM TUAM. PSALM. 73» (Psalm 74) (Arise O God and defend your cause.)


House of Habsburg


Philip I (II)


Arms of Philip I, 1597


Arms: Per fess of Spain and the Netherlands, the chief charged with Portugal

Crown: Royal crown of three hoops

Order: Of the Fleece


Philip II (III)


Arms of Philip II

Arms, Crown and Order as Philip I


Philip III (IV)



Arms of Philip III


Arms, Crown and Order as Philip I


House of Braganza


Joao IV



Alfonso VI



Seal of Alfonso VI (n.d)



Arms: Portugal

Crown: Royal crown of five hoops



Pedro II

Regent 1667-1683



Seal of King Pedro II

Sousa C.

Arms: Portugal

Crown: A royal crown of five hoops

Order: Collar and medal of the Order of Christ.


John V, the Magnanimous



Sousa CVIII.


Legend: Joannes V. Dei Gratia ·Rex Portugaliæ, et Algarbiorum citra, et ultra mare in .:Aftica; Dominus Guineæ, Conquistitionis, Navigationis, Comercii  Æthiopiæ, Arabiæ, Periæ, Indiæ que  &c.


Perhaps from a coach of Joseph

Museu Nacional dos Coches, Lisbon (No documentation)


Joseph I



Royal arms of Joseph I

Chapel of St. Barbara, Peniche Fortress



Royal arms

 ceiling Council of Vila Vicosa (1770)


Pedro III




Maria I

John VI


Regent 1799-1816


Royal arms as on coins of Queen Maria

with the legend MARIA I PORT. ET ALG. REGINA 1789


John VI




D. João por graça de Deos, Rei do Reino Unido de Portugal e do Brazil e Algarves, d’aquem e d’além mar, em Africa, Senhor da Guiné e da Conquista, Navegação e Commercio da Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia e da India, etc.


Faço saber aos que a presenta carta de lei virem que tendo sido servido unir os meus Reinos de Portugal, Brazil e Algarves, para que juntos constituissem, como effectivamente constituem hum só e mesmo Reino; he regular e consequente o incorporar em hum só escudo real as armas de todos os tres Reinos, assim, e da  mesma fórma que o Senhor Rei D. Affonso III, de gloriosa memoria, unindo outr’ora o Reino dos Algarves ao de Portugal unio tembem as suas armas respectivas: e occorrendo que para este effeito o meu Reino do Brazil ainda não tem armas que caracterisem a bem merecida preeminencia a que me aprouve exalta-lo: hei por bem e me praz ordenar o seguinte:


1° - Que Reino do Brazil tenha por armas huma esphera armilar de ouro em campo azul.

2° - Que o escudo real portuguez, inscripto na dita esphera armilar de ouro em campo azul, com uma corôa sobreposta, fique sendo, de hoje em diante, as armas do Reino Unido de Portugal, e do Brazil e Algarves, e das mais partes integrantes da minha Monarchia.

3° - Que estas novas armas sejão por  conseguinte as que uniformemente se hajão de empregar em todos os estandartes, bandeiras, sellos reaes e cunhos de moedas, assim como em tudo mais em que até agora se tenha feito uso das armas precedentes.


E esta se cumprirá como nella se contém. Pelo que mando, etc.


Dada no Palacio do Rio de Janeiro, aos 13 de Maio de 1816.


El-Rei com guarda

(a) Marquez de Aquiar


com os registos competentes [8]

That is:


D. João, by the grace of God, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil and Algarves, from here and beyond, in Africa, Lord of Guinea and the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India, etc.


Letter of law to be known and presented to all who have served to unite my kingdoms of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves, so that together they constitute, and effectively constitute one and the same Kingdom; It is fitting and consequent to incorporate in a single royal shield the arms of all three Kingdoms, thus, and of the same form as King D. Affonso III, of glorious memory, once uniting the Kingdom of the Algarve with that of Portugal their respective arms occur: and, since for this purpose my Kingdom of Brazil still has no arms which characterize the well-deserved pre-eminence to which it pleased me to exalt it: It  pleases me to order the following:

1° - That the Kingdom of Brazil has for arms a armillary sphere of gold on a blue field.

2°. That the royal Portuguese shield, inscribed in the said armillary sphere of gold on a blue field, with a crown above it, shall henceforth be the arms of the United Kingdom of Portugal, and of Brazil and the Algarves, and of the parts of my Monarchy.

3°. That these new arms are therefore to be uniformly used in all banners, flags, royal seals, and coins, as well as in all else in which the preceding arms have hitherto been used.


And this will be fulfilled as this is contained. What I say, etc.


Given at the Palace of Rio de Janeiro, on 13 May, 1816.


El-Rei with guard

(a) Marquez de Aquiar


with the relevant records


Arms of the Kingdom of Brazil


Arms of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves

As on the original decree



Arms of the United Kingdom with legend: JOANNES VI D. G. PORT. BRASIL ET ALG . REX


Royal arms of Portugal,Brazil amd Algarves 13.05,1816

With garland of branches of olive and laurel


Crown of João VI

 Made by Antonio Gomes da Silva, 1817


Æ See also: Brazil


Pedro IV

Emperor of Brazil  1822-1831

King of Portugal 1826-1828




Miguel I




On a coach, Museu Nacional dos Coches, Lisbon.(No documentation)


Coat of arms of Miguel

With medallion and ribbon of the three orders (Of St. Jago, of Christ and of Avis)

From: C. Hildebrandt aus Gelbke, Abbildung von Wappen, 1831,




Maria II


Royal arms of Portugal with collar of Order of Christ

From: Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1846


Royal Arms with crowned mantle


House of  Saxe-Coburg-Gotha


Pedro V



Royal Arms with crowned mantle



Luis I



Royal Crown by Anatole Célestin Calmels and Leandro Souza Braga, 1866

Golden carving, wood, fine gold, ink


Royal arms with garland of olive and oak (1989)



Carlos I



 Royal Arms with crowned mantle



Royal Arms with crowned mantle

On a coach door, Museu Nacional dos Coches, Lisbon.(No documentation)


Manuel II




Back to the 18th century design




To Æ Republic of Portugal




Back to Main Page



 © Hubert de Vries 2019-03-12




[1] https://nationalgeographic.sapo.pt/historia/grandes-reportagens/953-afonso-henriques

[2] 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

[3] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Historia_Genealogica_da_Casa_Real_Portugueza_Tomo_4.pdf

[4] According to a complicated argumentation by Vitor Manuel Adrião  in: https://lusophia.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/tratado-alquimico-de-d-afonso-v-rei-de-portugal-a-respeito-da-pedra-filosofal-introducao-e-ordenacao-documental-por-vitor-manuel-adriao/

[5] Expos.: 17e Exposition européenne d’art, de science et de culture. La dynastie des Avis, Casa dos Bicos, Lisbonne 1983; Via Orientalis - Festival Europália/91 – Portugal, Caisse Générale d’Épargne et de Retraite, Bruxelles, 1991. Bibl.: santos: Do valor histórico de Rui de Pina in Brotéria, vol. XV, Lisboa, 1933; serrão: A historiografia portuguesa. Doutrina e crítica, vol. 1, Lisboa, 1972; Id. Cronistas do século XV posteriores a Fernão Lopes, icalp, Lisboa, 1977.

[6] Beckingham, C.F. & G.W.B. Huntingford: The Prester John of the Indies. 1962.

[7] Retrieved from internet, no bibliographical information

[8]  Ribeiro, Clovis: Brazoes e Bandeiras do Brazil. Editoria Sao Paolo. Sao Paolo, 1933. (387 pp. 37 pl.) p. 44-45.