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Banner Proclaiming the Spanish Constitution of 1812 – Pic of the Week

Photo by author.

This week’s pic comes to you from the Principality of Asturias, which is an autonomous community in the north-central region of the Kingdom of Spain.

While I was visiting a friend who lives in Asturias and exploring the land of my ancestors, Galicia, I chanced upon this banner at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias (Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias or, in Asturian, Muséu de Belles Artes d’Asturies).  The banner makes a pictorial reference to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, which has been the subject of numerous blog posts.  This Constitution is also known as the Constitution of Cádiz or “La Pepa.”  The Constitution acquired the title of “La Pepa” because it was promulgated on March 19, 1812 which on the Calendar Day of Saints is St. Joseph’s Feast Day.  In Spanish, men who are named Joseph (José) are given the nickname “Pepe,” but because constitutions are referred to in the feminine, the name went from “Pepe” to “Pepa.”

In addition to the image of a nobleman holding a book, the banner also includes an image of two beasts and a ribbon bearing the words “Sistema Continemtal [sic]” or Continental System, which may refer to the Napoleonic Continental System.  It is torn.  Of the beasts depicted on the banner, what is particularly interesting is that their significance goes beyond that of a mere lion attacking an eagle:  These are national symbols of two nations.  The lion is a symbol of Spain; and the golden eagle is a symbol of France–particularly under the imperial reign of Napoleon I.  This imagery is evocative of the Peninsular War (also know as the Spanish War of Independence).

Photo by author.

Photo by author.

2 Comments

  1. Peter
    February 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    You blog states that the golden eagle is a symbol of France–particularly under the imperial reign of Napoleon I. Has the symbol for France changed through the course of history?

  2. Francisco Macías
    February 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I wish I could provide you with a more official source that comprises the different coats of arms of France. Nonetheless, the following site does a fine job annotating each of the French symbols: http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/frarms.htm. Generally, the official standard of the state is included as a header on the official gazette. If you were to see French gazettes from different periods, you would see that the coats of arms of these have changed.

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