The First Coats of Arms of America

The island of Santo Domingo was the chosen spot for the first Spanish settlements in America. As a consequence, the first coats of arms that the Catholic Kings granted to America were given to Spanish settlements on our island.

The Royal Privilege of Juana de Castilla (1508)

On December 7, 1508 via a Royal Privilege of Juana de Castilla, the following coats of arms were granted to the island La Española and the fifteen villages that existed.

The island itself received a coat of arms because it was an established tradition that every Spanish kingdom should have its own coat of arms.

The Coats of Arms 

Descriptions of the Coats of Arms

THE SPANISH ISLAND OF SANTO DOMINGO
The island was honored with a coat of arms that consisted, in a gules background, a silver strip with two dragons of gold on both ends and bordered by gules and gold. In addition to castles, yokes, lions, arrows, and the alternating F and I initials (for King Fernindand and Queen Isabella).

SANTO DOMINGO
This coat of arms consist of a gules background with an azure key flanked by two gold lions. Everything is mounted on a golden crown with borders in silver and sable. The cross of Saint Dominic covered in silver and sable.

CONCEPCION DE LA VEGA
A gules background with a silver castle surmounted with an azure shield and twelve gold stars.

SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS
A gules background with five silver clams, plus a silver border with seven gules clams.

BONAO
A reddish earth background. A hill of gold with seven ears of gold and a general border of silver.

BUENAVENTURA
A shield with a reddish earth background and a silver cloud holding a golden sun and many grains of gold.

PUERTO PLATA
A silver background with a reddish earth mountain placed over waves of silver and azure, and flanked by an F and a Y of gold.

SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA
Silver background with a sable eagle that sustains in its claws an open book. A border of gold with fives gules stars.

COMPOSTELA DE AZUA
Shield with an azure background with a silver star above waves of silver and azure.

VILLANUEVA DE YAQUIMO
Gules background, a golden castle placed over waves of silver and azure.

SANTA MARIA DE LA VERAPAZ
Azure background presenting a silver dove with an olive branch on its beak and above a rainbow. Underneath is a silver oval with a silver cross of Jesus Christ.

SALVALEON DE HIGUEY
Silver background with a purple lion and a sole of gules placed over two severed human heads.

SANTA CRUZ DE ICAYAGUA (El Seibo)
Gules background with a silver cross and rays of silver.

SALVATIERRA DE LA SABANA
A tap of gold on a gules background.

PUERTO REAL OR BAYAJA
A caravel in gold over waves of silver and azures, and an azure background.

LARES DE GUABA
Reddish earth background with a golden snake with a flat border of silver.

The Coats of Arms in Modern Times

  • The original coats of arms of La Vega, Santiago, Bonao, Puerto Plata, San Juan, Azua, Higuey , and El Seibo are still in use.
  • The original coat of arm of Santo Domingo city was the most luxurious given by the Catholic Kings to any Spanish city in America. The reason was that Santo Domingo was the first European city in the New World.
  • The original coat of arms of Santo Domingo was modified. As can be seen below, the modern coat of arms includes all the original elements of the old coat of arms, with only their positions having been changed.

  • The coats of arms of The Spanish Island (La Española or Hispaniola), Buenaventura, Yaquimo, Verapaz, Salvatierra, Bayaja, and Guaba are no longer in use. In addition, the town of Buenaventura no longer exist.
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