The Portuguese coat of arms has been in the news, with the government dropping it from the official logo of the Republic. But it has a rich history and symbolism that reflects the nation's heritage and history. Here is an overview of its history, legend, and meaning:
The coat of arms of Portugal, popularly referred to as the Quinas (a group of five). The shield is the main heraldic insignia of Portugal. The present model was officially adopted on June 30, 1911, along with the Flag of Portugal. It is based on the coat of arms used by the Kingdom of Portugal since the 12th century.
Quinas: The escutcheons with silver bezants on the blue cross symbolize coins and the monarch's right to issue currency. The term "Quinas" has come to be used as an alternative designation for the coat of arms and as a reference to anything representing Portugal. Another explanation is that these shields bear a series of dots known as "bezants" and represent the five Moorish kings defeated by the first King of Portugal, Afonso I (Afonso Henriques), at the Battle of Ourique in 1139. Some say they add up to 30, the pieces of silver paid to Judas.
Castles: The red bordure featuring seven golden castles represents the final Moorish castles conquered during the Reconquista. This element, added during the reign of D. Afonso III, signifies Portugal's historical victories and combines the arms of D. Afonso III's father and mother.
Sphere: Behind the shield, an armillary sphere between two laurel branches bound together in base by a ribbon vert and gules. This is known as the "Armillary Sphere," and has its roots in the Age of Exploration when Portugal was a major maritime power. The design became prominent during the reign of King Manuel I (1469–1521),who played a crucial role in the exploration of new sea routes.
Green and Red: The predominant colors of the coat of arms, green and red, have historical significance. Green is associated with the hope of achievement, while red represents the blood shed during the nation's battles and the courage of the Portuguese people.
Scroll with Motto: Beneath the Armillary Sphere, in some versions, there is a white scroll with the national motto "Esta é a ditosa pátria minha amada" (This is my blissful beloved homeland) from Os Lusíadas. This expresses the deep love and pride that so many Portuguese have for their country.
The Portuguese coat of arms remains a powerful symbol that encapsulates the spirit of exploration, courage, and national pride. It is a reminder of Portugal's historical significance as a pioneer in maritime exploration and its enduring cultural identity.