Virreinato del Rio de la Plata

Provincias del Rio de la Plata

Confederacion Argentina

Republica Argentina

Viceroys of Rio de la Plata

Armed Forces






The Rio de la Plata (Silver River) was probably discovered 1501-´02 by Amerigo Vespucci. The next couple of decennia the eastern coast around the estuary was explored. In 1536 Pedro de Mendoza founded “Nuestra Señora Santa Maria del Buen Aire” (Our Lady of the Healthy Air). With this settlement as its base the country up the river was slowly colonized the next centuries. Three important centra came into existence: Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Tucuman.

Until 1776 the settlements of around the Rio de la Plata were a part of the Vice Kingdom of Peru. In that year they became a Vice Kingdom of its own named La Plata. Soon a movement came into existence which aimed at more autonomy. It was mainly supported by those born in Argentina (the name in Latin of Silver Land) and was insipred by the American and French revolutions and the concepts of Enlightenment. The movement became many adherants because of the failure of Spanish rule. In 1807 the viceroy had abandoned the country by running away before the inavding British troops which had landed in Argentina. After Napoleon had installed his brother Joseph in Spain in 1808, two administrations, the one of Joseph and the one of Ferdinand VII in exile claimed the Spanish territories. By the majority of the Argentines both claims were rejected anticipating a legal regime in Spain. The consequences of this point of view were taken by an assembly in Buenos Aires on 25 May 1810. An autonomous administration was founded which de facto implied a declaration of Independence. In the next few years Argentine was purged of Spanish troops by general Manuel Belgrano, amongst others at the Battle of Tucuman (24.09.1812) and Salta (21.02.1813).




Virreinatio del Rio de la Plata



In the Vice kingdom the heraldic emblems of Spain and the Spanish Indies were valid.


A red wall hangung with the arms of King Philip II has been preserved in the Council Chamber of the Museo Histórico del Norte in Salta.


Council Chamber in Salta


In Buenos Aires there is the achievement of the Supreme Council of the Indies


Arms of the Supreme Council of the Indies

in the Council Chamber of the Vice Kingdom of Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires [1]


The viceroys, all noblemen, had their often very complicated family arms. [2]


Æ See: Viceroys of Rio de la Plata, 1776-1811


Provincias del Rio de la Plata



At the occasion of the First General Legislative Assembly sitting after 31 January 1813, a new coat of arms was provided for. Its origin is unknown. Of its form and meaning no decree or decision exists in which it is described and explained. [3] It is for sure however that a shield with the arms was above the entrance of the building in which the assembly was held. This shield is preserved in the Museum of National History in Buenos Aires.


National arms of the Constitutional Assembly of 1813

Anonymous, 65.5Í 57 cm. Museo Histórico Nacional. Buenos Aires. Inv. Nr. 42.


The seal was mentioned for the first time in a decree of 31 March 1813 in which the General Assembly provides that the Supreme Executive Authority will use the same seal as itself.  According to this seal the arms were made.

Shield an seals are made by the engraver Juan de Dios Rivera of which it is supposed that he was also the designer of the arms.[4]



Only the legends of  the seals are different. The legend of the seal of the General Assembly reads: ASEMBLEA G CONSTIT D.L. PROV. UNIDAS DEL R D L PLATA. 1813.

The one of the Supreme Executive Authority reads: SUP. PODER. EXECUT. D LAS PROV UNIDAS DEL RIO D.L. PLATA 1813.


The arms on the seals and shield are oval and parted per fess of blue and white. In the middle are two clasped hands keeping a pole crested with a phrygian cap. Above the shield is a crest of a rising sun and it is surrounded by a crown of laurel.


In the arms the phrygian cap symbolizes Liberty and the clasped hand Fraternity. A symbol for Equality to make the arms representing the principles of the french revolution is missing. The shield itself symbolizes the country: Silver and a blue sky above. The sun is the Sun of May which shone on the day that it was decided that an autonomous government should be founded. The crown by some interpreted as a crown of laurel and by others as a crown of olive symbolizes Virtue and Perseverance respectively.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


The arms have never been changed in its essence neither after the proclamation of Independence on 8 Juni 1816 nor at the reorganisations of the government and the change of name of the country.


Soon however the coat of arms was surrounded by external ornaments, thus making an achievement.


The oldest achievement consists of the coat of arms surrounded by the crown of laurel and four national flags, being of three stripes blue-white-blue, and two cannon in saltire and a drum in base. 


8 escudo piece, 1813

 showing the first Argentinian achievement


Confederacion Argentina



In the time of the Confederation of Argentina and the Rosas regime (1835-´52) the drum was omitted but some weaponry was added:


8 escudo piece 1838

Showing the achievement without drum


Soemtine after 1825 the achievement was augmented by making the number of flags 2Í6 which was the number of provinces from 1825 until 1836.


Republica Argentina



On the new constitution adopted for the Argentine Confederation in 1853 the achievement with the 2Í6 flags was still printed.

Achievement of Argentina

As on the frontispiece of the Constitution, 1853


Later the achievement was again augmented by adding two other flags for Jujuy and Salta which had joined the confederation in 1836. It is generally thought that this was done after 1861.




In the time of the presidency of Nicolas Avellaneda 1874-´80 two different achievements appeared. The first was another augmentation by adding 2Í3 spears to the 2Í7 national flags.


The second was a simplification of the achievement by reducing the number of flags to four:


Un patacon, 1879

The oval shield replaced by a five-cornered shield, the number of flags reduced to four, the crown of laurel omitted.


In the time of the presidency of  Julio Argentino Roca (1880-´86) the spears were omitted but the number of flags restored to 2Í7.


Achievement of Argentina as on coins 1881


From the time of the presidency of Luis Sáenz Peña (1892–‘95) and his successors a version is known with the number of flags reduced to 2Í3.



In the beginning of the 20th century als external ornaments but for the crest and the crown were removed. This was legalized by decree  nr. 10.302/44 of 24 April 1944. Section 5 of this decree provides that the arms will be the same as the arms on the seal of 1813.




Logo of the Presidency


The badges of office of the President of Argentina are a banner, a presidential sash and a staff.


The Presidential Flag


The presidential flag was adopted at an uncertain date at the end of the 19th century. Until 1904 it was blue witch the national arms in the middle. In 1904 four white five-pointed stars were added in the corners. As this flag was mainly used at sea, another flag was used for vehicles on land. This shows the three stripes of the national flag, the white charged with the national arms all gold.  [5]


At sea, until 1904

At sea, after 1904


Presidential flag on land


The Presidential Sash


Before 1944 the presidential sash had different shapes but it always was of the colors of the national flag. In the middle was the sun radiant, the crest of Argentina but sometimes this was replaced by the national arms. Its present form was regulated by National Decree N° 10.302/1944 Art. 4 which reads:


Artículo 4º - La Banda que distingue al Jefe del Estado, autorizada por la Asamblea Constituyente en la Reforma del Estado Provisorio del Gobierno del 26 de enero de 1814 y alcanzada por la distinción del 25 de febrero de 1818, ostentará los mismos colores, en igual posición y el sol de la Bandera Oficial. Esta insignia terminará en una borla sin otro emblema. Tanto el sol como la borla serán confeccionados con hilos, con baño de oro, de óptima calidad y máxima inalterabilidad en el tiempo.

La hoja es de 10 cm de ancho con tres franjas del mismo ancho, el cielo azul, blanco y azul cielo. Se hace en una sola pieza de tela hecha en ambos colores.


Ancient Presidential Sashes in the Casa Rosado Museum

Present Sash


The Staff


The Pallarols Staff

Showing the thistle flowers


In the Spanish Americas the staff of command was used according to Spanish ceremonial. It was used by Governors, Viceroys, Captains General, Lieutenants General and Aldermen of Justice.

The staff is mentioned in 1695 in a decree which established that ‘the Lieutenant Governors shall not enter the Council with a staff”. The reason for this measure was that the Council was a civil and not a military authority.

In the Spanish Era the staff of command was of indian cane with a golden knob engraved with the arms of the city.

In the republican era the staff was used for the first time by the Supreme Leader of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, D. Gervasio Posadas (1814-’15).  From then on it was an indispensable attribute of the Supreme Leaders and Presidents.

In 1932 the details of the design were established: it had to be made of rattan or some other fine material, and the knob had to be of 18 ct fine gold with a length of 8 cm, engraved with the national arms. Its length could depend of the height of the President himself. When democracy was established the staff was changed. In 1983 Juan Carlos Pallarols was charged to make the staff of President Raúl Alfonsin (1983-’89). He had to make a replica of the staff of 1932 used by José F. Uriburu (1930-’32). Instead, because the material was extremely difficult to treat and the result would be too much of an european style, Pallarols proposed:

  • To make the new staff of silver (because of the name of Argentina, meaning Silverland).
  • To decorate the knob with thistle-flowers, representing argentinian silver forgery and having an important symbolical value because it refers to the fecundity of the country.
  • To use the wood of the Urunday rubio tree (Astronium balansae - Anacardiaceaea) common for the fences in the countryside and symbolizing the splendour and resistance of its nature.

After his term of office the president has to hand in his staff. Several of such presidential staffs are preserved in the Casa Rosada Museum. [6]


Staffs of the presidents Castillo (1942-´43), Aramburu (1955-´58), Frondizi (1958-´62) and Guido (1962-´63).

In the Casa Rosada Museum


Present Staff (post 1983)


Armed Forces


Seal of the Ministry of War and the Navy, 19th century



The Ministry of Defense was created  13 June 1958


Present emblem of the Ministry of Defense


The United Armed Forces Staffs was created by Law 13.234 of 9 September 1948



Estado Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas




In the time of Spanish Rule the achievement of the army consisted of the royal arms surrounded by weaponry like banners, cannon and drums. This is the achievement of the Spanish Army in the time of King Charles III and Ferdinand VII.

The achievement of the Republic of Argentina fits in fact the Republican Army as it displays national flags and cannon.


Achievement of the Federal Army as on posters and documents 1835-‘58




19th century Cap Badge of the Federal Army

19th century belt buckle of the Federal Army



Early 20th century such achievements disappeared.


Minister of War until 1958


Present Emblem

Present Cap Badge


Commander in Chief of the Army




The flag and arms of the Spanish Navy between 1746 and 1748 was white with the arms of King Philip V for Castile at the mast end.



In 1748 the arms were replaced by the arms of King Charles III and in 1785 by those of Ferdinand VII.



The republican Navy was created 1810 by decrees of  25 and 30 June.


Minister and Major General of the Navy, end of 19th century


Beginning of 20th century - 1958


Present Emblem

The former anchor replaced by a foul anchor, a pole crested with a phrygian cap per fess added





Jack  (19th century)


Jack (present)

Achievement of the Prefecture of the Navy (ancient)






Cap Badge


Air Force






Cap Badge



Created 28 July 1938





The Federal Police of Argentina was created by decree Nr. 17.750 of 24 December 1943, ratified 1 January 1945. It succeeds the Police of Buenos Aires created 1880.




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© Hubert de Vries 2006-06-21 Updated 2009-08-13; 2011-12-12; 2013-04-21



[1] El escudo de la Sala Capitular del Cabildo.

[2]  Radaelli, Sigfrido: Blasones de los Virreyes del Rio de la Plata. Madrid, 1954.

[3] Quesada, Hector C.: El Escudo Nacional. Buenos Aires, 1933.

[4] His correspondence about the seals in Quesada, op cit. pp. 7-9

[5] Pictures Roberto Breschi. - page/n6/mode/1up.

[6] Sources: (pictures)