You are here

The Cross of Burgundy or St. Andrew Flag (The Flag of the Viceroyalty of New Spain)

Puerto Rico Flag

^ The Historical Flag Project

< Christopher Columbus' Expeditionary Banner
"La Capitana"

The Flag of the Puerto Rico Maritime Province
1845-1898 >

This flag is the "Cross of Burgundy," one of the standards of Spain used by the Spanish military from the fifteenth century to 1843. The basic pattern is of a red saltire ("cross") resembling two crossed, roughly-pruned branches on a usually white field.

The saltire was originally a Burgundian emblem, first introduced in Spain as the personal badge of Philip the Fair ("Felipe el Hermoso"), Duke of Burgundy and King Consort of Castile and Aragón. He was married to Joan of Castile and Aragón ("Juana La Loca"), the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. Philip, Duke of Burgundy, and Joan of Castile were the parents of Charles I (Charles V as German [Holy Roman] Emperor). The emblem has been called in Spain "cross [or, more properly, saltire] of Burgundy", although the term "cross/saltire of St. Andrew" has also been used by those who have argued that St. Andrew is the patron saint of the Spanish Infantry. The patron saint of the Spanish Infantry, however, is not St. Andrew but Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The flag was first used, not by regular infantry, but by the equivalent of the present Spanish [Foreign] Legion, the "Tercio de Nueva España," volunteer expeditionary troops, including infantry and cavalry, in the New World. The Burgundy Cross is nevertheless related to St. Andrew indeed, not through the patronage of a Spanish branch of the armed forces, but through its Burgundian origin – St. Andrew being the patron saint of the Duchy of Burgundy.

In Puerto Rico, the "Regimiento Fijo," the local infantry regiment that saw action during the British invasion of Puerto Rico in 1798, the Franco-Spanish war of 1809 and the war of 1812 in Louisiana, flew this flag. The regiment was disbanded in 1815 by King Fernando VII. The flag is still flown at San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal Castles in San Juan as a tribute to this regiment.