Announcing - South American Cockades!

There are hundreds of cockades and their accompanying stories in North American history. There are thousands of them in European history. But did you know there are also cockade stories from South America?

I've added a "South America" page to my website and will be adding new countries as I learn the history of their cockades. Here's a few highlights to wet your appetite!


As you may know, in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, the Pope divided the "New World" between Spain and Portugal. (The rest of Europe disagreed, naturally, and pretty much ignored this treaty.) The line cut through the edge of South America, which meant that for the rest of history most of South America would be Spanish-speaking, while Brazil (over the line) would speak Portuguese.

Brazil’s national cockade draws from its Portuguese history. The traditional symbol and crest of the House of Braganza is a green dragon, representing Saint George, patron saint of Portugal. Pedro I, of the House of Braganza, was Brazil’s first emperor. His wife, Maria Leopoldina, brought the color gold from the House of Habsburg. Thus, green and gold became the national colors.

On September 7, 1822, Brazil declared its independence from Portugal and became Empire of Brazil. A military coup in 1889 established the First Brazilian Republic. In order to keep a feeling of stability to the new regime, the old colors and flag were kept with slight modifications, including the addition of the color blue. So modern Brazilian cockades are green, yellow and blue.


There are many stories about the origin of the Argentine cockade. It's possible it was inherited from the royal house of Bourbon, which has the same color scheme.

When the country revolted against Spanish rule in the early 1800s, a definitive cockade was required to distinguish freedom fighters from Spanish royalists who wore the red cockade. Eventually the Argentine cockade was standardized as light blue, white, light blue, and codified into law in 1812.

In 1935, May 18 was established as National Cockade Day, in honor of the ladies of Buenos Aires who first wore the cockade during the 1810 May Revolution.


During Chile's period of colonization by Spain in the 1600-1700s, the red Spanish cockade was the national emblem. In 1808, Napoleon installed his brother as the king of Spain, which eventually brought about a freedom movement in Chile. The nation was proclaimed an autonomous republic under Spain's protection in 1810. In 1812, a new tricolor cockade was created of white, blue and yellow. As a struggle for power continued for the next five years, the cockade went back and forth from the Spanish red to the Chilean tricolor.

Intermittent warfare continued until 1817 when Bernardo O'Higgins and José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, led an army that crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists once and for all. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic.

At this point a new tricolor cockade was created of red, white and blue. In the early 20th century, a star was added in the blue center of the cockade to match the national flag.


July 28 is Peru's Independence Day in commemoration of José de San Martín's Declaration of Independence in 1821. The first flag of the Republic of Peru was officially created by General José de San Martín,on October 21, 1820. It's main colors were red and white.

Opinions vary on the symbolism of the colors. Some say San Martín took the red from the flag of Chile and the white from the flag of Argentina, recognizing the heritage of the men of the liberation army. Others believe San Martín reached into Peru's European heritage, bringing red and white from Castile and Burgundy, and red from Spain. Red was also in the royal symbol of the Inca kings.

Simón Bolivar's administration officially decreed a version of the flag from which the modern design is taken, and also established the national red and white cockade on February 25, 1825.

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