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The coat-of-arms

the Municipality of Naples' coat-of-arms

If we attempted to blazon, that is describe, the municiple coat-of-arms in the conventional language of heraldry, we should say: "Per fess gold and red", which in everyday language means a shield (in this case, of the Samnite type) divided horizontally into two of the same height, with the upper part gold and the other red.

Local historians have put forward various theories about the remote origins of the city's coat-of-arms. Some say that the colours recall those used for the standards that greeted the Emperor Constantine and his wife Elena in the city (324 AD); others assert that the red and gold symbolize the cult of our citizen ancestors of the sun and the moon (open to the objection that red cannot possibly represent the colour of the moon, which is answered by insisting that the warm colour relates to the moon when at dan "it is veiled by the vapours emanating from the earth"!).

These are not the only theories to have been advanced. It is said, in fact, that the colours were the symbol of the "generous nobility" of the city of Naples and that they were inspired by victorious battles fought during the period of the independent Duchy (755 - 1027). All of these suppositions were squashed definitively by the geat historian Bartolommeo Capasso (Naples, 1815 - 1900) who pronounced that "their conjectures have no foundation whatsoever".

picture of the fountain of Monteoliveto, detail with the city coat-of-arms
The fountain of Monteoliveto (1669), detail

Over the centuries, the cot-of-arms was adapted to the acts of domination and changes of the rules of government of the city, and underwent numerous additions and variations.

During the period of the rebellion of Masaniello (1647), a letter P symbolising the supremacy of the people was placed at the centre of the shield (in this way, however, the town coat-of-arms came to resemble that of the Sedile del Popolo (Seat of the People); after which, the letter C (Civitas) temporarily occupied the central part of the shield.

From 1866, the custom of placing a dukedom's coat-of-arms on the top, an ancient privilege of the city's, was set aside; it was replaced by a turreted crown, a heraldic symbol of "wish for liberty and municipal independence".

ancient documents' details with coat of arms
City coat-of-arms (17th century) and coat-of-arms of the Sedile del Popolo (18th century)
Acient document's detail with coat of arms
City coat-of-arms (18th century) - Archivio Storico Mnicipale di Napoli, Serie II, Original letters returned to the Administration of the City

During the period of Fascism, the coat-of-arms was made uniform with the norm established by two Royal Decrees: from 1928 the shield of the Commune had the Fascist "sheaf" added to one side, while from 1933 the Fascist sheaf was placed "on the head" (the highest part of the shield) of the coat-of-arms.

detail of a paper with the Municipality of Naples' headline, 1928detail of a paper with the Municipality of Naples' headline, 1933

When the Fascist regime fell and its symbols were removed, the city's coat-of-arms returned to the version that we know today.


Area Cultura e Turismo Servizio Beni Culturali - Archivio Storico Municipale
Salita Pontenuovo, 31 - 80139 Napoli
e-mail: archivi.storici.biblioteche@comune.napoli.it
pec: archivi.biblioteche@pec.comune.napoli.it