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Coat of Arms (Bulgaria)

Last modified: 2006-06-09 by rob raeside
Keywords: bulgaria | lions | crown |
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[Bulgarian Coat of Arms]  From the official website of the Bulgarian Parliament.

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Bulgarian Coat of Arms (1997)

Bulgaria was without an officially adopted national emblem after the communist regime was overthrown. However, a coat of arms was finally adopted on 31 July 1997. Reuters described the shield this way: "The design has a lion on a red shield, flanked by two more lions, with a crown above it and a motto underneath reading 'unity is strength.' " Further, Reuters said that the arms "includes the crown of 14th Century monarch Ivan Shishman of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, rather than the Saxe-Coburg crown of exiled King Simeon's dynasty, which formed part of the pre-communist coat of arms." The design has been hotly debated for seven years, and only the president who took office earlier that year managed to work out a compromise. Some parties, notably the monarchist Union of National Salvation wanted to reintroduce the royal arms that were used to 1947. Socialists favoured an uncrowned lion. When the arms were submitted to Parliament for a vote on Thursday, 31 July 1997, 177 MPs voted in favour, while 16 MPs voted against (there were 29 abstentions). Reuters reports that "immediately after the vote, President Petar Stoyanov went from parliament to hang the coat of arms over the main entrance to the presidency. A military band played the national anthem and passers-by applauded."

The Bulgarian Economic Review/Pari Daily (1 August) showed the president presenting the new arms to the public for the first time. In the article it described the arms this way: "The final version of the national emblem, which evoked seven-year long debates, consists of a rampant golden lion on a burgundy shield, with a crown similar to the crowns of the tsars of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, five crosses and a separate cross immediately above the crown. The shield is supported by two golden crowned lions, standing on crossed oak branches with fruits. Under the shield, on a white bow contoured by the national tricolour, stand the words 'Union Makes the Strength'."

A few days earlier (27 July), the Bulgarian Economic Review/Pari Daily reported that three versions of the arms had been presented to Parliament in the first reading of the bill on the coat of arms: "The deputies worked overtime and finally gave their preference to the projects of Achmed Dogan, Ginyo Ganev and Prof. Dimov. 220 MPs took part in the vote; 152 MPs supported the Gogov-Chapkanov version #2 which replaced the lilies in the crown featured by the former project with crosses. 137 deputies decided to restore the coat-of-arms of the year 1947 and 130 backed up the Gogov-Chapkanov project #1 dating back to 1992. The Left voted against the crowned coat-of-arms, unlike the People's Union, and promoted the Gogov-Chapkanov project #2. The Bulgarian Business Block decided on the Orthodox crosses against the Bourbon lilies. The UDF representatives were most irresolute."

The Welkya web magazine had a scan on its home page, while the weekly Sega had the same image of the arms in an article in Bulgarian. Neither of the images are particularly good or clear (both are rather small scans). I will send separately the picture from Sega as this is the best one.


"Bulgarian parliament approves post-communist crest," Reuters, 1. Aug., 1997

Bulgarian Economic Review/Pari Daily articles (in English), Iglika Goranova: "President Stoyanov: Parliament started and finished with consent. Bulgaria has a coat of arms at last."

Krasina Krasteva: "Three Coats of Arms Approved by Parliament: State Symbol to Be Finally Voted on Monday"

Jan Oskar Engene, 02 August 1997, 04 August 1997

According to the Bulgarian Coat of Arms Act, Article 2, Paragraph 1, The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Bulgaria shall depict a crowned gold lion rampant on a dark gules shield. Above the shield there shall be a large crown whose archetype shall be the crowns of the rulers of the Second Bulgarian Empire, with five crosses and another cross on top of the crown. The shield shall be held by two crowned gold lions rampant, standing on two crossed oak branches with acorns. [The three lions represent the three parts of Bulgaria: Moesia, Thrace, and Macedonia.] Under the shield there shall be a white band, lined with the national colors, containing the text "Saedinenieto pravi silata" [Union Produces Strength]. Article 165 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria states that the State Seal shall depict the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Bulgaria. The coat-of-arms was adopted by the Bulgarian National Assembly on 31 July 1997, only after the Union of the Democratic Forces (UDF) and its allies received the majority of seats in the National Assembly, thus overruling the Socialists, who had blocked the revival of the coat of arms used by the Kingdom of Bulgaria before 9 September 1944. According to the Socialists, a crown put on the shield equalled monarchy, which Bulgaria is not. Therefore, in 1991, the Socialist-controlled Grand National Assembly passed a constitutional text that said the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Bulgaria shall depict a gold lion rampant on a dark gules shield, i.e. no crowns, and only one lion.

For six years the Socialists were able to block the creation of a new coat of arms, until 1997, when the UDF-led National Assembly finally revived and adopted a slightly modified version of the coat of arms used before 1944, while making a concession to the Socialists and including crosses rather than lilies on the shield's crown. When the coat of arms was submitted to the National Assembly for approval on 31 July 1997, 177 people's deputies voted in favor, 16 people's deputies voted against, and 29 abstained.


Dov Gutterman, 23 August 1999

Summary of History of Bulgarian Coats of Arms

The evolution of coat of arms of the People's Republic was as follows:

  1. After 15 Sept 1946 (the proclamation of People's Republic of Bulgaria) - 15 May 1947: the 1930 coat of arms without crowns;
  2. 15 May 1947 (the adoption of the new Constitution) - 18 Jan 1948: the constitutional description only;
  3. 18 Jan 1948 (Decree #88) - 31 Mar 1948: new graphic and plastic image;
  4. 31 Mar 1948 (Decree #?) - 07 Dec 1967: new graphic image; 28 May 1948 (Decree #862): new plastic image;
  5. 07 Dec 1967 (Decree #954) - 17 Aug 1971: new graphic image;
  6. 17 Aug 1971 (Decree #954 of the State Council) - 13 Jul 1991: new graphic and colour image; 03 Dec 1971 (Decree #967 of the State Council): new plastic image.

Stoyan Antonov, 23 September 2001

The arms of Bulgaria are Gules, a lion Or. The earliest use is found in the arms of Korenic Neoric roll of arms of 1595.
Jovan Jonovski, 20 July 2005