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Mexico - Army of the Three-Guarantees (1821-1823)

Ejército Imperial de las Tres Garantías; Ejército Trigarante / Imperial Army of

Last modified: 2005-09-02 by juan manuel gabino villascán
Keywords: mexico | iturbide (agustín de) | guerrero (vicente) | insurgente | tricolor | guarantee | ejército trigarante | religión | idependencia | unión |
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[Flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees] 1:1[Non-official proportions]
[Army flag]
[One or more variants under the same basic design]
[Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.

Note by editor:

    This flag was ever never a National one, but representative of the Ejército Imperial de las Tres Garantías (Army of the Three Guarantees) alone.
    Many authors erroneously say this one was the first national flag. It is absolutely and totally incorrect.
    The very first Mexican national flag was adopted in 1821 by Decree of November 2, 1821, and confirmed by Decree of January 7, 1822.

See also:

Flag of the Ejército de las Tres Garantías
Flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees

This "Army" was born because of the signing of the "Plan de Iguala" by Generals Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero in the town of Iguala (then México, present-day Guerrero), on February 24, 1821. It was proclaimed and sworn by their respective troops and inhabitants on March 2. Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, Count of Venadito, was known about this plan on Feb. 27, and condemned it on March 23, while Iturbide was put out of the law on 17, same month. An Iturbide's draft says:

"... the vlag shall be composed of three colors diagonally arreanged: first it will be red; the second green, and the third white; in the second one the Imperial crown will be embroided and heightened with gold silk, trimmed with the motto Religión, Independencia, Unión, and at the bottom the number of the corp. In each strip a star in opposite color shall be placed (...) the two sides of the vlag will be equal..."

The original meaning of the Mexican Flag's colors dates from the last stage of the Independence War (1815-1821), when, through initiative by the royalist General Agustín de Iturbide and Mexican Catholic Authorities proposed Vicente Guerrero, General of a growing weaker independentist army, joined together to lead to an end the war and separate New Spain from the Metropolis, under, according to Lucas Alamán (a famuos Mexican Historian and Politician), three special conditions:

    a) Keeping the Roman Apostolic Catholic Religion without tolerance of any other;

    Achieving independence under a moderate monarchic type of government.

    According to Manuel Carrera Stampa the second clause is:

      Guaranteeing to promulgate a liberal Constitution as the Insurgente movement's most high desire.
    c) Considering Europeans and Americas people as equals.

Those conditions, sumarized in three words: Religion, Independence, and Union were known as "Tres Garantías" (Three Guarantees), after the unified army was named.

Thus, white represented the Catholic Faith; green was for independence; while red stood for the union between Europeans and Americas people; but according to Zárate, Mexican Historian, red, actually meant the Spaniards, because such a color resembled the red of Castile.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, March 12, 2002

When the Plan de Iguala was proclaimed on February 24th, 1821, the first National Flag was used, made by the tailor Jose Magdaleno Ocampo at the request of Agustin de Iturbide with the following specifications: three diagonal stripes, red with a white star, green with a red star and white with a green star. The middle stripe carried an imperial golden crown and the words "Religión, Independencia y Unión". White stood for religion, green for independence and red for Mexican unity. It was called the "flag of the three guarantees" since it represented the whole Army of the Three Guarantees. The colours were used in several different orders, until November 2nd, 1821 when the Junta Provisional Gubernativa decided that the stripes be vertically green, white and red, with a crowned eagle on a nopal in the middle stripe.
Santiago Dotor, 29 Dec 1998, summarizing from

The Treaty of Iguala, established on 24th February 1821, recognized the independence of Mexico and established the "Three Warranties": religion, independence, and union. The flag of the army, the "Trigarante" (Three Guarantors), was adopted on 14th April, 1821, and was made by the taylor of Iguala, José Magdaleno Ocampo. The white symbolized religion, the green independence, and the red the union of Spanish and Mexican peoples. The Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City on 23rd September, 1821. A decree of Iturbide established the flag colored after the "Trigarante". That flag was raised on 7th January, 1822, and was declared perpetual, and a derivative of it remains in use today. There are several designs known of the "Trigarante" flag: the diagonal could be inside out, the striping could be in all possible combinations (but especially with green, white and red in the diagonal), and the stars could be red in the green band, white in the red band or green in the white band. (Source: [bas])
Jaume Ollé, 04 Aug 1995

The flag is composed of 3 diagonal stripes with the colour in the following order: white, symbolizing the purity of the Catholic Religion, green, the Insurrect Movement, that is, the Independence, and red representing the spanish group that adhered to the liberating impulse. In each of the stripes there is a star, but the eagle is not there, as in later flags. This flag was the one that was in the parade in September 27, 1821, when the independence was accomplished.
Jorge Candeias, 27 Oct 1997, translating from La Bandera Mexicana website

During the Iturbide Empire, to the line Infantry Regiment, provisional from Puebla, was attributed a flag very similar to the one of Iguala (Bandera Trigarante), with the difference of having a crown in the center inside an oval and an inscription in the upper part: Religión, Independéncia, Unión, and in the lower part: Regimento de Infantería.
Jorge Candeias, 27 Oct 1997, translating from La Bandera Mexicana website

Variants of the "Trigarante" flag

[Variant flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees: Regimiento de 
Línea Provincial de PUebla] [Army flag]
[One or more variants under the same basic design]
[Flag no longer in use]
        [Detail of the Regimiento de 
Línea Provincial de PUebla flag]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.

This is a "Trigarante" flag that belonged to the "Regimiento de Infantería de Línea Provincial de Puebla (Regiment of Provincial Line of Puebla), formed about March 1821, and led by Col. Justo Berdeja. It is assumed, the Regimiento passed to enlarge the files of the Army of the Three Guarantess in 1821.

This datail shows the text for the word "independencia" (independence) is abreviated; the crown is not the imperial one but that of Spain; there is not regiment of battalion number. Excepting for the batallion number, which is missing, the flag exactly matches the Iturbide's decree statements.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.

[Variant flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees: Compañías Milicianas de 
Tabasco] [Army flag]
[One or more variants under the same basic design]
[Flag no longer in use]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.

Another "Trigarante" flag, may be belonging to the "Compañías Milicianas de Tabasco" (Military Companies of Tabasco).
This flag depicts three eight-pointed stars, and inverted colors. The crown is the imperial one. The "A 1º" means Activo (Active).
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.

Two Erroneous (nonexistent) versions of the "Trigarante" flag

[Erroneous 'Trigarante' flag shown in the AGN]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, September 1, 2002.

Erroneously this flag is places in the "Flags Room" at the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN), Mexico City as the first national flag.
Although, unlike the Solis' flag, this one has three eight-pointed stars, there is not any historic evidence this flag had been used.
Perhaps this deliberately home-made flag inspired the current Mexican jack.

It is remarkable all flags at the AGN's "Flags Room" are not historical ones but they were deliberately made to adorn such room and to accompany the National Official Coat of Arms stored there by Pdt. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz on Sept. 17, 1968.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, September 1, 2002.

    Solis' flag

      Variant 1

    [Erroneous 'Trigarante' flag published in a 1941 book - variant 1]
    by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, September 1, 2002.

      Variant 2

    [Erroneous 'Trigarante' flag published in a 1941 book - variant 2]
    by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 4, 2005.

This flag is erroneous. It was first drawn and published by Ltn. Col. Manuel de Jesús Solís in his book "Historia de la Bandera, Himno, Escudo y Calendario Cívico Nacionales" in 1940. Unfortunately, the author does not mention his sources, and his mistake has been spreaded among historians, artists, and students until now.
Thanks the Iturbide's message preserved in the Archive of the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional and published by Manuel Carrera Stampa in his book "El Escudo Nacional" we are able to state that the "Solis' flag" ever existed, at least it was never used by the Trigarantes.
Another non-historical evidence proves the flag is erroneous: it is the three gold five-pointed stars. Such kind of stars is a US influence, and though the US flag came to exist at the ends of the XVIII Century, the "Trigarante" flags preserved show clearly the stars were eight or six-pointed.
The gold of the stars is also a mistake. But by any reason it remains in the Mexican jack.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, February 19, 2002.