The heraldic use of the bat in Valencia, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands has its origins in a winged dragon (vibra or vibria) that was crowning the helmet or cimera reial of the Kings of Aragon. Although traditionally the dragon helmet is ascribed to king James I of Aragon (1208 – 1276), reliable documents state that the winged dragon cimera reial didn't appear over the helmet until Peter IV of Aragon's reign (1319 – 1387).
There is also a legend that says that thanks to the humble intervention of a bat, king James I of Aragon was able to win a crucial battle against the Saracens that allowed him to win Valencia for his kingdom. However, original documents state that the animal was a swallow and not a bat.
The bat in official heraldry
The coats of arms of certain cities in eastern Spain, like Valencia, Palma de Mallorca and Fraga have the bat over the shield. Also smaller towns, like Catarroja and Novallas, use this symbol.
Formerly the Barcelona city coat of arms had a bat crowning it as well, but the bat was removed at the beginning of the 20th century for unknown reasons. The city of Teruel used to have the bat surmounting the coat of arms' crown. There the bat represents a commemoration of the role of this city in the conquest of Valencia. The bat now rests just below the crown in Teruel's seal.
The use of the bat as a heraldic symbol is prevalent in the territories of the former Crown of Aragon and it is rarely used elsewhere. However, it can be found in a few places, like in the coats of arms of the city of Albacete, in Spain, as well as the town of Montchauvet (Yvelines), in France and Fiefbergen in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Outside of the European continent, the coat of arms of Santa Fe de Antioquia has multiple bats. It was granted to the town in 1545 by Charles I of Castile and Aragon and his mother Joanna of Castile.
Based on the heraldic symbol of their city, certain Spanish football club badges, like Albacete Balompié, CD Alcoyano, Levante UD and Valencia CF, have a bat on them. The ancient badge of the FC Barcelona, used during the 1899-1910 period, had a small bat crowning it as well.
The Burgee of the Royal Valencia Yacht Club (Reial Club Nàutic de València) displays a bat on a golden field in its center.
Lo Rat Penat, a political organization based in Valencia in 1878, was named after the heraldic bat. Established by Constantí Llombart, Teodor Llorente and Fèlix Pizcueta, its aim was originally to foster a movement similar to the Catalan Renaixença in the region of Valencia.
The Royal Air Force No IX Squadron adopted the bat badge in 1917 along with the Latin language motto "Per Noctem Volamus" (we fly through the night). The badge was approved by King Edward VIII in November 1936.
Valencia city's arms
Present-day arms of Palma de Mallorca
Teruel city coat of arms
Coat of arms of Fraga
Coat of arms of Catarroja
Coat of arms of Munera
Coat of arms of Novallas
Coat of arms of Emperador
Coat of arms of the city of Albacete
Coat of arms of the Province of Albacete
Coat of arms of Montchauvet, France
Coat of arms of Fiefbergen, Germany
Coat of arms of Pácora, Colombia
Coat of arms of Santa Fe de Antioquia, Colombia
Emblem of the Voennaya Razvedka
Former arms of Palma de Mallorca with the winged dragon crown known as Cimera de la Festa de l'Estendard without the helmet. 17th century
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bats in heraldry.|
- Diario de Palma - Vicisitudes históricas en torno a la cimera de Jaime I
- Luis Tramoyeres Blasco, Lo Rat Penat en el escudo de armas de Valencia
- Antoni I. Alomar i Canyelles, L'Estendard, la festa nacional més antiga d'Europa (s. XIII-XXI) Palma 1998
- Emblemata-Revista aragonesa de emblematica no. 11, 2005
- L'escut de Barcelona, Societat Catalana de Genealogia, Heràldica, Sigil·lografia, Vexil·lologia i Nobiliària
- Old Teruel city coat of arms
- REUNA - Municipio de Santa Fé de Antioquia
- L'origen dels colors i l'escut del Barça
- RAF Bomber command
- Blason de Valence (French)
- Cimera del Casal de Barcelona (Catalan)
- Cimera de la Festa de l'Estendard (Catalan)
- Barcelona coat of arms (Catalan)
- FC Barcelona, old badges (Spanish)
- Lo Rat Penat (Catalan)
- El ratpenat - Homenatge indirecte al València CF (Catalan)