Arms of John of Scotland

John of Scotland

Earl of Huntingdon 1232-1237 (1207-1237)

From p43 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Argent three garbs within a tresseure fleury counter-fleury gules

“For that he was created Earl of Chester by H[enry] III… he assumed these three Garbes: and so in the substance of the charge of his coate, he did imitate the
ensignes of his mother: but in the cullors, and also in the double trassure, he represented the coat of Galloway, being the Armes of his father, and all this in one Sheeld.” (65-66)

(I cannot confirm via other sources that these arms were used by John of Scotland, but honestly, they should’ve been. They’re a nice visual combination of his title and heritage, and garbs gules aren’t very common.)

Arms of Breitenfurt bei Wien, Austria

Breitenfurt bei Wien

Granted 1954?

Blazon: Azure on a mount in base proper, in dexter a ruin argent, in sinister a church or, domed gules; in chief a throwing axe of the field bendwise

The ruins depicted on the arms are those of an imperial hunting lodge in the region that burned down during the Turkish siege in 1683.The building on the sinister may be intended to represent the parish church.

Okay, these arms bug the crap out of me. Not only are they way, way too representational for my taste, there’s the fucking blue-on-blue throwing axe just hanging out in the sky like a massive, lurking symbol of doom. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to paint a huge weapon in the empty space on a postcard picture and call it armory. I’m not even going to touch the offensively ornate not-bordure hanging out around the actual “arms” or the stupid-ass river thingy in the foreground. Just no. Stop. Rethink your choices.

Arms of Alhambra, Spain


Granted 1992

Blazon: Per pale argent on a mount in base gules a castle triple-towered or and of the first a cross of Santiago of the second; pointé vert a crescent pendent of the first

The castle on the mount is likely a reference to the nearby Castle of Alhambra, which was built on a nearby hill for defensive purposes. It dates back to around the 12th century, and was granted to the Order of Santiago in 1214. According to local legend, tunnels that connect the castle to the town.

These are fairly average arms – nice to see they’re not pulling the “mount proper” dodge, but the castle or on argent is on pretty thin ice – with pretty common charges for the area. The really old stories of secret tunnels are just a great bonus.

Arms of London, England


Granted 1957; in use since before 1483

Blazon: Argent a cross gules in the first quarter a sword in pale point in chief of the last

Crest: On a wreath of the colors a dragon’s sinister wing argent charged with a cross gules

Supporters: Two dragons argent charged on the wings with a cross gules

Mantling: Gules lined argent

Motto: Domine dirige nous (God direct us)

Most of the imagery in the arms of London is connected to the patron saint of England, Saint George, and his legendary slaying of the dragon. The saint’s symbol is argent, a cross gules, which recurs throughout the arms, as does the dragon. The sword is a symbol of St. Paul, to whom the first cathedral in London was dedicated.

I couldn’t not do London. I mean, they’re famous (as famous as arms get, anyways) with a shitton of religious iconography, so I couldn’t ignore them. What I did not expect to find, though, was that the arms were not confirmed until 195freaking7. That’s over five centuries of continuous use, predating the English College of Arms itself, and no one thought to give the capital city of freaking England a grant until after the toaster oven was invented? Nintendo had been around for sixty-eight years at that point! What the actual fuck.

Arms of Kirchberg an der Jagst, Germany

Kirchberg an der Jagst

Granted 1953

Blazon: Argent a lion rampant sable holding in its paws a church gules

There are some visual similarities between the church in the arms and the city tower (built in 1384), but it is more likely that the choice of a church derives from the name of the town (“Kirsch” being German for church).

Kudos to Kirchberg for leaning into the canting arms connection rather than giving in to the temptation to depict any one of the numerous castles that existed nearby. Most of them are destroyed now, so we wouldn’t have known anyway, and I can always appreciate a good set of canting arms. (I really wish I could figure out where the lion comes from, though.)


Arms of Breitenfeld an der Rittschein, Austria

Breitenfeld an der Rittschein

Granted 1965

Blazon: Per pale argent two water lily leaves in pale vert and of the second a throwing axe in pale of the first

The water lily leaves are derived from the arms of the Lords of Wildon, and the throwing axe from those of the Stubenbergs, both prominent noble families in the region.

It’s not quite counterchanged, but I still appreciate the use of just two colors, and I do like that these arems are directly tied to local families. I’ll admit the water lily leaves threw me for a loop. The modern heart shape isn’t common at all in heraldry, so I knew it probably wasn’t that, but “water lily” wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Maybe I just don’t hang out around enough ponds.

Arms of the House of Boncompagni


In use since at least 1572, probably earlier

Blazon: Gules a demi-dragon rampant or

The House of Boncompagni originated in Umbria, but moved to Bologna in the early 14th century. The family produced one Pope, Gregory XIII, who often incorporated the dragon motif into building projects he commissioned. In 1579, he purchased the Duchy of Sora and granted it to his family. They still retain possession of it today, albeit as an honorary title.

You know, there are really not enough dragons in heraldry. It’s always lions. I mean, lions are also cool, but just look at this shit! I know absolutely nothing about when or why the Boncompagni family decided to use a dragon in their coat of arms, but I wholeheartedly support their decision. MORE DRAGONS.

Arms of Aldea del Rey, Spain

Aldea del Rey

Granted 1968; in use since the 16th century

Blazon: Argent a cross of Calatrava gules between two keys in base pilewise sable

The arms of the town probably derive from its role as the residence of the clavero of the Order of Calatrava. This role was responsible for keeping the keys of the Order’s stronghold in the castle of Calatrava la Nueva.

There are a lot of things I really like about these arms, starting with the simple but striking design. Points for symmetry, sticking to the law of tincture, using a unique positioning of the keys, and minimal use of color. Extra points for having the charges tie into the area’s history; it’s much more subtle than canting arms, which (to me at least) makes it more interesting. And finally, extra bonus points for teaching me something neat about the structure of the Order of Calatrava.


Arms of Ilshofen, Germany


In use since 1594; granted 1954

Blazon: Argent on a base vert a representation of Justice blindfolded of the field, clad azure, robed gules, crined, shod, and bearing in the dexter hand a sword point in base and in the sinister hand a balance or

The first mention of the town dates to 1288. Around fifty years later, in 1330, it became a city with the right to build walls and establish a weekly market.

Oh man. This shit. Look, I understand wanting the personification of a particular virtue, or a saint or something, on your arms. But they take forEVer to blazon, since the clothes and the hair and the accessories all have to be specified, and how they’re holding the sword (there’s pretty much always a sword), and if they’re standing on something and and and. It’s perfectly acceptable armory; it just takes ages to describe properly.

All [princes] do ensign their Chapeau and helm with a Crown of flowers and crosses. And they are enabled by observation of Armory, to wear the like helm and Chapeau,
that the Duke or King doth wear.

– From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p138