Arms of Villanueva de la Fuente, Spain

Villanueva de la Fuente

Granted 1985

Blazon: Per fess, I per pale argent a cross of Santiago gules and azure a croizer in bend surmounted by a mitre or, II of the last a walled town of the third, pointé in base of the first two bars wavy of the third

Unfortunately, I can’t find any information about these arms, but it’s pretty obvious to me that the base half is canting arms – the name translates to “new town on the river,” and bars wavy are a very traditional method of representing water or rivers. The Order of Santiago did control the town from around 1213 through 1243, which would explain the cross. I’m not entirely sure about the episcopal regalia; it does seem like a bishopric was established in the area under the Visigoths, but I’m not entirely certain about that.

Arms of Dornbirn, Austria


Initially granted 1655; regranted 1902 and 1929

Blazon: Gules a fess argent, overall a pear tree issuant from a mount in base vert fructed or

Although the name “Dornbirn” doesn’t actually have anything to do with pears (Birnen), the arms are, nonetheless, canting. The municipality became part of the Habsburg possessions in 1380, which they apparently loved so much that when Archduke Ferdinand Charles sold the town to the lords of Ems in 1654, the inhabitants were furious. They refused to acknowledge the Ems as their sovereigns, and promptly raised 4000 guilders (around €47,000 or $52,000 USD) to buy themselves back. Impressed by their loyalty, the Archduke granted the arms above.

However, it might not have been loyalty so much as a deep enmity for Ems; apparently, the lords of that family were really into witch hunts and illegally confiscating property, even more so than most seventeenth-century nobility. After their debt overtook them in the mid-eighteenth century, the inhabitants of Dornbirn proceeded to buy up all of the Ems’ former holdings in the area.

Former arms of Pfäffingen, Germany


Granted 1925 – 1971

Blazon: Azure a fess argent between two molets of six points or

I had this whole thing written out about how the arms could derive from the arms of prominent noble families in the region, namely the Neunecks (gules a fess or, in chief a molet of six points argent) and/or those of the Lustnaus (azure a stag’s head caboshed bendwise sinister), but it turns out that these are the arms of Andreas von Kröwelsau, another local lord. It’s not clear why they went with these family arms in particular instead of one of the numerous other families who lived in the local castles at one time or another, but there it is.

Arms of Richard de Tany

de Tany

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Or six eaglets sable in pile

I did find a nice grave memorial for a Richard de Tany in Hertfordshire circa 1270, but if there was a design on the shield, it’s no longer visible. It seems likely that the arms on the roll belong to either him or another Richard de Tany, probably his son, who was married to a Juliana (no surname given) and alive in 1296.

Arms of Occitanie, France


Granted 2017

Blazon: Gules a cross of Toulouse or; the fourth quarter of the last, four palets of the first

This blazon was formerly, if unofficially, used by Languedoc-Roussillon, but the combination was obvious, given that Midi-Pyrénées used gules a cross of Toulouse or. I accept that I am slightly biased by both the shading in this particular depiction (definitely not a part of traditional blazon, but it sure does add a nice touch) and my fond memories of the region, but damn. This is Good. You’ve got your cross of Toulouse, and your palets from Aragon by way of Catalonia, combined into something that’s modern, visually distinctive, and obviously derived from something much older.

(NB: Yes, I know I skipped Grand Est. They don’t formally have arms yet, but let me express my hope that they’re using this time to design something more visually appealing than the proposed flag, holy shit. That is too many bends, y’all. Pick one.)

Ukraine National Day

(This was supposed to post yesterday, but there were technical issues. My apologies.)

Happy 28th birthday to Ukraine! (The Declaration of Independence was accepted by the Verkhovna Rada, or Ukranian parliament, on August 24th, 1991. It took a little while to finalize things with a referendum, but this is the formal national holiday.) The Ukrainian national arms are beautiful, striking, and (at least to me) not remotely obvious. Once you know that the tryzub is a trident, you can see that in the charge, but the elaborate, intertwined style isn’t very common in other European styles of armory. This specific design goes back to 980, and a less stylized version to 945. It seems to have been the arms – or at least, the family symbol – of the Rurik dynasty, showing up on coins, seals, stones, and personal items.


The tryzub also might not have started out as a trident, although it definitely ended up that way. As a charge, it seems similar to the fleur-de-lis: it’s currently widely accepted as a specific shape with a specific name, but no one can quite agree on what it was originally intended to depict. Theories include a symbol of the Holy Trinity, a gyrfalcon (very likely), a bident, or the Cyrillic letter У (extremely unlikely).

While the tryzub is very old, and definitely has seniority as a state symbol, there have been a number of different coats of arms associated with different regimes. In the twelfth through the mid-fourteenth centuries, West Ukraine was the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia (or Ruthenia, starting in 1253) and bore azure a lion rampant or. After 1349, this particular region was incorporated into Poland, but the lion hung around as the arms of the Ruthenian Voivodeship, and it currently survives in the arms of Lviv. The short-lived Ukrainian State used azure a Cossack proper clothed and with a rifle or, which had formerly been used by the Zaporozhian Host. These arms also had the tryzub as a crest, but they didn’t survive the collapse of the Ukranian State less than a year after its creation. The tinctures have been pretty consistent no matter the charges – always yellow on blue.

The less said about the deeply boring symbology of the Soviet era from 1919 through 1991, the better. If you’ve ever seen anything related to the Soviet state, you already know what the emblem looks like – sickle, hammer, rising sun, etc. Thankfully, the current arms were granted in 1992, less than two months after vote on Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union was finalized, and they are a significant improvement. (That link, by the way, has very specific instructions on the measurements and proportions of the tryzub if you’d like to try your hand at it.)

Arms of Dorfstetten, Austria


Granted 1981?

Blazon: Paly of four azure, or, argent, and gules, a pine tree proper

There is really not a lot of information about this municipality online. The only reason I can guess at the date of the arms granting is due to someone’s photo of the ceremony. Unfortunately, I cannot make out the text on the grant; while official grants don’t usually have any kind of explanation for the arms, sometimes they do. Given that 80% of the area is wooded, that seems a likely source for the pine tree charge. I really don’t know about the paly of four, which is much more unusual. If I absolutely had to guess, it might have something to do with the fact that the municipal area includes four villages, but I have absolutely nothing to back that up. (And heck, maybe they just liked it.)

Arms of the Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley

Granted 1987; possibly in use since 1720

Blazon: Sable a lion rampant argent armed and langued gules

The association of the lion with the region of Aosta (whether as a county, duchy, autonomous region, or city) appears to be both obscure and extremely ancient. It was apparently already in widespread use by noble families of the area, as well as some ecclesiastics, in the twelfth century. The regional government admits they’re not sure of its exact origins, so I’m not sure I’m going to be able to dig anything else up. By the early 1700s, though, the current blazon was firmly associated with the duchy, and it appears on both state seals and as a quarter in other, more complex coats of arms. The ducal line of Savoy-Aosta preferred gules a cross argent within a bordure compony or and azure, but it seems like the lion remained in use for municipal purposes.

Former arms of Entringen, Germany


Granted 1929 – 1971

Blazon: Gules a duck naiant argent on water in base azure, on a chief or an antler in fess sable

It seems like the duck (Ente) was used as a canting symbol for the town long before the arms were formally granted; there are records of it dating back to the late seventeenth century, and it was used pretty consistently (albeit in different configurations) through the turn of the twentieth century. I’m assuming the antler is a reference to the arms of Württemberg, though I can’t find that explicitly stated anywhere.

St. Stephen’s Day

Today is the feast day of St. Stephen of Hungary, the very first King of Hungary, canonized in 1083. (In addition to Hungary, he is also the patron saint of kings, masons, bricklayers, and severely ill children.) In honor of him and the nation he founded, I figured we’d take a look at their arms.


The nation of Hungary bears per pale barry of gules and argent and of the first, a cross patriarchal paté of the second issuant from a crown upon three mounts in base all proper. I appreciate that it’s a union of old and new(er) arms, and the repeated gules and argent help give the arms a visual unity. 

The dexter arms, barry of eight gules and argent, were used by the Árpáds dating back to 1202. Supposedly, the four white stripes represent the four major rivers – the Danube, Tisza, Dráva, and Száva, which is just boring enough to be plausible. The explanation could just as easily be a post hoc rationalization, though. Depending on the particular ruler and who was drawing the arms, sometimes the red stripes were charged with lions of various positions (passant, respectant, etc.). There are also a few depictions that add linden leaves, such as the Golden Bull of 1222 displaying the seal of Andrew II.

The use of the patriarchal cross is only slightly younger than the bars; Béla IV used it on a royal seal around 1235. However, the mount doesn’t show up for another 35 years or so until the reign of Stephen V. The patriarchal cross was in fairly consistent use until the Catholic House of Anjou came to power in 1308. They impaled the arms of Hungary ancien with the azure semé de lis or of France. With the exception of Louis the Great, the patriarchal cross didn’t reappear in the royal arms until Władysław III in the 1440s. After that, Hungary ancien and Hungary moderne were both in fairly common use in various royal arms (please don’t make me talk about the Habsburgs, please don’t make me talk about the Habsburgs, you thought Liechtenstein was bad, have you seen some of the Habsburg arms?). The combination was popular enough that it was also used by republican governments, and it was reestablished as official in 1990. (From 1957 to 1990, the arms were tierced per fess gules, argent, and vert, which just seems like a cheap knockoff of Italy to me.)

Interestingly, what’s going on around the base of the cross in any particular version can tell you a lot about what was going on with the political situation of Hungary at the time. Louis the Great seems to have been the first to add the crown to the patriarchal cross, and it stuck around until the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. At that point, the crown was removed from the arms as a symbolic rejection of the monarchy, and replaced with a laurel wreath instead. Similarly, the First Hungarian Republic used the ancient-and-moderne combo, but without any crown at all. The crown didn’t really come back until the current version of the arms, and it sounds like it was a minor point of contention, but they obviously ended up going with the crown.