Arms of Liguria, Italy


Granted 1985

Blazon: Tierced per pale vert, gules, and azure, in the fess point a caravel silver*, on a sail argent a cross of the second between four molets of six points of the fourth

I know, I know, technically it’s a flag, but Liguria doesn’t technically have arms. They have an emblem, which is the stylized caravel in the center, without any field. (The octagon was pushing it; I don’t think I can justifiably call something without a field a coat of arms.) That being said, it’s not a bad choice; much of Liguria has a long maritime history, especially the Republic of Genoa (i.e. the birthplace of Christopher Columbus). The cross on the sail is drawn from the Genoese flag, and the four stars represent the four component provinces of the region. And yes, the colors are also symbolic – green for the mountains, blue for the sea, and red for the blood spilled in the Italian Resistance.

*While “argent” and “silver” are usually synonymous, this blazon specifically differentiates between them.

Arms of Frommenhausen, Germany


In use since at least 2007

Blazon: Gules a beehive with bees volant or

I don’t have much information on these arms, but it does seem like there are some wild beehives in the town’s arboretum. (I’m not quite sure what a “wild bee place” or “Wildbienenlage” refers to, and I’d welcome any further input on that. My German isn’t very good.) They do seem very proud of the beehive’s traditional symbolism – diligence, cooperation, and hard work. While I know coats of arms aren’t typically granted or adopted due to the more esoteric symbolism, I can’t prove these weren’t, and I can’t bring myself to be the wet blanket.

Arms of John le Breton


From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Per quarterly or and gules, a bordure azure

There are a lot of people who are or have been named “John Breton”, “Jon le Breton,” etc. so it’s very hard for me to narrow down exactly which one this is and who might have been related to him. It seems like he was possibly lord of a few small parishes – Blatherwycke and Laxton in Northamptonshire, and Sporle-with-Palgrave in Norfolk. It’s possible that “Sporle” is a misnomer for “Spelhoe,” which is also in Northamptonshire; the Domesday Book had Blatherwycke, Laxton, and a number of manors in Spelhoe all belonging to the same person, but that was in 1066, well before the Dering Roll was compiled.

Arms of Charente, France


Designed in the 1950s

Blazon: Per bar wavy argent azure three fleurs-de-lis or, in chief a label of as many points of the first and lozengy of the third and gules

Yep, another Robert Louis creation! These are based around the department’s capital, Angoulême. The arms in the chief are those of Orléans; the house of Valois-Orléans were counts, later dukes, of Angoulême from 1404 through 1844. 1404 was the death of Philip the Bold ; the last duke of Angoulême, Louis Antoine (very briefly Louis XIX, for about twenty minutes) died in 1844, technically returning the title to the crown. The arms in the base half are those of Angoulême itself. I think you could also probably argue that the bar wavy is a visual representation of the river Charente.

Arms of Henry V

Henry V

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France moderne), II and III gules three lions passant guardant in pale or (England)

Unfortunately (I think it’s unfortunate, anyway), the Burkes have chosen not to illustrate Richard II’s arms. He was a pretty terrible king, but he did have some interesting heraldic innovations, impaling the arms of his patron saint Edward the Confessor and adopting the first royal supporters in England (two angels proper). Instead, we skip straight to Henry V who, following the kingdom of France, reduced the fleurs-de-lis in the first and fourth quarters to three. Can’t have outdated arms when you’re trying to lay claim to a whole other nation (and, in Henry V’s case, succeeding).

The Burkes also mention that Henry V bore the same supporters as his father, Henry IV, when he became king: a lion rampant guardant crowned or and a heraldic antelope (not to be confused with actual antelopes) argent, gorged with a crown and chained or. The antelope is apparently derived from the de Bohun family; Mary de Bohun was Henry IV’s first wife, and the antelope was a badge of her family. For some reason, Henry V’s supporters as Prince of Wales are also mentioned: “two swans, each holding in the beak an ostrich feather and scroll.” I’m very annoyed that they haven’t included tinctures, since I can’t find a depiction of these supporters (which also makes me a little skeptical that they, you know, existed). The swans were also de Bohun badges, and the ostrich feather and scroll are probably a reference to the arms of Edward the Black Prince.

Austrian National Day


Happy Austrian National Day! It doesn’t get much simpler than the Austrian arms, and it’s probably not a surprise that they’re very old. The fess was first depicted in 1105 as the arms of Leopold III of Austria, of the Babenberg dynasty. The earliest proof of tincture is about a century later (due to the inherent limitations of seals, which is where most of the early depictions of arms come from): Frederick II of Austria, great-great-grandson of Leopold III, evidently wore the red and white in 1232.

“But,” I can hear you asking, “is there a highly romantic, implausible, and anachronistic legend linking these arms to the Crusades?” Of course there is! The story goes that Leopold V (grandson of Leopold III, grandfather of Frederick II) fought so hard at the Siege of Acre that his white tunic was stained completely red with blood. When he took his belt off, it left a vivid white stripe, and apparently he liked it so much he made it his arms. (I don’t know.)

The probably-not-a-bloody-tunic remained the arms of Austria until they were formally adopted in 1919 by the First Republic of Austria, with the Germanic black eagle as a single supporter. The eagle also bore a hammer (for industrial workers), a sickle (for farmers), and was crowned with a mural crown (for the bourgeoise). In 1934, the fascist Federal State of Austria changed the single-headed eagle to the double-headed one, probably to strengthen the visual ties to Germany. They also removed the accoutrements. However, when the Second Republic was reestablished in 1945, they promptly went right back to the 1919 arms, with one addition: a broken chain, to symbolize the nation’s liberation from Nazism.

One other thing – although the famous and infamous Habsburgs ruled Austria for a very long time, the Austrian arms are not the Habsburg arms. For as many arms as they eventually picked up and incorporated into truly terrifying assemblages, their house arms are fairly straightforward: or a lion rampant gules, crowned, armed, and langued azure.

Arms of Dürnkrut, Austria


Granted 1967

Blazon: Azure two swords in saltire or, overall in the fess point an escutcheon gules a fess argent

I can’t really talk about anything to do with this town without mentioning the Battle on the Marchfeld, which was a turning point in the history of the Habsburg family, and therefore, of Europe as a whole. In 1278, Rudolph I of Habsburg defeated Ottokar II of Bohemia, establishing the former’s control over Austria and much of central Europe. They would remain one of the premier ruling families of Europe (sometimes the ruling family of Europe) for several centuries.

Weirdly, I can’t find much on the town’s arms. A scroll through the municipal timeline is worthwhile and interesting – note the Scottish lord who bought the town in 1696 – but not particularly informative from a heraldic perspective. It’s possible the swords are intended to be a reference to the Battle on the Marchfeld, but… I’m probably letting my imagination run away with me there.

Arms of Lazio, Italy


Granted 1984

Blazon: On an octagon vert charged with another argent, thereon another gules, a saltire party of five; in the center point per pale gules and azure an eagle displayed with wings inverted and crowned argent (Rome); in the dexter chief azure a lion rampant or holding a dagger azure, in chief two branches of oak and laurel ensigned by a circlet, in base two cornucopias conjoined in base, all proper (Frosinone); in the sinister chief, azure on a bend vert fimbriated or between in chief a tower on a mount in base proper and in base an anchor, three ears of wheat of the last (Latina); in the dexter base, gules between two bendlets or the letters SPQS, between each three annulets intertwined, all sable (Rieti); in the sinister base, per fess azure a lion passant guardant or on a base proper and gules a cross argent (Viterbo)

This is…. I don’t… okay. Okay, fine. I don’t have a good explanation for the octagon, or the arrangement of the arms in saltire, but okay. The eighties were a weird time, I guess. The thing is, the actual component coats are all pretty reasonable on their own, and it’s not uncommon for regional arms to incorporate the arms of their component cities/provinces/regions. (I plan on delving further into the individual provincial arms once we get to those provinces.) The arrangement here is just… something else. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Arms of Felldorf, Germany


In use since at least 2007

Blazon: Argent a lion salient or langued gules on a base sable

It’s really an open question whether these are official arms or not; they don’t seem to have any tinctures specified, and I have no idea how long they’ve been in use, but look at them! That has got to be one of the weirdest lions I’ve ever seen, and I have seen some weird lions. It’s not just this depiction, either. The pose! The head! The tongue! It’s glorious, and I needed it on my blog. Thank you for sharing this absolute fucking horror with me.

(Right, I should also say that the family who originally ruled the area from the 1300s through 1695, the Megenzers, had some really beautiful and unique arms that I’m not entirely sure how to blazon – but you’ve got to respect a town that says no, never mind that, we’re going with that goddamn lion.)

Arms of Philip Chamberlain

Philip Chamberlain

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Gules two keys in saltire or

More evidence for my argument of two weeks ago that keys are a visual signifier for the surname “Chamberlain.” There are two different parts of the key – the ward, which is the bit that goes into the lock, and the bow, which is the bit you hold. In heraldry, keys default to having the bow in base and the ward in chief, which is why I didn’t specify in this blazon. Sometimes the position of the ward is specified anyway, even if it’s the default position, and sometimes it’s specified that the ward is to the dexter or sinister. If keys are addorsed (back-to-back), their wards are pointing outwards, away from each other.