Arms of Ebenthal, Austria


Granted 1961

Blazon: Azure a lion rampant voided double-queued, crowned and bearing a sword or on three mounts in base vert

The arms are a slightly modified (and significantly logo-ized, in this representation) version of the arms of the Koháry house, which bore azure a lion rampant double-queued crowned or bearing in the dexter forepaw a saber proper on a mount in base argent. They did rule over the area in approximately 1723, along with a few other towns in present-day Germany and Slovakia. The last male Koháry died in Ebenthal in 1822.

Arms of Pescara, Italy


Granted 1928

Blazon: Per pale a river issuant from three mountains flowing into the sea in base, thereon a sailboat, all proper and vert a boar counter-passant also proper

If you’re wondering, yes, Pescara is largely hilly, rising up into mountains, and it is where the Aterno-Pescara river meets the Adriatic Sea. The first half of the shield is basically just a representation of these geographical characteristics (not super creative, but okay). The boar teases a better story, but I can’t find anything about it other than the fact that wild boar are native to the region.

Arms of Neustetten, Germany


Arms of Neustetten, Germany

In use since 1971

Blazon: Gules a chevron argent between three molets of six points, on a chief or an oath staff (Schwurstab) fesswise sable  

Okay, I really like these arms, and not just because they feature a charge I’ve never seen before. The three townships of Nellingsheim, Remmingsheim, and Wolfenhausen were consolidated into the municipality of Neustetten in 1971, and it’s clear that whoever designed the new town’s arms took care to pay homage to its component parts, and also create something visually appealing. I appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness in heraldic design. The Neustetten website also has a nice section on each former township and its arms, so although I don’t usually feature former municipalities, I’m going to make an exception over the next few weeks. Long story short – the chevron comes from Nellingsheim, the chief from Wolfenhausen, and the molets from Remmingsheim (although the number reflects the three former townships). Both the latter towns’ arms featured the Schwurstab, and the tinctures are also relatively consistent.

So… what the hell is a Schwurstab? The literal translation, which I’ve used in the blazon, is “oath staff.” From what I can find, it’s a pretty descriptive name – they seem to have been specially carved staves used in legal proceedings for witnesses to swear on. It seems like they served the same function as a Bible or other sacred text, only more secular.

Arms of John Beauchamp

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Vair

Despite the similarity in name and very slight overlap in lifespan, John Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp of Somerset is not to be confused with John Beauchamp, first Baron Beauchamp of Kidderminster. The latter family is related to the Earls of Warwick – one of them eventually ends up becoming an Earl of Warwick – while the former, which is the one we’re talking about here, seems to have been a fairly minor noble who didn’t get into any trouble worth recording. He was born in 1274, inherited a small share of a small barony through his mother, Cicely de Vivonne (or de Forz) in 1299, and married Joan Chenduit probably around the same time. They had five children, three of whom survived to adulthood; only two of them were still alive when John died in 1336.

Arms of Calvados, France


Designed around 1950

Blazon: Per fess wavy azure and gules, in base two lions passant guardant in pale or armed of the first

I thought this looked like another Robert Louis, and it took a bit of digging, but I was right! I have some serious doubts about the official status of these arms; none of the departmental websites feature or even mention them. Anyway, these arms depict the two lions of Normandy (Calvados’ administrative region, formerly province) with the upper half signifying the English Channel. It’s a pretty straightforward graphic representation of the actual geographic layout of the department – the Channel to the north, and then Normandy.

Arms of Gruffydd Maelor

Gruffydd Maelor

(? – 1191)

Blazon: Paly of eight argent and gules a lion rampant sable armed and langued of the second

Gruffydd was the eldest son of Madog ap Maredudd, son of Gruffudd ap Cynan. Around 1160, he inherited a fairly small portion of Powys from his father; that’s what happens when you name five heirs. He married Angharad, daughter of Owain Gwynedd and granddaughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan. (Yep, they were first cousins.) Gruffydd did eventually take over his half-brother’s portion of the inheritance, but his holdings wouldn’t really be consolidated until the reign of his son, Madog ap Gruffydd. At that point, they became the kingdom of Powys Fadog.

Arms of Alcázar del Rey, Spain

Alcazar del Rey

Granted 2001

Blazon: Per pale azure a castle triple-towered or windowed gules and of the second, a crescent decrescent argent and a lion rampant of the second

The representation of the lion and the crescent moon don’t seem consistent; some depictions, as here, have the lion almost within the curve of the moon, and in others, it looks more like the lion is supporting the moon with its front paws. The dexter half of the shield is apparently a canting element, since alcázar is Spanish for a fortified castle. The sinister half replicates the arms of Huete, to which the town previously belonged. Allegedly, the lion represents the victory of the Christians over the Muslims (represented by the crescent) in the Reconquista, but I don’t have a good source for that theory.

Arms of Ebensee, Austria


Arms of Ebensee, Austria

Granted 1929; in use since 1919

Blazon: Or chapé azure, water in base of the second and argent, issuant therefrom a mount, surmounted by a pine tree proper issuant from a base vert; in dexter chief, three baskets in pile reversed of the third, in sinister chief a pickaxe of the field; overall on a fess gules two dexter arms clasping hands in fess proper, vested of the field and sable

Oh. Oh no. This is definitely twentieth-century; you can tell from the multiplicity of complex charges that are specifically concerned with industry, as well as the fairly literal symbolism. This is kind of the heraldic definition of Doing Too Much. I know it’s been in use for over a hundred years, but this is just … not visually appealing at all. I’m sort of reluctant to explain all of the symbols, just because they’re so obvious, but I might as well. The pine tree stands for the local forests, the mount and the water stand for a nearby lake and mountain, the baskets and hammer refer to the salt mining industry, and the clasped hands represent the solidarity of the local workers, who absolutely deserve to be represented by something a little nicer than this.

Arms of Chieti, Italy


Arms of Chieti, Italy

Granted 1807?

Blazon: Or a boar’s head erased proper, in chief a yoke gules, nails argent

The story here is that the boar’s head was a symbol of the local Samnite people, allegedly dating back to 258 BCE when it was stamped on coins. I found two different stories about the yoke. It could represent the eventual subjugation of the Samnites to the Romans, or – quite the contrary – it could be a reference to the “battle” of the Caudine Forks, where the Samnites tricked the Romans and forced them to surrender, humiliating them by making them pass under a yoke as a sign of their defeat.

I have no idea of the accuracy of any of the prior information. On the one hand, it goes back so far that the connection seems improbable; on the other hand, this is Italy, and if there’s anything they’re good at, it’s preserving Roman iconography. I think it’s most probable that the symbolism in these arms dates back to antiquity, but it wasn’t actually used in a heraldic manner, much less the above configuration, until much later.

Arms of Nehren, Germany


Granted 1909

Blazon: Gules a chevron argent

It looks like the town of Nehren adopted the arms of the von Nehrens, a noble family who ruled in the area from at least 1305 through 1441. The arms allegedly originated with a Lescher family, but I can’t find any solid evidence for that. (I’ve found plenty of records of Leschers, but none with an associated blazon or depiction of arms.) Nehren’s website does feature a lovely depiction of their arms in begonias; one of the advantages of simpler arms.