Arms of Rottenburg am Neckar, Germany

Rottenburg am Neckar

In use since 1282

Blazon: Per fess argent and gules

These arms are apparently an even-more-simplified version of the arms of the house of Hohenberg, which are barry of four argent and gules. The family originated in Austria; though I don’t have any solid evidence, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to connect their family arms to the national arms of gules a fess argent.

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Arms of Hugh de Bussey

Hugh de Bussey

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Or three water-bougets azure

I did find a considerable history of a de Bussey family, including a Hughs/Hugos/Huges that was alive at the approximate time the Dering Roll was produced… and they all lived in Lincolnshire. It’s not impossible that the de Bussey referred to here is part of the same family, but I’m skeptical, especially since the Lincolnshire de Busseys bore barry argent and sable. That being said, seven or eight hundred years of heraldic history does tend to scramble things a bit.

It’s possible that these are intended to be canting arms – “bouget” is fairly similar to the alternate surname given on the roll, “de Boues.”

Arms of Louis X of France

Louis X

In use 1314 – 1316

Blazon: Azure semé de lis or (France ancien) dimidiated with gules a chain in saltire, cross, and orle or, charged in the center with a pomme (Navarre)

I do want to briefly talk about some variations of the French national arms before we revisit the various regions and major cities. I wanted to touch on this particular coat not just because Louis X has a really excellent epithet (Louis the Stubborn!), but also because it’s a not-very-common example of dimidiation. Dimidiation is often used in the same circumstances as impalement or quartering – in this case, Louis inherited the kingdom of Navarre from his mother in 1305, and that of France from his father in 1314. The distinction there is that while both impalement and quartering keep both sets of original arms intact, dimidiation literally cuts them in half and reforms them into a single coat. Sometimes, like in this example, it works pretty well, and both arms are still easily identifiable. More often, though, dimidiation yields confusing or just plain weird results, so it’s understandable why it’s not used very often. (I’ve seen theories that badly planned dimidiation is where we get griffins, but they’re blatantly wrong; griffins predate heraldry by a good couple of millennia.)

Jour de Bastille

Today is Quatorze Juillet, or Bastille Day, the national holiday of France. This year marks the 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. The Bastille was an armory and prison in the center of Paris, and a symbol of monarchical authority, it was a natural target for the burgeoning French Revolution. Roughly one thousand civilians attacked the fortress, which contained a significant amount of ammunition (and seven prisoners). Obviously, the attackers succeeded in taking the Bastille, and the first major outbreak of violence in the French Revolution eventually convinced Louis XVI to (temporarily) capitulate.

It’s a bit tricky to talk about the “heraldry of the French Revolution,” since it resulted in a mass repudiation of pretty much everything associated with the nobility. However, at the risk of talking about flags again, I do think it’s worth pointing out that the Revolution holds the roots of the current French tricolore – and yes, it does ultimately go back to heraldry.

The arms of Paris are gules a single masted-ship, sails unfurled on a sea in base argent, a chief azure semé de lis or. The chief is derived from the arms of France ancien, and the ship is from the marchands de l’eau¸ a powerful merchant guild operating on the Seine since 1170. The Parisian coat of arms has been pretty much the same since 1358, with some changes (the addition of the sea waves, a brief change to France moderne in the 15th century). The arms are the source for the city colors of Paris – red and blue. I think you probably see where this is going.

Cockades were a popular way of displaying political allegiance in the eighteenth century – sort of like campaign buttons today. It was, therefore, perfectly natural for the Paris militia to wear a cockade of blue and red when they formed on July 13th, 1789. The blue and red design had a run of about two weeks before Lafayette proposed the addition of a white stripe to make it clear that this was a national movement, and not something confined to Paris. His suggestion was implemented on July 27th as part of the uniform of the National Guard.

The rest is, as they say, history. October 24th, 1790 saw the National Assembly adopt a red, white, and blue standard as the national flag, which was changed to blue, white, and red on February 15th, 1794. I’m not sure why this change was made, but it clearly stuck; with the exception of about 15 years during the Bourbon Restoration, when they went with a plain white flag, the tricolore has been the iconic symbol of the French nation ever since.

Arms of Torre de Juan Abad, Spain

Torre de Juan Abad

Granted 1273

Blazon: Argent a tower and lion rampant gules, in chief a molet of five points azure, all within a bordure of the first charged with eight saltires couped or

Unfortunately, I have no idea who Juan Abad might have been, and it seems like nobody else does, either. It seems reasonable to speculate that the tower is a canting element (“torre,” or “tower” in Spanish). The lion is possibly taken from the arms of Alfonso X of Castile, who granted the town’s arms, but I don’t have anything on the saltires or the molet. One last fun fact – Francisco de Quevedo, a prominent satirical Baroque poet, ruled the town for a while after his mother purchased the title for him. While the town apparently didn’t take too kindly to him at the time (read: they sued him, and he won, but only after he died), they now host an “International Graphic Humor Center” in honor of his snarky legacy.

Arms of Donnersbachwald, Austria

Donnersbachwald

Granted 2002

Blazon: Argent on a pale vert between two flanks gules, the dexter charged with five trefoils in pale  and the sinister with a chain in pale, a triple mount in base and a stone hut of the field

Donnersbachwald technically no longer exists, as it was incorporated into the municipality of Irdning-Donnersbachtal in 2015. I’d assume that the mount refers to the local geography, which is extremely common for municipal arms. The vert and argent tinctures may be a reference to the Styrian arms, but that’s only speculation. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing on the stone hut (or Kuppelbau, as the German blazon has it). My guess is that it’s a distinctive archeological construction in the region, which is also a pretty common motif for cities and towns, but I can’t find any mention of something like that. And if you’re wondering why I’ve called the charges on the sides “flanks,” see here. TL;DR it’s a charge specific to German heraldry, and they’re not the same things as flaunches.

Former arms of the House of Scaligeri

Scaligeri

In use 1262?-1551?

Blazon: Gules a ladder in pale argent

These arms are a classic example of canting arms – “la scala” is “ladder” in Italian, which is almost identical to the family name of Scaligeri or della Scala. The first recorded della Scala was a clothes merchant named in an 1180 document. The Scaligeri later ruled Verona from 1262 through 1387, when they were ousted after a few decades of fratricide and tyranny. However, they made numerous unsuccessful attempts to recover the city, proving half the truth in their family motto, Nec descendere nec morari (neither descending nor stopping).