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.

Arms of Normandy, France


In use since 1189 at the latest

Blazon: Gules two lions passant guardant or armed and langued azure

Oh, Normandy. Never change. You haven’t since like, 1189 at the latest, but we already saw what happened to Aquitaine, so. And I do say 1189 instead of 1066, because we don’t have any contemporary records of William the Conqueror using the two lions. The number of lions was a little flexible for a while, but it was pretty solidly established as two by the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

I will also take this opportunity to point out the issue with the leopards. The position of “passant guardant” in English heraldry is blazoned as “leopardé” in French. Often, from translation errors, confusion, or laziness, this results in lions passant guardant being recorded in English as leopards. This problem is especially acute in regards to the Norman coat of arms, which a. actually has lions passant guardant, and b. belongs to a region that kept switching back and forth between France and England for a while. If you ever see an English reference to the leopards of Normandy, it’s technically incorrect, but a very common and understandable error.

Arms of Villamayor de Calatrava, Spain

Villamayor de Calatrava

Granted 1984; possibly in use since 1576

Blazon: Or a stone column* proper on a base vert, in chief a cross of Calatrava gules

Obviously, these are partly canting arms, but I’m more intrigued by the stone column. One of the sources I found implies that these arms are significantly older and, moreover, that there was actually a column in the town square in the 16th and 17th centuries. It seems the column was demolished sometime before 1639, but I have no idea why. It also seems that the original use of these arms dates back to around the same time, and putting a local landmark on municipal arms is an extremely common practice.

*I know, but I’m trying very hard to be mature about it, and the… distinctive shape seems to be unique to this particular depiction

Arms of Dorfgastein, Austria


Granted 1952

Blazon: Gules pointé in base or, three roundels counterchanged

The partition of the field is from the arms of the Lords of Goldegg, who held (disputed) control over the valley from 1272 presumably through the house’s extinction in 1449. The roundels are derived from the arms of Nonnberg Abbey, which formerly held possession of the village of Unterberg, one of the six villages included in the municipality. (You can see the abbey’s arms on the dexter here, though the tinctures are hard to make out; the sinister arms are those of the Schneeweiß family.)

Former arms of Breitenholz, Germany


Blazon: Gules an S-shaped crampoon argent

I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of information on these arms; since Breitenholz was incorporated into Ammerbuch in 1971, it doesn’t have a website, and secondary sources are thin on the ground. I suspect these arms are relatively new; there is an 1892 municipal stamp that just uses a “B” instead of any arms.

The charge is identified as a Wolfseisen, which seems to be a highly stylized version of a crampoon. This specific version has the terminal ends curling around into almost an S-shape. This is specified in the German blazon as an “S-förmiges Wolfseisen,” which I’ve roughly translated to “S-shaped crampoon” in my English version.

Arms of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France


Granted 2016

Blazon: Argent in dexter three palets wavy azure, in sinister a lion rampant gules

Another new coat of arms for the administrative regions! Personally, I prefer the former arms of Aquitaine (gules a lion passant guardant or, armed and langued azure), and Limousin was pretty sharp, too (ermine a bordure gules), but design-wise, this is pretty good. In terms of the charges selected… well, I suppose I understand the reasoning. The palets are probably intended to represent the rivers that run to the Atlantic, much like the lion’s mane in the new logo. They also could be a canting charge, if you subscribe to the etymology that has “Aquitaine” derived from the Latin for “water.” I feel that it’s worth mentioning the competing theory – that it’s actually named after the pre-Roman tribe of the Ausci.

The lion has been used for Aquitaine since at least the twelfth century, and possibly earlier, so it isn’t like they could leave it out. And I guess if we’re going to get picky about the law of tincture, and we really want those palets wavy, then fine, gules works. There are several cities in the region that use a lion gules, so it’s not like it’s coming from nowhere. (I really did like the former arms, though.)