Arms of Bieringen, Germany


In use since at least 1972

Blazon: Azure a bend wavy argent between a molet of six points or and a fleur-de-lis in bend of the second slipped and leaved proper

Sadly, I don’t have much information on these arms. Technically, the figure in base is only referred to as a lily, but the depiction here (as well as on the town’s official web page) is remarkable; fleurs-de-lis do not, to my eye, bear much resemblance to actual lilies. Evidently the artist disagrees.

Arms of Hautes-Pyrénées, France


In use since at least 2005

Blazon: Or two lions passant gules, armed and langued azure

It’s almost weird how little information there is on these arms, given how commonly they seem to be cited for Hautes-Pyrénées. It does look like they’re unofficial; from what I can tell, the department doesn’t have official arms, but they’re definitely not one of Robert Louis’, which many of the unofficial arms for French departments are. It seems they may have been borrowed from the former county of Bigorre, which was established sometime in the ninth century, and subsequently merged with Foix in 1407.

Norwegian Constitution Day


Blazon: Gules a lion rampant crowned, bearing an axe or bladed argent

Happy Norwegian Constitution Day! Today commemorates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814. While Norway did have to enter the Union of Sweden and Norway after their defeat in the Campaign Against Norway, the constitution helped ensure that it remained at least partly its own state. With – you know why we’re here – its own coat of arms!

Norway’s coat of arms is up there with the German eagle in terms of “longest use.” There are contemporary sources that show Norwegian kings using a lion rampant (for a somewhat loose definition of “lion”) in the mid-thirteenth century – certainly in 1247 – 1248, possibly as far back as 1225. The golden crowned lion on a red field was used by the House of Sverre, who ruled Norway until 1319, when the house of Folkung (also called Bjälbo) took over. The final Sverre monarch, Haakon V, had no male children, but his daughter Ingeborg had a son, who inherited the throne when Haakon died. That son, Magnus IV and VII, was the first king to hold Sweden and Norway in personal union; however, despite several personal-union combinations of various Scandinavian nations through the centuries, the Norwegian arms themselves don’t seem to have been affected. Various kings placed them in various quarters or on escutcheons of pretense, but the link between the country of Norway and the lion-and-axe was already well-established.

Speaking of the axe, it was most likely added to the arms around 1280, and was certainly there by 1295. It symbolizes Olaf II, who reigned from 1015 through 1028. His history has been somewhat corrupted by his legend (but the legend is probably more fun anyway.) He unified a significant amount of the peninsula, converted to Roman Catholicism in Normandy, including a baptism in Notre Dame, and (probably didn’t really) lead an attack on Anglo-Saxon England that destroyed London Bridge. However, he was driven into exile in 1029 when Cnut the Great invaded. Olaf made a brief, abortive attempt at a reconquest, but died in battle in 1030. He was canonized shortly after his death, becoming St. Olaf, and patron saint of Norway. He is often depicted with an axe, which, according to legend, is the weapon that killed him. The depiction of the axe varies; the long-handled poleaxe or halberd was most common during the early sixteenth century through 1844. Oscar I authorized a redesign of the arms in that year which returned to the shorter-handled battleaxe of the medieval period.

Mercifully, Norway escaped both the Napoleonic and Soviet varieties of unfortunate heraldic design, so I get to wrap things up here without inflicting those upon your eyes. Congratulations on 206 years of having a constitution, Norway!

Arms of Belmonte, Spain


Granted 1964

Blazon: Per pale or a castle triple-towered proper between an oak tree eradicated and a stone pine couped vert and argent two cauldrons in pale or charged with three rows of triangles in gyronny gules, each containing two serpents facing the exterior proper

Yes, it’s the snake cauldrons again, although this time they evidently appear due to the influence of the house of Pacheco. Both the lines of Pacheco and  Guzmán trace back to the house of Girón, but it doesn’t seem that Girón had a consistent heraldic identity, let alone something as specific as the snake cauldrons. I’m not sure if this is a case of two different lines both using a much older family motif, potential intermarriage, or another mixup somewhere through the centuries. (Worth mentioning – there is a contemporary record of at least one snake cauldron in the arms of Diego López Pacheco around the early sixteenth century.) Regardless, it’s another potential line of inquiry in the perennial Mystery of the Snake Cauldrons.

Anyway. The dexter half of the arms are described in the grant as the “former arms” of Belmonte, implying that they were in use before the current grant. The castle in these arms is almost certainly a reference to the fifteenth-century Belmonte Castle, which has been an official cultural monument since 1931.

Arms of Edelsgrub, Austria


Granted 1990

Blazon: Sable an apple tree, overall on a fess or two rows of roofing tiles gules

The apple tree is apparently a reference to the importance of fruit cultivation to the region; evidently, Edelsgrub has been famous for its fruit for a century or more. The tiles are a reference to the brickyards in the region. (Real quick on the design – I don’t know if I like the ornamented fess, but the spreading tree on the black field is stunning.)

Arms of Vibo Valentia, Italy

Vibo Valentia

In use since at least 2009; possibly granted 1992?

Blazon: Per pale, I per fess or a cross potent sable and azure a Doric column issuant from the base of the shield argent; II gules a lion rampant or langued of the field

I don’t have a lot of information on these arms; the best I can do is speculate that the charges in the dexter half of the shield are either drawn directly from the provincial arms of Calabria, or stem from the same sources. Per the description of those arms, the cross potent stands for Bohemond I of Antioch, and the Doric capital is a reference to the region’s former status as part of Magna Graecia.

Arms of Baisingen, Germany


In use in 1972

Blazon: Or a lime tree eradicated vert, in base a plowshare azure

Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on these arms, but it doesn’t appear that they took any influence from the various noble families who ruled the land (Validlingen, Wernau, Württemberg, etc.) I’d suspect the arms are a reference to local agriculture, but I don’t have anything to back that up.