Arms of Alcohujate, Spain

Alcohujate

Granted 2008

Blazon: Vert a tower or on a mount argent, in base three bars wavy azure

While I don’t know for sure (the official blazon didn’t bother to detail why the charges were selected), it seems like the mount is intended to be a canting element, standing for a hill, or alcor in Spanish. There is a fairly prominent hill in the town, which could well be the source of its name.

Arms of El Acebrón, Spain

El Acebron

Granted 2010

Blazon: Per quarterly, I or a holly branch proper fructed gules; II gules issuant from three bars wavy in base argent a castle proper between two serpents’ heads or respectant issuant from the sides of the shield; III vert on a bridge over water barry wavy in base argent and azure, two towers of the second, the dexter flying a flag of the last a saltire gules and the sinister supporting a ladder of the same; IV argent a cross of Santiago gules; overall in the fess point an escutcheon argent seven crowns 2, 2, 2, and 1 proper

The first quarter is evidently canting, acebo meaning “holly” in Spanish. The second and third quarters are apparently connected to the first lord of the town, Gaspar Ramírez de Vargas. I’m not entirely clear on whether they’re his family arms, or connected to him in some other way. (It’s unclear whether the snakes are related to The Mystery of the Snake Cauldrons, but probably not.) The seven crowns in the escutcheon are a reference to a mythical medieval battle that ostensibly took place at the nearby castle of Sicuendes, where seven counts were killed.

Arms of Robert de Mortimer

Mortimer

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Gules two bars vair

First off, this is Robert de Mortimer, not Roger de Mortimer. You may know of the latter, the first Earl of March, for his stint in the Tower of London and his overthrowing of King Edward II in the Despenser War, or potentially his own subsequent overthrow by Edward III, or his execution at Tyburn. Roger de Mortimer and his line are the Mortimers of Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire; the Roberts de Mortimer are also of a Castle in Herefordshire, although theirs is Richard’s Castle, and the two families do not appear to be related.

I’m afraid Robert is not quite as exciting as Roger. There are three Roberts – great-grandfather, grandfather, and grandson. Either the first or the second served in the Third Crusade. However, due to the dates, I think the third Robert de Mortimer is the one referenced here. He served several times in Wales, and might (emphasis on the might) have been involved in the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales at Builth Wells in 1282. He also married Joyce de la Zouche, and acquired several manors in Northamptonshire.

Arms of Deux-Sèvres, France

ALT

In use since at least 2008

Blazon: Gules two bars wavy argent between five towers in saltire or

I’m somewhat skeptical of the official status of these arms, but they’re pretty widely cited. I assume (possibly incorrectly) that the two bars represent the two rivers referred to in the department’s name – the Sèvre Nantaise and the Sèvre Niortaise. You know, two Sèvres. Also, this particular depiction is not great – the two towers in base are not supposed to be cut off by the edge of the shield. I suspect the creator just didn’t resize the tower charge appropriately.

Romanian Great Union Day

Today marks the day that the Romanian Kingdom incorporated the territories of Bessarabia, Bukovina, Transylvania, Banat, Crișana and Maramureș with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. Technically, Bessarabia and Bukovina had been incorporated earlier that year, but December 1st brought the most new territory to the crown. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that many of those territories are represented in the arms – and there are a lot of them, so let’s get started!

Romania

Blazon: Azure an eagle displayed with wings inverted, in its beak a passion cross patonce at foot or, armed gules, in the dexter talon a sword and in the sinister a sceptre argent, crowned with the Steel Crown proper, overall an escutcheon per quarterly I azure an eagle displayed with wings inverted, in its beak a passion cross patonce at foot or armed gules between in chief a sun in splendor and a crescent increscent of the second (Wallachia); II gules an auroch’s head caboshed between in base a cinquefoil and a crescent decrescent argent, in chief between the horns a molet of five points or (Moldova); III gules issuant from water in base azure a bridge of two arches embattled, thereon a demi-lion rampant or brandishing a sabre proper (Oltenia and Banat); IV per bar gules azure and or, issuant therefrom an eagle displayed argent between in chief a sun in splendor or and a crescent decrescent of the fourth, in base seven towers gules (Transylvania); pointé in base azure two dolphins urinant respectant or

Okay. Obviously, there is a lot going on here, but the major motif (repeated twice) is the eagle or. The eagle charge is, unsurprisingly, derived from the Romans and also featured in the regional arms of Wallachia, although there it was sable (and thus somewhat closer to the Holy Roman Empire’s eagle). Wallachia’s eagle also has the cross in its beak – and exactly what that cross is is a whole separate conversation. I’ve gone off the depiction in the larger eagle, but it also shows up as a simple passion cross, a cross paté, etc. It’s described in some places as an “Orthodox cross,” but that phrasing doesn’t have any real heraldic meaning, and should not be confused with the double-barred cross patriarchal of the Russian Orthodox church. The eagle, cross, sun, and moon have been consistent Wallachian symbology since at least the Middle Ages. As one of the two principalities in the United Principalities that later became Romania in 1866, I suppose it’s only fair that Wallachia get double representation, though I suspect the Roman associations are really why it’s the larger background charge.

In the next quarter of the smaller escutcheon are the arms of Moldova (or, formerly, Moldavia), which have also remained pretty much exactly the same since it was a voivodeship. It looks like a bull’s head, and I was perfectly ready to blazon it as a bull’s head, but all the sources I found were very insistent about calling it an aurochs instead. The aurochs and the star have their own little legend, which holds that Dragoș, the first voivode of Moldavia, chased a bull marked with a star from his native Maramureș all the way to a river, where he killed it with the help of his hunting dog, Molda. Molda’s accomplishment resulted in both the river and later the principality receiving her name.

Banat and Oltenia appear to come as a unit, and certainly their symbols are very similar; Banat just used a lion, while Oltenia’s lion bore a sabre and appeared over Trajan’s Bridge. I guess it makes sense to combine those two, and I really like Oltenia’s arms, but I do feel a bit bad for Banat. I also just want to mention Dobruja, briefly, before we get into Transylvania; I don’t think there’s any deeper meaning behind the dolphins besides “this part’s next to the sea.”

Okay, Transylvania! Which I have covered on this blog before, but not in detail. They were granted in 1765 by the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa. The towers, sun, and moon are all pretty straightforward; the towers represent the ethnic Saxons, and the sun and moon, ancient grave symbols, represent the Székelys. The eagle is less clear; there are a number of very, very old coats, seals, and symbols that are connected to Transylvania and feature an eagle, but it’s unclear whether these were truly heraldic. It could be a version of the Polish eagle, or it could be intended to represent the Hungarian ethnic group.

The Romanian quarters were first established in 1866, though some were swapped out for others as their territorial dominion changed. In 1948, the Soviet Union did in fact grant Romania its own emblem, and it was so terrible that the symbol of resistance to communism was the USSR Romanian flag with the emblem literally cut out. (Yes, I know there are probably many more reasons that “empty flag” was adopted besides the visual nails-on-a-chalkboard of Soviet heraldry, but I like to think that was part of it.) The overall arms were adopted in almost their present form after the fall of communism in 1992, and the steel crown was added in 2016.

Arms of Charente, France

Charente

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 Valdemanco del Esteras, Spain

Valdemanco del Esteras

Granted 1992

Blazon: Per pale argent a cross of Calatrava gules and vert two bars wavy of the first, in chief a beehive between two bees displayed and in base a sheep statant or

As you might expect from the charges, both agriculture and beekeeping are extremely important to the municipality, all the way back to its founding. The very first settlers were apparently beekeepers and ranchers, so while it might not be particularly exciting, I can’t really fault them for using those as charges. (At this point, I’m more surprised I can’t find anything that claims the bars wavy symbolize two rivers in the area, though I definitely wouldn’t rule it out.)