Arms of Alcantud, Spain

Alcantud

Granted 2003

Blazon: Gules on a bend sinister wavy argent between in chief a bridge of two arches and in base a castle triple-towered or two bendlets sinister wavy azure

It seems likely the bridge is a representation of a specific bridge in the area, but I can’t find any proof of this (or images of local bridges). It does sound like there are ancient Roman baths in the area, so that could be the source of the bendlets, but again, this is only speculation.

Arms of Lot-et-Garonne, France

Lot-et-Garonne

Granted 2003

Blazon: Per quarterly I gules in the dexter an eagle rising, wings addorsed and inverted, bearing in the talons a banner argent with the motto “Agen” sable, in the sinister a castle triple-towered, each tower flying a pennon or (Agen); II gules four towers conjoined at the base in cross by a cross paté argent, on a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis or (Marmande); III azure a sun in splendor or (Nérac); IV azure over water in base a bridge of five arches supporting three towers argent (Villeneuve-sur-Lot)

The four quarters each correspond to an important city in the region. I’ll probably cover each city in more detail when the time comes, but for now, four brief overviews: I don’t have a good explanation for the quarter of Agen, but it seems the eagle and castle were used since the mid-thirteenth century, when the city was granted a fair amount of self-rule and privileges. Marmande is a fortified town originally built by Richard I of England; the towers represent the four gates of the city, and the chief of France was granted by Charles VI in 1414. I’m not sure why Nérac has a sun, but Villeneuve-sur-Lot has used the depiction of its local bridge since 1547.

Albalate de las Nogueras, Spain

Albalate de las Nogueras

Granted 2007

Blazon: Per fess I per pale gules a tower or windowed azure and of the last a bridge of three arches argent; II of the last two walnut trees issuant from a base vert

I’m afraid information about this town is pretty thin on the ground, never mind the arms, so I’m left with speculation. I have to assume the bridge is a representation of a specific bridge in the area, particularly since the original blazon specifies a “medieval” bridge. The tower might also represent a specific landmark, though it could also be a visual reference to the arms of Castile. Finally, I’m pretty sure the walnut trees, or árboles nogales, are a canting element.

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.

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 Luciana, Spain

Luciana

Granted 1986

Blazon: Per fess I per pale or the letters Y and F crowned sable and argent a cross of Calatrava gules and II azure a bridge of three arches argent over water in base barry wavy of the last and the field

The Y and F stand for Isabella of Castile and Fernando of Aragon, whom the blazon claims were the “true founders” of the town. (In the fifteenth century, the letters Y and I were often used interchangeably.)

Arms of El Robledo, Spain

El Robledo

Granted 1985?

Blazon: Per pall reversed I or an oak leaf in pale vert, II argent in chief a cross of Calatrava gules, in base an eagle displayed sable, III azure over water in base barry argent and the field a bridge of three arches proper

The first written record of the town dates from 1214, using the name “Robredum de Migael Diaz.”