Arms of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France


Granted 2017

Blazon: Per quarterly, I or a gonfanon gules fringed vert (Auvergne), II gules a cross argent (Savoy), III gules a lion rampant argent (Lyonnais), IV or a dolphin embowed azure finned gules (Dauphiné)

The gonfanon of Auvergne has been in use since at least the 12th century, as evidenced by several seals. There’s a story that it’s taken from the banner that Eustace III, Count of Boulogne (brother of Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin of Boulogne) took on the First Crusade, but it’s more likely derived from the banner of the abbey of Saint Géraud d’Aurillac.

This is (as the name implies) combined with the coats of arms featured in the former flag used by Rhône-Alpes. The Lyonnais coat of arms is derived from the arms of the city of Lyon, which is pretty obviously a canting charge; I’m skeptical of the claims that it’s derived from the arms of Marc Antony, allegedly a patron of the city – not least because the Romans didn’t have coats of arms in the same way that we think of them. By contrast, it seems like Dauphiné got its name from the arms, rather than the other way around; it was formerly ruled by the Counts of Albon, who have borne a dolphin since the 1100s. (The charge does seem to derive from a possible relative of the family named “Dolfin.”) And, of course, the Savoy arms have been that since the Crusades; they’re probably an inversion of the red cross that all crusaders wore as a symbol of their mission.

The designer of these arms says something here that I really like, which is that a coat of arms is “a way of anchoring an institution in history.” I think that’s a great way of thinking about heraldry in both the ancient and modern eras: as a way of understanding where a particular nation/region/family/organization stands in relation to the larger tide of history. What are its allegiances, its inheritances, its legacies? What has it chosen to keep, and what has it chosen to discard? What’s the story the arms convey? I hope to keep these questions in mind as I continue to research and practice this weird, wonderful little discipline.

It looks like Hauts-de-France hasn’t been officially granted arms yet, either, which wraps up the new administrative regions. Next week, I’ll start revisiting some old friends.


Arms of Beccles Town Council, England


Granted 1956

Blazon: Azure a bend wavy between two pairs of arrows in saltire each pair enfiled by an ancient crown or

Crest: On a wreath of the colors in front of a clump of rushes proper issuant therefrom a demi-lion azure a dolphin argent

Supporters: On the dexter a dragon wings inverted and addorsed gules gorged with a mural crown and supporting a staff or flying a banner argent charged with a cross pommée of the first; on the sinister a like dragon of the second gorged with a mural crown of the first and supporting a staff of the second flying a banner of the first charged with two keys in saltire of the second

Motto: Prosperity through fidelity

Arms of Torbay Borough Council, England

Blazon: Azure a lymphad or flying flags and streamers of St. George, sails argent, pendant from the masthead by a cable of the second the stocks and beams of four anchors conjoined in cross gules; on a chief enarched of the second a mural crown of the fourth

Crest: On a wreath of the colors a croizer erect or between two dolphins facing down and outward azure finned of the first, all enfiled within a horseshoe argent

Supporters: On either side a sea-lion proper, head and mane gules, pendant from a cable about the neck a cross tau or

Mantling: Azure lined or

Motto: Salus et felicitas (health and happiness)

Arms of Poole Borough Council, England


Blazon: Barry wavy of eight sable and argent, a dolphin naiant embowed argent, langued gules, on a chief wavy of the third three escallops of the first

Crest: On a wreath of the colors a mermaid proper supporting in her dexter hand an anchor argent and holding in her sinister hand a pellet

Supporters: On the dexter a lion or, langued gules, holding a sword erect proper; on the sinister, a dragon of the first, langued of the second, supporting an oar argent

Mantling: Or lined sable

Motto: Ad morem villae de Poole (according to the custom of the town of Poole)