Liechtenstein National Day

Today marks the 79th Liechtenstein National Day since the holiday was established in 1940. The date reflects both the feast of the Assumption of Mary and (almost) the birthday of Franz Josef II, who was the prince in 1940. (After he died in 1989, they just decided to keep the same day going forward.) The national arms of Liechtenstein are, unsurprisingly, the same as the arms of the House of Liechtenstein, and they have been unchanged since the union of the regions of Vaduz and Schellenberg in 1719. The arms consist of six separate coats (four quarters, a point in point, and an escutcheon). So, let’s go section by section on this. Buckle in, folks; this is gonna be a long one.

(Also, fair warning – this is going to deal very heavily with the family history, and not so much with the national history. That’s where the arms come from, and that’s kind of why I’m here.)

Liechtenstein

The first quarter is fairly easy: the duchy of Lower Silesia, or an eagle displayed sable armed and langued gules, crowned of the field, charged with a cross couped issuant from a crescent argent. Occasionally, the cross will be paté and/or the crescent will terminate in trefoils (treflée); these ornamentations are more common on Czech versions of the arms. (If you’re familiar with the Czech Republic, you may notice that the Lower Silesian eagle appears on its arms as well.) It seems likely that the Silesian coat of arms ended up with the Liechtensteins by way of Elizabeth Lucretia, Duchess of Cieszyn, who inherited the duchy from her brother Friedrich Wilhelm (of course it’s a Friedrich Wilhelm) while she was married to Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Technically, he probably would only have been entitled to use this quarter until 1653, when the duchy reverted back to the Habsburgs, but no one seems to have cared too much. I guess you could also make an argument that the acquisition of additional Silesian territory made the bearing of the quarter more or less accurate.

The second quarter is… tricky. It’s supposed to be the arms of the Kuenringer family (barry or and sable), as Johann VI Kuenringer died without issue in 1594, and Ferdinand II granted their arms to the Liechtensteins in 1620. However, adding the ducal coronet (sometimes blazoned as a chaplet of rue) makes these look a hell of a lot like the arms of Saxony instead. As far as I can tell, the Liechtensteins never had much to do with Saxony. I did find a source that said there are minor differences in the blazon that distinguish Saxony from Kuenringer – Saxony is barry of ten or and sable, a ducal coronet embowed vert, while Kuenringer is barry of eight or and sable, a ducal coronet vert. I’m a bit skeptical of this, since I can find lots and lots of depictions of Kuenringer without the coronet, and none with it (that aren’t affiliated with Liechtenstein.) It’s not an impossible explanation, but it has the slight ring of trying to cover a mistake. However, if it is a mistake, it’s a mistake enshrined in law, so there’s not much to be done about it.

The third quarter is somewhat easier – per pale argent and gules, the arms of the Duchy of Troppau. We know exactly when the Liechtensteins took control of this territory – Emperor Matthias of Habsburg granted it to Karl I in 1614. Evidently, the Protestant inhabitants of the duchy were not thrilled with their new Catholic leader, but after the Battle of White Mountain, it became clear the Liechtensteins weren’t going anywhere. They continued to hold the land until it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia in 1918, and the royal family still holds the formal title “Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf.” (We’ll get to Jägerndorf in a minute.)

The fourth quarter (or a harpy sable, head and breast argent, armed and crowned of the field) looks like a tincture-swapped version of the Cirksena arms. The Cirksenas ruled the counties of Rietberg and East Frisia. The Liechtensteins got the title to Rietberg (and presumably the arms) as a result of Gundakar’s other marriage to Agnes, daughter of Enno III of East Frisia. (They didn’t get it until 1848, though, when the last of the Kaunitz family died out; the Kautnizes succeeded the Cirksenas in 1699.) Quick blazoning note – I do find it interesting that the same figure is a “harpy” in English blazon, and a Jungfrauenadler or “maiden eagle” in German blazon. Slightly different connotations there!

Next up: the point in point, holding the arms of Jägerndorf, which are azure a bugle stringed or. Jägerndorf was also granted to Karl I, this one by Ferdinand II in 1623. Karl consolidated the two territories into the Duchy of Troppau-Jägerndorf, and his family held the duchy until 1918.

Finally, the escutcheon per pale or and gules are the actual arms of the Liechtenstein family themselves, minus all their possessions and the rest of their titles. As far as I can tell, these go back at least to Karl I, the first Prince of Liechtenstein, and probably back further into the family’s baronial history. I can’t prove their antiquity beyond 1614, but honestly, four centuries is still really old.

If you have noticed that the arms do not actually feature Vaduz and Schellenberg, you would be correct! The County of Vaduz bore gules a gonfanon argent, and the Lordship of Schellenberg bore barry of four sable and or. Both of these coats became obsolete upon the creation of the state of Liechtenstein. This is not especially surprising, given that the creation was highly politically motivated – no one was going to waste time on creating brand new arms when the newly elevated princes already had a perfectly good and prestigious-looking coat.

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Arms of Torrenueva, Spain

Torrenueva

Granted 1975

Blazon: Per pale vert a tower or windowed gules and of the last two cauldrons in pale chequy or and sable, each containing eight serpents, four facing the exterior and four facing the interior proper; overall in the fess point an escutcheon argent charged with a cross of Santiago gules

THE SNAKE CAULDRONS STRIKE AGAIN. This is a bafflingly common motif in this region of Spain, and I have no idea why. I’ve been researching this for years – nothing but dead ends. All the sources I’ve found just seem to nonchalantly accept the existence of snake cauldrons as a thing! Seriously, there has to be a story behind these! It’s such specific imagery, and so highly localized! Please, please, if anyone knows ANYTHING about the snake cauldrons, please tell me! What is their DEAL???

Right, yeah, also the cross of Santiago in the arms probably comes from the fact the town belonged to the Order of Santiago from like the Middle Ages to the 19th century and the tower is likely a canting element, whatever, what is UP with the snake cauldrons?

Arms of Mössingen, Germany

Mossingen

Granted 1952

Blazon: Sable a bend wavy between in chief three escutcheons in pile argent, charged with 1 three antlers fesswise in pale, 2 two quarters, and 3 an eagle displayed of the field; in base a fountain of the second

The bend wavy represents the river Steinlach, while the fountain represents the local sulfur springs. The tinctures, as well as the second of the escutcheons in the dexter chief, refer to the house of Hohenzollern, which ruled the city until the early 15th century, when it was mortgaged to the house of Württemberg. The two houses continued fighting over the territory until 1441, when Württemberg finally won out. (Their arms are displayed on the first escutcheon in the dexter chief.) The final escutcheon shows the arms of Fürstenberg, and the arrangement of the three escutcheons represents the nearby mountain Dreifürstenstein, which borders the three territories of Hohenzollern, Württemberg, and Fürstenberg. There are also some representations of the arms that only show three escutcheons, without the details depicted here, which, though incomplete, would have been considerably easier to blazon.

 

Arms of Hohentengen, Germany

Hohentengen
Granted 1682

Blazon: Sable a lion rampant double-queued or bearing between the front paws an escutcheon gules a fess argent

The lion is a reference to the arms of the Habsburgs, and the escutcheon is easily recognizable as the arms of Austria. The region was under Austrian control until 1806. It is possible that this grant of arms was part of an ongoing power struggle between the local lords and the counts in Scheer; the grant may have been a show of support for the lords from Emperor Leopold I.

Hohentengen

Granted 1682

Blazon: Sable a lion rampant double-queued or bearing between the front paws an escutcheon gules a fess argent (Austria)

The lion is a reference to the arms of the Habsburgs, and the escutcheon is easily recognizable as the arms of Austria. The region was under Austrian control until 1806. It is possible that this grant of arms was part of an ongoing power struggle between the local lords and the counts in Scheer; the grant may have been a show of support for the lords from Emperor Leopold I.

Arms of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Kingston upon Thames

London, England

Granted 1966

Blazon: Azure three salmon naiant in pale argent finned and tailed gules

Crest: On a wreath of the colors issuant from a wreath of bay leaves vert banded or a demi-stag proper gorged with a crown of or pendant therefrom an escutcheon ermine on a chevron vert between two chevronels the chief per pale azure and gules, the base per pale gules and azure, a cross paté or, holding between the forelegs a fountain

Supporters: Two stags proper gorged with a ribbon argent pendant therefrom an escutcheon azure issuant from the base an elm tree proper in front of a sun rising or and resting the interior hind hoof on a charred woodstock proper

Compartment*: A grassy mount proper supported by a fillet wavy pre fess wavy argent and azure

Mantling: Azure lined argent

The arms are derived from the historical arms of the borough, recorded as far back as 1572; the three salmon refer to three fisheries mentioned in the Domesday Book. The escutcheon on the crest bears the arms of the Borough of Malden and Coombe, and the supporters’ escutcheons show the arms of the Borough of Surbiton.

*Compartments are usually left to the discretion of the artist, not specified in the blazon.

Arms of de Quincy and Galloway

Quincy and Galloway

Arms of Roger de Quincy, Earl of Winchester (1195-1264) and Helen of Galloway

From p81 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme gules seven mascles 3, 3, and 1 or and argent an escutcheon within a tresseure fleury counter-fleury gules

Helen of Galloway was the daughter of Alan of Galloway, Lord of Galloway and Constable of Scotland. Through their marriage, Roger inherited one-third of the Lordship. He also received the earldom when his mother died in 1235. The arms in the sinister half of the shield allegedly belong to Alan of Galloway, but I cannot corroborate this anywhere. (The tinctures are also somewhat unclear.)