Arms of Ebenfurth, Austria

Ebenfurth

Arms of Ebenfurth, Austria

In use since at least 1932, possibly since 1417

Blazon: Argent on a triple mount in base vert a stone tower proper, roofed gules, masoned sable, portcullis or, ported of the second a fess of the third, and charged with an escutcheon of the second a lion rampant or

Even the official town website doesn’t include anything about why these arms are the way they are. The escutcheon on the tower feels like it should belong to a specific family or region, but I can’t find any evidence of who it could be, and “gules a lion rampant or” is general enough that it might not refer to anyone or anything in particular. The tower bears a superficial resemblance to Ebenfurth Castle; it seems plausible that it’s a representation of that building. I’m very interested, but also puzzled, by the Austrian fess on the tower doors; I have no idea where that comes from!

Arms of Mössingen, Germany

Mössingen

Granted 1952

Blazon: Sable a bend sinister wavy between in chief three escutcheons argent, the first charged with as many antlers fesswise in pale of the field, the second per quarterly of the second and the first, and the third charged with an eagle displayed of the field, and in base a fountain of the second

I really like this one! It’s maybe a little heavy on the representative elements (not everything has to stand for something), but the triple shields in the dexter chief are a nice touch. They symbolize a local mountain, the Dreifürstenstein, which touches the borders of Württemberg , Hohenzollern, and Fürstenberg – i.e. the three territories whose arms are shown here. I think it’s a clever and visually succinct way to convey that. Aside from that, the bend sinister represents the Steinlach river, which flows through the town, and the fountain stands for the local sulfur springs.

Arms of George III

George III

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England); II or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland); overall an escutcheon crowned proper tierced per pale and per chevron I gules two lions passant guardant or (Brunswick), II or semé of hearts gules a lion rampant azure (Lüneburg), III gules a horse courant argent (Hanover/Westphalia), in the fess point an escutcheon gules the crown of Charlemagne or (Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire)

(George II doesn’t even get mentioned by the Burkes. Yeah, okay, he was Not Great in terms of being a king, and his arms were exactly the same as his father’s, but that still seems kinda rude.)

Finally, finally, finally, after what, 460 years, the monarchs of Britain formally relinquished their claim to France. George III dropped the title upon passage of the 1801 Act of Union, which incorporated Britain and Ireland into a single state. That was also the point when the arms of Hanover were moved from the fourth quarter into an escutcheon. This depiction seems somewhat outdated, since the escutcheon was only crowned with a chapeau until 1814. When the Electorate of Hanover was elevated to a kingdom, and George III received the title King of Hanover, the chapeau changed to a crown. (It’s also possible that this is supposed to be a crown, and is just really poorly drawn.)

Arms of George I

George I

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly, I gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England) impaled with or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); II azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland); IV tierced per pale and per chevron I gules two lions passant guardant or (Brunswick), II or semé of hearts gules a lion rampant azure (Lüneburg), III gules a horse courant argent (Hanover/Westphalia), in the fess point an escutcheon gules the crown of Charlemagne or (Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire)

George preserved the first three quarters of Anne’s arms, but the fourth quarter represents a very condensed version of his previous arms as Elector of Hanover. Brunswick and Lüneburg were part of his personal holdings which he received from his father; the white horse is the ancient symbol of Hanover and Westphalia, of which he was the Elector. (Not that the arms of the Elector of Hanover are actually that simple, but including all of them seems to have been a bridge too far even here.) The crown of Charlemagne is not connected to any particular piece of land, but it is instead the heraldic representation of the purely ceremonial title of Arch-Treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire.

I swear to God, I don’t think the Burkes actually know what Saxony is. In their version of this blazon, they specify the white horse is for Saxony. It’s not. It’s Westphalia, or Hanover, or potentially Lower Saxony, but that is not the same thing as Saxony at this point in history. Given the Burkes’ previous fumbles on the Saxony arms, I’m really starting to question their grasp on this. Their British heraldry seems fairly solid, especially once they hit more recent history, but I’m really not confident in their grasp on Continental arms.

Arms of William III and Mary II

William and Mary

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly, I and IV per quarterly i and iv azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France) and gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England); II or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland), overall an escutcheon azure billette a lion rampant or (Nassau)

After the Glorious Revolution ousted James II in 1688, the English Parliament invited his eldest (legitimate) daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, to rule instead. Technically, the arms above are Mary’s, although they were joint rulers; she inherited the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from her father, and the arms of William’s House of Orange-Nassau are placed in an escutcheon of pretense, indicating she does not truly have a claim to those arms.

Arms of Dürnkrut, Austria

Durnkrut

Granted 1967

Blazon: Azure two swords in saltire or, overall in the fess point an escutcheon gules a fess argent

I can’t really talk about anything to do with this town without mentioning the Battle on the Marchfeld, which was a turning point in the history of the Habsburg family, and therefore, of Europe as a whole. In 1278, Rudolph I of Habsburg defeated Ottokar II of Bohemia, establishing the former’s control over Austria and much of central Europe. They would remain one of the premier ruling families of Europe (sometimes the ruling family of Europe) for several centuries.

Weirdly, I can’t find much on the town’s arms. A scroll through the municipal timeline is worthwhile and interesting – note the Scottish lord who bought the town in 1696 – but not particularly informative from a heraldic perspective. It’s possible the swords are intended to be a reference to the Battle on the Marchfeld, but… I’m probably letting my imagination run away with me there.

Fiesta Nacional de España

There are actually two important Spanish holidays on this date; the Fiesta Nacional, chosen to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Americas, and the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar. The former might be more official, but the latter is apparently more popular culturally – understandable in a majority-Catholic country. She is the patron saint of the Civil Guard, and also of the region of Aragon, which provides a nice segue into discussing the Spanish national arms!

Spain

Blazon: Per quarterly, I gules a castle triple-towered or windowed argent (Castile), II argent a lion rampant purpre crowned or (León), III or four palets gules (Aragon), IV gules a chain in saltire, cross, and orle or, charged with a center point vert (Navarre); enté en point argent a pomegranate slipped, leaved, and seeded proper (Granada); overall in the fess point an escutcheon azure three fleurs-de-lis or within a bordure gules (Bourbon-Anjou)

Supporters: Two columns argent, capitals and bases or, standing on five waves azure and the first, the dexter surmounted by an imperial crown and the sinister the Spanish royal crown proper, and entwined with a ribbon gules charged with “Plus ultra” of the second

The current depiction of the arms was formally granted in 1981, but the individual elements are all very old. The first two quarters of Spain are the best counterargument I’ve ever seen against the idea that canting arms are somehow ‘lesser.’ (Canting arms are arms that are essentially puns on the name of the family, country, etc. – think mountains for Bergs, eels for Ellis, etc.) There’s a weird idea in some heraldic texts that canting arms are less “noble” than non-canting arms. But Spain features three coats of canting arms, beginning with the somewhat obvious Castile and León. 

Castile and León were two of the more powerful states in medieval Spain. They went back and forth between unified and not for a few centuries until they were formally unified under Ferdinand III in 1230. The lion and castle show up in a lot of Spanish arms, usually as quarters or smaller sections, although often the lion will be rendered gules instead of purpre. (Gules is a much more common and easily-rendered tincture in heraldry than purpre.)

 

The third quarter, the widely-used Bars of Aragon (not bars in the heraldic sense), joined the arms along with the Crown of Aragon when Isabel I of Castile – the several-times-great-granddaughter of Ferdinand III – married Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469. The pomegranate (the third canting element) was added shortly afterwards, perpetually enté en point, after the conquest of Granada was concluded in 1496 and it was added to the Spanish crown. 

 

It is with immense gratitude that I can skip over the two hundred years of Habsburg rule in Spain, because while their arms are mind-bendingly complicated, none of the several dozen coats with which the Spanish arms were combined stuck around. However, the kings of Spain used the title “King of Navarre” after the War of the League of Cambrai, and some of the variants of the Spanish arms (especially those used in Navarre) incorporated the chain figure, especially as an escutcheon. A smaller version of Navarre officially survived as an independent kingdom until they were incorporated into Spain in 1833, which is also when the Navarre arms start showing up as a full quarter in the Spanish royal arms.

 

The last of the current elements of the Spanish arms appear when Philip V inherited the Spanish throne in 1700. Philip was a Bourbon – specifically, of the cadet line of the dukes of Anjou. Because everyone in European royal circles was pretty inbred at this point, his arms as the King of Spain also included Austria, Burgundy, and Flanders, among others. However, he bore the arms of Anjou in an escutcheon, and that’s stuck around since then. My theory is that they’ve also stayed in the escutcheon due to the agreement laid out in the Peace of Utrecht that the French and Spanish crowns would never be unified. Because of that, the Spanish monarchs could only “pretend” to the French throne, and never have any territorial claim.

 

Finally, while the unique supporters aren’t quite canting, I think they’re worth a mention. They are, specifically, the Pillars of Hercules, which flank the Strait of Gibraltar, i.e. Spain’s gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. The motto “Plus ultra,” or “Farther beyond,” is a reference to the legend that the pillars were carved with “Non plus ultra” to warn seafarers to stay on the side of the strait without (as many) storms and sea monsters and other such dangers. The removal of the negative is a nice nod to Spain’s history as a seafaring and exploratory nation.