Arms of Ebensee, Austria


Arms of Ebensee, Austria

Granted 1929; in use since 1919

Blazon: Or chapé azure, water in base of the second and argent, issuant therefrom a mount, surmounted by a pine tree proper issuant from a base vert; in dexter chief, three baskets in pile reversed of the third, in sinister chief a pickaxe of the field; overall on a fess gules two dexter arms clasping hands in fess proper, vested of the field and sable

Oh. Oh no. This is definitely twentieth-century; you can tell from the multiplicity of complex charges that are specifically concerned with industry, as well as the fairly literal symbolism. This is kind of the heraldic definition of Doing Too Much. I know it’s been in use for over a hundred years, but this is just … not visually appealing at all. I’m sort of reluctant to explain all of the symbols, just because they’re so obvious, but I might as well. The pine tree stands for the local forests, the mount and the water stand for a nearby lake and mountain, the baskets and hammer refer to the salt mining industry, and the clasped hands represent the solidarity of the local workers, who absolutely deserve to be represented by something a little nicer than this.

Arms of Landes, France


Designed 1950

Blazon: Or on a fess gules between three pine cones slipped and leaved sable a lion passant guardant of the field, armed and langued azure

Yep, another (unofficial) Robert Louis coat of arms! This one features everybody’s favorite lion of Aquitaine between three pine cones. These are almost certainly an allusion to the Landes forest, the largest cultivated woodland in Western Europe at about 10,000 square kilometers. The area used to be a swampy moor until 1857, when the French government decided to replace the traditional industry of sheep breeding with forestry. The resulting forest became the cornerstone of the region’s economy, producing wood, paper, resin, and furniture, among other products. And yes, it is made up primarily of maritime pine.

There is another coat of arms often attributed to Landes which has Aquitaine quartered with France moderne. This one has been floating around since at least the early 2000s, but it is also not official. And frankly, I prefer Louis’ version; I like arms that have a direct and specific connection to the place or people they represent. The quartered version feels a little generic, like it could belong to any department in Aquitaine.

Arms of Haute-Vienne, France


Designed before 1965

Blazon: Ermine a bordure gules, overall a fess wavy azure

As another Robert Louis creation, I doubt these arms have been officially adopted. I also don’t have a date for their design, although it obviously has to be before his death. These are essentially the arms of Limousin, Haut-Vienne’s former administrative region, plus a fess wavy azure that presumably represents the Vienne river which gives the region its name. Louis is usually pretty rigorous in his adherence to the laws of tincture; I’m not sure what to make of the azure-on-gules here.

Arms of Hailfingen, Germany


Probably in use since at least 1987

Blazon: Per pale gules a fess argent and of the last a cross patriarchal throughout, arms in bend sinister of the first

These arms are not to be confused with the house of Hailfingen, who bore pily of three in fess argent and gules (sometimes gules and argent), though it’s certainly possible they were the source of the tinctures. I’m tempted to attribute the cross patriarchal to the heavily Catholic population of the region, but I doubt that’s actually true; the cross patriarchal was much more strongly affiliated with Orthodox Christianity.

Austrian National Day


Happy Austrian National Day! It doesn’t get much simpler than the Austrian arms, and it’s probably not a surprise that they’re very old. The fess was first depicted in 1105 as the arms of Leopold III of Austria, of the Babenberg dynasty. The earliest proof of tincture is about a century later (due to the inherent limitations of seals, which is where most of the early depictions of arms come from): Frederick II of Austria, great-great-grandson of Leopold III, evidently wore the red and white in 1232.

“But,” I can hear you asking, “is there a highly romantic, implausible, and anachronistic legend linking these arms to the Crusades?” Of course there is! The story goes that Leopold V (grandson of Leopold III, grandfather of Frederick II) fought so hard at the Siege of Acre that his white tunic was stained completely red with blood. When he took his belt off, it left a vivid white stripe, and apparently he liked it so much he made it his arms. (I don’t know.)

The probably-not-a-bloody-tunic remained the arms of Austria until they were formally adopted in 1919 by the First Republic of Austria, with the Germanic black eagle as a single supporter. The eagle also bore a hammer (for industrial workers), a sickle (for farmers), and was crowned with a mural crown (for the bourgeoise). In 1934, the fascist Federal State of Austria changed the single-headed eagle to the double-headed one, probably to strengthen the visual ties to Germany. They also removed the accoutrements. However, when the Second Republic was reestablished in 1945, they promptly went right back to the 1919 arms, with one addition: a broken chain, to symbolize the nation’s liberation from Nazism.

One other thing – although the famous and infamous Habsburgs ruled Austria for a very long time, the Austrian arms are not the Habsburg arms. For as many arms as they eventually picked up and incorporated into truly terrifying assemblages, their house arms are fairly straightforward: or a lion rampant gules, crowned, armed, and langued azure.

Arms of Dürnkrut, Austria


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.

Arms of Doubs, France


In use since at least 2007

Blazon: Per fess wavy azure biletté and issuant from the partition line a lion rampant crowned or, armed and langued gules and of the second a fess wavy of the third

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up much background on these arms; I’m not even completely sure they’re official. The chief half is clearly Franche-Comté, since it’s in that administrative region. The fess wavy in the base half could be a representation of the Doubs river, but I’m not especially confident in that.