In an effort to double down on the Catholic symbolism of the French national arms, Charles V of France reduced the number of fleurs-de-lis on the arms from undefined but large (blazoned as semé, or “strewn”) to three. This was an allusion to the Trinity as well as the Virgin Mary; the lily is one of her symbols. Napoleon discarded the former royal arms when he became emperor in 1804, and though the three fleurs-de-lis were briefly restored along with the Bourbons in 1814, they did not survive the July Monarchy. The traditional supporters of the arms of France were two angels proper.
According to legend, theformer (ancien) arms of France originated when Clovis I, first king of the Franks, was baptized. He adopted the lily ashis new emblem to symbolize the purity of the Virgin Mary and his new faith. However, despite this legend and its name, the fleur-de-lis (literally, lily flower) doesn’t actually look very much like a lily. Most credible authorities, including Boutell,Dalloway, and numerous French heralds, assert that the depiction is intended as some form of flower, probably an iris, that was later confused with a lily. However, there is a poorly-supported but persistent theory that it is actually a stylizedspearhead. While this would explain the bizarre figure of leopard’s headsjessant-de-lis, there isn’t much else to recommend it.
From p104 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)
Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV per quarterly i and iv azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France), ii and iii gules three lions passant guardant or armed and langued azure (England); II and III per quarterly i and iv or a double-headed eagle displayed sable armed and langued gules (Holy Roman Empire), ii and iii gules a lion rampant argent*
*Ferne describes this last coat as “the coate belonging to her family and house,” which does seem to be accurate. However, these arms seem to have originated with Anne’s grandfather, John the Blind, who quartered them with the more customary arms of Luxembourg (barry argent and azure a lion rampant double-queued gules armed, langued, and crowned or). He may have chosen to invert the tinctures of the ancient arms of the Dukes of Limburg, his ancestral line.
Torquatus points out, correctly, that this arrangement of the arms implies that Anne was an heiress, which she was not. Paradius (Ferne’s mouthpiece character) concedes the point, admitting that this arrangement is rare, but goes on to argue that this is a legitimate configuration of arms, since it is essentially the customary impalement of the arms of a married couple counterchanged by fess.This claim is dubious at best.
Blazon: Vert a pale wavy or within a bordure argent charged with five horseshoes sable, on a chief of the second between two lozenges a cresset sable fired proper
Crest: On a wreath of the colors the battlements of a tower proper issuant therefrom between two croizers or an oak tree also proper fructed and ensigned by a crown of fleurs-de-lis of the first
Supporters: On the dexter a unicorn argent armed and crined or gorged with a collar pendant therefrom a cross flory gules; on the sinister a leopard proper gorged with a collar gules pendant therefrom a fleur-de-lis or
Mantling: Vert lined or
Motto: Per laborem progredimur (By hard work we progress)
The pale wavy evidently represents the river Amber, while the lozenges and cresset symbolize the coal and iron industries. The horseshoes on the bordure are taken from (one of the versions of) the arms of the Ferrers family.
Blazon: Or five torteaux in orle, in chief a roundel of France
In 1465, King Louis XI of France granted Piero di Cosimo de’Medici (also known as Piero the Gouty) the right to bear a roundel of France as part of the family arms. The grant was apparently made out of respect for the family’s financial acumen rather than as a sign of political or familial affiliation. The Medici continued to bear these arms until they went extinct in 1737, when Gian Gastone de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, died without issue.
Blazon: Or a bend sinister wavy between in chief a fleur-de-lis and in base two hammers in saltire azure
The bend sinister symbolizes the Gail river, and the hammers allude to the mining industry. The fleur-de-lis is borrowed from the arms of the house of Porcia, an Italian noble family who later served the Habsburgs. Legend has it an ancestor of the family went to France to seek permission to bear the fleur-de-lis in their arms, which was granted.