Arms of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France

Pyrenees-Atlantiques

In use since at least 2007

Blazon: Per quarterly I gules a chain in saltire, cross, and orle or, charged with a center point vert (Navarre/Basse-Navarre); II or two cows passant in pale gules, armed, collared, and belled azure (Béarn); III per pale or a lion rampant bearing a baton gules and azure a fleur-de-lis or (Labourd); IV gules a lion rampant or (Soule)

I’m not entirely clear on whether this is an official coat of arms or not, but let’s be honest, that hasn’t stopped me before. It consists of four regional arms; Béarn was a former province which was combined with Labourd, Basse-Navarre, and Soule in 1790 to form the department of Basses-Pyrénées, renamed to Pyrénées-Atlantiques in 1969. The Béarn arms date back to pre-1290, and were either a reference to a legend of a count of Foix carrying the body of St. Volusianus on a cart pulled by two cows, or (more plausibly) a canting reference to the Vaccaei, whose descendants settled the region. I don’t want to dig too much into the arms of Navarre, since I expect I’ll revisit them in the near future, and, unfortunately, I don’t have much information on the other two quarters.

Arms of Lot-et-Garonne, France

Lot-et-Garonne

Granted 2003

Blazon: Per quarterly I gules in the dexter an eagle rising, wings addorsed and inverted, bearing in the talons a banner argent with the motto “Agen” sable, in the sinister a castle triple-towered, each tower flying a pennon or (Agen); II gules four towers conjoined at the base in cross by a cross paté argent, on a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis or (Marmande); III azure a sun in splendor or (Nérac); IV azure over water in base a bridge of five arches supporting three towers argent (Villeneuve-sur-Lot)

The four quarters each correspond to an important city in the region. I’ll probably cover each city in more detail when the time comes, but for now, four brief overviews: I don’t have a good explanation for the quarter of Agen, but it seems the eagle and castle were used since the mid-thirteenth century, when the city was granted a fair amount of self-rule and privileges. Marmande is a fortified town originally built by Richard I of England; the towers represent the four gates of the city, and the chief of France was granted by Charles VI in 1414. I’m not sure why Nérac has a sun, but Villeneuve-sur-Lot has used the depiction of its local bridge since 1547.

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 Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne

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) 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)

Anne had a lot of different arms in her life. Presumably, before her marriage to George, Prince of Denmark in 1683, she would have borne the Stuart arms – the same as Mary, minus the escutcheon of pretense of Nassau – with some kind of difference, though I can’t confirm what it would have been. Upon her marriage, she impaled the Stuart arms with George’s arms. (He bore the royal arms of Denmark, which are a trip and which I’ll have to cover someday, with a label argent of three points, on each point as many ermine marks sable.) When William died in 1702 and she ascended to the throne, she bore the Stuart arms alone; as she was no longer Princess of Denmark by virtue of being George’s wife, she wouldn’t have had the right to the impaled arms. These are Anne’s arms specifically as Queen of Great Britain – so, post-1707 and the Acts of Union. Evidently, impaling England and Scotland in the same quarter was supposed to symbolize their new, closer relationship. You’ll notice that the monarchs of Britain still haven’t quite relinquished their heraldic claim to France.

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 Charente-Maritime, France

Charente-Maritime

In use since 2002?

Blazon: Per pale azure a mitre argent between three fleurs-de-lis or and gules a partridge close to the sinister crowned of the third

I’m not sure whether these are official arms, or how long they’ve been used, but apparently the dexter half is the arms of Saintonge and Aunis, two former provinces that are now included in Charente-Maritime. It’s possible that Saintonge might be canting arms (bishop’s mitre = “saint”?) but I’m not terribly confident on that. I have no explanation for the partridge.

Arms of James I

James I

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)

Here (circa 1604), we start seeing the beginning of the transition from English arms to British arms. We’re not quite there yet, and we won’t be for a few monarchs still, but James is the first to call himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland,” and also the first to formally incorporate the arms of Scotland and Ireland into his royal armorial. The kings and queens of England had also held Ireland as a separate title since John in 1177, who was named Lord of Ireland. Henry VIII became King of Ireland in 1542, which was also the point at which the personal union of the kingdoms was formalized, but the Irish arms were never incorporated. (The Burkes mention that Elizabeth I added the Irish harp to her Great Seal, but it was not part of her official arms.) Scotland, of course, wasn’t part of the English crown until James ascended to the throne. Even then, it was technically a separate state, but given James’ advocacy for a single parliament for both countries, I’m not surprised he chose to add the Scottish arms in the same way that he did the Irish ones. He also followed Elizabeth I’s lead by preserving the French quarter, and at least the nominal claim to the throne of France (though by now, it’s functionally DOA).