Arms of Marchudd ap Cynan

Marchudd ap Cynan

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

Arms of Marchudd ap Cynan

“Lord of Abergelleu, Founder of the VIII Noble Tribe. Gu. a Saracen’s head erased at the neck ppr. wreathed about the temples sa. and ar.”

It is possible that Marchudd existed – I found slightly more evidence for him than most of our elusive Welsh lords. He may have been the son of Cynan ap Elyfyn, a leader in Powys in the late 800s. However, due to the time period, I’m deeply skeptical that he bore arms at all, let alone these particular arms. It is, of course, possible that someone living in Wales would have some knowledge of Muslims, probably through the Iberian Emirate of Córdoba, but the word “Saracen” didn’t come into common use as an ethnic marker until the 12th century.

Arms of Sardinia, Italy


Granted 1999; in use since 1281

Blazon: Argent a cross gules between four Moors’ heads facing to the sinister proper bandaged on the forehead of the field

The four heads on Sardinia’s arms allegedly trace back to Peter I of Aragon and the battle of Alcoraz in 1096. Apparently, St. George appeared above the Aragonese forces (hence the cross), and four of the Moorish kings were killed in the fighting, though I can’t find any specific names. A different legend claims that Pope Benedict VIII granted a similar banner to the Pisans when they came to Sardinia’s aid against Mujāhid al-ʿĀmirī in 1016. In any case, the basic configuration of cross gules plus Moors’ heads appears on Peter III of Aragon’s seal by 1281, and has been in fairly consistent use ever since. The exact depictions of the heads can vary from representation to representation – blindfolded, crowned, etc. – but the current blazon granted in 1999 has them bendata sulla fronte.

I know the image here is of a flag, the depiction of the coat of arms has the heads facing the dexter (their default position) and blindfolded, rather than bandaged around the forehead. While it’s not technically on a shield, I’d prefer to display a device that matches the blazon whenever possible.

Arms of Lezuza, Spain


In use since at least 1991

Blazon: Gules a castle triple-towered or windowed azure between the pillars of Hercules argent, capitals and bases of the second, intertwined with two banners of the third, charged with the mottos on the dexter “Non Plus” and on the sinister “Ultra”* of the second, in base a stone road leading to the castle door in perspective of the fourth, thereupon six crows close in fess sable, in chief two heads couped and nimbed proper, all within a bordure of the fourth charged with the motto “Colonia Libisosanorum”** of the fifth

*Nothing further beyond

**Libisosa, an ancient city in the region. Ptolemy and various others refer to it in their writings.

Arms of Bienservida, Spain


In use since at least 1991

Blazon: Per fess I per pale gules two cauldrons in pale chequy or and sable, each containing twelve serpents, eight facing the exterior and four facing the interior proper and chequy of nine argent a lion rampant gules (León) and gules a castle triple-towered or windowed azure (Castile)*; II argent a lion rampant bearing in its forepaws a man’s head couped and bearded gules

*The blazon specifies that the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth quarters contain Castile; I believe the blank eighth quarter in this rendition is an artist’s error.

Arms of Bury St. Edmunds Town Council, England

St. Edmunds

Granted 1606

Blazon: Azure three pairs of arrows in saltire argent each pair enfiled by an ancient crown or

Crest: On a wreath of the colors a wolf sejant proper dexter paw upon a king’s head couped at the neck also proper crowned or

Mantling: Gules lined argent

Motto: Sacrarium regis cunabula legis (Shrine of the king, cradle of the law)