Arms of Beteta, Spain


Granted 2003

Blazon: Gules a castle triple-towered argent between two keys palewise affronté argent

Presumably, the castle represents the local castle, Rochafrida Castle, dating back to the 13th century. I’m afraid I’m not sure about the keys, though. (I don’t quite know how I feel about describing keys as “affronté”, or “facing” each other, but it is the opposite of “addorsed”, and “wards to the center” seemed unnecessarily wordy. To be fair, the Spanish equivalent “afrontadas” is used in the original grant.)

Arms of Philip Chamberlain

Philip Chamberlain

From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Gules two keys in saltire or

More evidence for my argument of two weeks ago that keys are a visual signifier for the surname “Chamberlain.” There are two different parts of the key – the ward, which is the bit that goes into the lock, and the bow, which is the bit you hold. In heraldry, keys default to having the bow in base and the ward in chief, which is why I didn’t specify in this blazon. Sometimes the position of the ward is specified anyway, even if it’s the default position, and sometimes it’s specified that the ward is to the dexter or sinister. If keys are addorsed (back-to-back), their wards are pointing outwards, away from each other.

Arms of William Chamberlain


From the Dering Roll (c. 1270-1300)

Blazon: Azure three keys palewise, wards to the dexter chief or

I suspect – though I can’t prove – that these are canting arms, since “chamberlain” was originally a title bestowed on the manager of a royal household, and keys were both an essential part of their duties and a symbol of their office. I should say that I don’t believe William Chamberlain was actually a chamberlain; I couldn’t find very much information on him. He died sometime between 1274 and 1284. He was evidently lord of two fairly small manors – North Reston, presumably a family title, and Petsoe, which he received sometime during his lifetime from one John Lindsey in exchange for unspecified “other lands.” His widow, Joan Chamberlain, apparently had a hell of a time proving her claim to Petsoe – I found at least two legal proceedings disputing her claim – but she ultimately won both, retaining possession of Petsoe Manor for the rest of her life.

Arms of Sauldorf, Germany


Granted 1974?

Blazon: Per fess wavy argent a key bendwise ward in chief azure and of the last a demi-swan rising, wings elevated and displayed of the first

The key is potentially a counterchanged reference to the former municipality of Sauldorf, which was incorporated with five other towns in 1974. The colors of the field and the division are likely from another of these towns, Wasser. The swan may be from a third town, Rast; the nobles of that town formerly bore argent a swan close sable, legged gules.

Arms of the borough of Croyden


London, England

Granted 1965

Blazon: Argent on a cross flory sable between in chief dexter two swords in saltire and sinister two keys in saltire, both azure and gules, five bezants

Crest: On a mural crown or a fountain between a branch of oak leaved and fructed and a branch of beech slipped proper

Supporters: On the dexter a lion sable and on the sinister a horse argent each with a cross formy fitchy pendant from a collar counterchanged

Mantling: Sable lined argent

Motto: Ad summa nitamur (Let us strive for perfection)

The cross flory comes from the arms of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, by way of the County Borough of Croyden. The keys and swords refer to the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul. The fountain symbolizes the source of the River Wandle, and the white horse is from the arms of the Earls of Surrey.

Arms of the House of Boncompagni-Ludovisi as Princes of Piombino

Princes of Piombino

In use since 1701?

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV gules three demi-bendlets sinister in chief or (Ludovisi), II and III gules a demi-dragon rampant or (Boncompagni), overall on a pale argent two keys in saltire, of the field and or, surmounted by an umbraculum shaded of the last and gules, all bound in cord azure (Piombino)

An alternate form of the Boncompagni-Ludovisi arms, incorporating the insignia of Piombino.

Arms of the House of Boncompagni as Princes of Piombino


In use since 1701?

Blazon: Gules a demi-dragon rampant or, on a chief of the field two keys in saltire, argent and or, surmounted by an umbraculum of the last, all bound in cord azure

In 1701, Gregorio Boncompagni’s marriage to Ippolita Ludovisi allowed him to claim the title Prince of Piombino. It had previously been held by Ippolita’s eldest brother Giovanni and then passed to her elder sister Olimpia when he died in 1699. Olimpia died a year later, and the title passed to her sister, and then by right of marriage, her husband. The Boncompagni-Ludovisi family would retain the principality until the French claimed it in the Battle of Marengo in 1800.

The arms in the chief are those of the Gonfalonier of the Church, though it is not clear when they became associated with the principality. It may have been during the brief window of 1501-1503 when Cesare Borgia briefly controlled the area during his tenure as Gonfalonier.