Arms of Tarn-et-Garonne, France


In use since at least 2007 (through 2014?)

Blazon: Per quarterly I gules a lion rampant guardant or (Rouergue), II per quarterly i and iv azure a lion rampant argent, ii and iii gules a garb or banded azure (Gascony), III gules a cross of Toulouse or (Languedoc), IV gules a lion passant guardant or armed and langued azure (Aquitaine or Guyenne)

It seems that these arms were previously borne by the General Council of Tarn-et-Garonne as recently as 2010. The department was formed by taking some territory from each of the former provinces that appear in the arms, which I quite like. The “General Council” was renamed to the “Departmental Council” in 2014, which apparently came with a branding update. They don’t seem to actively use these arms anymore. If you’re wondering if Robert Louis proposed an alternative, he absolutely did! His version cut out Rouergue and Gascony in favor of placing the lion of Aquitaine in chief and the cross of Toulouse in base – on a field gules, of course.

Arms of Eunydd ap Gwenllian

14 - Efuydd ap Gwenllian

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

“Founder of the XIV. Noble Tribe. Quarterly, first and fourth, gu. a lion ramp. or; second and third, az. betw. three nags’ heads erased ar. a fesse or.”

Obviously, the illustration only shows the first quarter of the arms, for some unfathomable reason. (Pity; I kind of wanted to see the artist’s interpretation of three nags’ heads.) Assuming that he existed – which is always an assumption with the “Noble Tribes” – poor Eunydd’s genealogy is hopelessly mangled. One eighteenth-century source has him as the son of “Gwenllian,” although both of the most famous Gwenllians in Welsh history had, respectively, no children, and no sons named Eunydd. The nags’ heads allegedly come from his mother via her father, Rhys ap Marchen, which is completely unverifiable. It’s possible this Eunydd is intended to be one Eunydd ap Gwerngwy ap Gwrgeneu, who would have lived around 1165 or 1170, or potentially a conflation of multiple people with the same first name.

Arms of Bologna, Italy


Granted 2015

Blazon: Argent a lion rampant bearing a double-headed spear azure, flying a banner tierced per fess vert, the first, and gules emblazoned with the motto “Liberta” of the last

The tinctures and stylization are different than the former arms (granted 1933), but the general symbology is basically the same. The lion rampant (which apparently symbolizes the people?) is drawn from the 1831 seal of the Provisional Government of Bologna, which later evolved into the United Province of Central Italy. Presumably, that is where the tricolor flag comes from, while the “Liberta” motto is from the arms of the city of Bologna. (I should point out that this Bologna is a “metropolitan city,” closer to a province than an actual city or municipality.)

Arms of Bodelshausen, Germany


In use since at least 1987

Blazon: Per fess gules a lion passant or and of the last an antler fesswise sable

While I don’t have any direct information on the arms, it seems reasonable to assume that the antler in the base half is drawn from the arms of Württemberg, which is the municipality’s state. I’d speculate that the lion is from the arms of the von Ows, who ruled the area around the 13th-15th centuries. The von Ows bore per fess or a lion passant gules and azure, which seems awfully close to the lion in these arms. Of course, it’s possible it’s just a coincidence.

Official Birthday of the British Monarch

United Kingdom

Today (ed. yesterday, due to technical issues) is the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. It’s not the day she was actually born, but an official holiday. The tradition of two birthdays was started by Edward VII. His actual date of birth was in November, which is not the best time for a public celebration. So he opted to pick a day in June that would hopefully have less terrible weather. Most British monarchs whose birthdays fell during the less pleasant months followed the tradition.

The arms borne by Elizabeth II do not differ significantly from those borne by Victoria; the one major difference is the Irish harp is now a plainer form rather than the older winged woman. Elizabeth made the change in 1952 due to personal preference.

The three basic elements of England, Scotland, and Ireland have shared a shield (albeit often with other arms) since the personal union of James I and VI in 1603. This is also, not coincidentally, around the same time that the line of monarchs began using different arms in Scotland; James bore per quarterly I and IV Scotland, II per quarterly France and England, III Ireland. The current royal arms of the United Kingdom take the same form in Scotland, with the omission of the French arms. (For the record – the British monarchs did not yield their claim to the French throne, or their use of the French arms, until 1801, which is still remarkable to me.)

The Scottish version of the achievement also transposes the lion and the unicorn supporters, placing the Scottish unicorn on the dexter (more prominent) side and adding an imperial crown. The supporters also bear banners of their respective nations’ crosses; St. Andrew (azure a saltire argent) for Scotland, and St. George (argent a cross gules) for England. Finally – although there are numerous other small differences – the crest on the Scottish version is a lion sejant affronté gules armed and langued azure, royally crowned holding in the dexter paw a sword and in the sinister a sceptre, all proper.

I don’t want to go into too much depth on Hanover’s incorporation into the national arms, since I’ve already covered those monarchical variations in pretty significant depth while walking through the Burkes’ royal armory, but suffice to say that between 1714 and 1837, the British arms included either a quarter or an escutcheon of pretense with the arms of Hanover, to reflect the kings’ titles in the Holy Roman/Austrian Empire. It is specifically the kings who used the Hanoverian arms, since by definition, a woman could not inherit the land – and when Victoria became queen in 1837, she didn’t, which gives us nearly the same arms Elizabeth II uses today.

Arms of Tarn, France (alternate)


Blazon: Gules a town gate of two portcullises argent, issuant therefrom a cross patriarchal botony surmounted by a lion counter-passant guardant or

We looked at the arms Robert Louis designed for Tarn last week, but I think it’s also worth bringing these up. These arms were depicted in an 1854 atlas of the (then) 86 departments of France, elaborately illustrated by Victor Levasseur. Unfortunately, I am unable to access a physical copy of the atlas, but the digital copies I’ve found match the depiction here. (As far as I can tell, anyway – the arms are sadly, printed directly in the gutter.)

Arms of Marchweithian


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

Arms of Marchweithian

“Lord of Is-Aled, Founder of the XI. Noble Tribe. Gu. a lion ramp. ar. armed az.”

It does seem that Marchweithian was a real person, most likely living in the latter half of the eleventh century. This, of course, would place his lifespan well before heraldry took any kind of recognizable shape. The arms which the Burkes attribute to him are those of the Price family, who claim descent (correctly or not) from Marchweithian.

Arms of Hautes-Pyrénées, France


In use since at least 2005

Blazon: Or two lions passant gules, armed and langued azure

It’s almost weird how little information there is on these arms, given how commonly they seem to be cited for Hautes-Pyrénées. It does look like they’re unofficial; from what I can tell, the department doesn’t have official arms, but they’re definitely not one of Robert Louis’, which many of the unofficial arms for French departments are. It seems they may have been borrowed from the former county of Bigorre, which was established sometime in the ninth century, and subsequently merged with Foix in 1407.

Norwegian Constitution Day


Blazon: Gules a lion rampant crowned, bearing an axe or bladed argent

Happy Norwegian Constitution Day! Today commemorates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814. While Norway did have to enter the Union of Sweden and Norway after their defeat in the Campaign Against Norway, the constitution helped ensure that it remained at least partly its own state. With – you know why we’re here – its own coat of arms!

Norway’s coat of arms is up there with the German eagle in terms of “longest use.” There are contemporary sources that show Norwegian kings using a lion rampant (for a somewhat loose definition of “lion”) in the mid-thirteenth century – certainly in 1247 – 1248, possibly as far back as 1225. The golden crowned lion on a red field was used by the House of Sverre, who ruled Norway until 1319, when the house of Folkung (also called Bjälbo) took over. The final Sverre monarch, Haakon V, had no male children, but his daughter Ingeborg had a son, who inherited the throne when Haakon died. That son, Magnus IV and VII, was the first king to hold Sweden and Norway in personal union; however, despite several personal-union combinations of various Scandinavian nations through the centuries, the Norwegian arms themselves don’t seem to have been affected. Various kings placed them in various quarters or on escutcheons of pretense, but the link between the country of Norway and the lion-and-axe was already well-established.

Speaking of the axe, it was most likely added to the arms around 1280, and was certainly there by 1295. It symbolizes Olaf II, who reigned from 1015 through 1028. His history has been somewhat corrupted by his legend (but the legend is probably more fun anyway.) He unified a significant amount of the peninsula, converted to Roman Catholicism in Normandy, including a baptism in Notre Dame, and (probably didn’t really) lead an attack on Anglo-Saxon England that destroyed London Bridge. However, he was driven into exile in 1029 when Cnut the Great invaded. Olaf made a brief, abortive attempt at a reconquest, but died in battle in 1030. He was canonized shortly after his death, becoming St. Olaf, and patron saint of Norway. He is often depicted with an axe, which, according to legend, is the weapon that killed him. The depiction of the axe varies; the long-handled poleaxe or halberd was most common during the early sixteenth century through 1844. Oscar I authorized a redesign of the arms in that year which returned to the shorter-handled battleaxe of the medieval period.

Mercifully, Norway escaped both the Napoleonic and Soviet varieties of unfortunate heraldic design, so I get to wrap things up here without inflicting those upon your eyes. Congratulations on 206 years of having a constitution, Norway!

Arms of Vibo Valentia, Italy

Vibo Valentia

In use since at least 2009; possibly granted 1992?

Blazon: Per pale, I per fess or a cross potent sable and azure a Doric column issuant from the base of the shield argent; II gules a lion rampant or langued of the field

I don’t have a lot of information on these arms; the best I can do is speculate that the charges in the dexter half of the shield are either drawn directly from the provincial arms of Calabria, or stem from the same sources. Per the description of those arms, the cross potent stands for Bohemond I of Antioch, and the Doric capital is a reference to the region’s former status as part of Magna Graecia.