Arms of Dordogne, France


In use since at least 1836, possibly since 1356

Blazon: Gules three lioncels or, armed, langued, and crowned azure

The arms are apparently those of the counts of Périgord, a peerage created in 845 by Pépin I. Impressively, the same family kept the title until 1399, when it returned to the royal house of Orleans. It was granted to a few different houses after that, before the title finally became defunct in 1604. A seal dating to probably the mid-thirteenth century shows a very similar coat of arms (minus the tinctures, of course). Dordogne contains essentially all of the former region of Périgord, so it makes sense that the arms would transfer as well.

Arms of Creuse, France


In use since at least 2006

Blazon: Azure semé de lis or, on a bend gules three lioncels rampant argent

Again, I’m unsure of the official status of these arms, but they are a reincarnation of the arms of the county/province of La Marche. The boundaries of the former county and the current department are nearly identical, so it’s understandable the two would end up conflated. La Marche kept ending up in the hands of the French crown and/or the Bourbons, so I’m guessing that’s where both the fleurs-de-lis and the bend gules come from; compare the arms of the Dukes of Bourbon. The lioncels were probably added for difference.

Arms of Corrèze, France


In use since 1975

Blazon: Per quarterly I or two lions passant gules (Comborn); II chequy gules and or (Ventadour); III bendy gules and or (Turenne); IV or three lioncels rampant azure armed and langued gules (Ségur)

I’m not entirely clear on the official status of these arms, but I really can’t resist the history they contain. Each of the quarters belongs (or belonged) to four viscounts who held the territory of Corrèze (or Bas-Limousin) during the Middle Ages. I can’t necessarily vouch for the antiquity of the quartered coat, but each of its component coats go back to at least the Middle Ages. The four viscounties were formally incorporated into a single entity in 1790 as part of the National Assembly’s administrative reforms.

Arms of Henry II

Henry II

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

Okay, this should start looking familiar! By the time of Henry II, the three lions we know and love today were well established. There are a few potential sources for the lions; the most popular origin story I’ve seen has Henry adopting the two lions of Normany via his mother, Empress Matilda, and adding another lion (the arms of Aquitaine) when he married Eleanor. There is not a whole lot of proof for this theory, but it is a pretty common approach to arms, especially in the early days of heraldry, before systems of quartering, dimidiation, and cadency came into use. (Unsurprisingly, the Burkes go with this theory; it’s got more of a narrative shape to it.) 

The other possible source is that Henry’s three lions are a modified version of the arms borne by his father, Geoffrey Plantagenet. Geoffrey’s funeral effigy is one of the oldest examples of European heraldry in existence, dating to around 1160. It depicts him bearing azure (probably) six lioncels or. It’s certainly possible that Henry swapped out the tinctures and continued using his father’s well-known gold lion. This could be a bit circular; a late 12th-century writer whom the Burkes identify as “John, the Monk of Harmonstier, in Tourain” recounts that Henry I gifted Geoffrey with “an image of golden lioncels hung around his neck” (very rough translation). The Burkes do reproduce this quote in the original Latin, but don’t necessarily draw the connection between Geoffrey and Henry II. Not that I’m necessarily surprised; it’s not uncommon for English heraldic writers of this period to just kind of ignore the whole “Anarchy” business.

Arms of Lacy and Longspée

Lacy and Longspee

Arms of Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and Salisbury and Margaret Longspée

From p95 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme per quarterly or and gules a bend sable overall a label of three points argent and gules and  azure six lioncels or

Ferne seems to be giving Lacy his grandfather’s arms, but there is ample evidence, including from contemporary sources, that Lacy actually used the arms or a lion rampant purpre.

Arms of Longspée and FitzPatrick

Longspee and FitzPatrick

Arms of William Longspée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury 1196-1226 (1176?-1226) and Ela Fitzpatrick, Countess of Salisbury

From p95 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme azure six lioncels or and paly of six gules and vair on a chief or a lion passant sable

Longspée was an illegitimate son of Henry II, who came into his title by marrying Ela, only child and heir to the second Earl of Salisbury, William FitzPatrick. Ferne somewhat disapproves of these arms; he is adamant in his position that illegitimate children may never bear the arms of their father. He sees even the baton sinister mark of bastardy as a grudging concession to popular consensus.