Arms of Villarta de San Juan, Spain

Villarta de San Juan

Granted 1969

Blazon: Gules a city or, church and houses windowed of the field, in chief a Maltese cross argent

These aren’t the most elaborate or exciting arms I’ve seen, but there’s something very satisfying about them. They are, as you might have guessed, canting arms – a city, or villa, and a Maltese cross, the symbol of the order of St. John, or San Juan. The town’s name also encapsulates both its history and structure: the land where the town currently lies was granted to the Order in 1173, and a church was later built on the ruins of one of their fortifications. The fortification apparently enclosed enough of the town for it to become known as villa harta, or a tightly walled city. There’s no need to be fancy about it – you can just call the town what it is, and then represent that on its arms.

Arms of Hemmendorf, Germany


Probably in use since 1987

Blazon: Azure a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules; in the dexter chief a Maltese cross argent

I’m pretty confident in saying that the Maltese cross derives from the Knights Hospitaller, given their long association with the town. The Knights Hospitaller owned the town outright from 1281 through 1805, though they had a presence in the area dating back to 1258. I’m not sure about the lion, though.

Arms of Villar del Pozo, Spain

Villar del Pozo

Granted 1998

Blazon: Per pale gules a Maltese cross argent and per fess or nine houses 3, 3, and 3 of the first and of the second, a well of the first

These are pretty straightforward canting arms in the sinister half – in chief, three rows of houses that, according to the blazon, are specifically intended to represent a town (villa) and a well (pozo). Given that the first written reference to Villar del Pozo, in 1226, is a deed granting the town to the Knights Hospitaller, I’m pretty confident in saying that they’re the source of the Maltese cross.


Arms of Ruidera, Spain

Granted 1998

Blazon: Per pale argent a pall gules and of the last, a Maltese cross of the first, pointé in base barry wavy of the first and azure

Although Ruidera fell into the territory of the Order of Santiago (per a 1237 treaty), it ultimately ended up as the property of the Order of St. John in 1783, which is probably the source for the Maltese cross. There are also many lagoons and wetlands in the area under national protection, which may be the source of the barry wavy point.

Arms of Las Labores, Spain

Las Labores

Granted 2005

Blazon: Per fess gules a Maltese cross argent and of the second a cross of Burgundy couped of the first

The cross of Burgundy was formerly a symbol of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy. The duchy was later incorporated into the Habsburgs’ holdings. When the Habsburgs inherited the crowns of Castile and Aragon, the cross of Burgundy came into use as a Spanish symbol. It is also called the Cross of St. Andrew; I have used the former name to distinguish it from the argent saltire on azure that is the British Cross of St. Andrew.