Arms of Draßburg, Austria

Drassburg

Granted 1998

Blazon: Per fess azure a passion cross or upon a triple mount in base proper and per pale of the first a griffin counter-segreant crowned and bearing a scimitar in the left of the second and in the right three roses gules, slipped and leaved proper, and of the second between a stag’s attires a cross paté of the first.

I don’t have a direct source for the cross, but it seems like a pretty standard thing to put on your municipal arms if you are a small Christian community. However, I do have sources for the base half of the shield. The griffin – crown, scimitar, roses, and all – is taken from the Esterházy arms, which are fucking amazing. I will have to come back to those sometime in the future, because WOW. The Esterházys controlled roughly one-third of the area that currently forms Draßburg from sometime in the 1620s through 1848. Similarly, the other quarter of the shield is derived from the Zichy arms; they controlled the other two-thirds of the area from 1672 to 1715 and from 1795 to 1848. (The Zichys sold the area to the Mesko family in 1715, but after eighty years’ worth of legal proceedings, the Meskos were ordered to give it back.) If you’re wondering what happened in 1848, well… let’s just say the Austrian nobility went into a sharp decline right around then.

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Former arms of Poltringen, Germany

Poltringen

Granted 1933 – 1971

Blazon: Argent a boar passant sable, armed of the field on a triple mount in base proper, in chief a cinquefoil gules

Both elements of the arms evidently derive from the Counts of Eberstein, an ancient regional family that died out in 1660. The cinquefoil was from their coat of arms (argent a cinquefoil gules seeded azure), and the boar (Eber) is a canting element on their name.

Arms of Dornbirn, Austria

Dornbirn

Initially granted 1655; regranted 1902 and 1929

Blazon: Gules a fess argent, overall a pear tree issuant from a mount in base vert fructed or

Although the name “Dornbirn” doesn’t actually have anything to do with pears (Birnen), the arms are, nonetheless, canting. The municipality became part of the Habsburg possessions in 1380, which they apparently loved so much that when Archduke Ferdinand Charles sold the town to the lords of Ems in 1654, the inhabitants were furious. They refused to acknowledge the Ems as their sovereigns, and promptly raised 4000 guilders (around €47,000 or $52,000 USD) to buy themselves back. Impressed by their loyalty, the Archduke granted the arms above.

However, it might not have been loyalty so much as a deep enmity for Ems; apparently, the lords of that family were really into witch hunts and illegally confiscating property, even more so than most seventeenth-century nobility. After their debt overtook them in the mid-eighteenth century, the inhabitants of Dornbirn proceeded to buy up all of the Ems’ former holdings in the area.

St. Stephen’s Day

Today is the feast day of St. Stephen of Hungary, the very first King of Hungary, canonized in 1083. (In addition to Hungary, he is also the patron saint of kings, masons, bricklayers, and severely ill children.) In honor of him and the nation he founded, I figured we’d take a look at their arms.

Hungary

The nation of Hungary bears per pale barry of gules and argent and of the first, a cross patriarchal paté of the second issuant from a crown upon three mounts in base all proper. I appreciate that it’s a union of old and new(er) arms, and the repeated gules and argent help give the arms a visual unity. 

The dexter arms, barry of eight gules and argent, were used by the Árpáds dating back to 1202. Supposedly, the four white stripes represent the four major rivers – the Danube, Tisza, Dráva, and Száva, which is just boring enough to be plausible. The explanation could just as easily be a post hoc rationalization, though. Depending on the particular ruler and who was drawing the arms, sometimes the red stripes were charged with lions of various positions (passant, respectant, etc.). There are also a few depictions that add linden leaves, such as the Golden Bull of 1222 displaying the seal of Andrew II.

The use of the patriarchal cross is only slightly younger than the bars; Béla IV used it on a royal seal around 1235. However, the mount doesn’t show up for another 35 years or so until the reign of Stephen V. The patriarchal cross was in fairly consistent use until the Catholic House of Anjou came to power in 1308. They impaled the arms of Hungary ancien with the azure semé de lis or of France. With the exception of Louis the Great, the patriarchal cross didn’t reappear in the royal arms until Władysław III in the 1440s. After that, Hungary ancien and Hungary moderne were both in fairly common use in various royal arms (please don’t make me talk about the Habsburgs, please don’t make me talk about the Habsburgs, you thought Liechtenstein was bad, have you seen some of the Habsburg arms?). The combination was popular enough that it was also used by republican governments, and it was reestablished as official in 1990. (From 1957 to 1990, the arms were tierced per fess gules, argent, and vert, which just seems like a cheap knockoff of Italy to me.)

Interestingly, what’s going on around the base of the cross in any particular version can tell you a lot about what was going on with the political situation of Hungary at the time. Louis the Great seems to have been the first to add the crown to the patriarchal cross, and it stuck around until the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. At that point, the crown was removed from the arms as a symbolic rejection of the monarchy, and replaced with a laurel wreath instead. Similarly, the First Hungarian Republic used the ancient-and-moderne combo, but without any crown at all. The crown didn’t really come back until the current version of the arms, and it sounds like it was a minor point of contention, but they obviously ended up going with the crown.

Arms of Donnerskirchen, Austria

Donnerskirchen

In use since at least 2006

Blazon: Azure on a mount in base proper a church argent roofed with an onion dome gules

Following the long tradition of municipal arms showing (relatively) well-known local buildings, the church depicted here is presumably the distinctive parish church of St. Martin’s, which was completed in 1680. These are also canting arms (“kirch” meaning “church”). I can’t find any record of these arms being used before 2006, but the town was incorporated in 1659, so I would assume they’re significantly older.

Arms of Donnersbachwald, Austria

Donnersbachwald

Granted 2002

Blazon: Argent on a pale vert between two flanks gules, the dexter charged with five trefoils in pale  and the sinister with a chain in pale, a triple mount in base and a stone hut of the field

Donnersbachwald technically no longer exists, as it was incorporated into the municipality of Irdning-Donnersbachtal in 2015. I’d assume that the mount refers to the local geography, which is extremely common for municipal arms. The vert and argent tinctures may be a reference to the Styrian arms, but that’s only speculation. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing on the stone hut (or Kuppelbau, as the German blazon has it). My guess is that it’s a distinctive archeological construction in the region, which is also a pretty common motif for cities and towns, but I can’t find any mention of something like that. And if you’re wondering why I’ve called the charges on the sides “flanks,” see here. TL;DR it’s a charge specific to German heraldry, and they’re not the same things as flaunches.