Liechtenstein National Day

Today marks the 79th Liechtenstein National Day since the holiday was established in 1940. The date reflects both the feast of the Assumption of Mary and (almost) the birthday of Franz Josef II, who was the prince in 1940. (After he died in 1989, they just decided to keep the same day going forward.) The national arms of Liechtenstein are, unsurprisingly, the same as the arms of the House of Liechtenstein, and they have been unchanged since the union of the regions of Vaduz and Schellenberg in 1719. The arms consist of six separate coats (four quarters, a point in point, and an escutcheon). So, let’s go section by section on this. Buckle in, folks; this is gonna be a long one.

(Also, fair warning – this is going to deal very heavily with the family history, and not so much with the national history. That’s where the arms come from, and that’s kind of why I’m here.)

Liechtenstein

The first quarter is fairly easy: the duchy of Lower Silesia, or an eagle displayed sable armed and langued gules, crowned of the field, charged with a cross couped issuant from a crescent argent. Occasionally, the cross will be paté and/or the crescent will terminate in trefoils (treflée); these ornamentations are more common on Czech versions of the arms. (If you’re familiar with the Czech Republic, you may notice that the Lower Silesian eagle appears on its arms as well.) It seems likely that the Silesian coat of arms ended up with the Liechtensteins by way of Elizabeth Lucretia, Duchess of Cieszyn, who inherited the duchy from her brother Friedrich Wilhelm (of course it’s a Friedrich Wilhelm) while she was married to Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Technically, he probably would only have been entitled to use this quarter until 1653, when the duchy reverted back to the Habsburgs, but no one seems to have cared too much. I guess you could also make an argument that the acquisition of additional Silesian territory made the bearing of the quarter more or less accurate.

The second quarter is… tricky. It’s supposed to be the arms of the Kuenringer family (barry or and sable), as Johann VI Kuenringer died without issue in 1594, and Ferdinand II granted their arms to the Liechtensteins in 1620. However, adding the ducal coronet (sometimes blazoned as a chaplet of rue) makes these look a hell of a lot like the arms of Saxony instead. As far as I can tell, the Liechtensteins never had much to do with Saxony. I did find a source that said there are minor differences in the blazon that distinguish Saxony from Kuenringer – Saxony is barry of ten or and sable, a ducal coronet embowed vert, while Kuenringer is barry of eight or and sable, a ducal coronet vert. I’m a bit skeptical of this, since I can find lots and lots of depictions of Kuenringer without the coronet, and none with it (that aren’t affiliated with Liechtenstein.) It’s not an impossible explanation, but it has the slight ring of trying to cover a mistake. However, if it is a mistake, it’s a mistake enshrined in law, so there’s not much to be done about it.

The third quarter is somewhat easier – per pale argent and gules, the arms of the Duchy of Troppau. We know exactly when the Liechtensteins took control of this territory – Emperor Matthias of Habsburg granted it to Karl I in 1614. Evidently, the Protestant inhabitants of the duchy were not thrilled with their new Catholic leader, but after the Battle of White Mountain, it became clear the Liechtensteins weren’t going anywhere. They continued to hold the land until it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia in 1918, and the royal family still holds the formal title “Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf.” (We’ll get to Jägerndorf in a minute.)

The fourth quarter (or a harpy sable, head and breast argent, armed and crowned of the field) looks like a tincture-swapped version of the Cirksena arms. The Cirksenas ruled the counties of Rietberg and East Frisia. The Liechtensteins got the title to Rietberg (and presumably the arms) as a result of Gundakar’s other marriage to Agnes, daughter of Enno III of East Frisia. (They didn’t get it until 1848, though, when the last of the Kaunitz family died out; the Kautnizes succeeded the Cirksenas in 1699.) Quick blazoning note – I do find it interesting that the same figure is a “harpy” in English blazon, and a Jungfrauenadler or “maiden eagle” in German blazon. Slightly different connotations there!

Next up: the point in point, holding the arms of Jägerndorf, which are azure a bugle stringed or. Jägerndorf was also granted to Karl I, this one by Ferdinand II in 1623. Karl consolidated the two territories into the Duchy of Troppau-Jägerndorf, and his family held the duchy until 1918.

Finally, the escutcheon per pale or and gules are the actual arms of the Liechtenstein family themselves, minus all their possessions and the rest of their titles. As far as I can tell, these go back at least to Karl I, the first Prince of Liechtenstein, and probably back further into the family’s baronial history. I can’t prove their antiquity beyond 1614, but honestly, four centuries is still really old.

If you have noticed that the arms do not actually feature Vaduz and Schellenberg, you would be correct! The County of Vaduz bore gules a gonfanon argent, and the Lordship of Schellenberg bore barry of four sable and or. Both of these coats became obsolete upon the creation of the state of Liechtenstein. This is not especially surprising, given that the creation was highly politically motivated – no one was going to waste time on creating brand new arms when the newly elevated princes already had a perfectly good and prestigious-looking coat.

Arms of Villamanrique, Spain

Villamanrique

Granted ?

Blazon: Gules a cross of Santiago voided argent between two cauldrons chequy or and sable, each containing six serpents facing the exterior, in base a point dancetté vert, all within a bordure chequy of the first a castle triple-towered of the third windowed azure and of the second a lion rampant of the field crowned of the third

Whew, okay. Sadly, that blazon is probably going to be longer than anything I can write about it (if I cut out my frustration about the mystery of the snake cauldrons, which I will.) The city was actually named after a Manrique – specifically, Rodrigo Manrique, Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, which probably explains the cross of Santiago. He evidently split the town off from Torre de Juan Abad, and the citizens renamed it in gratitude.

Arms of Herdwangen-Schönach, Germany

Herdwangen-Schoenach

Granted 1974?

Blazon: Argent on a mount vert a castle in ruin gules, in chief on a point dexter sable a bendlet and a molet of six points of the field and in sinister chief a like molet of the fourth

The municipal arms incorporate elements of each of the three former towns that form the present-day Herdwangen-Schönach. The castle is from Großschönach (where it was a depiction of Ramsberg Castle), the molets from Herdwangen, and the bendlet from Oberndorf.

Arms of Carlo Barberini

Carlo Barberini

(1562-1630)

Blazon: Azure three bees volant or, on a point in chief gules a poleaxe in pale surmounted by two keys in saltire argent

The addition of the point in chief came with Carlo Barberini’s appointment to the position of Gonfalonier of the Church (likely around 1623, when Pope Urban VIII was elected). This position gave the bearer the right to use the papal keys and the umbraculum on his personal coat of arms. It is possible that the poleaxe in this depiction ought to be an umbraculum.

Oh, Barberinis. You can fudge the blazon enough to pretend they’re really bees, and you can add all the Papal regalia you want, but your coat of arms still very possibly started out as horseflies. Personally, I’m never going to forget.

Arms of Elciego, Spain

Granted 1583

Blazon: Per fess I per pale i per quarterly 1 and 4 gules a castle triple-towered or windowed azure (Castile), 2 and 3 argent a lion rampant purpre armed and crowned or, langued gules (Léon); i per pale or four palets gules (Aragon) and per fess 1 per saltire a. and d. Aragon b. and c. argent an eagle displayed sable, armed and langued gules (Sicily) and 2 gules a chain in orle, cross, and saltire charged with a center point vert (Navarre), enté en point argent a pomegranate proper seeded gules, slipped and leaved vert (Granada), in the fess point an escutcheon argent five escutcheons in cross azure, each charged with as many plates in saltire, all within a bordure gules charged with seven castles triple-towered or, windowed of the second (Portugal); II per quarterly i gules a fess argent (Austria), ii azure semé de lis or within a bordure compony gules and argent (Burgundy moderne), iii bendy of six or and azure within a bordure gules (Burgundy ancien), iv sable a lion rampant crowned or, armed and langued gules (Brabant), overall in the fess point an escutcheon per pale or a lion rampant sable armed and langued gules (Flanders) and argent an eagle displayed gules armed and langued or (Tyrol)

The town uses the arms of King Philip II.