Arms of George III

George III

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

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England); II or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland); overall an escutcheon crowned proper tierced per pale and per chevron I gules two lions passant guardant or (Brunswick), II or semé of hearts gules a lion rampant azure (Lüneburg), III gules a horse courant argent (Hanover/Westphalia), in the fess point an escutcheon gules the crown of Charlemagne or (Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire)

(George II doesn’t even get mentioned by the Burkes. Yeah, okay, he was Not Great in terms of being a king, and his arms were exactly the same as his father’s, but that still seems kinda rude.)

Finally, finally, finally, after what, 460 years, the monarchs of Britain formally relinquished their claim to France. George III dropped the title upon passage of the 1801 Act of Union, which incorporated Britain and Ireland into a single state. That was also the point when the arms of Hanover were moved from the fourth quarter into an escutcheon. This depiction seems somewhat outdated, since the escutcheon was only crowned with a chapeau until 1814. When the Electorate of Hanover was elevated to a kingdom, and George III received the title King of Hanover, the chapeau changed to a crown. (It’s also possible that this is supposed to be a crown, and is just really poorly drawn.)

Arms of George I

George I

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

Blazon: Per quarterly, I gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England) impaled with or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); II azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland); IV tierced per pale and per chevron I gules two lions passant guardant or (Brunswick), II or semé of hearts gules a lion rampant azure (Lüneburg), III gules a horse courant argent (Hanover/Westphalia), in the fess point an escutcheon gules the crown of Charlemagne or (Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire)

George preserved the first three quarters of Anne’s arms, but the fourth quarter represents a very condensed version of his previous arms as Elector of Hanover. Brunswick and Lüneburg were part of his personal holdings which he received from his father; the white horse is the ancient symbol of Hanover and Westphalia, of which he was the Elector. (Not that the arms of the Elector of Hanover are actually that simple, but including all of them seems to have been a bridge too far even here.) The crown of Charlemagne is not connected to any particular piece of land, but it is instead the heraldic representation of the purely ceremonial title of Arch-Treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire.

I swear to God, I don’t think the Burkes actually know what Saxony is. In their version of this blazon, they specify the white horse is for Saxony. It’s not. It’s Westphalia, or Hanover, or potentially Lower Saxony, but that is not the same thing as Saxony at this point in history. Given the Burkes’ previous fumbles on the Saxony arms, I’m really starting to question their grasp on this. Their British heraldry seems fairly solid, especially once they hit more recent history, but I’m really not confident in their grasp on Continental arms.

Arms of Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne

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

Blazon: Per quarterly, I and IV gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England) impaled with or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); II azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland)

Anne had a lot of different arms in her life. Presumably, before her marriage to George, Prince of Denmark in 1683, she would have borne the Stuart arms – the same as Mary, minus the escutcheon of pretense of Nassau – with some kind of difference, though I can’t confirm what it would have been. Upon her marriage, she impaled the Stuart arms with George’s arms. (He bore the royal arms of Denmark, which are a trip and which I’ll have to cover someday, with a label argent of three points, on each point as many ermine marks sable.) When William died in 1702 and she ascended to the throne, she bore the Stuart arms alone; as she was no longer Princess of Denmark by virtue of being George’s wife, she wouldn’t have had the right to the impaled arms. These are Anne’s arms specifically as Queen of Great Britain – so, post-1707 and the Acts of Union. Evidently, impaling England and Scotland in the same quarter was supposed to symbolize their new, closer relationship. You’ll notice that the monarchs of Britain still haven’t quite relinquished their heraldic claim to France.

Arms of William III and Mary II

William and Mary

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

Blazon: Per quarterly, I and IV per quarterly i and iv azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France) and gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England); II or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland), overall an escutcheon azure billette a lion rampant or (Nassau)

After the Glorious Revolution ousted James II in 1688, the English Parliament invited his eldest (legitimate) daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, to rule instead. Technically, the arms above are Mary’s, although they were joint rulers; she inherited the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from her father, and the arms of William’s House of Orange-Nassau are placed in an escutcheon of pretense, indicating she does not truly have a claim to those arms.

Arms of James I

James I

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

Blazon: Per quarterly, I and IV per quarterly i and iv azure three fleurs-de-lis or (France) and gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued azure (England); II or a lion rampant within a tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); III azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland)

Here (circa 1604), we start seeing the beginning of the transition from English arms to British arms. We’re not quite there yet, and we won’t be for a few monarchs still, but James is the first to call himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland,” and also the first to formally incorporate the arms of Scotland and Ireland into his royal armorial. The kings and queens of England had also held Ireland as a separate title since John in 1177, who was named Lord of Ireland. Henry VIII became King of Ireland in 1542, which was also the point at which the personal union of the kingdoms was formalized, but the Irish arms were never incorporated. (The Burkes mention that Elizabeth I added the Irish harp to her Great Seal, but it was not part of her official arms.) Scotland, of course, wasn’t part of the English crown until James ascended to the throne. Even then, it was technically a separate state, but given James’ advocacy for a single parliament for both countries, I’m not surprised he chose to add the Scottish arms in the same way that he did the Irish ones. He also followed Elizabeth I’s lead by preserving the French quarter, and at least the nominal claim to the throne of France (though by now, it’s functionally DOA).

Arms of Prince Albert Edward

Edward VII

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

The text gives the blazon as follows: “the Royal Arms, differenced by a label of three points and an escutcheon of pretence, for Saxony, viz. barry of ten, sable and argent, a bend treflé vert.”

I was so distracted by the fuckup on the charge of Saxony last week (seriously, how is that a cross? It’s a bend! It’s obviously a bend!) that I missed the other glaring fuckup in the blazon: sable and argent? It’s or! Saxony has never involved argent at all! Argh. Also worth noting is the escutcheon of pretense; we typically see these in the arms of men married to heiresses, but here, it indicates that Edward is also an heir to Saxony, though as a kingdom, the UK takes precedence over a duchy.

The Burkes, bless their status-obsessed little hearts, very carefully place the at-the-time infant Prince Albert Edward (who will, eventually, become Edward VII) above his father due to his status as heir apparent. Victoria and Albert’s first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, gets her label placed just below her younger brother and just above her father, as second in line to the throne. Despite the fact that this edition was republished in 1844, it doesn’t look like anyone added the arms (or even the label) of Princess Alice, born 1843. Next week, we’ll take a look at a whole bunch of fancy labels that differentiated all the many princes and princesses of the United Kingdom in 1842.

Arms of Queen Victoria

Victoria

The Burkes give the royal blazon as follows: 

Arms – Quarterly, first and fourth, gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or, for England; second, or, a lion rampant within a double tressure, flory, counterflory gules for Scotland; azure a harp or, stringed argent for Ireland; all surrounded by the Garter.

Crest – England – Upon the royal helmet, the imperial crown proper thereon a lion statant, guardant or, imperially crowned, also proper.

Supporters – Dexter, a lion rampant guardant or, crowned as the crest. Sinister, an unicorn argent armed, crined, and ungled or, gorged with a coronet composed of crosses pattée and fleurs-de-lis, a chain affixed thereto, passing between the forelegs, and reflexed over the back, also or.

Crest – Scotland – On an imperial crown proper a lion sejant affrontée gules imperially crowned or, holding in the dexter paw a sword, and in the sinister a sceptre erect, also proper.

Crest – Ireland – On a wreath, or and azure a castle, triple-towered, gold, a hart argent springing from the gate.

I’ve written out the abbreviations used – gu. into gules, pass. into passant, etc. but everything else is copied directly. I can’t quibble with the actual content of the blazon, although I would use a lot fewer commas. I’m also not sure why they give the blazons for the crests of Scotland and Ireland, but good to know, I guess.

The depictions of the royal arms are excellent examples of nineteenth-century heraldic art; whatever else I can say about the Burkes, they got some pretty good and period-typical heraldic artists. I’m planning on posting the rest of the complete achievements given for the royal family, as well as some of the labels, and possibly a few of the simple arms given for former monarchs.