Arms of Creuse, France

Creuse

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 Yonne, France

Yonne

Designed before 1965

Blazon: Or a pall azure and a chief per pale of the last semé de lis of the first within a bordure gobony argent and gules and bendy of six of the first and second and a bordure of the fourth

I thought these looked like another Robert Louis design, and I was right! It’s unclear whether they’ve been officially adopted or not; honestly, I doubt they have. I’m somewhat less on board with the pall being used as a representation of the letter “Y”; it feels kind of like low-hanging fruit, although admittedly, “Yonne” doesn’t really lend itself to a simple graphic representation. Still, though, I’d almost rather see the “Y” represented as its own charge rather than borrowing the originally-religious symbol of the pall for no reason besides visual similarity. Not my favorite of Louis’ work.

Arms of Edward III

Edward III

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

Along with Edward III and the Hundred Years’ War come the French quarters. In 1337, when Edward first laid claim to the French throne, he also started quartering the French arms at that time (azure semé de lis or) with the three lions of England. This was more aspirational than anything, but it was a striking visual symbol of his territorial claim. What I find interesting is that France is typically in the first and fourth quarters, and England in the second and third. For most arms, the first and fourth are the paternal arms, and second and third are maternal. However, Edward’s claim to the French throne came through his mother, Isabella, and England through his father. The choice to place France in the more prominent position suggests (to me) that France was seen as a greater kingdom than England – which, at least in terms of size, it was. It might also have been a way of deemphasizing the patrilineal logic of Salic law, which stated that the line of succession could not pass through a woman.

The Burkes also point out, correctly, that Edward III was the first English king who bore a crest along with the coat of arms – on a chapeau gules lined ermine, a lion passant guardant crowned or. Other than the omission of tinctures for the chapeau, which is not terribly uncommon, the rest of the blazon given by the Burkes is correct.

Arms of Côte-d’Or, France

Cote-d'Or

Designed before 1965

Blazon: Or a chief per pale azure semé de lis of the first within a bordure gobony argent and gules and bendy of six of the first and second and a bordure of the fourth

These are another unofficial Robert Louis creation, but they do look good. These are almost identical to the arms of Saône-et-Loire, with the same chief of Touraine and Burgundy. You’re probably noticing a pattern here: the chief pays homage to former centers of regional power, and the main part of the shield refers to the name of the region (two palets wavy for the rivers of Saône and Loire, and or for… well, the “Gold Coast.”)

Arms of Saône-et-Loire, France

Saône-et-Loire

Designed before 1965

Blazon: Or two palets wavy azure, a chief per pale of the last semé de lis of the first within a bordure gobony argent and gules and bendy of six of the first and second and a bordure of the fourth

Okay, okay, technically these aren’t official arms. They were designed by Robert Louis, a French heraldic artist who is probably most famous for his series of heraldic postage stamps. It doesn’t look like they were ever adopted by the department, but they do look pretty good, so I’m going with it. You may recognize the arms on the chief as Touraine and Burgundy, respectively. I don’t know this for absolute certain, but I’m willing to bet that the blue wavy lines represent the two rivers that give the region its name.

Arms of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Bourgogne-Franche-Comte

Granted July 12th, 2017

Blazon: Per quarterly I azure semé de lis or a bordure gobony argent and gules, II and III azure biletté and a lion rampant crowned or, armed and langued gules, IV bendy of six or and azure a bordure gules

This is why I’m glad I’m revisiting these! As it turns out, there was an administrative reorganization of France in 2016 – and I did most of the regional French arms in 2014, so some of these arms are going to be brand new! (To me, at least.) Some regions did stay the same, but Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is only about three and a half years old. That being said, the design operates on pretty much the same principle as the name – the first and fourth quarters come from the former arms of Burgundy, and the second and third are the former arms of Franche-Comte.

The Burgundian quarters are, respectively, the arms of the county (later duchy) of Touraine and the House of Burgundy. The arms of Franche-Comté were allegedly adopted by Count Palatine Otto IV in 1280 when he switched his allegiance to France from the Holy Roman Empire. He previously bore gules, an eagle displayed argent, but opted for the azure and or to mimic the French arms.

Arms of Louis X of France

Louis X

In use 1314 – 1316

Blazon: Azure semé de lis or (France ancien) dimidiated with gules a chain in saltire, cross, and orle or, charged in the center with a pomme (Navarre)

I do want to briefly talk about some variations of the French national arms before we revisit the various regions and major cities. I wanted to touch on this particular coat not just because Louis X has a really excellent epithet (Louis the Stubborn!), but also because it’s a not-very-common example of dimidiation. Dimidiation is often used in the same circumstances as impalement or quartering – in this case, Louis inherited the kingdom of Navarre from his mother in 1305, and that of France from his father in 1314. The distinction there is that while both impalement and quartering keep both sets of original arms intact, dimidiation literally cuts them in half and reforms them into a single coat. Sometimes, like in this example, it works pretty well, and both arms are still easily identifiable. More often, though, dimidiation yields confusing or just plain weird results, so it’s understandable why it’s not used very often. (I’ve seen theories that badly planned dimidiation is where we get griffins, but they’re blatantly wrong; griffins predate heraldry by a good couple of millennia.)