Arms of Belmonte, Spain


Granted 1964

Blazon: Per pale or a castle triple-towered proper between an oak tree eradicated and a stone pine couped vert and argent two cauldrons in pale or charged with three rows of triangles in gyronny gules, each containing two serpents facing the exterior proper

Yes, it’s the snake cauldrons again, although this time they evidently appear due to the influence of the house of Pacheco. Both the lines of Pacheco and  Guzmán trace back to the house of Girón, but it doesn’t seem that Girón had a consistent heraldic identity, let alone something as specific as the snake cauldrons. I’m not sure if this is a case of two different lines both using a much older family motif, potential intermarriage, or another mixup somewhere through the centuries. (Worth mentioning – there is a contemporary record of at least one snake cauldron in the arms of Diego López Pacheco around the early sixteenth century.) Regardless, it’s another potential line of inquiry in the perennial Mystery of the Snake Cauldrons.

Anyway. The dexter half of the arms are described in the grant as the “former arms” of Belmonte, implying that they were in use before the current grant. The castle in these arms is almost certainly a reference to the fifteenth-century Belmonte Castle, which has been an official cultural monument since 1931.

Arms of Atalaya del Cañavate, Spain

Atalaya del Canavate

Granted 1997

Blazon: Argent on a mount in base vert a tower azure between two cauldrons gules seven lozenges conjoined in fess or, counterchanged per fess, each containing six serpents facing the exterior of the second

A lovely set of canting arms (“atalaya” meaning “watchtower” in Spanish) featuring the infamous (to me) snake cauldrons of the Guzmans! Yes, that is an absurdly long way to describe the cauldrons’ patterns, but Spanish blazon has the much more convenient term “triangulares”, and English blazon does not. I could not figure out a way to translate it that sounded good to my ears, so I went with what I knew.

Arms of El Acebrón, Spain

El Acebron

Granted 2010

Blazon: Per quarterly, I or a holly branch proper fructed gules; II gules issuant from three bars wavy in base argent a castle proper between two serpents’ heads or respectant issuant from the sides of the shield; III vert on a bridge over water barry wavy in base argent and azure, two towers of the second, the dexter flying a flag of the last a saltire gules and the sinister supporting a ladder of the same; IV argent a cross of Santiago gules; overall in the fess point an escutcheon argent seven crowns 2, 2, 2, and 1 proper

The first quarter is evidently canting, acebo meaning “holly” in Spanish. The second and third quarters are apparently connected to the first lord of the town, Gaspar Ramírez de Vargas. I’m not entirely clear on whether they’re his family arms, or connected to him in some other way. (It’s unclear whether the snakes are related to The Mystery of the Snake Cauldrons, but probably not.) The seven crowns in the escutcheon are a reference to a mythical medieval battle that ostensibly took place at the nearby castle of Sicuendes, where seven counts were killed.

Arms of Villamanrique, Spain


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 Torrenueva, Spain


Granted 1975

Blazon: Per pale vert a tower or windowed gules and of the last two cauldrons in pale chequy or and sable, each containing eight serpents, four facing the exterior and four facing the interior proper; overall in the fess point an escutcheon argent charged with a cross of Santiago gules

THE SNAKE CAULDRONS STRIKE AGAIN. This is a bafflingly common motif in this region of Spain, and I have no idea why. I’ve been researching this for years – nothing but dead ends. All the sources I’ve found just seem to nonchalantly accept the existence of snake cauldrons as a thing! Seriously, there has to be a story behind these! It’s such specific imagery, and so highly localized! Please, please, if anyone knows ANYTHING about the snake cauldrons, please tell me! What is their DEAL???

Right, yeah, also the cross of Santiago in the arms probably comes from the fact the town belonged to the Order of Santiago from like the Middle Ages to the 19th century and the tower is likely a canting element, whatever, what is UP with the snake cauldrons?

Arms of Diersbach, Austria


Granted 1984

Blazon: Gules on a fess in chief wavy argent a sword in fess, point to the sinister proper, hilted of the field; on a mount in base rayonné or a serpent glissant reguardant sable crowned of the first

The fess wavy is a canting reference to the “Bach” part of the name (meaning river or stream), and the sword is the symbol of St. Martin, the village’s patron saint. The snake is a reference to a local legend of a treasure hidden in the nearby castle Waldeck and guarded by crowned serpents.

Arms of Villatoya, Spain


Granted 1991

Blazon: Per fess argent two cauldrons or charged with three rows of triangles in gyronny gules, each containing four serpents 2 and 2 facing the exterior proper and argent a bridge gules over water in base barry wavy azure and the field

Snakes in highly decorated cauldrons are a popular motif in arms from Albacete. So far, I have been unable to determine the origin of this unusual charge.