Arms of Ebensee, Austria


Arms of Ebensee, Austria

Granted 1929; in use since 1919

Blazon: Or chapé azure, water in base of the second and argent, issuant therefrom a mount, surmounted by a pine tree proper issuant from a base vert; in dexter chief, three baskets in pile reversed of the third, in sinister chief a pickaxe of the field; overall on a fess gules two dexter arms clasping hands in fess proper, vested of the field and sable

Oh. Oh no. This is definitely twentieth-century; you can tell from the multiplicity of complex charges that are specifically concerned with industry, as well as the fairly literal symbolism. This is kind of the heraldic definition of Doing Too Much. I know it’s been in use for over a hundred years, but this is just … not visually appealing at all. I’m sort of reluctant to explain all of the symbols, just because they’re so obvious, but I might as well. The pine tree stands for the local forests, the mount and the water stand for a nearby lake and mountain, the baskets and hammer refer to the salt mining industry, and the clasped hands represent the solidarity of the local workers, who absolutely deserve to be represented by something a little nicer than this.

Arms of Alcalá de la Vega, Spain

Alcala de la Vega

In use since at least 2010

Blazon: Gules a tower or within a bordure azure charged with four trees proper; pointé in base argent a cross paté of the first

The tower is probably a representation of the ruins of an Arab castle, formerly called al-Qala. It’s old enough that we don’t know exactly when it was built, but it’s referenced in an 872 document. The same document also notes that the area is densely wooded with stone pine trees that were used for construction and shipbuilding; I’d guess that’s why the arms include trees. The cross gules on a point argent seems like it could be a reference to the 68 or so years that the town spent under direct control of the Templars.

Arms of La Alberca de Záncara, Spain

La Alberca de Záncara

Granted 1992

Blazon: Or issuant from a base vert a tree, surmounted by a stone reservoir proper

I don’t have a lot of information about these arms, but I’m also not sure there’s much to say. The reservoir or pool (alberca) is a canting element; the town has borne this name since its origins as an Arab settlement. The Záncara is a local river, and I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got.

Albalate de las Nogueras, Spain

Albalate de las Nogueras

Granted 2007

Blazon: Per fess I per pale gules a tower or windowed azure and of the last a bridge of three arches argent; II of the last two walnut trees issuant from a base vert

I’m afraid information about this town is pretty thin on the ground, never mind the arms, so I’m left with speculation. I have to assume the bridge is a representation of a specific bridge in the area, particularly since the original blazon specifies a “medieval” bridge. The tower might also represent a specific landmark, though it could also be a visual reference to the arms of Castile. Finally, I’m pretty sure the walnut trees, or árboles nogales, are a canting element.

Arms of Joseph Antonio Manso de Velasco

Joseph Antonio Manso de Velasco

Count of Superunda (1688 – 1767)

(Submitted on Tumblr with the message “Merry Christmas!”)

Oh, this is spectacular! I don’t know how well this will go, but I’ll give it a shot! The sinister half of the arms are definitely those of the house of Velasco – I’m going to ignore this weird, weird interpretation of a “bordure of Castile and Leon” – but I couldn’t find anything on the dexter ones. (Admittedly, I haven’t had the time to dig quite as deep.) Given that they’re on the dexter, I suspect they were granted due to something he achieved in his lifetime (possibly the title Count of Superunda, of which he was the first bearer).

Blazon: Per pale, I per fess i per quarterly 1 gules a lion rampant or, 2 azure three towers or, 3 azure a crescent decrescent argent, 4 argent a tree eradicated proper surmounted by a hound (?) courant proper; ii per quarterly 1 and 4 sable a Paschal lamb passant argent, 2 and 3 azure two towers or*; II chequy of fifteen or and vair within a bordure gules charged with four castles azure and as many lions rampant combatant or, alternating (Velasco)

*I cannot quite make out the charge between them; could be a sun in splendor?


Arms of Dunkelsteinerwald, Austria


Granted 1982

Blazon: Per pale gules a cross paté argent and of the second, overall a triple mount in base, issuant from the sinister mount a pine tree vert

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that forestry has long been a foundational industry of the town… but I have no evidence that that has anything to do with the arms. It is a shame that they went with the fairly common charges of mountains, trees, and crosses when there is apparently a local family, the Maissau, who bear or a unicorn rampant sable. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that dark, mysterious woods give rise to local legends of mythical beasts wandering around in them.

Arms of Calabria, Italy


Granted 1992

Blazon: Per saltire or and argent; in chief a larch pine eradicated vert, in dexter a cross paté pommettée of eight, in sinister a cross potent sable, in base a Doric capital azure

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that every one of these charges has a specific symbolic and/or historical meaning. The pine tree is both a common species in the region (Pinus nigra laricio, if you’re curious) and a symbol of the region’s natural beauty. The capital is, unsurprisingly, a reference to the area’s legacy as part of Magna Graecia. The dexter cross is representative of the time the region spent as part of the Byzantine Empire, and the sinister cross represents Bohemond I of Antioch and those who accompanied him on the First Crusade. (Bohemond was the son of the count of Apulia and Calabria before he headed off to the Holy Land and founded his own principality.)

The dexter cross seems to be described variously as a Greek cross (no), pommé (sort of?), and a Byzantine cross (maybe, if there was any kind of consensus as to what that means). I don’t think any of those accurately describe what’s depicted here, so I did my best to describe it with the terms I’m familiar with. (In case you can’t tell, I borrowed some of the language from the traditional description of a cross of Toulouse.) The sinister cross is almost definitely supposed to be a cross potent, due to the reference to Jerusalem, but it seems to be drawn more like a very weird cross crosslet.