Arms of Edelstal, Austria

Edelstal

Granted 1998

Blazon: Gules two hands issuing from the base of the shield or bearing a fountain azure sprouting pearls of the last fimbriated; in dexter chief, a bunch of grapes slipped and leaved, in sinister chief three stalks of wheat, all of the second

The grapes and wheat represent the ancient cultivation of wine and grain in the region, and the fountain is a reference to the local spring, which is the source of Römerquelle mineral water. Presumably the “pearls” are intended to represent carbonation.

I do not know why I have such a viscerally negative reaction towards these arms. Maybe it’s the loud primary colors (although I will admit they are VERY visible); maybe it’s the relatively high number of charges; maybe it’s how crowded everything looks. Maybe it’s the baffling inclusion of pearls. I don’t know. Not my favorite.

Arms of Crotone, Italy

Crotone

Granted 1996

Blazon: Per fess I azure six molets of eight points in fess 3 and 3, or; II per pale of the last an anchor sable, stock gules and vert seven sheaves of wheat of the second bound of the fourth

Despite the fact that these arms were granted relatively recently, I cannot find the original grant or any justification for the charges. The six stars are interesting, but I have no idea what they would stand for. I’d speculate the anchor refers to the shipping industry, and the wheat is probably a reference to the province’s nickname as “the granary of Calabria.”

Arms of Echsenbach, Austria

Echsenbach

In use since 1795

Blazon: Or two ox heads eradicated respectant; pointé in base gules two ears of wheat crosswise surmounted by a pine branch fesswise argent

I… did not get “oxen” out of those animals. My first thought was maybe goats? The one on the sinister side doesn’t look too great – is that where its eye is supposed to be? Anyway. There’s the possibility these are roughly canting charges, with “Ochsen” (oxen) bearing a superficial similarity to “Echsen.” The wheat is evidently supposed to symbolize agriculture, unsurprisingly.

Arms of Almonacid del Marquesado, Spain

Almonacid del Marquesado

Granted 1997

Blazon: Per pale argent a cross of Santiago gules and vert three sheaves of wheat conjoined in pile or; pointé in base of the second two bells in fess of the first

I can’t find any proof that the town ever belonged to the Order of Santiago, but the dexter half of the shield makes me suspect it did. I presume the wheat is an agricultural reference, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part are the tiny little cowbells. I have to assume that they’re a reference to the colorful local festival of La Endiablada, where “devils” dance through the streets with wild costumes and cowbells. According to legend, there was a dispute between Almonacid and another town over a buried image of St. Blaise that was found between the two towns. The rights were apparently going to be determined through a tug-of-war between two teams of animals. The other town brought several strong oxen, but Almonacid only had a couple scrawny mules. However, the oxen refused to pull for the other town and instead came over to Almonacid’s side. In memory of this reputed miracle, the celebrants of La Endiablada carry cowbells.

Arms of Lazio, Italy

Lazio

Granted 1984

Blazon: On an octagon vert charged with another argent, thereon another gules, a saltire party of five; in the center point per pale gules and azure an eagle displayed with wings inverted and crowned argent (Rome); in the dexter chief azure a lion rampant or holding a dagger azure, in chief two branches of oak and laurel ensigned by a circlet, in base two cornucopias conjoined in base, all proper (Frosinone); in the sinister chief, azure on a bend vert fimbriated or between in chief a tower on a mount in base proper and in base an anchor, three ears of wheat of the last (Latina); in the dexter base, gules between two bendlets or the letters SPQS, between each three annulets intertwined, all sable (Rieti); in the sinister base, per fess azure a lion passant guardant or on a base proper and gules a cross argent (Viterbo)

This is…. I don’t… okay. Okay, fine. I don’t have a good explanation for the octagon, or the arrangement of the arms in saltire, but okay. The eighties were a weird time, I guess. The thing is, the actual component coats are all pretty reasonable on their own, and it’s not uncommon for regional arms to incorporate the arms of their component cities/provinces/regions. (I plan on delving further into the individual provincial arms once we get to those provinces.) The arrangement here is just… something else. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Arms of Dettenhausen, Germany

Dettenhausen

In use since 2009

Blazon: Or a stag statant gules; on a chief of the last, an ear of wheat fesswise of the first

Sadly, information is thin on the ground here. It sounds like the town was, at one point, included in the duchy of Swabia, but the three black lions don’t make an appearance here. Given how many other local municipalities use or and gules as a reference to Tübingen’s arms, it seems reasonable to speculate that the same applies here, but I don’t know for sure.

Armenian Independence Day

In honor of the twenty-eighth anniversary of Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union, I figured we’d take a look at their highly symbolic coat of arms:

Armenia

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s go bit by bit, in roughly chronological order.

First of all, in the escutcheon, there’s a depiction of Mount Ararat with Noah’s Ark. Though this was possibly a mistranslation, tradition holds that the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat, which is also Armenia’s national symbol. In one shape or another, Mount Ararat has featured on Armenian arms and seals consistently since 1918. Even the Soviets kept the iconography, which ought to say something about its deep national importance.

We venture from myth into (distant) history with the Artaxiad dynasty, symbolized by the dexter base quarter. The Artaxids ruled from 189 BCE through 20 BCE, when Armenia became a Roman protectorate. The last Artaxid client king was overthrown in 12 CE. The two eagles and the eight-pointed star is a fairly well-established emblem of this dynasty – somewhat surprisingly, given its antiquity. From the examples here, it’s pretty clearly a star; I’m not sure how it ended up as an octofoil on the arms, which is typically a more floral shape. (I will say that the artists who designed the arms seem to have played around with the tinctures of the fields; the author in the linked article makes a pretty good argument that the ground for the Artaxiads should have been gules instead of azure, and a prior version of the arms had the same charges, but with the opposite tincture for the field.)

Moving on to the sinister chief quarter, we see the very common symbol of the double-headed eagle. This is apparently intended to represent the Arsacid dynasty, who ruled from 52 to 428 CE, and included the first Christian ruler of Armenia. I’m a little skeptical of the attribution of the double-headed eagle to the Arsacids for a couple of reasons: first, proof of what kind of symbols they used (if any) is thin on the ground, and second, the double-headed eagle is so, so commonly affiliated with the Roman (and later Byzantine) Empire that it’s hard for me to believe that association didn’t have any influence on this choice of charge. I am willing to believe that the Arsacids got it from the Romans, and passed it on here, but they were originally Parthian, so I’m not sure how well that holds up.

The dexter chief quarter, the lion and cross, was the symbol of the Bagratuni dynasty. They came to power in 861, when Ashot I was recognized as Prince of Princes by the Baghdad caliphate, and hung on until 1045, when the Byzantine Empire seized control of Armenia. The Bagratid princes evidently used the same device, though it was (possibly) argent on gules. Presumably, the tincture of the charge was sensibly updated to match the other three charges.

Lastly, the sinister base quarter holds the crowned lion and cross-tipped staff of the Rubenid dynasty, who did not actually rule Armenia. Instead, they established an Armenian state in Cilicia (called the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia), which they ruled from 1080 to 1375, when the Mamluks conquered the state. The Rubenid arms were or a lion rampant gules armed, langued, and crowned argent; if I had to speculate, the staff may have come from the kingdom’s allyship with the other Crusader states. The Rubenids also claimed descent from the Bagratunis, though this would be very difficult to prove.

I know this is long, but I can’t not talk, albeit briefly, about the elements surrounding the shield. The supporters, the eagle of the Artaxiads and the lion of the Bagratunis, mirror the charges on the shield. The elements of the compartment were all chosen for specific symbolic reasons, which I think are worth going through. The sword in pale is for power and strength; the broken chain, the struggle for national freedom; the wheat, hard work and industry; the feather, culture and intellectual heritage; and the ribbon, the Armenian flag, whose colors are represented in the arms. (Hence, I suspect, the unusual use of orange in the arms.)