Thursday, January 20, 2022


It's always interesting to me to see the various logos of different football (what we Americans call "soccer"*) teams.

Some of them can be quite heraldic; others, less so. And a few, I think, are heraldic only by happenstance.

A homegrown example of the last is the logo of the Baltimore (Maryland) Blast:

I've been playing with heraldry for far too long, apparently, because when I see this logo, I want to blazon it as a soccer ball incensed. (Per Parker's A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry, "Incensed, (fr. animé: said of panthers and other wild beasts borne with fire issuing from their mouths and eyes.") But really, doesn't incensed seem to describe it?

Anyway, as we continued our walk from the train station in Helsingør, Denmark, towards Kronberg Castle, we passed this delivery van whose owner is clearly a supporter of the local football team:

Here's a close-up of the team's logo:

This logo for FC Helsingør is one that I would classify as quasi-heraldic, as it mimics some of the traits of an heraldic achievement: a (here, pentagon-shaped) shield, topped by a crown, charged with a football between in chief two mullets. On the downside:  the field would be blazoned Argent six pallets bleu celeste, an extremely unusual and low-contrast combination; the crown is also bleu celeste, a non-standard heraldic tincture; and the name of the team extends beyond the boundaries of the (non-standard shape) shield.

So, it's got some heraldic elements to it, but they are combined with some non-standard or non-heraldic elements, making it not-quite-heraldry.

Still, I always enjoy finding football club logos when I travel, heraldic or not, and I watch for them even while I am keeping my eyes out looking for heraldry!

* Some people have, I think rightly, noted that American "football" is misnamed, for the reasons below:

Monday, January 17, 2022

On Our Way to Visit "Hamlet's Castle"

And now, off to our final stop(s) of our trip to Denmark. This day we took the train from Copenhagen up to Helsingør, which you may recognize as the Elsinore of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Now, Helsingør is not the castle; that would be Kronborg Castle. No, Helsingør is the port and town, and we visited more than just the castle while we were there. But more on that in later posts.

For now, I'd just like to share one of the waterfront displays with which we were greeted on our way from the train to the castle.

You'll probably want to click on the image above to go to a full-size photograph, so that you can get all of the details of the ten (count 'em! ten!) pennants flying in the brisk sea breeze there.

They are, of course, not strictly heraldry, but they are pennant forms of national flags.

Take a look at the larger photo; can you identify all of the countries? (I'll put my identifications of these pennants further below, but try your hand first before seeing if your identifications match mine.)

As you can tell, it was both gray and windy that day, for most of the day. Indeed, my wife avowed as how she could see why Prince Hamlet seemed so depressed throughout the play, if that day's conditions were indicative of the weather generally in Helsingør.

Anyway, that said, here are my identifications for these national flag pennants, all from countries in and around the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and far North Atlantic Ocean.

From left to right, they are:

 1. Denmark
 2. Sweden
 3. Norway
 4. Iceland
 5. Finland
 6. Greenland
 7. Faroe Islands
 8. Germany
 9. The Netherlands
10. Poland

Thursday, January 13, 2022

How Old Is "Old"?

Reviewing my last several photographs from Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark, I got to looking at one memorial board, and it reminded me of an article a number of years ago about a Town Crier in a city in England (it was most likely either Nottingham or York, but I do not recall which city for sure) who, in addition to advertising some of the many tourist shops and their wares available, made some remark about the many "American visitors, who come here to share in our history because they have so little of their own."

And in some ways that statement is correct, as the history of British North America only goes back to 1585 with the founding of the short-lived Roanoke colony in what is now North Carolina, but doesn't really begin until 1607 (the founding of Jamestown in what is now Virginia) and 1620 and 1635 (the founding of Plymouth and Boston, respectively, in what is now Massachusetts).

Compare that relatively short history with that of England, where I've been able to visit: St. Martin's Church, Canterbury, founded as a church about the year 580 (and still used for church services today!), and where you can still see some of the original Roman wall; or the Tower of London, originally built by William the Conqueror in 1066 shortly after his victory at the Battle of Hastings.

And thinking about all that reminds me of the old saw about "What is the difference between Europeans and Americans? Europeans think that 100 kilometers is a long way, and Americans think that 100 years is a long time." The truth of this was impressed upon me when we were on the tour following the 2016 International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held in Glasgow, Scotland, when we were on the bus for quite a while and eventually found ourselves near the outskirts of Edinburgh. Checking a map later, we discovered that Edinburgh was about 40 miles from Glasgow, or roughly the distance from downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth. Some of our European friends seemed to feel that 40 miles was a very long way; we Americans would drive that far to meet some friends for lunch. On the flip side, though, we were visiting places whose history sometimes ran back into the 1600s, 1500s, 1400s, and 1200s; a very long time ago! At least to us, living next to a large city founded in, let's see, 1841, "only" 180 years ago.

Anyway, to get back to the object that started this whole reminiscence, there is in the Cathedral an armorial Epitaph to Saxo Grammaticus, the late 12th Century author of the Gesta Danorum, the first full history of Denmark. (Books 3 and 4 of the Gesta give the history of prince, later king, Amleth, the historical figure who served as the inspiration for William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.)

The memorial is all in Latin, so I find myself a bit like Casca in Shakepeare's Julius Caesar, where when reporting the effect of Cicero orating in Greek, and not understanding Greek himself, says, "those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me." Thus, this Latin inscription is "Greek to me."

I just found it interesting that there are two dates here; one says that Saxo died in 1190, (Wikipedia says that he lived c.1150-cs.1220.) The other date notes that this memorial was renovated in 1728. (You can click on the image above to go to a larger version, where you can see the details far more clearly than in the thumbnail above.)

Two dates; one roughly 300 years ago, and the other more than 800 years ago!

There are two shields painted on the top of this Epitaph.

The one on the left is, I am assuming, the arms of the Cathedral or Diocese of Roskilde. (I could, of course, be wrong about that assumption, but it looks likely, and the arms bear some similarities with the current arms of the Diocese of Copenhagen.)

The other (which did not come out as well-focused as I would wish) is the lesser arms of Denmark. (I do not see the hearts on the shield between and around the lions that you normally see on these arms.)

Anyway, there you have it! Heraldry; old stuff; even older stuff. All just a "short" train ride from Copenhagen, in Roskilde.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Heraldry in the News!

A recent grant of arms by the College of Arms in London has created a bit of a stir around the world.

In a number of news items (I'll include links at the end of this post), much discussion has been made of the grant of arms to Baron Aamer Sarfraz, a British-Pakistani businessman and member of the House of Lords.

This grant of arms breaks ground as the first such to incorporate the green dome of al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia, a well-known landmark in the Muslim world.

Of this grant, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, said that "the British government has set an example of religious tolerance at the official level, which will further strengthen religious tolerance in the world." And Chairman of Interfaith Harmony and Peace Committee, Syed Izhar Shah Bukhari said that, it "is an expression of the fact that British society and culture openly recognise other religions and cultures."

Commenting on the grant, Lord Sarfraz said, “It is a great honour to have the mosque of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) featured prominently on a Coat of Arms. “I would like to thank the Garter and the College of Arms for their excellent work,” he added.

In addition to the dome of the Prophet's Mosque on the shield, there are two heraldic supporters: a lion representing the UK, and a snow leopard representing Pakistan. The coat of arms also features the coronet of a Baron. The crest at the top of the Arms has the Himalayan Mountains, a nod to Islamabad, where Lord Sarfraz grew up. Finally, at the peak of the crest is a crescent, the symbol of Islam.

In a pretty glaring omission, none of the articles that I have seen actually included a depiction of the coat of arms. Fortunately, on Lord Sarfraz's web page, he has put up a depiction (, below:

There has also been a fair bit of discussion on the Facebook page of the International Heraldry Society about how appropriate it is to place the depiction of a specific building on a coat of arms. One commenter there, Stephen Szabo, has responded to that criticism with several examples:

In 1964 the Australian Academy of Science was granted "Azure a representation of the building of the Australian Academy of Science ensigned of a mullet of seven points Argent on a canton Argent a representation of the Royal Crown proper".

In 1969 the English Kings of Arms issued a confirmation of the arms assumed by Macquarie University, viz: "Vert the Macquarie lighthouse tower masoned proper in chief the star Sirius Or.

In 1893 the English Kings of Arms granted Sir Samuel Wilson "Per pale Sable and Gules a wolf rampant Or charged on the shoulder with an estoile Gules between four mullets in cross Or on a chief Or a representation of the end elevation of the Wilson Hall of the Melbourne University between two salmon naiant proper."

And this practice is not limited to Great Britain: for example, the arms of the Latvia student fraternity Fraternitas Academica includes a silhouette of the building of the University of Latvia ( And the city of Borgholm, Sweden, has a specific building on its shield (

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Final Chapel in Roskilde Cathedral, The Glücksburger

Our final stop on our tour of armorial Royal burials in Roskilde Cathedral, we come to the Glücksburger Chapel.

This Chapel was built in 1924, inspired by Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, and named after the first king of the Glücksburger dynasty, King Christian IX. There are three double burials in this Chapel - King Christian IX and Queen Louise, King Frederik VIII and his Queen Louise, and King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine - but only the first is armorial. (Christian X and Alexandrine's stone coffins have finely carved Dannebrog flags that cover them.)

King Christian IX (d. 1906) (who reigned for 43 years) and Queen Louise of Hesse-Kassel (d. 1898) were initially buried in oak coffins in Frederik V's Chapel. The stone double sarcophagus in which they are now entombed, designed by Hack Kampmann, was felt to ruin the balance in Frederik V's Chapel, and so when the new Glücksburger Chapel was completed, their bodies were moved into it. 

The double sarcophagus has two gold crowns adorning the top. The three female sculptures, by the sculptor Edvard Eriksen (who also did the famous statue of the Little Mermaid), surrounding it are Remembrance, Love and Grief.

On the side of the sarcophagus we find the Royal Arms of King Christian IX (to the left) and Queen Louise of Hesse-Kassel (to the right).

The style of the room and the carvings may be simpler than we have seen in some of the other Royal burials in the other Chapels in the Cathedral, but the arms are every bit as complex.

Just sayin'.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Armorial Burials in King Christian IV's Chapel in Roskilde Cathedral

Over on the other side of the church from Frederik V's Chapel, almost directly across from it, we come to King Christian IV's Chapel.

This chapel has five burials in it, four of which are armorial.

First, we have the sarcophagus of Christian, Prince Elect (d. 1647). He was the heir apparent of his father, King Christian IV, but predeceased his father by a year, and so never became King.

On the upper side of the coffin are the Royal Arms of Denmark as used by his father.

 Next to Prince Christian, we find the coffin of King Christian IV (d. 1648):

Here, also on the upper side, the Royal Arms, done in a very similar (indeed, nearly identical) style to those of his son, Prince Christian.

In the final two burials in this Chapel, we return once again to the Baroque excesses of the 17th Century.

First, the coffin of King Frederik III (d. 1670):

With a closer view of the Royal Arms of Frederik III, surrounded by the arms of Danish territories (rather like we saw done with the arms of King Christian IV in Frederiksborg Castle):

And next to him, in a similarly-extravagant coffin, his wife, Queen Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Calenberg (d. 1685):

Here, because her head is to the right as we are looking at it, we have her paternal arms to the left and her husband's arms to the right (instead of the more usual husband's arms to the left and wife's arms to the right):

All in all, this Chapel is an amazing display of Royal heraldry!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Another Chapel, More Armorial Royal Burials

Moving on in Roskilde Cathedral, we come to Frederik V's Chapel.

Not all of the sarcophagi in this Chapel have coats of arms on them. For example, those of Frederick V (d. 1766) and his two Queens, Louise of Great Britain (d. 1751) and Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (d. 1796), all of whom are buried in this Chapel. (This is not to imply that their burials are of no interest, but this is, after all, a blog about heraldry, and so of less interest than they would be if garnished with coats of arms. Just sayin'.)

One of the standout, in terms of simply being eye-catching, burials in this Chapel, at least heraldically, is that of King Christian VI's queen, Queen Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (d. 1770).

Here see that two coats of arms set side-by-side, those of Denmark in the person of King Christian VI on the left, and those of Brandenburg-Kulmbach in the person of Queen Sophie Magdalen on the right.

Something that you may notice about the remaining armorial burials in Frederik V's Chapel are the Egyptian motifs on their caskets.

First we have the sarcophagus of King Christian VII (d. 1808):

Notice the sphinxes on each side acting as supports for the sarcophagus.

And then, of course, the Royal Arms of Denmark on the foot, under his name.

Then we have the tomb of King Frederick VI (d. 1839):

Here, the supporting "legs" are winged sphinxes.

And the Royal Arms done in gold, above one of the sphinxes:

And matching his casket, we have his wife, Queen Marie Sophie Frederikke of Hesse-Kassel (d. 1852):

As you can see, here, instead of her paternal arms, they simply repeat the Royal Arms used by King Frederick VI.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Other Royal Burials in the Chapel of the Magi, Roskilde Cathedral

The other royal burials in the Chapel of the Magi (Hellitrekongers Kapel) in Roskilde Cathedral are massive sepulchers made by Dutch artists in the Renaissance style as small antique temples with decorations inspired by ancient Rome. At each of the four corners of each sepulcher stands a stone-carved halberdier holding a spear and a shield with the Royal Danish arms on them.

The sarcophagus closest to the door is the burial place of King Christian III (d. 1559) and Queen Dorothea of Saxony-Lauenburg (d. 1571).

And here are two of their guards (they don't let riffraff like me walk all the way around the monuments to take pictures of the ones in the rear; it's entirely understandable. They don't want carelessness or accidents to damage the works!) and close-ups of their shields:

The red marks that you see on the pillar in the photo above the names and heights (in centimeters) of royal visitors from over the years, including, among others: King Christian X; Archduke Otto of Hapsburg; Prince George of Greece; Tsar Alexander III; Edward Albert, Duke of Windsor; and King Chulalongkorn of Thailand.

The other Royals buried here are King Frederick II (d. 1588) and Queen Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (d. 1631). And here are two of their guards and close-ups of their shields.

And that, by golly, is pretty much how royal heraldry should be done. As they say, "Go big or go home!"

Thursday, December 23, 2021

In the Chapel of the Magi (Helligtrekongers Kapel), Roskilde Cathedral

Obviously, not everyone, indeed, not every royal, entombed in Roskilde Cathedral can be buried in the chancel. I mean, really, there's only so much room available there. So other royal burials are done in various chapels around the sides of the cathedral.

In a very timely post, today we're going to look at the armory related to the burials in the Chapel of the Magi (Helligtrekongers Kapel; literally, the Holy Three Kings Chapel), especially appropriate so near to Christmas.

This chapel is also known as Christian I's Chapel, it being the burial place of King Christian I and his wife, Queen Dorothea of Brandenburg.

As you can see from the photograph above, the walls and ceiling are beautifully frescoed. Below are close-ups of the two Danish coats of arms above. Obviously, the quarters on the largest shield in each of these are: 1, Denmark; 2, Sweden; 3, Norway; and 4, Funen/The Wends. (We have seen these arms before, on a portrait of King Christian I and Queen Dorothea in Frederiksborg Castle, at

The arms on the left are those of King Christian, and those on the right, those of Queen Dorothea.

Now, despite this room being called Christian I's Chapel, you can't see his or Queen Dorothea's tombs here, as they are buried in small burial chambers under the floor. There is, however, a very large column right in the middle of the room, with the simple arms of Christian I, Queen Dorothea, and Bishop Oluf Mortensen (from left to right in the photographs below) painted on its capital.

Next time, we'll look at the armorial 16th Century sepulchers of the other Royal burials in this Chapel.

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Matching Set of Armorial Sarcophagi

Still in the area behind the main altar, in the Chancel of the Cathedral, are two more armorial sarcophagi (sarcophaguses? No, that doesn't sound right. In any event, there are two of them, and they are obviously matched), for another King and Queen of Denmark.

The first is that of King Frederik IV (d. 1730):

Needless to say, it's very Baroque, and there's a lot going on here. Please click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed, photograph that will really let you get a good "feel" for just how detailed and "busy" this tomb is.

On the sides, among other things, we find the full achievement of the Greater Arms of Denmark from the time of Frederick IV.

But, of course, since clearly "Nothing succeeds like excess," there is also a crowned lion sejant supporting a shield of the Lesser Arms of Denmark:

The matching sarcophagus is that of the wife of King Frederik IV, Queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow (d. 1721). (Again, click on the image to see a larger, more detailed photograph. It will be worth it!)

Naturally, it's not an exact match, bearing as it does on its side the arms accolée of King Frederik IV and Queen Louise:

On the left, of course, we have the arms of King Frederik IV, and on the right, the arms of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, for Queen Louise.

And some of the details of this monument are specific to the Queen:

Here, for example, a weeping angel child or putti holding a shield with her monogram (L intertwined with a mirrored L) on it.

The more I look at these two sarcophagi, the more impressed I am by the skill of the stonecarvers and the amount of work they put into creating these two monuments. How about you?