Thursday, June 12, 2014

So ... "Boxers or Briefs?"

I ran across a recent discussion about the coat of arms of Jan van Abbenbroek in The Netherlands, which appear in an old armorial, the Wapenboeck of Cornelis van Aecken.  (You can see the entire armorial on-line at

It was causing a bit of commentary because, well, it is a bit unusual, and not the sort of charge that one normally expects to find when looking through old heraldry books (you know, lions and eagles and horses and such).

There is another rendition of these arms from the Kaffee Hag albums pictured over on Ralf Hartemink's Heraldry of the World website.

To see it and two other versions of this same coat of arms, just click on this link:

Still, the arms do make sense when you understand that they are actually canting arms; that is, the charge is a pun on the name: Abbenbroek is "abbot's breeches or pants."  (Broek can also mean "wet fields" in medieval Dutch.)  So the only charge on the shield here is a pair of abbot's pants.

So, to go back to the title of this post, does this answer the question posed to basketball star Michael Jordan in some underwear TV advertisements of a few years ago, "boxers or briefs?"

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