Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Couple More Armorial Chests

This next armorial chest is (or at least its armorial panels are) dated 1618 and, frankly, has a lot more inlay work on it than I would be willing to try myself. (And I'm pretty sure it would be expensive to pay someone else to do!)

It is, though, a beautiful piece of the furnituremaker's art:

The painted panels on the face of the chest are of two different coats of arms:

First is the arms of Brocker, Argent a pile reversed [or, inverted, or issuant from base) azure (yes, the white seems to have turned to black here). We have seen these arms before on one of the tablecloths posted about recently;

and then we have the arms of Scheel, Per fess: Per pale argent and gules; and azure. (Again, the white has gone to black here.) These arms are shown with same crest in the Order Books of the Order of the Dannebrog. At least four members of this family were members of the Order in the 17th and early 18th centuries.

The second armorial chest we're going to see today is this pretty massive-feeling one:

Unlike the previous two chests we have looked at, this one has no date(s) painted on its face.

It does, however, have four quartered coats of arms.

The shield on the left has Rosenkrantz in the first quarter; the second one has Ruder in the first quarter. We have seen both Rosenkrantz and Ruder before on one of the tablecloths on display in the castle.

The third coat of arms has Gyldenstern in the second quarter and Rosenkrantz in the third quarter (both of which we have seen before on one of the tablecloths); and the fourth coat has Biller (or Bille, as it is spelled in the Order Books) in the first and fourth quarters: Per pale gules and argent barry of four counterchanged (or, Barry of four argent and gules per pale counterchanged, it could reasonably be blazoned either way), which we have seen before on the tablecloth.

Again, if you are looking for some way to use your coat of arms as well as to store some of your stuff, you mind find some inspiration in these armorial chests here.

Monday, October 25, 2021

An Old Armorial Chest

We've all got stuff, right? And we all need places in which to store our stuff, correct? Well, what could be better for storing your stuff than an old carved wooden chest with some of the family's coats of arms painted on its face?

Well, I ran across several such armorial chests dated to the 17th Century in our tour of Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, and thought I would share them with you here.

You may recognize some of the heraldry from one of the tablecloths in the castle that we have recently shared!

The first armorial chest is this gem, which confusingly has two different dates on it. At the tops of the pillars supporting the arches which frame the four coats of arms is the date "1672", while on the left and right armorial panels is the date "1617". While I can make at least a couple of guesses as to why there are two different dates some 55 years apart, they are only guesses and completely unsupported by facts, so I am going to keep them to myself.

If you are interested, please click the image above to see a larger, more detailed picture which better shows the carved and inlay items on this chest.

But, of course, this blog is all about the heraldry. The four coats of arms and crests on the face of the chest are, from left to right:

Rosenkrantz (which we have seen before, labeled "Rosenkrans").

I have not been able to make a definite identification of whose arms these are; there are several possibilities, but not (as yet) a perfect match.

The canting (punning) arms of Trolle, along with with their troll's head crest. (If you're going to use a cant in your arms, you might as well go all the way. As the old saying is: "Go big or go home.")

and finally, the arms of Ruder, another family whose arms we have seen on the tablecloth in the post before last.

I don't know about you, but I'm trying to think if I have enough wood in my workshop to make a similar chest. It could be an interesting project, don't you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Letter Patent of Nobility, With Two Kinds of Heraldry

In one part of Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark was a case with a patent of nobility (and grant of arms?).

This letter patent was issued by King Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway in 1716 ennobling Peter Tordenskiold (born Peter Janssen Wessel, 1690-1720), a Vice-Admiral of the Dano-Norwegian navy, whose greatest victory came in 1717 when he destroyed the supply fleet of King Charles XII of Sweden at the Battle of Dynekilen. In the letter, he was given the surname Tordenskiold (the modern orthography is Tordenskjold), or "Thunder Shield").

You can find a lot more about his short life, career, court-martial in 1714, and death in a duel at the age of only 30 at

The letter also illustrates his coat of arms:

You may note several naval references in the illustration above: the crossed cannons and cannonballs in the third quarter of the arms, and the Danish naval ensigns and pennants flanking the crest.

And, as you might expect, the letter is sealed with the royal seal of King Frederick IV:

They did go in for fancy, complex knots to attach seals to documents!

But here's a close-up of the seal itself, the royal arms of Denmark surmounted by the arched crown. (I have rotated the picture so it is easier to see.)

If you click on the image above to go to a larger photograph, you can clearly see the name of the king (in Latin), "Fredericus IIII".

Don't you just love looking at old documents? Especially ones with painted coats of arms and big armorial seals? I know I do! And it was great to have run across this one in Denmark.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are ... Dining?: Heraldry in Frederiksborg Castle: Tablecloths, Part 3

To finish our look at the three embroidered armorial tablecloths in this exhibit at Frederiksborg Castle, each with increasingly greater numbers of shields on them, we come to the final tablecloth, which - unlike the previous two - is entirely heraldic.

Clara Gyldenstjerne's tablecloth from 1650

Blue silk with embroidery in gold and silver thread. In the middle of the tablecloth, the coats of arms of the Gyldenstjernes and the Podebuskers. Above is "Clara Gyldenstiern Fathers and Mothers". Under the coats of arms is "Henrik Gyldenstierne Anno 1650". On each long side there are 10, on each narrow side 6, coats of arms with the family names below.

Here is the central motif, the arms of Gyldenstjerne* and Podebusker (again, please click on an image to go to a larger, more detailed photo. You really cannot fully appreciate the work that went into all of these shields, helms, mantling, and crests from these thumbnail images):

Then, of course, are all of the arms around the edges of the tablecloth, presumably those of her forebears:

On each of the corners is the star from the Gyldenstjerne arms encircled with a wreath of different flowers.

And there you have it! A large, wonderfully embellished and entirely heraldic tablecloth.

Now tell me you wouldn't like something like this for your home!

* This is a name you might be familiar with from Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Two of the characters in that play are Rosencrantz** and Guildenstern, courtiers and friends of the melancholy Prince, whose names King Claudius can't keep straight, and whose deaths are announced in the final act of the play. This is not, I believe, that Guildenstern.

** As a matter of fact, though, if you look carefully you may see some shields (which may be duplicated in more than one photo above) which are labeled "Rosenkrans". (If you need a hint, they're the ones with crowned rampant lion in the first and fourth quarters, and a checky bend in the second and third quarters.) Who knew?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Heraldry in Frederiksborg Castle: Tablecloths, Part 2

Continuing our look at these three wonderfully embroidered armorial tablecloths on exhibit at Frederiksborg castle, we come to the second one.

Alas, here the explanatory sign ends up telling us very little about the coats of arms around the sides of the tablecloth.

Sophie Staverskov's silk tablecloth from around 1650

Light olive green silk with satin stitching and chain and contour stitching. In the center there is an oval laurel wreath with single flowers, in which Orpheus plays on the lyre at the foot of a tree. In a wood sit birds, and around Orpheus stand wild animals mesmerized by his music, including a unicorn, an elephant, a lion and a deer. Along the sides are coats of arms framed by laurel wreaths with red flowers. Scattered throughout the center lot is a quantity of flowers with short stems, red, yellow, white and blue, including cloves, tulips, cherries, lilies and lily of the valley.

(Once again, please click on an image to go to a larger, more detailed photograph. You really cannot appreciate this work from the thumbnails here.)

So ... they don't tell us to whom these quartered coats of arms belong, which is a shame, since Ms. Staverskov clearly went to a lot of work to embroider them all the way around the tablecloth, as you can see:

All in all, an amazing piece of the embroiderer's art! Anyone up for trying this at home?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Heraldry in Frederiksborg Castle: Tablecloths, Part 1 (or, More Ideas for _Your_ Home!)

At the time we visited Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, there was an exhibition of three embroidered armorial tablecloths, all dated to 1650 and 1652.

The first of these tablecloths was explained by a nearby sign as:

Miss Anna Katharina Krag's tablecloth from 1652

The tablecloth is made of green taffeta with blue canvas pad, embroidered with many colors of silk. In a round center field with flower wreaths are the coats of arms of the families Krag and Høeg, as well as "Miss Anna Catarina Krag Anno 1652”. In the surrounding large square field are embroidered flowers, in the corners fruits and parrots. The edges are provided with flowers and leaf motifs. The coats of arms point to Anna Catharina Krag's (1616-87) parents Niels Krag (1574-1650) and Jytte Høeg (1589-1659).

Anna Catharina Krag died childless, and it is believed that this tablecloth passed down to her brother's son Niels Krag (1653-1713). He was married to Sophie Juel (1703-22), who presumably left the tablecloth for Roskilde's noble Jomfrukloster (Virgin Monastery).
Given the date of the tablecloth (1652), it may very well be that she did this in memory of her father (who died in 1650).

In any event, as you can see from the photos below, she did a lot of work on this tablecloth! (I recommend clicking on the images below to go to a larger and far more detailed photographs, so that you can really see some of the details!)

Now, doesn't this get your creative juices flowing? Can you see yourself doing something like this for your own home, with your own coat(s) of arms?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Heraldry in Frederiksborg Castle: Tapestries

Besides armorial portraits, of course, one of the other things you often find in castles (and large estate houses*) is tapestries of one scene or another. And Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark is no exception to this general rule.

And, of course, many of those tapestries contain heraldry.

Frederiksborg Castle being a royal residence, naturally enough most of the heraldry to be found on these tapestries are versions of the Danish Royal arms.

I have to admit, though, that my favorite armorial tapestry in the castle was this one:

Here's a closer look at it:

It's done in a totally different style than the others; less traditional European, and more what you might see from a native weaver from the Caucasus. I just find it very attractive.

Of course, it's the Lesser Arms of Denmark in the center (though with the lions passant to sinister instead of dexter, surrounded by the arms of the many provinces and fiefs making up Denmark, as we have seen earlier on and around the castle.

You may, of course, disagree with me, but I really like it!

* Heck, if you come and visit my relatively humble home, you'll find a couple of tapestries hanging in the living room. Naturally, if you know me at all, you have probably already guessed that they each have heraldry on them. And, of course, you'd be correct. The bigger one, which we purchased in Belgium, is of part of the large mural of the Nine Worthies in the castle of La Manta in Italy. The other, smaller one over the fireplace which we purchased in Canterbury, England is a woodland scene with a unicorn and a lion, with a number of shields hanging from the trees.