Thursday, July 28, 2022

You Can Find "Heraldry" Everywhere!

In this specific instance, you can find "heraldry" in a news story about an armed robbery at a church.

Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead and his wife were robbed at their Leaders of Tomorrow International Church in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday, July 24, 2022.

The pastor, who eschews the description "flashy" while wearing "designer outfits and extravagant jewelry," and his wife were robbed at gunpoint of their jewelry (worth $1 million, according to another story) in front of about 25 congregants.

But the real part of the story to me are the large, glitzy "coats of arms" shown on the stage behind the lectern.

Both pieces of heraldry are pretty much "poster children" for the worst excesses of American "kitchen sink heraldry". (You can, as always, click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed photograph.)

Now, I am sure that each and every element of both "coats of arms" are rife with meaning. Nonetheless, it is entirely possible to put a lot of meaning on a shield without throwing in "everything but the kitchen sink" onto it; I mean, how many different ways do both of the shields shout "Christianity" at you in all of their quarters? This "heraldry, just like the pastor's gold-embroidered frock coat and large gold ring, seen in the picture above, are visible examples of the term "excess" in all of its overstated glory. It's just too much.

(And why doesn't the "motto scroll" under the arms for the church have motto on it? Asking for a "friend".)

Anyway, you can read the article about the robbery over on CNN's website at

I'd tell you to "enjoy", but I wouldn't really mean it.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Heraldry in the (Ecclesiastical) News!

A recent (July 22, 2022) article in the Arkansas Catholic, "The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock", discusses the coat of arms of Bishop-elect Erik T. Pohlmeier.

In keeping with such ecclesiastical arms, the left side of the shield (dexter) is the arms of the Diocese of St. Augustine, marshalling the right side of the shield (sinister), the personal arms of the Bishop-elect.

The article goes into detail about the meanings of each of the charges and colors on both sides of the shield, as well as the external ornaments. And, unlike those websites and books which purport to give you the alleged meanings of such things (e.g., that red is "the martyr's colour" and also denotes "Military Fortitude and Magnanimity", or that a gold saltire is "Elevation of Mind" (the gold) and "Resolution" (the saltire), here we are told what they mean to Bishop Pohlmeier, who (one would assume) would know better than any third-party book what he means by the selection of charges and colors in his personal arms!

I could go ahead and repeat everything is says about this in the article, but really, isn't it just as easy for you to click the link below and read it first-hand?

Anyway, you can find the article, entitled "Bishop-elect Pohlmeier reveals his episcopal coat of arms", on the website of the Arkansas Catholic at


Thursday, July 21, 2022

A Few Foreign Arms in Florence, Italy

One of the fun things about visiting a good-sized foreign city, especially one with a lot of its own history, is that it not only gets visited by a lot of tourists from all over, but many nations will establish a consulate to assist their citizens. And these consulates will be marked by the coat of arms of the country whose consulate it is, leaving heraldry enthusiasts (such as myself) with the opportunity to see an even broader range of coats of arms than might otherwise be expected.

I am not claiming that the following selection is comprehensive; we didn't walk down every street in Florence, but it's certainly a fair selection of the foreign arms to be seen there.

As well, I have to admit that some of them totally surprised me by their being there.

For example, the arms of the Republic of Tunisia:

And from even further away, the arms of the Republic of Estonia:

Some, on the other hand, were entirely expected. A lot of tourists to Florence come from the United Kingdom, whose consulate is in a prime location on the banks of the River Arno.

Belgium, too, has a presence there:

And the honorary consulate of the Kingdom of Spain and the the consulate of the Kingdom of Denmark share a building in Florence:

I have to admit, it was a bit "eye-opening" to see all these "foreign" arms decorating the streets of Florence, from countries ranging from the Baltic Sea to North Africa.

So the next time you visit a good-sized city somewhere, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for such international gems of heraldry. You never know what you might find!

Monday, July 18, 2022

Caveat Emptor!

Or, in English, "Let the buyer beware!"

I have Google check stuff for me sometimes. In this particular case, they send me an email once a day about pages on the internet that contain the words "heraldry" and "coat of arms".

These search results aren't always ideal; sometimes I'll see a site that on the surface seems like it might be interesting, only to find when I click on the link that my anti-virus is blocking it because it's a potential malware infector.

Nonetheless, not every website out there is trying to infect my computer, and I'll visit websites that may be of interest because it deals with heraldry in one way or another.

And it was in this way that I ran across a website (well, one page on a website) the other day which entitled itself "Drawing a Beautiful Coat of Arms (42 photos)", subtitled "Beautiful drawings for sketching".

I am hesitant, for the reasons explained below, to give you the URL of this website, though I feel pretty confident that I have already given you enough information to track it down yourself.

The site is Russian, and clearly their English translations sometimes leave a bit to be desired. "The purpose of the site ... is to provide various entertainment information (content) to individuals (users) on the subject of 'Unknown'."

But my real issue with the site was that some of the information identifying some of these "beautiful coat[s]-of-arms" was simply erroneous. (Hence, I have to suppose, the "Unknown" in their statement of purpose.)

For example, this achievement of arms, at the very top of the page(!), labeled "Beautiful family coats of arms":

Well, yeah, I suppose, if your family was the Bourbon kings of Spain, running from King Philip V (1700-1746) through King Felipe VI (2014-present).

So, yeah, in one sense it's a "Beautiful family coat of arms", but it's a coat of arms pretty much limited to one very well-known and historic family.

Another shield, this time in color, was labeled: "Heraldic knight thyroid holder":

I don't think I'd want anything on that shield holding my thyroid.

Anyway, I'm perfectly willing to allow that the description is the result of a bad translation program.

However, what I have more trouble overlooking is that these are the arms of the American College of Heraldry, and those arms are undoubtedly trademarked and very probably also copyrighted.

So stick that in your "thyroid holder".

For my next exhibit, we have the illustration of "Family emblems of England":

Many of you will notice right away that these are not, in fact, "family emblems of England", at least not unless your family surname is "Windsor" and you are acting in your right as Queen of Canada!

It's also not a very good drawing overall; It is impossible to make out the three lions of England in the first quarter or the lion of Scotland, within what I can only assume is supposed to be the double tressure flory counter-flory.

And the website certainly should know that those are the arms of Canada (and not "family emblems of England"), because further down the page they have this:

"Canada's Coat of Arms"!

They also note that this image is "printed with permission granted by the office of the Prime Minister" along with the URL to the Canadian Prime Minister's home page. I am unable to confirm that statement, though I will note that no acknowledgement is given to the artist who drew this depiction of the Canadian arms.

Anyway, there you are. Forty-two drawings of coats of arms, two of them of the same achievement (one less well done than the other), and all of which are downloadable.

If you choose to track down that website, and to download some of the images there, all I can truly say is, Caveat emptor, "Let the buyer beware"!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

It's Good to Be the Duke, Part 6 (the Final)

I don't know about you, but all of these different depictions and versions of the arms of the dei Medici family are starting to run together in my head.

As a consequence, I'm going to finish up with a sampling of some of the rest, most with the usual augmentation, some without it, three of one (or more) of the four Medici Popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV, and Leo XI), several with different numbers and arrangements of the balls on the shield, and a couple which are so worn away that you need to be looking for Medici arms to recognize them for certain.


Next time, we'll look at something besides the arms (augmented or not) of the dei Medici family. I promise!

Monday, July 11, 2022

It's Good to Be the Duke, Part 5

As I wandered out on the streets of Firenze,
As I walked about in old Florence one day,
I spied shields of pure gold with red balls upon ‘em,
The arms of Medici all over my way.

(Adapted from "The Streets of Laredo" by Frank Maynard, and sung by, among others, Johnny Cash. See, e.g.,

Sorry about that! Sometimes I will get a snippet of song in my head, only with new words, and it just won't go away until I get it out of my head and into someone else's. And in this specific instance, that someone else is you. I'm sorry. I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself. I certainly hope I am.

Anyway, today's post is of some of the many (many!) depictions of the arms of the de' Medici family that I came across in our meanderings about central Florence.

Here, with a special emphasis on restaurants and bars using the Medici name and arms, either directly or indirectly, to attract the tourist trade.

Makes you want to rush right in and buy a meal, right?

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Time for Another Update!

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has just published Part 2 of Volume 11 of the Committee on Heraldry's Roll of Arms, and that means that it's time for me to do another update to my American Heraldry Collection.

The arms in Part 2, published in The NEHG Register which arrived in my mailbox last week, have been added to the American Heraldry Collection, which you can download from the link in the left-hand column of this blog, in the section entitled "Some Articles I've Written". Click on the link "American Heraldry Collection (in .xlsx and .docx)" to download a .zip file containing both a Word document containing the Notes, Bibliography, and Key to Sources, and the Excel document containing the Collection itself, listing the arms by Surname, Blazon of the arms, Blazon of the crest (if any), and the source or sources for that particular entry.

The Collection, being in an Excel document, can be text searched as is, or you may reorganize it to better suit your needs and purposes.

The NEHGS still has more arms and crests to be published in Volume 11, and I will be adding these as they come out in The NEHG Register, which is published quarterly. As that happens, I will make another announcement in the blog, so that you can stay up-to-date.


Monday, July 4, 2022

It's Good to Be the Duke, Part 4

In our final look at some of the interiors of buildings in Florence with the Medici arms they contain, today we come to the Basilica of Santa Croce and a couple of the rarer Medici arms.

In this first image, we have a memorial laid into the floor of the Basilica which are to two different members of the Medici family, Johannes (1441) and Alexander (1546).

You may have already noticed something different about the coat of arms carved into this slab; it does not have the usual Medici augmentation granted by Louis XI of France, where the red roundel in chief has been replaced by a blue one with three gold fleurs-de-lys.

Here (and on the next coat of arms), the roundel in chief has been replaced by one with a cross on it. With no tinctures indicated, I cannot be certain, but it may very well be the arms of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (the Hospitalers), Argent a cross gules.

(I am, though, fairly confident that it isn't the arms of Savoy, Gules a cross argent.)

Here's the other example of the Medici arms with this change to the augmentation.

In this marshalled (marital) coat of arms, the usual augmentation in the wife's Medici arms have been replaced with a cross. (You may click on the image above to see a larger image where this detail is easier to see.)

The organ in Santa Croce has the more usual version of the Medici arms, although in this instance someone neglected to paint in the golden fleurs-de-lys on the blue roundel.

I love how three-dimensional this last example is! It's almost like you could shoot a cue ball into the shield and see the other balls scatter.