Monday, October 2, 2023

The English Royal Arms in York

We've seen a number of places so far that display the arms of the City of York, and others that show the arms of the City as well as the badge of the York Civic Trust, and even others that display the badge of the Trust, sometimes alone, sometimes with other insignia.

But, of course, York has a long history, and a place in both the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

Today's entry is the main of four "bars", or gates, to the old City, Micklegate Bar, whose lower portions date to the 12th Century. The stone facade on the upper stories, as is evident in the photo below, replaced a lath and plaster facing in the early 19th Century.

On it interior (toward the City) side, his bar bears the Royal arms of England, used from the time of King Henry IV through Queen Elizabeth I.

But of course it is the coat of arms that first caught my eye:

It was King Henry IV who, in imitation of King Charles V of France, reduced the number of fleurs-de-lis in the first and fourth quarters of the Royal arms to three. (Those quarters had been strewn with fleurs-de-lis from the time that King Edward III made his claim to the French throne.)*

The blazon for these arms is: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lis or; 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or.

Nothing says "This belongs to England!" like placing the arms of the King or Queen prominently upon it, am I right?

* This strewing of a field with an unnumbered set of charges, e.g., semy-de-lis/semy of fleurs-de-lis, has led over the years to the old joke that heralds can only count so high; specifically, "one, two, three, four, five, six, many/semy."

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