Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trampling a Sword?

Some questions arose about the coat-of-arms of Finland I used to illustrate a recent post. One e-mail commentator thought that it represented the Christian Lion’s victory over the Saracen Sword. Another wondered what a sword was doing there; wouldn’t it cut the lion’s paw?

March having lived up to its name this year and brought us plenty of war, I thought I’d clear this up on the last day of the month. Wikipedia’s article on this subject (here) brings the following clarification:

The earliest known blazon from this period states that the arms of Finland represents A crowned lion of gold holding a sword in the right forepaw and trampling with both hindpaws on a Russian sabre (ryssesabel), surrounded by nine silver roses in a red field, over the shield a golden crown with a red cap.
As for me, I’d rather trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored than bothering with the weaponry. But symbols are symbols, and I got to thinking about the wondrous future coats-of-arms a glorious new age of heraldry would paint. One of them might feature an upside-down lion seemingly kicking the sky filled with sleekly-drawn black and silvery birds. And some future scholar, with many words, will in that future’s more civilized future explain that it represented the nation trampling on a no-fly zone.


  1. Interesting; looking around, apparently it's one of Finland's legacies from Sweden, which was at war with Russia at the time it was invented.

    The no-fly zone coat of arms is a striking image. I think the heraldic term for 'upside-down' is 'renverse'.

  2. I wonder if there is a good heraldic dictionary around. I'll have to look.


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