Saxon Horse



The Crest of Saxony







The Saxon white horse is common to the Duchy of Westphalia, Engern and Eastphalia and therefore must be seen as the general symbol of the Duchy of Saxony. Such a symbol termed a crest in heraldry The two representatives of the white horse are the Brunswick horse, which therefore mainly relates to Eastphalia in which the possessions of the Welfs were located; and the Westphalian horse. This should actually relate to Engern but is usually used for Westphalia due to the sound similarity between "falen" and german "Fohlen". In fact, however, the arms with the three hearts or waterlily leaves must be regarded as the arms of Westphalia. These arms were borne by the counts of Tecklenburg, the fortress that was in Westphalia. Such a coat of arms was also borne by the Archbishops of Cologne who owned the southern part of Westphalia.

The arms with the horse does not occur until the 13th century. It was then first used by the Dukes of Brunswick, the Archbishop Electors of Cologne from the end of the 15th century and later by the Electors of Hannover. Notwithstanding, there are already earlier mentions of a horse in connection with Saxony.


 The Crest of Saxony




188.75 Um 1200 Seega 346

0,75 g KMH 1929, 200


The author of Der Erfurter Pfennig und seine Münzstätten in Die Zeit der Staufer (I, pp.135-141), Elisabeth Nau, is of the opinion that there is a lion on this uninscribed bracteate and adapts her comment to this opninion.

It is however very clear that this lion is actually a horse, and, beause of the pattern on the thigh, even a dapple grey horse (preferred by the nobilty at the time). The horse has no bridle and saddle. Because of the missing inscriptions an exact determination of the place of manufacture of this bracteate is unfortunately impossible.


1240 In the Clipearius Teutonicorum is for the “King of Hungary” a white bridled and saddled horse in a red field


Albus equus rubeo clipeo regis solet esse / Ungarici, nec equo frenum, nec sella deesse.

4. In the red shield of the king of Hungary is a white horse not lacking bridle nor saddle


But for Ungarici has to be read Angarici and then the coat of arms is the arms of the duchy  of Engern which matches with the later use [1]


In 1267 the welf possessions were divided between Albrecht I and John with John receiving Luneburg and Albrecht Brunswick. After that, the Welf countries are constantly distributed among the various heirs, which results in a very confused picture. Constitutionally, however, the unity of the House was not affected by these divisions. There was only one duchy of Brunswick-Luneburg as a general fief from the House of Welf. The areas that resulted from the divisions should be referred to more as principalities than as duchies, and the princes used the same ducal title and the same coat of arms.

From this date a white horse on a red field is documented


Le Roy de Poulenne

1269 Gules, a rearing horse Argent.

L.: le Roy de poulenne(Wijnbergen n° 1296, fig. 106).


This is probably the coat of arms of the poulains, (Saxon-)  knights in the Holy Land


Less probable is the horse in Walfords Roll:

1273 Le roy de Norwey, gulez un chivall d’or sellé (Walfords n° C.16).

The king of Norway at that date bore:  Gules a lion Or (with and axe)


In any case the Saxon Horse occurs from the fourteenth century in different contexts


1361 Seal of Albrecht II of Brunswick-Grubenhagen.

 Crest: Horse.

 (Schnath 14, Schmidt Phiseldeck 98, StA. Wolfenbüttel)


1361 Seal of Johan of Brunswick-Grubenhagen: Figure: Horse and lions’mask.

(Schnath 15, Schmidt Phiseldeck 101, StA Wolfenbüttel).


1362 Heraldic seal of Otto der Quade of Brunswick-Göttingen

Arms: Two lions passant guardant

Crest: Horse  and peacock feathers

(Schnath 16, Schmidt Phiseldeck 182, StA Hannover Dep. 19 v. Grote-Jühnde A1)


1369 Figuurzegel van Magnus II: helm met paard en pluim.

(Schnath 17, Schmidt Phiseldeck 197, StA Wolfenbüttel).


1370 Seal of Balthasar of Brunswick-Grubenhagen: Horse within hexagon  .

(Schnath 18, Schmidt Phiseldeck 97, StA Wolfenbüttel).


1373 Seal Friedrich II of Brunswick-Grubenhagen.

Figure: Horse and star

(Schnath 19; StA Hannover, Cal. Or. 100, Osterode St Jacobi 133)


Seal of Duke Ernst of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, 1374


Seal: Helmet, crested of Brunswick

1379 Arms: Gules a harnessed Horse Argent

Crest:: Lambrequined Gules a crown and a horse’s head issuant Argent.

L.: Dald waepen va bruynswich.

Wappenbuch von der Ersten fol. 28 n° 5.

(Hildebrandt A.M. & G.A. Seyler eds.: Codex Seffken, Berlin, 1892.)



Gravestone of Prince Bruno von Braunschweig-Göttingen (†1306), 1400ca

Formery Franziskanerkirche Göttingen


Arms of Brunswick with crest. In the corners the arms of Saxony and Göttingen


Gravestone of Elizabeth of Brunswick-Göttingen (*1390-†1444)

formerly in the Franziskanerkirche Göttingen (Neues Vaterländische Archiv I (1820) p. 320).


Arms: (Brunswick; Lüneburg) Horse


1472 Seal of Sofia of Brunswick-Grubenhagen, abbess of Gandersheim.


Arms: 1. Brunswick; 2. Horse; 3. A parted per pale (Halberstadt)

(Schnath 39, Schmidt Phiseldeck 136, StA Wolfenbüttel).


Wedekint koniungh to engern hertog to sassen Gena koninghynne to dennemarke.

From: Bote, Konrad: Chronecken der Sassen. [1]


1492 Arms.: 1. ½ A running horse and three waterlily leaves 2 and 1. (Westfalen-Engern); 2. Three crowned lions passant guardant (Denmark); 3. A rearing horse Sable (Wipert der son (= Egbert ?).



NVNQVAM RETRORSVM (Never Backwards).


Official seals after 1815


The duchy of Braunschweig







Emblem on passports 19th century



Dienstsiegel der Behörden des Herzogtums Braunschweig 1912


Design of  O. Hupp. (Heraldische Mitteilungen des Vereins zum Kleeblatt. Hannover, 24 (1913) gegenüber S 32.)


“Verordnung wegen Form und Fürung der Dienstflaggen der Herzoglich Brauschweigischen Behörden” dd. 05.10.1913:


§ 1. “... Flagge, deren Mitte in einem von der Herzogskrone bedeckten roten Oval das springende weiße Pferd zeigt.”.


Official seal on passport, 1915

Herzogl. Br. L. Kreisdirektion Gandersheim


Freistaat Braunschweig



Arms of Freistaat Braunschweig, 1922


Wappen und Flaggen des Deutschen Reiches und der Deutschen Länder. Min. des Inneren, Berlin, 1028


In de grondwet van de Vrijstaat Brunswijk van 6 januari 1922 staat:


Art. 1. Abs. 2. “Die Landesfarben sind blau-gelb. Das Landeswappen ist das weiße Sachsenroß im rotem Felde”.


The white ground on which the horse used to stand with its hind legs has therefore disappeared.


District Süd Hannover-Braunschweig.

In 1933, Brunswick was merged with the eastern part of Hannover to form the District Süd Hannover-Braunschweig. After the war, this district became a part of the state of Lower Saxony.


Lüneburg / Hannover



Tomb of Otto the Strict (1266-1330) and his wife Mechthild of Bavaria in the Michaelis Church in Lüneburg

Constructed 1432-34


1432-1434 Arms: Gules a prancing horse Argent (blackened).


Hannoversch Münden,  Welfenschloß


Arms: Gules, a prancing horse bridled Argent on a ground Vert.

Supporters: Two lions proper.

Motto: INVITVS MORDENS 1562 CVR MORDEOR (If I don't want to bite, why am I bitten?)


Het Brunswijker paard werd nadat Luneburg tot het Keurvorstendom Hannover werd verheven door Hannover overgenomen. In 1815 keerde het weer in Brunswijk terug met dien verstande dat vanaf die tijd het paard zowel in Hannover als in Brunswijk als rijkswapen werd gebruikt. 


Christian Ludwig, Taler, 1663




1690 ca. Token with horse on his way to an electorscap on a column.

 L.: UNUS AMOR PALMÆ. (Only Love the Palm)

(Schnath 57, Fiala VII2 Taf. XXIII 6).


1691 Thaler of Georg Wilhelm of Celle: Prancing horse.

L. QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT Where right and Glowy Lead

(Schnath 55, Fiala VII 1, Taf. XIV 8).


1692 Thaler of Ernst August.


Crest:  Prancing horse.

L.: SOLA BONA QUAE HONESTA (Solely legitimate)


On the other side the 16-fielded arms of Ernst August with the prancing horse in the second.



Horse and Hannover city, motto


1731 Thaler of King George II.


Crest:  Prancing horse.


(Schnath 56. Fiala VII 2 Taf. XXXV)


In the nineteenth century the saxon horse was also adopted by Prussia, the new owner of saxon territories: in 1817 for the province of Westfalen and in 1866 for the province of Hannover

For all these owners of parts of Saxony alias Lower Saxony, that is to say: Saxony-Schwerin (†1357) , Saxony-Brunswick (†1946) and Saxony-Cologne (= Westfalen-Engern †1946), Saxony was the common denominator symbolized by the horse.


Charles II



Lesser arms 1815-1866


Sign board British-Hannoverian Post, ca. 1825


Arms:  Gules, a prancing horse Argent on a grassy groud Vert

Crown: A royal crown

Motto.NEC ASPERA TERRENT (The Strong do not fear Anything) in golden lettering on a blue ribbon.




Prussian Rule in Hannover 1866-1945


Arms of Saxony 1898

Gerberstraße 3, Hannover






Seal of Westfalen Province  1881


Arms: Gules, a prancing horse Argent

Crest:  The horse from the arms issuant

Supporters: Two savages with oak leaves around their loins, the dexter with a spear with a banner of Prussia, the sinister  with a banner of Westfalen.






Westfalen N.S. era


District Westfalen, 1933-‘45


Seal 1945-‘46






Böttger, Heinrich

Das Braunschweig-Lüneburgische Wappen. Hannover, 1861.


Fiala, Eduard

Münzen und Medaillen der Welfischen Lande. T. I-VIII. 1904-1917


Grote, Hermann

Geschichte der Welfischen Stammwappen. Leipzig, 1863.


Hagemann, Anton

Das westfälisch-niedersächsisches Wappenbild. In: Zeitschrift der Savigny Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Germanische Abt. 69, 1952, pp. 340 ff.


Hövel, Ernst

Vom Wappen der Provinz Westfalen. In: Die Heimat, Monatschrift für Land, Volk und Kunst in Westfalen und am Niederrhein. 11 Jahrgang Nr. 6, Juni=heft 1929. Pp. 161-163


Philippi, Friedrich

Die Entwicklung des westfälischen Wappens. In: Festschrift zur Weihe des neuen Landeshauses. Münster 1901. Pp. 19.e.v.


Schnath, Georg

Das Sachsenross. Entstehung und Bedeutung des Niedersächsischen Landeswappens. 2e Vermehrte u. verbesserte Auflage. Schriftenreihe der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung in Niedersachsen. Reihe B Heft 6. Hannover, 1961.


Veddeler, Peter

Das Westfalenross. Geschichte des westfälische Wappens. Selbstverlag Nordrhein-Westfälisches Staatsarchiv Münster, 1987.



Back to Main Page


 © Hubert de Vries




[1] The confusion between an A and an U iis possible with the 12th and 13th century  capitals   en  but also with the german capitals in frakur script  en  in incunables from the beginning of the 16th cent. . (ð Faulmann p. 197 & 205).