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Henry II

*1133 - †1189

Duke of Normandy 1150-1189

Count of Anjou 1151

∞ Alienor of Aquitaine 18.05.1152

Regent of Aquitaine 1152-1168

King of England 1154


As is well known, at the death of Henry I, his daughter Mathilde was passed in succession in favor of Stephen of Blois. After his death, however, justice was again done to the hereditary claims of Mathilde because her son Henry II was elected king (1154). Like his father, Henry II bore a shield with lions on it that he may have taken from him.


Henry and his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine were crowned in Westminster Abbey on Sunday 19th December 1154 by Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury. His titles were King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and Count of Anjou and Maine. His son, Henry the Younger, had a coronation on 14th June 1170, in an attempt to settle the succession to the throne during the father's lifetime. But the young Henry died before his father.


The Ampulla, of solid gold, is in the form of an eagle, the head of which unscrews to allow it to be filled with the holy oil for the sovereigns anointing. It is of late-fourteenth-century workmanship and was used at the coronation of King Henry IV (1399). There are many legends concerning the origin of the vessel or its precursor, notably that it had been given to Thomas à Becket (Chancelor 1155 / Archbishop 1162-†1170) by the Virgin Mary but was the lost or hidden in Poitiers for a number of years until found by the Black Prince, was again mislead so that it was not used for the consecration of Richard II, only to emerge again for that of Henry IV. (This seems an obvious piece of Lancastrian propaganda concocted to justify the usurping Henry’s right to the throne.) [1]

Until the reign of Queen Alienor the eagle remained atop the sceptre. It symbolizes the roman rank of Consul which was the rank of the early English kings. By the Plantagenets bearing the title of Dux of their french fiefs, the eagle was replaced by one or more lions in connection with ther coats of arms, the eagle remaining to play only a role at their royal coronations.



The use of the eagle in the church in Englnd runs parallel to that on the mainland. A number of eagle lecterns have been preserved in England and are still in use today.


The Anointing Spoon, of silver gilt, is of an earlier date than the Ampulla, being of late-twelfth-century style. These two items do not appear on the lists enumerating the articles removed from Westminster Abbey and taken to the Tower of London for destruction by the Parliamentary Commisioners, so it is presumed that they were kept apart from the rest of the regalia, probably with the Abbey plate, and thus escaped notice. They were recovered for use at Charles II’s coronation and both received a certain amount of embellishment, the eagle being realistically engraved to represent feathers and the spoon being chased in typical seventeenth-century style.

Seal of Majesty: Henry II  on his throne, crowned, with sword and orb crested with a cross and an eagle.

L.: henricvs dei g(ratia) rex anglorum  X.

The crown with three crosses and pendilia

Equestrian seal: Henry II on horseback with sword and shield (seen from the inside)

L.: henr : dei gra : dvx ­norm(annorvm et) aquit : et com andeg  X .

Henry II, his mother Mathilde and his wife Alienor

Wedding of Henry the Lion of Saxony, 01.02.1168

Cod. Guelf. 105 Noviss. 2° fol 171 v (detail)


Portrait of  Henry II in BL., Cotton Claudius D. VI, fol. 9v°:

De koning gezeten, met baard en kroon en drie fleurons


Photo H.d.V 2011

The Royal family riding.

Fresco in St. Radegonde chapel, Chinon.


Henry II can be seen in a blue tunic and a red cloak, lined vair, a crown on his head. A short red beard is characteristic. Behind him are driving his wife Eleonore of Aquitaine (*1120-†1201); his eldest son Henry (*1155-†1183) crowned as co-king in 1170, with a crown, a red tunic and blue robe, Richard (*1157-†1199); and Geoffrey, duke of Brittany (*1158-†1186).

Since Henry Jr. is crowned, the fresco must date back to 1170. At the beginning of 1174, after conspiring against her husband with Henry Jr. and Richard, Eleonore was imprisoned in Chinon and then taken to Winchester where she spent nearly ten years in captivity. The fresco will therefore be made before or in 1173. In 1173 Henry II was 40 years old, Eleonore 53, Henry Jr. 18, Richard 16 and Geoffrey 15. These ages correspond to the ages of the persons depicted.


Henry II riding


1174 ca Henry seems to have borne a coat of arms  with lions. This can be deduced from a chronicle by Benoît de St. Maure, which he wrote around 1174 for Henry II. Benoît may have had the arms of Henry II in mind when he described the arms of William the Conqueror in the following passage:


            Dites, fait il, vostre seignor

            Qu en un cheval blanc comme flor

            Serai armez, forz e isnineaus,

            Si eret mis escuz od leonceaus

            D or, en azur faiz et assis.

            Por ce mes armes li devis

            Teu me conoisse e teu m avra. [2])


The chronicle was written in the time of the rebellion of his sons (1173-'74): (Henry FitzHenry (*1155), Richard (*1157), Geoffrey (*1158); his wife Alienor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France, Philip of Flanders and William the Lion of Scotland.)


Henry II on horseback, keeping a ring

St. John Baptistery, Poitiers. West-wall


Henry sent one of his rings to his dying son Henry Junior after he had asked for forgiveness for his rebellion. 1182. [3]


Henry II

12th cent. Fontevraud Abbey, Maine & Loire


Tomb effigy of Henry in Fontevraud abbey, 1189. The king with short red beard, crowned with crown of three leaves, in red dalmatic and blue mantle, keeping a sceptre or staff upright. 




Queen of France 1137-1152

∞ Henry II of England 18.05.1152

Queen of England 1154-1189

Regent, 1190-1192


Royal and ducal seal of Alienor of Aquitania


Crowned Queen with lily-sceptre and orb crested with cross and eagle




The revolt of her sons against her husband in 1173 put her cultural activities in Poitiers to a brutal end. Since Eleanor, 11 years her husband’s senior, had long resented his infidelities, the revolt may have been instigated by her; in any case, she gave her sons considerable military support. The revolt failed, and Eleanor was captured while seeking refuge in the kingdom of her first husband, Louis VII. Her semi-imprisonment in England ended only with the death of Henry II in 1189. On her release, Eleanor played a greater political role than ever before. She actively prepared for Richard’s coronation as king, was administrator of the realm during his Crusade to the Holy Land, and, after his capture by the duke of Austria on Richard’s return from the east, collected his ransom and went in person to escort him to England. During Richard’s absence, she succeeded in keeping his kingdom intact and in thwarting the intrigues of his brother John Lackland and Philip II Augustus, king of France, against him.

In 1199 Richard died without leaving an heir to the throne, and John was crowned king. Eleanor, nearly 80 years old, fearing the disintegration of the Plantagenet domain, crossed the Pyrenees in 1200 in order to fetch her granddaughter Blanche from the court of Castile and marry her to the son of the French king. By this marriage she hoped to ensure peace between the Plantagenets of England and the Capetian kings of France. In the same year she helped to defend Anjou and Aquitaine against her grandson Arthur of Brittany, thus securing John’s French possessions. In 1202 John was again in her debt for holding Mirebeau against Arthur, until John, coming to her relief, was able to take him prisoner. John’s only victories on the Continent, therefore, were due to Eleanor.


It seems that Eleonore has introduced the arms with the three lions because on her seals from that time three lions would appear. (Douet d'Arcq no 10006: Seal dated 1199, poorly preserved and no arms. But Sandford. P. 57

The authorship of  Alianor may be true but that depends on the date of the coat of arms on her seals which is not known.

Tomb effigy of Eleanor in Fontevraud 1204

13th cent. Fontevraud Abbey, Maine & Loire


Henry FitzHenry

*1155 - †1183

Heir apparent of England, Normandy & Anjou 1156

King of England 1170


Seal of Henry FitzHenry


Crowned King with sceptre on eagle  throne.



Photo H.d.V 2011

The Young king in Chinon


Of Henry FitzHenry (*1155), crowned in 1170 co-king of England a coat of arms is given  by Matthew Paris as Gules, three lions passant Or dimidiated of Sable,


Mat­theus Parisiensis Chron. Majora Corpus Christi Coll Ms 26. fol. 276 (138v): Death of Hendry the Younger, 1183 (2:319) - lower left margin: Inverted crown above reversed shield (Gules, three lions passant gardant or, dimidiating sable); below: mors (in black) and vita (in red); above: Corona et scutum Henrici regis junioris qui vivente patre obiit. Ook: Hist. Angl. fol 70v Death of Henry the Younger, 1183 (1:426) - inner right margin: inverted shield (gules three lions passant gardant or): Corona er clipeus regis Henrici junioris. 


In 1945 a stone came to light in the damaged St Junien Abbey Church in  Nouaillé-Maupertuis  (Vienne, 15 km from Poitiers). On it are three medallions charged with eagles: two yellow (Or) and one white (Argent). These may readily be brought in connection to the kings Henry II, Louis VII and the Young king Henry, the white eagle being of the Junior King Henry. A date could be the rule of Young king (1170-1183), who was married (∞ 1160) with Margareth, daughter of  Louis VII.


Photo HdV 2015

Three royal eagles in St Junien Abbey Church in  Nouaillé-Maupertuis .


Richard I Lionheart


 Duke of Aquitaine 1168/1172

Heir apparent of England, Normandy and Anjou 1183

Count of Anjou 1189

Duke of Normandy 20 .07.1189

King of England 3.IX.1189 & 17.03.1194

Imperial vassal for England 1193


Foto H.d.V. 2011

Richard in Chinon with falcon, 1170 ca


As a count of Poitou he bore according to William de Barr: Guil. Brit Armoricanis in Philipeidos)  (Sandford p. 73 margin)

Ecce comes pictavus agro nos provocat, ecce

Nos ad bella vocat, rictus agnosco Leonum

Illius in clypeo, stat ibi quasi ferrea turris

Francorum nomen blasphemans or protervo


Here comes Pictavorum field we have challenges, there
We have to go to war to call, I recognize that the jaws of the lion 's
In his shield, he stands there like an iron tower
French blasphemes the name or protervo
Here comes Poitiers, in the field of our challenges;
is calling for, behold, We have to go to war, I recognize the lion 's jaws,
In his shield, he stands there like an iron tower
France is blasphemans edge protervo


1183 After the death of Henry FitzHenry in 1183, disagreement broke out about the possession of Aquitaine that Henry II wanted to give to John (*1167) because Richard would already succeed in England. Richard's resistance led him to pay homage to Philip August (18 Nov.1188) for the French possessions. In 1189, Richard, Philip Augustus and John joined against Henry II.

After his succession in England, Normandy and Anjou, Richard the Lionheart set out on a crusade. During his absence, which lasted until 1194, his mother Eleonore acted as regent for him in his French territories. In England, Chancellor Willem Longchamp was in charge for so long


Conference at Bonmoulins, November 1188

At this meeting, Henry II proposed, by way of an amicable arrangement, thta  the conquests on either side should be abandoned, and that matters should be allowed to remain in the same situation in which they stood when the kings accorded together to take the cross. To his amazement, the first person who objected to this foundation of the treaty was Richard, who absolutely refused to give up his latter conquestst, without some equivalent. Philip a;so, instead of siding with Henry, insisted upon othe terms. He offered, it is true, to abandon the towns he had taken, but on these conditions only – that the marriage between Richard and his sister Adelais should be instantly solemnized; and that all the subjects of Henry, whether in England or in Normandy, should be required to take the oath of allegiance to his son. Henry refused to fulfil either. His obstinate denial, thus publicly announced, to what Richared deemed his just and natural rights, snapped asunder the last cord which held the king and his son togethe. Richard again formally repeated in his own name the demands urged by the king of France, which being again peremptorily denied, he stepped forth into the midst of the assembled circle, and, eying his father with a look of indignation, exclaimed, “I now see that to be true, which I formerly deemed to be impossible; “and, unbuckling his sword and presenting it to Philip on his knee, he added, “From you sire, I crave the protection of my rights, and to you I do homage for all the lands in France (de ominibus tenementis patris sui transmarinis) held of you, as liege lord and suzerein.” and assembly broke up in confusion and dismay.


Seal of Majesty, 1189


Richard on his throne, crowned with sword and orb between two crescents enclosing seven-poined stars and two sprigs of planta genista. The eagle omitted L.:  X RICARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLORUM. (Sandford p. 55.Gray-B 80)

Equestrian Seal 1189

Arms: A lion rampant. (alias: two lions combatant rampant)


R.: Arms: Lion. L.: X ricardvs dvx normannorvm et aquit­anorvm et comes andegavorvm. D.: 1195. (Rev. Sandford a, p. 55 n° 80-86 & Douet d'Arcq no. 10007)


The lion on the shield has caused much confusion because a shield button is also visible. This suggests a second lion in the sinister half of the shield, be it turned to the dexter or be it turned to the sinister. However no contemporary information about these arms could have been obtained in the last 800 years. Two lions combatant could have been the badge of a Sénéschal, a Connétable or First officer of the Crown which Richard may have usurped for himself when he had offered himself a vassal of France in 1188.

Be it as it is, we simply don’t know what Richard intended with the charge of his shield.


1190 Banner: Red,  a white cross


Philip Augustus, Richard the Lionheart and Philip of Alsace agreed at the start of the 3rd Crusade that of the first “et gens sua suscepterunt cruces rubeas” of the second “cruces albas” and the third “cruces viridas ad cognoscendam gentem”. [4]  If Richard the Lionheart had already born a coat of arms at the crusade, it would have been red with a white cross.


Henry VI pardons Richard the Lionheart

From Ebulo, Petrus de: Liber ad Honorem Augusti  sive de rebus Siculis.

Codex 120 II der Burgerbibliothek Bern, fol. 129.


1192 Capture and pardon of the disguised Richard the Lionheart.

The capture of the English King Richard the Lionheart (December 21/22, 1192) in Erdberg (now part of Vienna) and his surrender to the Emperor (illustris Rex Anglie a Ierosolimis rediens captus presentatur Augusto). Richard had left the Holy Land in early October, in which Ardia was shipwrecked and then tried to reach his Welfish relatives in Saxony by land. Despite his disguise - according to sources as a pilgrim; he apparently has a rolled up carpet or a blanket - he was recognized and imprisoned by Duke Leopold V of Austria from private revenge Richard had demolished a coat of arms or flag of the Duke from a conquered tower in Jerusalem in July 1191, leaving the Germans empty when distributing the loot. Extradited to Henry VI. the huge ransom - 150 000 Cologne Marks (1 M. = approx. 234 g) - silver, of which only two thirds could be raised despite the greatest efforts - financed the second campaign to Sicily.


Backed by his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, who successfully defended his interests against his rivaling brother John Lackland and his ally King Philip of France, King Richard procured his release in exchange for the huge ransom, a further interest payment, and his oath of allegiance to Henry VI. In turn the emperor under threat of military violence demanded the restitution of the French lands, which John had seized upon approval by Philip during Richard's absence. Henry not only gained another vassal and ally, he could also assume the role of a mediator between England and France. He and Richard ceremoniously reconciled at the Hoftag in Speyer during Holy Week 1194: the English King publicly regretted any hostilities, genuflected, and cast himself on the emperor's mercy. He was released and returned to England

In the picture, the release is presented solely as an act of mercy of the Emperor: The English king was accused of the death of the Margrave Konrad von Montferrat (April 28, 1192), had denied his guilt and taken up the sword to purify himself, probably by a legal duel - (rex Anglie de morte ma[r]chionis accusatur, quod abnegans se ensiva manu excusaturum promittit). Then he begged for mercy and was released (tandem veniam petens liber graduation). The draftsman has intensified this scene by the "exposed" king throwing himself to the ground in front of the emperor and kissing his feet. Obviously, our author was familiar with the Proscynese (“prostration”), which was taken over from Byzantium in the Norman court ceremonial, and which defeated the Western empire, and prostrated itself before the ruler with a kiss on his foot. The clerical author knew both, prostration and foot kiss, also from the ecclesiastical sphere as a sign of the highest reverence. Henry VI. holds scepter and orb instead of a palm frond, apparently as a symbol of victory. [5]


On the right shoulder a red square cross

As a result King Richard I changed his arms in about 1195 into three lions passant.



It symbolized his new relationship with the Holy Roman Empire which was about the same as this of the king of Denmark who had received such a coat of arms before 1190. These arms symbolized the position of a great imperial vassal or ally directly below the emperor himself. It was granted only one more time later, in 1216 to Henry VII, son of Frederick II.

So, the three lions passant of England do not symbolize the three fiefs in France (Aquitaine, Normandia and Anjou), but simply an imperial vassalage or alliance.


Richard I., John and Henry III. are all said to have used the device of the crescent and star. (Fox.D. 1903 p. 336).


One of the oldest [badges] is the star and crescent, which seems originally to have been the sun and moon. This appeared on the first Great Seal of Richard I and perhaps alluded to his vocation as a crusader, the moon being an emblem of the Byzantine Empire. Portsmouth, which obtained a charter from Richard I, took the star and crescent as the device for its seal, and now bears them as arms. A star and crescent  appear in some representations of the arms of Dartmouth, whence the crusading host sailed; and are found in the crest of Nottingham and the seals of Ashburton, Barnard Castle, Malmesbury, and other towns. (Scott-Giles, 1933/’53/’72, p. 14, 154)


Seal of majesty. 1198


Richard on his throne, crowned. with sword and orb betwee a crescent and a sun of 16 rays . L.: X RICARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLORUM. (Sandford p. 55.n°87; Gray-B 80)


1198 Equestrian seal


Arms: Three lions passant guardant . L.: X RICARDVS DVX NORMAN­NORVM ET AQUIT­ANORVM ET COMES ANDEGRAVORVM. D.: 31 oct. 1198. (B.L. Cotton Charter XVI.1. (Sandford, p. 55. n°87 Douët d'Arcq no 10008)


Tomb effigy of Richard I, 1199

Fontevraud royal abbey. Maine et Loire


The king crowned in red  and shoes, and blue mantle


Arthur of Brittanny


            Heir apparent of England oct. 1190

Count of Anjou and Maine 1199


 Æ See Bretagne


John Lackland

*1167 - †1216

Earl of Gloucester 1176/1189 - 1200 (?)

Lord of Ireland 1177

            Earl of Cornwall 1176

Count of Mortain 1189

Count of Poitou 1198

Duke of Normandy 25.04.1199

            Count of Anjou 1199

King of England 27.05.1199

            Duke of Aquitaine 1199/1204

Papal vassal for England 1213



1. Gules, two lions passant Or.

Secret-  and equestrian seal of Johhn


1189 ca Equestrian seal: Arms: Two lions passant. L.: X sigillvm : iohannis : filii : regis : anglie : domini : hibnie. D.: ca. 1189. (Demay Sceaux de Normandie   48, Musée de Rouen. On this seal the arms are unreadable; Sandford, p. 55. but this was annihilated by Henry V but this was annihilated by Henry V but this was annihilated by Henry VI


From july 1189 John was Count of Mortain, a territory in Normandy in the south of the present Départment Manche.

John was from 1189 until october 1190 and from septem­ber 1197 until 1199 the recognized successor of Richard the Lionheart

In 1193 John paid homage to  Philip August of  France but this was annihilated by Henry VI

After his ascendance to the throne he soon lost all his possessions in France. but much later Aquit­aine, Normandy and Anjou would disappear from the English royal title. In the mean time John and his successor Henry III kept bearing the arms with the three lions passant.


2. Gules, Or.  


Seal of John. Arms: three lions passant. D.: 1200. (Douët d'Arcq n° 10009).


Seal of majesty and equestrian seal of King John

From Sandford, p. 55 [6]


Matthew Paris reports when Otto IV crowned emperor, at his arms being dimidiated of lions passant and an eagle that it is  "Scutum mutatum pro amore regis Angliae". His standard at the battle of Bouvines (1214) has, apart from a golden eagle also a golden dragon which was tha standard of Brittany at the time. (ð Otto IV Imperial standard).


1203 Seal of Majesty: King John crowned, on his throne with sword and orb crested with a square cross. L.: X  iohannes dei gracia rex anglie dominvs hibernie. Date: 1203.


Photo British Library

Record Number:

British Library 11089


Add. 4838


[Reverse] Impression of the Great Seal of King John, showing the king on horseback. Originally attached to the Articles of the Barons [Magna Carta], June 1215.




Latin / -

All efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the above description, but the British Library cannot accept responsibility for any errors that may occur.


King John’s effigy at Worcester Cathedral, with sword drawn and staff

copy from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, painted as it may have looked



Detail from King John’s burial shroud, showing part of a lion from his arms

Removed from the tomb in 1797, the fragment is now held in Worcester Cathedral Library.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)





(Clauses marked (+) are still valid under the charter of 1225, but with a few minor amendments. Clauses marked (*) were omitted in all later reissues of the charter. In the charter itself the clauses are not numbered, and the text reads continuously. The translation sets out to convey the sense rather than the precise wording of the original Latin.)


JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

+ (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

 TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a `relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of `relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight l00s. at most for the entire knight's `fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of `fees'

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without `relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same `fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same `fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be' made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

* (10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

* (11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

* (12) No `scutage' or `aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes ouly a reasonable `aid' may be levied. `Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

+ (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

* (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an `aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a `scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.

* (15) In future we will allow no one to levy an `aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable `aid' may be levied.

(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's `fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.

(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a husbandman the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.

(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.

(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

* (25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.

(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay `fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay `fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

* (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.

(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this servlce.

(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.

(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the `fees' concerned.

(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russett, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.

(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by `fee-farm', `socage', or `burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's `fee', by virtue of the `fee-farm', `socage', or `burgage', unless the `fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

* (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.

(43) If a man holds lands of any `escheat' such as the `honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other `escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the `relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the `escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.

(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

* (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.

(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.

(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

* (48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

* (49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.

* (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné', Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.

* (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.

* (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§ 61). In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.

* (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first a-orested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's `fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a `fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's `fee', in which the lord of the `fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.

(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

* (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustiy and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§ 61) together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.

(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

* (57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.

* (58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.

* (59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court.

(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

* (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:

The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.

If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chiefjustice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.

If-one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.

In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.

The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.

We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

* (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.

In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

* (63) It is accordingly our wish and command that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fulness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.

Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the abovementioned people and many others.

Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May).


Source and Further Information

G. R. C. Davis, Magna Carta, Revised Edition, British Library, 1989. [7]



Copyright © 1995, The British Library BoardFrom Portico - The British Library's Online Information Server


Henry III

*1207 - †1272

King of England 1216

Duke of Aquitaine 1216

Duke of Normandy 1216 - 1259

Count of Anjou 1216 - 1259

Lord of Ireland 1216

The Council of 15 1258 -1264


The King was particularly devoted to the figure of Edward the Confessor, whom he adopted as his patron saint

1219. Obv: Seal of majesty: Crowned king with sword and sceptre L.: Star and crescent henricvs dei gratia rex anglie dominvs hyber­nie. (Douët d'Arcq, James Basire (XIX cent): Great Seal of Henry III from a Magna Charter of Henri III in the archives of Durham (fig.)).


1219. Rev: Equestrian seal. Arms: Three lions passant.

L.: Star and crescent henricus dvx normannie et aquitanie comes andegavie.  (Douët d'Arcq; B.L., Cotton Charter XI.53, Basire)


In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle.


Henry III sailing to Brittany 1230

Matthew Paris Chronica Majora Corpus Christi College, MS 16, fol. 75v.


Arms of Henry III

Peter the Dene window, York Minster


Invaded Poitou in 1242


King Offa seting out on his expedition
Dublin Trinity College Library Ms. 177,  fol 55v
King Offa’s Victory
Dublin Trinity College Library Ms. 177,  fol 56

As appears from a manuscript, now in Dublin (Trinity Coll, 177, fols. 55v and 56), the king's sons in the time of Henry III carried three lions passant Gules on gold. The representration depicts a campaign of King Offa of East Anglia (757-796). According to later versions of his holy life, St. Edmund (855- † 869) would have been an adopted son of him: Later, fictitious versions make him a continental Saxon, born at Nuremberg and adopted by Offa, when on his way to Rome. Apparently St. Edmund can be seen in the retinue of Offa. A parallel with Henry III, and his sons Edward and Edmund therefore arises and it would follow that the arms carried were those of Henry III, Edward I and Edmund. Being:

1. Offa / Henry III: Gules (Sable), three crowned lions passant guardant (Or).

2. Edward: Argent three lions passant guardant Gules;

3. St. Edmund / Edmund: Argent, three lions passant guardant Gules.

It cannot be reasoned out which campaign of Henry III Matthew Paris took as an example for this picture, Edward (*12139) and Edmund (*1245) being too young or not being born for the probable dates.


Henry III  planned to go on crusade to the Levant, but was prevented from doing so by rebellions in Gascony.



1248-1250 Sixth Crusade: Hist. Angloum B.L. Ms Roy 14.C.VII, Fol. 150. Five Kings take up the cross, [1250] (a) top of the page between columns: Gules, a triple-towered castle argent (!): Scutum regis castellæ, cruce signati. (b) top right margin: azure, six fleurs de lis or with a banner next to it bearing azure, three fleurs de lis: Scutum regis Francorum, sed vexillum prostratum in bello; c. right margin: gules, three lions passant gardant or: Scutum regis Anglorum, cruce signati; (d) right margin: gules, three galleys or, above the first a cross formy arent: Scutum regis Norwagiæ, cruce signati; (...) (e) right margin: John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem (or crusuly argent, a cross ar­gent): Scutum regis Ierusalem, cognomen­to Bresne. (...)


Richard and Saladin; Combat Series Chertsey tiles [8]

Object type floor-tile

Museum number British Museum 1885,1113.9051-9060

Title (series) Richard and Saladin; Combat Series Chertsey tiles

Description Earthenware floor tiles, lead-glazed with inlaid slip decoration. Four quarter floor tiles making up a circular picture, ten surviving fragments. Knight on horseback representing Richard I (Coeur de Lion) in combat [his adversary Saladin represented on floor tiles 1885,1113.9065-9070.]

Culture/period Late Medieval

Date 1250s

Made in: Chertsey (Europe, United Kingdom, England, Surrey, Chertsey)

Findspot Excavated/Findspot: Chertsey Abbey, abbey (Europe, United Kingdom, England, Surrey, Chertsey, Chertsey Abbey)

Materials earthenware

Technique slip-decorated lead-glazed inlaid

Dimensions Æ: 256 mm


Coup d’État 1258

In 1258, King Henry III faced a revolt among the English barons. Anger had grown about the way the King's officials were raising funds, the influence of his Poitevin relatives at court and his unpopular Sicilian policy; even the English Church had grievances over its treatment by the King. Within Henry's court there was a strong feeling that the King would be unable to lead the country through these problems. On 30 April, Hugh Bigod marched into Westminster in the middle of the King's parliament, backed by his co-conspirators, including Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, and carried out a coup d'état. Henry, fearful that he was about to be arrested and imprisoned, agreed to abandon his policy of personal rule and instead govern through a council of 24 barons and churchmen, half chosen by the King and half by the barons.


Bigot, Comitis Bivod: Scut aureu crux gul = Or, a cross gules. LA 171v 11.


Montfort, Simon de, Earl of Leicester (†1219): argent, a lion rampant gules. CM16 f. 56; HA14 f. 105v. Comitis de legr: scut albii leo gul. LA 171v 5.


Under the Treaty of Paris of 1259, Henry III ceded his French territories to Louis the Saint and received Aquitaine back as a fief. From that time on the title changes and the arms with the lions appears in connection with the royal title. In fact, only since then one can speak of the arms with the three lions as the royal arms (Gritzner, E. 1902, p. 40)



1259 2.  A.: Seal of majesty. L.: X henricvs dei gracia rex anglie dominvs hyber­nie dux aquitanie. (Douët d'Arcq)


1259. b. R. of 2: Equestrian seal.  Arms: Three lions Passant Drie gaande leeuwen. L.: HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE DOMINVS HYBER­NIE DUX AQUIT­ANIE. (Douët d'Arcq)


1259 ca c. Mattheus Parisiensis Liber Addita­mentoru m (B.L. Ms. Cotton Nero D.I.) fol. 171v: wapen met drie leeuwen: "scut de gul leones aur", "Dni. Regis"


2. Argent, a cross Gules


1242/49 a. Conrad von Mure, Clipearius Teutonicorum: "Angli­ce rex, clipeus tuus albus habetur ibi­que/Crux transit rubea, spes terra ubique".

(O king of England, white is your shield and a red cross, the hope of the whole world intersects it)

1259 ca b. Mattheus Parisiensis Liber Addita­mentorum (B.L. Ms. Cotton Nero D.I.) fol. 171v: beside the arms with the three lions ("scut de gul leones aur") with the inscription "Dni. Regis",  a coat of arms with a cross. The legend of it is ureadable apart from the word  "albi".


The arms with the red cross on a white shield is the coat of arms of the Ecclesia and St. George and as such of the realms and organisations subordinated to the Holy See.

The council of Oxford decreed in 1222 that the nameday of St. George should be a natioanal feast-day but only in the time of d Edward III he became the patron saint of the kingdom  (Brittanica: George, Saint).  

The shield with the red cross is, probably not by accident, extensively described and explained in “The Quest of the Holy Grail” Ch. [2]: The Shield (pp. 53-66) after a manuscript from ca. 1225.


Edward I


∞1254 Alianor of Castile *1244-†1290

Duke of Gascony 1254

Lord of Ireland 1254

Earl of Chester 1254

Lord in Wales 1254

King of England 1272


King Edward I

Westminster Abbey, sedilia


The king crowned and with sceptre before a blue background strewn with lions passant.


Coats of arms


1. Azure, three garbs or.

Mattheus Parisiensis Lib. Add. (B.L. Ms. Cotton Nero D.I.) fol. 171v 13 Chester. Comitis Cestrie: Scut d'az tarvo dor

1258 a. Le conte de Chestre, de azure a treys garbes de or. (Glover, 1258)

1275 b. Le countee de Cestre, d'azure trois garbes d'or (Walf. 1275)


2. Or, three lions passant guardant gules.


The armor is confirmed by a German poem from the third quarter of the thirteenth century.

In the Turnei von Nantheiz by Konrad von Würzburg († 1287) the coat of arms of England is described as follows:


            man fuorte vor im uf daz gras

            einen gar tiurlichen schilt,

            der was so rich, daz mich bevilt

            der manicvalten koste sin

            mit golde lieht von Arabin

            was im sin velt bedecket

            und waren drin gestrecket

            entwerhes dri lebarten

            der glaste muoz ich zarten

            und ir gezierde reine.

            si konden von gesteine

            durchliuhten und durchschinen

            und waren uz rubinen

            nach hoher wirde lone

            geleit zein ander schone


So three red leopards on a golden field. [9] Probably the arms of the heir on the throne were meant and that can only have been Edward I  or II


Secret seal 1254



3. Gules, three lions passant guardant or.


Seal of Majesty: Edward on his throne, crowned and with a sceptre crested with an eagle, and an orb with a cross. Between two lions saliant and two lions at his feet.


Equestrian seal

Arms: three lions passant guardant

Crest: Royal crown

L.: X : edwardvs : dei : gracia : rex : anglie : dns : hybernie : dvx aquiG­anie.


1272 a. Wijnbergen n°  1263.


1275 b. Walford's Roll: 4: Le Roy d'Engleterre, gules a trois leopards d'or

1280 c. Camden Roll: 7: Le rey de Engleterre, l'escu de goules od treis leopars d'or.

Bag for the royal seal of King Edward I.

Courtesy Westminster Abbey, acc. no. WAM 1494*.


The Muniment Room in Westminster Abbey houses a royal seal bag that is attached to a document dated to 26 November 1280, and used to protect a wax impression of the Great Seal of King Edward I of England (1239-1307, he reigned from 1272) The seal bag is made of wool with a linen lining, intarsia (inlaid) appliqué (with motifs surrounded by laid linen cord) for the main designs, and silk thread embroidery for the details. The embroidery is worked in split stitch.


1298 d. Falkirk: 49: Le roy porte de gulez ou trois leopards passauntz d'or.


4. Azure, a cross between four martlets or.




1280 Camden Roll n° 16: Seynt Edward le Rey, l'escu de azur od une croiz d'or a quatre merloz d'or.


The two brothers Edward I and Edmund Crouchback apparently propagated the cult of their holy predecessors St Edward (King of England (ca. 963-978) and St Edmund (King of East Anglia 855-869). Around the same time a banner appears for St. Edmund (see: Ireland) with three crowns on a blue field..


In fact, there were still no arms for England, because the arms with the cross are the arms of the church and the three lions represented the vassality of the Plantagenets for their French territories. Possibly arms for England were searched for in this context. This was based on a silver coin of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) with a cross between four birds in the corners. These arms were revived by Richard II (1377-1399). In the seventeenth century they became the arms of Wessex.


Alienor of Castile


∞1254 Queen consort of Edward I


Obv.: The queen with sceptre and eagle-staff. In base a lion passant


Rev.: Tree rising from the waves with shield, Three lions passant guardant.


Obv. The queen with lily-sceptre. In base medallion with lion passant guardant


Rev.:  Tree (deracinated?) with shield, Three lions passant guardant.



Edward II of Caernarvon


Heir of the Throne 1284-1307

Prince of Wales 1301-1307

Earl of Chester 1301-1320

King of England 1307-1327


1. Gules, three lions passant guardant Or and a label azure.


1280 Camden Roll n° 25: Sire Aunfour porte les armes le rey de Engleterre a un label de azur.


1284 In August 1284 Edward II succeeded his deceased brother Alfonso (*1273-†1284, Earl of Chester) as heir of the throne. [11]



1300 a. Siege of Caerl. 1300: vs. 400-409: Conduit Edewars li fielz le roy/ Jovenceaus de dis et set ans/ E de nouvell armes portans./...­./ E portoit o un bleu label/ Les armes le bon roi son pere.


1305 b. Edward of Caernarvon (afterwards Edward II) bore before 1307 England with a label azure. (From his seal, 1305) (F.-D. fig. 872).


This coat of arms was copied from Alphonso who bore England with a label of five, Azure but of  Edmund Crouchback who, during the minority of Edward II certainly qualified as a heir of the throne. This is also suggested  by the verse "E de nouvell armes portans". Thomas of Lancaster bore after the death of Edmund his arms augmnented with golden fleurs de lys. Apart of Overigens is het aantal hangers, in het geval van Edmund 4 en bij Eduard II 5 mogelijk niet zonder betekenis.


Prince of Wales


2 Argent, three lions passant gardant coward in pale Gules. [...] with the lions passant, instead of passant regardant, this coat appears at a much earlier date in a French source, the roll of Vermandois Herald, of which the lost original is thought to date from c.1300: le prince de Gales porte d’argent a iij lions de gueules passans l’un sur l’autre a queue entortillee dedans l’une des jambes du lion de derriere. [12]) (ð Wales).

See also the note under his father Henry III. The second son which Edward II was also,  bore a shield Argent with three lions Gules


King of Engeland


2. Gules, three lions passant guardant or.

An English king receives his arms from St. George

From: Walter de Milemete: Liber de Officiis Regum

Oxford, Christ Church Library, ms. Ch. Ch. 92, fol. 3r.


Seal of Majesty: Edward on his throne, crowned and with a sceptre crested with an eagle, and an orb with a cross. Between two castles, two lions saliant and two lions at his feet.


Equestrian seal: Arms: Three lions passany guardant



Edward III



Earl of Chester 1320

Duke of Aquitaine 1325-1375

Duke of Gascony 1325-1337

Duke of Guienne 1325-1375

Count of Ponthieu 1325-1375

King of England 1327

∞ 1329 Philippa of Hainault *1314-†1369

Tit. King of France 1337/1340-1360

Roman King 10.01.1348-23.04.1348


Arms: Three lions passent  guarant and five labels

1327 Gules, three lions passant guardant or. 


í On this royal seal the eagle on the sceptre appears for the last time

Liber Regalis. The coronation of a king EDward III and queen Philippa of Hainault

(London, Westminster Abbey, MS 38, f. 20).

The Liber Regalis is a 14th-century coronation manuscript.


So called Crown of Blanche of Lancaster.

München, Schatzkammer der Residenz. [13]


Comparison with the crown on the picture above makes it likely that it in fact is the nuptial crown of Philippa of Hainault in 1329. It later came to be the nuptial crown of  Blanche in 1402. The crown first appears in an inventory of 1399 of the jewels of Richard II.


In 1340, soon after the outbreak of the Hundred Years War, Edward III proclaimed himself King of France and quartered the arms of France with those of England, as shown here on his seal. France is represented by fleurs de lis, England by lions.

A dispute over the succession to the French throne was one of the prime causes of the Wars of the Roses  . In 1328, Charles IV of France died without leaving a male heir. His two possible successors were Philip of Valois, the nearest direct male relative, and Edward III of England, who was the son of Charles's sister and therefore the closest blood relative. Under French law, however, women were unable to succeed to the French throne. Although Edward's envoys argued that women were able to transmit the right to their male offspring, the French nobility decided in favour of Philip. When war broke out in 1337, however, Edward chose to pursue his claim to be King of France.

The claim of Edward III. to the throne of France was made on the death of Charles IV. of France in 1328, but the decision being against him, he apparently acquiesced and did homage to Philip of Valois (Philip VI.) for Guienne. Philip, however, lent assistance to David II. of Scotland against King Edward, who immediately renewed his claim to France, assumed the arms and the title of king of that country, and prepared for war. He started hostilities in 1339, and upon his new Great Seal (made in the early part of 1340) we find his arms represented upon shield, surcoat, and  housings as: “Quarterly, 1 and 4, azure, semé-de-lis or (for France) 2 and 3, gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or (for England)”. The Royal Arms thus remained until 1411, when upon the second Great Seal of Henry IV. the fleurs-de-lis in England (as in France) were reduced to three in number, and so remained as part of the Royal Arms of this country until the latter part of the reign of George III.


Fleurs-de-lis (probably intended as badges only) had figured upon all the Great Seals of Edward III. On the first seal (which with slight alterations had also served for both Edward I. and II.), a small fleur-de-lis appears over each of the castles which had previously figured on either side of the throne. In the second Great Seal, fleurs-de-lis took the places of the castles.[14]



1340 Seal of majesty: Edward seated between two lions sejant guardant, crowned and with sceptre and orb, between two coats of arms quarterly of France and England.

L.: X : edwardVs : dei : gracia : rex : francie et : anglie : et : dominVs : hybernie :


1340 Equestrian seal: Arms: ¼: 1&4: Azure, strewn with fleurs de lis Or; 2&3: Gules, three lions passant guardant Or.

Crest: On a ducal hat, a crowned lion statant guardant Or.

L.: X : edwardVs : dei : gracia : rex : francie et : anglie : et : dominVs : hybernie :

(Sandfort p. 124. Douët d'Arcq n° 10024. Il Sigillo n°  33)


King Edward III after 1340.

Brass from Elsing Church, Norfolk



Arms: ¼: 1&4: Azure, strewn with fleurs de lis Or; 2&3: Gules, three lions passant guardant Or.

Crest: On a ducal hat, a crowned lion statant guardant Or.

1365 ca Gelre fol 56v die coninc va engelant: ¼ of France Ancient and England. Crest: A crowned lion statant guardant or on a ducal hat. 

Edward III was elected a Roman king by the Wittelsbach party. After his resignation (at the insistence of King Charles IV), the Wittelsbachs elected Günther von Schwarzburg, who, however, died in the same year of his election (1349). The symbol of Edward III was a radiant white rose. In the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Cahors (Lot) is a chapel where roses and suns are always used as symbols. The western facade of this church was built at the beginning of the 14th century and the domes were painted by order of Bishop Guillaume V de Labroue (1317-‘24), a cousin of Pope John XXII. It is therefore very possible that the chapel was built and painted by or for Edward III or Richard II. The chapel was severely damaged during the Revolution, with all lilies being cut away. The English had to give up Cahors in 1450 so that the roses cannot be Tudor roses. It was reported t’hat the roses in question are the symbols of Quercy which explains nothing further.


Photo H.d.V.

A rose, fleurs de lys and a sun radiant

Cahors, St.Etienne, Chapel, 14th cent.


The silver gilt spoon




The silver gilt spoon has an oval bowl, divided into two lobes, engraved with acanthus scrolls. The bowl is joined to the stem by a stylised monster's head, behind which the stem flattens into a roundel, flanked by four pearls, and a band of interlaced scrolling, with another monster's head; the end of the tapering stem is spirally twisted, and terminates in a flattened knop.

The spoon is first recorded in 1349 as preserved among St Edward's Regalia in Westminster Abbey. Already at this date it is described as a spoon of 'antique forme'. Stylistically it seems to relate to the twelfth century and is therefore a remarkable survival - the only piece of royal goldsmiths' work to survive from that century. It was possibly supplied to Henry II or Richard I.

It is unclear from the 1349 inventory whether the spoon at this date was part of the chapel plate or simply a secular object. However, it was clearly never intended for eating or stirring. Its divided bowl and length suggest that it always had a ceremonial purpose, and its presence among the regalia means that it has always been associated with coronations. It may originally have been used for mixing wine and water in a chalice, but it was certainly used for anointing the sovereign during the coronation of James I in 1603, and at every subsequent coronation. One suggestion is that the divided bowl was designed in this fashion so that the archbishop might dip two fingertips into the holy oil.

The spoon remained among the regalia until 1649, when it was sold off (rather than melted down like the other items). It was purchased by a Mr Kynnersley, Yeoman of Charles I's Wardrobe, for 16 shillings. Kynnersley returned the spoon to Charles II, for use at the coronation in 1661, when the small pearls were added to its decoration. It has remained in use ever since.

The anointing is the most sacred part of the coronation ceremony, and takes place before the investiture and crowning. The Archbishop pours holy oil from the Ampulla (or vessel) into the spoon, and anoints the sovereign on the hands, breast and head. The tradition goes back to the Old Testament where the anointing of Solomon by Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet is described. Anointing was one of the medieval holy sacraments and it emphasised the spiritual status of the sovereign. Until the seventeenth century the sovereign was considered to be appointed directly by God and this was confirmed by the ceremony of anointing. Although the monarch is no longer considered divine in the same way, the ceremony of Coronation also confirms the monarch as the Head of the Church of England.


Possibly made for Henry II or Richard I? First recorded in the Royal Collection in 1349


Tomb effigy of Edward III, Westminster Abbey


Richard II



¥ Anne of Bohemia 1382

¥ Isabella of Valois 1396


Afbeeldingsresultaat voor wilton diptych national gallery

The Wilton Diptych, c. 1394-9.

53 Î 37 cm

This painting is presented as follows:

King Richard II is presented by his patron saints, King Edmund, Edward the Confessor and John the Baptist, to the Virgin and Child. The reverse side shows arms atrributed to Edward the Confessor, with the quartered royal arms of France and England and Richard’s personal emblem of the white hart (also embroidered on the dresses of the eleven angels and on the gown of the kin).(National Gallery, London.) [15]


! However !


Birth of Richard II, 6 January 1367

As on the Wilton Diptych


The Virgin Mary, assisted by eleven angels ensigned with white stags, presenting new born Richard to his father and mother (represented on the left wing of the diptych). One angel acting as a standard bearer of the banner of England.



This is a portrait of  Edward the Black Prince (†1376) and his wife Joan Fair Maid of Kent (†1385) receiving Richard II from the Virgin Mary in 1367. Attending are Edward III (†1377) (father of Edward Black Prince) and St. John Baptist, patron of Joan. 


Edward the Black Prince receives Aquitania from his father, 1360


Joan, Fair Maid of Kent

Her robe strewn with stags


King Ricard II, 1390

with crown, orb and sceptre. His dress strewn with his royal cypher.

Anonymus, Westminster Abbey


Arms of  Richard II on the  Wilton-diptych


Arms: Per pale of Edward the Confessor and Edward III

Crest: A ducal hat and a lion statant guardant Or


Sir Simon de Fellbrigge K.C.

Standard bearer to Richard II

In Fellbrigg Church, Norfolk, 1416.

Standard per pale of

 Edward the Confessor and Edward III

On his shoulders ailettes of St. George

Around his leg a Garter of the Order of the Garter


















Secret seal

with crowned arms parted of the arms of Edward the confessor and Edward III

1377 Seal of majesty: Richard II seated between two lions sejant guardant, crowned and with sceptre and orb, between two coats of arms quarterly of France and England.

L.: RICardVs : dei : gracia : rex : francie et : anglie : et : Dns : hIbernie :

1377 Equestrian seal: Arms: ¼: 1&4: Azure, strewn with fleurs de lis Or; 2&3: Gules, three lions passant guardant Or.

Crest: On a ducal hat, a crowned lion statant guardant Or.

L.: RICardVs : dei : gracia : rex : francie et : anglie : et : Dns : hIbernie :


The Stag


Deer or stag on the Wilton Diptych


According to Sandford the stag was the device of Joan of Kent. The stag may be the symbol of the Older Teacher (Psychopompos) and probably refers to Pope Innocent VI (1352-†1362) who dispensated Joan to marry Edward the Black prince in 1361 when her first husband, Thomas de Holand, had died in 1360.


The stag was, as a supporter, also used by Thomas de Holland (*1350-†1397), a half brother of  Richard from the first marriage of Joan.


The stag is also represented as the impresa of Richard II in Writhe’s Garter Book, a facsimile from ca 1640 made for Sir Christopher Hatton.




In the head of this article: Coat of arms of Richard II by Robert John Parsons BA ATC Herald painter College of Arms, 1975


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 © Hubert de Vries 2019-05-02




[1]  Williamson, David: Debrett’s Guide to Heraldry and Regalia. London 1992, pp. 78-79.

[2]  Chronique des ducs de Normandie par Benoît. Ed. Cahrin Fahlin, ii (Uppsala-Wiesbaden-The Hague-Geneva 1954), vv. 36941-7. Op zijn beurt kan dit ook een aanwijzing zijn dat Willem de Veroveraar echt het wapen met de zes leeuwen gevoerd zou hebben. Tenslotte schreef Benoît de kroniek nog geen 95 jaat na de dood van Willem I en bovendien voor een achterkleinzoon.

[3] Sandford op. cit p. 67

[4] Gritzner, E. 1902, p. 40

[5] Lit.: Ebulo, Petrus de: Liber ad Honorem Augusti.  sive de rebus Siculis. Codex 120 II der Burgerbibliothek Bern. Eine Bilderchronik der Stauferzeit. Herausgegeben von Theo Kölzer und Marlis Stähli. Jan Thorbecke Verlag Sigmaringen, 1994

[6] https://archive.org/details/genealogicalhist00sand

[7] British Library Publications - An Overview.

[8] https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?assetId=308777001&objectId=14809&partId=1

[9] Seyler, Geschichte p. 247

[10] Sandford op. cit p. 57, p.70

[11] The arms of Alphonso in the Alphonso Psalter:  https://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/.a/6a00d8341c464853ef014e8904d8ed970d-popup?_ga=2.234099998.1677425305.1553868077-1243667815.1553868077

[12] BN, Ms français 2249, ff. 14 et seq., ‘Armorial dit du Hérault Vermandois’. This is a fifteenth-century copy. See Michel Pastoureau, Traité d’Héraldique (Paris, 1979), p. 227, and note; also Ralph Griffin, ‘Some English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish arms in continental roll’s, Antiquaries’ Journal, vol. XXI (1941), pp. 209-10, esp. 205.

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Princess_Blanche

[14]  Fox-Davies, A.C. op.cit. p. 200.

[15] St.Wenceslas and King Wenceslas Votive Panel of Jan Očko of Vlašim ~1376? By an unknown artist. Tempera on lime wood, 181 ´ 96 cm. National Gallery, Prague. Apparently of the same artist.