Coat of arms of Denmark
|Greater coat of arms of the |
Kingdom of Denmark
Greater (Royal) version
Lesser (State) version
|Armiger||Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark|
|Adopted||First documented in the 1190s. Modified 1819. Designated as dynastic arms 1959. Last modified 5 July 1972|
|Crest||Crown of King Christian V|
|Torse||tasseled strings Or|
|Blazon||A shield quartered by a cross argent fimbriated gules, first and fourth quarter Or, three lions passant in pale azure crowned and armed Or langued gules, nine lily pads gules (for Denmark); second quarter Or, two lions passant in pale azure armed Or langued gules (for Schleswig); third quarter azure, party per fess, in base per pale; in chief three crowns Or (for the Kalmar Union), in dexter base a ram passant argent armed and unguled Or (for the Faroe Islands), in sinister base a polar bear rampant argent (for Greenland). Overall an escutcheon Or two bars gules (for Oldenburg)|
|Supporters||two wild men armed with clubs Proper|
|Motto||Latin: Magnanimi Pretium|
|Order(s)||Order of the Dannebrog, and Order of the Elephant|
|Other elements||The monarch places this coat of arms on a mantle gules lined with Ermine. Above the mantle is a pavilion gules again topped with the royal crown.|
|Earlier version(s)||24 August 1815|
The state coat of arms of the Kingdom (rigsvåben) consists of three pale blue lions passant wearing crowns, accompanied by nine red lilypads (normally represented as heraldic hearts), all in a golden shield with the royal crown on top.
The national coat of arms of Denmark proper (nationalvåben — also called lille våben) is similar to the state coat of arms, but without the royal crown above the shield.
It is historically the coat of arms of the House of Estridsen, the dynasty which provided the kings of Denmark between 1047 and 1412. The current design was introduced in 1819, under Frederick VI. Previously, there had been no distinction between the "national" and the "royal" coat of arms. Since 1819, there has been a more complex royal coat of arms of Denmark (kongevåben) separate from the national coat of arms (rigsvåben).
Historically, the lions faced the viewer and the number of hearts was not regulated and could be much higher. The "heart" shapes originally represented waterlily pads; a royal decree of 1972 still specifies these figures as søblade ("lake leaves").
The current design was adopted in 1819 during the reign of King Frederick VI who fixed the number of hearts to nine and decreed that the heraldic beasts were lions, consequently facing forward. A rare version exists from the reign of king Eric of Pomerania in which the three lions jointly hold the Danish banner, in a similar fashion as in the coat of arms of the former South Jutland County. Until c. 1960, Denmark used both a "small" and a "large" coat of arms, similar to the system still used in Sweden. The latter symbol held wide use within the government administration, e.g., by the Foreign Ministry. Since this time, the latter symbol has been classified as the coat of arms of the royal family, leaving Denmark with only one national coat of arms, used for all official purposes.
The crown on the shield is a heraldic construction based on the crown of King Christian V, not to be confused with the crown of King Christian IV. The main difference from the real crown is that the latter is covered with table cut (taffelsten) diamonds rather than pearls. Both crowns, and other royal insignia, are located in Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.
This insignia is almost identical to the coat of arms of Estonia and the greater coat of arms of Tallinn which can both be traced directly back to King Valdemar II and the Danish rule in northern Estonia in 1219–1346. The main differences are as follows: In the Danish coat of arms the lions are crowned, face forward, and accompanied by nine hearts. In the Estonian coat of arms, the "leopards" face the viewer, they are not crowned, and no hearts are present. The coat of arms of Tallinn resembles the Estonian arms, but the leopards in the former arms are crowned with golden crowns similar to the ones in the Danish arms. It shows great similarities with the contemporary insignia of England's Richard the Lionheart and the current arms of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The Danish coat of arms has also been the inspiration for the coat of arms of the former Duchy of Schleswig, a former Danish province (two blue lions in a golden shield). The hearts of the coat of arms also appear in the coat of arms of the German district of Lüneburg.
Royal Coat of Arms
The Royal Coat of Arms is more complex. The current version was established by royal decree 5 July 1972.
The shield is quartered by a silver cross fimbriated in red, derived from the Danish flag, the Dannebrog. The first and fourth quarters represent Denmark by three crowned lions passant accompanied by nine hearts; the second quarter contains two lions passant representing Schleswig, a former Danish province now divided between Denmark and Germany, the third quarter contains a total of three symbols. The Three Crowns are officially interpreted as a symbol of the former Kalmar Union.
The centre escutcheon, two red bars on a golden shield, represents the House of Oldenburg; the former royal dynasty that ruled Denmark and Norway since the middle of the fifteenth century. When the senior branch of this dynasty became extinct in 1863, the crown passed to Prince Christian of the cadet branch Glücksburg, whose descendants have reigned in Denmark ever since. The House of Glücksburg continues the use of the arms of the old Oldenburg dynasty, and the symbol is still officially referred to by its old association.
Two woodwoses (vildmænd) act as supporters, and this element can be traced back to the early reign of the Oldenburg dynasty. Similar supporters were used in the former arms of Prussia. The shield features the insignias of the Order of the Dannebrog and the Order of the Elephant around it.
A blazon in heraldic terms is: A shield quartered by a cross argent fimbriated gules, first and fourth quarter Or, three lions passant in pale azure crowned and armed Or langued gules, nine hearts gules (for Denmark); second quarter Or, two lions passant in pale azure armed Or langued gules (for Schleswig); third quarter azure, party per fess, in base per pale; in chief three crowns Or (for the Kalmar Union), in dexter base a ram passant argent armed and unguled Or (for the Faroe Islands), in sinister base a polar bear rampant argent (for Greenland). Overall an escutcheon Or two bars gules (for Oldenburg) the whole surrounded by the Collars of the Order of the Dannebrog and the Order of the Elephant. Supporters two woodwoses armed with clubs Proper standing on a pedestal. All surrounded by a mantle gules doubled ermine crowned with a royal crown and tied up with tasseled strings Or.
The royal coat of arms has since around 1960 been reserved exclusively for use by the Monarch, the royal family, the Royal Guards and the royal court according to royal decree. A select number of purveyors to the Danish royal family are also allowed to use the royal insignia.
In late medieval heraldry, coats of arms that used to be associated with noble families became attached to the territories that had been ruled by these families, and coats of arms used by individual rulers were composed of the coats of arms of the territories they ruled. In the case of Denmark, the coat of arms of the House of Estridsen with the extinction of the dynasty became the "coat of arms of Denmark". Olaf II of Denmark (and IV of Norway) succeeded his maternal grandfather Valdemar IV in 1376. He was the first king to rule Norway and Denmark in personal union. Olaf on his seal still displayed the Estridsen (for Denmark) and Sverre (for Norway) coats of arms in two separate shields. The custom of dividing the field arises with Eric of Pomerania at the end of the 14th century.
The modern "royal coat of arms of Denmark" is the continuation of this tradition of the Danish monarch using his or her personal coat of arms after the end of the personal union of Denmark and Norway.
|Coat of arms||Bearer||Description|
| • Valdemar IV of Denmark
||The coat of arms of Valdemar IV of Denmark.|
| • Eric of Pomerania
||King Eric VII of Denmark and III of Norway (ruled in personal union, 1396–1439). The colour of the cross over all, here shown in red, is unattested; Christian I has a silver cross (or cross potent) superimposed on the red cross, later designs seem to favour gold.|
| • King Christian I
||The coat of arms of Christian I as used during the late 1450s; introduces the arms of the House of Oldenburg as inescutcheon.|
| • King Christian IV
||Coat of arms of Christian IV, BSB cod. icon. 326 (1594)|
| • King Frederick IV
||Greater coat of arms of Denmark and Norway used during 1699–1819.|
| • King Frederick VI
• King Christian VIII
• King Frederick VII
• King Christian IX
|Greater coat of arms of Denmark used from 1819 to 1903. This was the first Danish arms following the replacement of the Norwegian lion with the coat of arms of the three former parts of Norway that Denmark retained after 1814: the stockfish of Iceland, the ram of Faroe Islands, and the polar bear of Greenland.|
| • King Christian IX
• King Frederick VIII
• King Christian X
|Greater coat of arms of Denmark. This version was used from 1903 to 1948. This was the only version of the Danish arms in which Iceland was represented by a falcon rather than its traditional stockfish arms.|
|• King Frederick IX||Greater coat of arms of Denmark. This version was used from 1948 to 1972. The falcon of Iceland was removed belatedly after the independence of Iceland from Denmark in 1944. The change was implemented after the death of king Christian X, who used the style "king of Denmark and Iceland" until his death. In 1959, the "three-lions" insignia became the sole national coat of arms, and the previous "greater coat of arms" was designated as the coat of arms of the Danish royal family.|
The current version of the arms, established by royal decree 5 July 1972, is greatly simplified from the previous version which contained seven additional sub-coats representing five territories formerly ruled by the Danish kings and two medieval titles: Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Lauenburg, Delmenhorst, and King of the Wends and Goths. A crowned silver stockfish on red was formerly included to represent Iceland, but due to Icelandic opposition, this symbol was replaced in 1903 by a silver falcon on blue. The falcon was in turn removed from the royal arms in 1948 following the death of King Christian X in 1947 and reflecting the 1944 breakup of the Dano-Icelandic union.
The following list is based on the research by Danish heraldist, Erling Svane. Danish names are shown in brackets.
- Norway (Norge): 1398 – c. 1819: Gules, a lion rampant crowned and bearing an axe Or bladed argent. The union with Norway was dissolved in 1814 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.
- Sweden (Sverige): 1398 - Azure, three bars argent surmounted by a lion rampant Or. The Folkung lion, the arms of Sweden until 1364. Only used during the reign of Eric of Pomerania.
- Pomerania (Pommern): 1398 - Argent, a griffin segreant gules. Only used during the reign of Eric of Pomerania.
- Bavaria (Bayern): 1440 - Lozengy argent and azure. Only used during the reign of Christopher of Bavaria.
- Palatinate (Pfalz): 1440 - Sable, a lion rampant crowned Or. Only used during the reign of Christopher of Bavaria.
- King of the Wends (de venders konge / Vendernes Konge): 1440–1972: Gules, a lindorm crowned Or. Early examples of this insignia also exist with a blue shield. Canute VI proclaimed himself Rex Sclavorum (King of Slavs). From the reign of Valdemar IV this title was known as King of the Wends. This symbol was later also interpreted as the coat of arms of Funen and appeared in the official insignia of the now-defunct army regiment Fynske Livregiment. It should not be confused with the similar insignia of Bornholm, also formerly included in the Danish arms.
- King of the Goths (de gothers konge / Gothernes Konge): 1449–1972: Or, nine hearts 4, 3 and 2 Gules, in chief a lion passant Azure. Derived from the arms of Denmark and originally the arms of the Dukes of Halland. The lion is almost never crowned. This symbol was later also interpreted as the coat of arms of Jutland. It appears on the stern of the 19th century frigate Jylland and in the official insignia of the army regiment Jydske Dragonregiment.
- Holstein (Holsten): 1440–1972: Gules, a nettle leaf between three passion nails in pairle argent. Derived from the coat of arms of the counts of Schauenburg; a silver shield with a red indented bordure.
- Stormarn (Stormarn): 1496–1972: Gules, a swan argent gorged of a crown Or.
- Delmenhorst (Delmenhorst): 1531–1972: Azure, a cross pattée Or.
- Dithmarschen (Ditmarsken): 1563 - Gules, a knight armed cap-à-pie Or mounted on a horse argent and bearing a shield azure charged with a cross pattée Or. Frederick II conquered Dithmarschen in 1559.
- Iceland (Island): 16th century – 1903: Gules, a stockfish argent ensigned by a crown Or. The symbol had been associated with Iceland from the early 16th century. First included in the arms of Frederick II. From 1903 to 1948 different arms were used, viz. Azure, a falcon argent. Iceland dissolved the union with Denmark in 1944, and following the death of King Christian X in 1947, the new King Frederick IX decided to remove the falcon from his arms. This change took place by royal decree on 6 July 1948.
- Gotland (Gotland / archaic: Gulland): Gules, a Holy Lamb argent. First included by King Frederick II. Last used during the reign of King Frederick VI.
- Saaremaa (Øsel): from 1603, last used by King Frederick VI: Azure, an eagle displayed sable. Several historians have explained this violation of the heraldic rule of tincture as the black colour being the result of an oxidation of white paint containing lead.
- Fehmarn (Femern): from 1666, last used by King Frederick VI: Azure, a crown Or.
- Bornholm (Bornholm): from c. 1665, last used by King Frederick VI: Gules, a dragon Or.
- Lauenburg (Lauenborg): 1819–1972: Gules, a horse's head couped argent. Derived from the German Sachsenross arms which shows a silver horse on red.
Versions and variants
Various versions of the Danish Royal Arms are used by the Kingdom: Government, the Parliament and courts. The Kingdom Government and its agencies generally use a simplified version of the Royal Arms without the mantle, the pavilion and the topped royal crown. This simplified Royal Arms also feature on the cover of passports, embassies and consulates of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Other members of the Royal Family
|Coat of arms||Bearer||Description|
|Crown Prince Frederick||Crown Prince Frederick's coat of arms is similar to the Royal Coat of arms except for the heir apparent's Crown and the purple mantle.|
|Crown Princess Mary||The Crown Princess' coat of arms is composed of the shield of arms of her husband impaled with those of her own, granted to her in 2006. The eagle Gules of the clan of MacDonald and a boat Sable (a lymphad) both symbolising her Scottish ancestry is set on a field Or. The chief field is Azure and shows two gold Commonwealth Stars from the Coat of arms of Australia, and a golden rose in between.|
|Prince Joachim||Prince Joachim's coat of arms is similar to the Royal Coat of arms except the inescutcheon, which is divided with the first being that of the House of Oldenburg and second being that of the House of de Laborde de Monpezat. The crown is that of a Prince of Denmark.|
|Princess Marie||Princess Marie's coat of arms is composed of the shield of arms of her husband impaled with those of her own, granted to her in 2010. A horseman, representing her maiden name Cavallier (meaning knight or horseman) is depicted Azure. The secondary charge is a combination of the Danish and French national symbols; a heart and a fleur de lys. Three red hearts (symbolising Denmark) are cut with the fleur de lys (symbolising France).|
Seal of Valdemar II the Victorious (reigned 1202–41).
Seal of Eric V Klipping (reigned 1259–86).
Seal of Valdemar IV Atterdag (reigned 1340–75). Early 1340s.
Fresco of King Valdemar IV Atterdag as king. Notice the crest on the Danish arms, Saint Peter's Church, Næstved.
Seal of Christopher III "of Baravia", 1440s.
Sigilum secretum of Christian I, 1449.
Sigilum secretum of Christian I, 1457–60.
Seal of King Hans (reigned 1481–1513).
Seal of Christian III (reigned 1534–59).
Coat of arms of Christian III as it appeared in the first Danish-language Bible, 1550.
Coat of arms of Frederick II. Engraving by Jens Bircherod, 1581.
Coat of arms of Frederick II. 1592 engraving.
Coat of arms from the first issue of Kongelig allene privilegerede Tronhiems Adresse-Contoirs Efterretninger, 1767, showing the arms of Denmark, Norway and the Kalmar Union.
Elements currently used in the arms
Elements formerly used in the arms
- The coat of arms of Estonia and its capital, Tallinn
- The coat of arms of Schleswig (also represented in the coat of arms of Denmark's royal family)
- The coats of arms of the towns of Ribe, Varde, Halmstad and Ystad.
- The coat of arms of the former South Jutland County
- The coat of arms of the former North Jutland County
- The coat of arms of the German district of Lüneburg
- The coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein
- The coats of arms of the German town of Dannenberg
- The personal arms of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh contain the arms of Denmark in the first (upper left) quarter of the shield, and the sinister (left-side) supporter is the savage from the Danish arms. He uses them on account of his descent from the Greek Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg branch of the Danish House of Oldenburg.
- The Danish lion and hearts is featured in the Order of Saints George and Constantine and the Order of Saints Olga and Sophia, awarded by the Greek Royal Family.
- Coat of arms of Greenland
- Coat of arms of the Faroe Islands
- Danish heraldry
- Royal Arms of England
- Flag of Denmark
- Coat of arms of Estonia
- Lion (heraldry)
- "Valdemarernes våben" (in Danish). Danish National Archives. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Tallinna täisvapp" (in Estonian). Official website of Tallinn. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "The Royal Coat of Arms". Official website of the Danish monarchy. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- The three crowns design historically predates the Kalmar Union, but they were re-interpreted in this sense under Eric of Pomerania, who used a coat of arms quartered between the coats of arms of Denmark, Norway (House of Sverre) and Sweden (House of Bjelbo) plus the three golden crowns on a blue shield representing the union. Sven Tito Achen (1972). "Sverige". Alverdens heraldik i farver (in Danish). Copenhagen: Politikens forlag. pp. 216–217. ISBN 87-567-1685-0.
- Seal of Christian I (1449).
- Departmental circular concerning the Danish coat of arms, circular no. 216, p. 5, 1959.
- Henry Petersen (1882): Et dansk Flag fra Unionstiden i Maria-Kirken i Lübeck, Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel, p. 26 (in Danish)
- Svane, Erling (1994). Det danske rigsvåben og kongevåben (in Danish). Odense University Press. pp. 169–179.
- Anders Thiset (1893). "Om danske By- og Herredsvaaben". Tidsskrift for Kunstindustri (in Danish) (10th year): 18.
- Betænkning vedrørende det danske rigsvåben (betænkning nr. 216), 1959, page 3 (in Danish)
- Svane, Erling (1994). Det danske rigsvåben og kongevåben (in Danish). Odense University Press. p. 177.
- "Danish Government website". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
- "diplomatic missions of Denmark". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
- Danish National Archives - guide to the Danish coat of arms (Danish)
- It's All About Denmark - Denmark.dk
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