Sun (heraldry)

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The sun as a charge
Sun of May as depicted on the flag of Uruguay

A representation of the sun is used as a heraldic charge. The most usual form, often called sun in splendour or in his glory, consists of a round disc with the features of a human face, surrounded by twelve or sixteen rays, alternating wavy and straight.[1][2] The alternating straight and wavy rays are often said to represent the light and heat of the sun respectively.[3]

It is a common charge in the heraldry of many countries; e.g. the bearings of Armstrong, Canada, and the arms of Banbury Town Council, England.

It often appears as a rising sun as in the arms of East Devon District Council, England, and as a demi sun as in the coat of Aitchison, Canada.

It was used as a badge by Edward II of England, and was later adopted by Edward IV following the appearance of a parhelion or "sun dog" before his victory at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461.[2][4] It also had significance in alchemy, and may be a symbol of the Roman deity Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun).[5]

The Sun of May shown on the national flags of Uruguay and Argentina is identical in form to the "Sun in Splendour".


In splendour[edit]

Other forms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Parker, A glossary of terms used in heraldry. Accessed 13 December 2009
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Vexillology. Accessed 13 December 2009
  3. ^ Fox-Davies, A.C., (1969) A complete guide to heraldry. Aylesbury: Thomas Nelson and Sons. p. 222.
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica: Edward IV and the Alchemists. Accessed 13 December 2009
  5. ^ Banbury Faith Trail. Accessed 13 December 2009