Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Arms for Charlottesville, Virginia

Last month I complained about the mediocre seal sported by the City of Charlottesville.  So I decided to try my hand at designing some heraldic arms instead.  Here's the mock-up:

The blazon, the technical description, could probably be given several ways.  Here's one:

Tierced per fess: I azure a griffin passant or; II or a lion passant guardant gules; III gules a scallop argent.

The basic background colors of blue, gold, and red, come from the flag of Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the home of Queen Charlotte (b. 1744, d. 1818), for whom the City of Charlottesville was named when it was established in 1762.  The gold griffin also comes from the coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The red lion on a gold field is inspired by Charlottesville's British heritage.  The Colony of Virginia was established in 1606 by a joint stock company from England, whose coat of arms feature three gold lions on a red field.  In 1707 Scotland - whose arms feature a red lion on a gold field - was united to England to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.  The lion also signifies Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville's most well-known institution; Jefferson included a lion's head on the crest of his arms.

The white shell on a red field recalls the Earls of Albemarle.  The second Earl of Albemarle, Willem van Keppel, was the son of a supporter of King William III (whose colors the University of Virginia bears) and was governor of the Colony of Virginia from 1737 to 1754; Albemarle County, in which Charlottesville is located, was named for him.

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