The Arms of Ireland: Medieval and Modern

by John J Kennedy Coat of Arms no 155 Autumn 1991.

Historically, it is possible to distinguish at least three major heraldic traditions in which Ireland has been identified by distinct arms. While still other arms are known, these major traditions are:

  1. A) The Anglo-Irish medieval tradition: Azure, three (ancient) crowns Or.1 These arms of the medieval lordship of Ireland likely originated when Irish magnates (both Norman and Gaelic) recruited for Edward I’s Scottish Wars (1296-1307) adopted the banner and arms of St Edmund, king and martyr, under whom they most likely fought (just as Englishmen identified themselves with the banner of St George).2 The banners of Saints Edmund and George regularly accompanied the royal banner in Ireland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and the Norman barons of Ireland had a special devotion to St Edmund, king and martyr, almost from the beginning of their feudal colony in Ireland.3 As the arms of the lordship, the three crowns arms within a bordure Argent, were granted to Robert de Vere as an augmentation by Richard II in 1386 upon de Vere being created Marquis of Dublin and shortly thereafter Duke of Ireland.4 A similar theme of a lion’s face between the three crowns is found in the arms of Thomas Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin (1397-1417) and both Chancellor (under Henry IV) and Lord Justice (under Henry V) of Ireland.5 Still further confirmation comes from a royal commission of Edward IV (c. 1467-8), which sought to establish what arms properly pertained to Ireland (see B) below for further details).6 This commission, which may have had Walter Bellengier, the last Ireland King of Arms as a member.7 returned the opinion that the three crowns arms were the ancient arms of Ireland. As small copper coin minted in Ireland probably during Edward IV’s second reign (c. 1471) depicts precisely these arms on an heater shaped shield.8

Later Irish coils of the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII and even those of the pretender, Lambert Simnel (who was crowned Edward VI, King of Ireland in Christ Church, Dublin in 1487) show the three crowns disposed in pale.9 This disposition, however, is not unusual given the display of three charges on the rather more rectangular than square medieval banners (eg the arms and banner of Hartmann von Aue in the Mannesse Codex of c. 1300 and the later fifteenth century tapestry of King Arthur now in the Cloisters Museum, New York attributed to Nicholas Batille, Paris c. 1400).10 Their appearance on Irish coins of these reigns then may simply copy the vexillological disposition rather than the 2 and 1 disposition of shield shapes. The three crown arms continue to be used on certain Irish deputed seals down into Tudor times,11 though after 1533, increasingly as the arms of the medieval lordship in contrast to the arms of the emerging kingdom of Ireland.

  1. B) The Franco-Burgundian medieval and modern Tradition: Azure, a harp Or, stringed Argent. Contrary to a number of English heraldic authorities, these lovely arms ascribed to ‘le roi d’irlande’ are earliest found in part B of the Wijnbergen Roll (c. 1280-1330), a north French or possibly Low Country armorial.12
The Wijnbergen Roll with the harp of Ireland on the bottom row

While one plausible interpretation of this ascription is that it refers to a fictional character, such as ‘le roi d’irelande’ in the courtly legend cycle of Tristan,13 another equally plausible possibility is that it derives from a celebrated bardic poem of Giolla Brigidhe ‘Albanach’ Mac Con Midhe (fl. 1220-50) entitled ‘Tabrhroidh chugam cruit mo riogh’,14 dedicated to the historical Donnchadh Cairbreach O’Briain (d. 1242), a Gaelic King of Thomond.15

This bardic poem was extremely popular and could well have been transmitted to the many Flemish wool merchants who actively bought Irish wool in Ireland during the decade 1280-90 when a sheep blight had devastated the English wool trade.16 Or again this bardic poem might well have been transmitted by the small but cognisant contingents of Irish troops who served in Flanders in Edward I’s abortive campaign in 1297.17

The Wijnbergen harp arms of ‘le roi d’irelande’, which in most other medieval contexts would refer to King David, one of the three Noble Jews and the Nine Worthies, only began to be seriously influential during the fifteenth century under the flowering of the Dukes of Burgundy. For by 1430, Jean Le Febvre, Sieur de St Rëmy, the first Toison d’Or King of arms and probable author of the Armorial Equestre de la Toison d’Ore et de l’Europe, borrowed part of the Wijnbergen Roll’s material, and was hence familiar with the Roll,18 as in all probability were the herald-painters of Bruges (among whom were Hugo van der Goes, Jan van Eyck, etc) who illuminated heraldic grants and painted heraldic stall plates, banners etc and who arranged for the armorial displays (for tournaments and dramatisations) during the celebrations in that city of the marriage of Isabel of Portugal with Phillip the Good.19

In 1467. Burgundian heralds accompanied Louis de Bruges de Gruuthuyse and Antoine, the Bastard of Burgundy to Edward IV’s England on a serious trade and diplomatic mission. This mission sought defensive alliance between the realms of Burgundy and England against France, trade relations of mutual benefit and the hand of Margaret of York for Charles the Bold of Burgundy.20 The mission was accompanied by a celebrated tournament at Smithfield, between Antoine, Bastard of Burgundy and Sir Anthony Woodville, both celebrated jousters of their day. Accompanied by Burgundian heralds, this entourage probably made the Wijnbergen harp arms of Ireland known to the English heralds. This novel intelligence would have provided the raison d’etre for Edward IV’s royal commission on the proper arms of Ireland.

The harp also appears in the 1483-4 English version of the Rous Roll as one of the crests of the dominions of Richard III in a Yorkist context.21 It is noteworthy that Richard III as former Duke of Gloucester had accompanied his brother Edward IV into exile in Burgundian Flanders in 147122 and had a keen interest in heraldry (as is evidenced both by his foundation Charter to the College of Arms and his frequent uses of his white boar badge for various purposes).23 Richard III (or his heralds) were likely aware of the findings of Edward IV’s royal commission on the arms of Ireland and did not use the Burgundian Harp arms, but still either Rous or the artist of the Rous Roll acknowledged their influence by the use of the harp as a Crest emerging from an open coronet.24

Crest of the harp of Ireland as a crest of King Richard III on the Rous Roll

Also worthy of note is the celebrated Globe of Martin Behaim dated to 1492, where the harp arms are quartered in 2nd and 3rd with the three lilies of France (in 1st and 4th as having the greater honour).25 These harp arms of Ireland are in incorrect tinctures (Or a harp Gules or Proper) — but so are England’s on this Globe.26 Yet, its appearance in this highly charged Yorkist context undoubtedly refers to Lambert Simnel’s coronation in 1487 at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.27 Martin Behaim, a Nuremburg merchant, had apprenticed in Antwerp in 1483-5 28 and was well aware of Margaret of York’s (the dowager duchess of Burgundy) support for Simnel and opposition to Henry VII. Margaret had sent Martin Schwart, a mercenary perhaps from Maastricht, to aid and abet Simnel’s Irish supporters at the Battle of Stoke (1487).29 Behaim appears to have kept abreast of later Irish developments (eg Pierrequin Werbecque) even after he had left Burgundian Flanders for Portugal and the Azores, because he was related by marriage to a Flemish merchant in the Portuguese Azores.30

This Burgundian heraldic influence is also notable in the Livro do Armiero Mör (1509), composed by the French-speaking Portugal King of Arms, Jean Du Cros, who may also have known Martin Behaim.31 There, the exact blason of the Wijnbergen Roll is reproduced and again ascribed to ‘rei d’irlande’. Du Cros may well have been a Burgundian subject given the cultural exchanges between the two powers, but in any case his artistic style surely shows the strong influence of the Stall Plates of the Knights of the Golden Fleece.32

By 1531-3, the Burgundian artistic influence came to dominate even in England, for Henry VIII wanted a new regime in Ireland 33 and we find Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms depicting the banner of Ireland in precisely the tinctures of the Wijnbergen Roll and the Livro do Armiero Mör in College of Arms Ms. I 2.34 By 1534, the crowned harp badges came to be shown on the Harp Groats issued to pay the troops of Sir William ‘Gunner’ Skeffington who were busy in Ireland suppressing the revolt of ‘Silken Thomas’ FitzGerald.35 In 1541, Henry VIII acceded to the request of the Irish Parliament that the Irish lordship be raised to the dignity of a Kingdom beneath his rule.36 A document in the Office of the Ulster King of Arms from either the late reign of Henry VIII or the early reign of Edward VI claims that the Harp arms were those of the kingdom of Ireland.37 Certainly these arms can be traced on maps made for various monarchs (Edward VI, Philip and Mary, etc), coins, deputed seals, charters and a variety of illuminated mss. throughout the reigns of the Tudors.38

Indeed, the funeral cortege of Elizabeth I in 1603 depicted in British Library Additional Ms. 35324, shows the Earl of Clanrickarde carrying the Banner of Ireland just as in the Wijnbergen Roll.39 Upon the accession of the Stuarts, these venerable arms were finally quartered with the arms of England and Scotland.40 Throughout the various changes in the Royal Arms ever since, Ireland’s Harp arms have always remained constant, even if their appearance in the Royal Arms is politically incongruous in our own day and ought properly to be replaced by the arms of Northern Ireland.41

One Elizabethan variant of the Harp arms notable as early as 1562 is the use of the three harps (one replacing each crown in the lordship’s arms) on an Azure background, which is sometimes found on coins, maps and seals.42 This appears to have been a creation of the newly established Ulster King of Arms (who was created with the Athlone Pursuivant in 1552 by Edward VI to govern Irish armorial, genealogical and ceremonial functions),43 which despite its novelty never captured the popular imagination sufficiently to replace the single Harp arms in use from the reign of Henry VIII.

The modern quartered arms of the Republic of Ireland: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht
  1. C) The south German-Swiss Tradition: in Eire today, it is very popular to show the arms of the ‘Four Provinces’ quartered as the arms of Ireland.

These are Ulster: Or, on a Cross Gules, in inescutcheon Argent, charged with a dexter hand erect aupaumee and couped at the wrist Gules. These arms combined the cross of the de Burgh earls of Ulster (which ultimately derive from their Bigod, earls of Norfolk ancestors)44  with a blason is found on a number of medieval seals of the O’Neills (eg, the seal of Aedh Reamhar O’Neill, c. 1336-64, Muirchertach Ceannfada O’Neill, 1369-96.45

Secondly, Munster’s arms, which appear to have been derived from those of the former lordship (A) above, and these are now usually depicted as Azure, three antique (Eastern) crowns Or.

Thirdly, Leinster’s arms, Vert, a Harp Or, stringed Argent, probably derived from (B) above with a change of tincture.

Finally,Connacht’s arms, Party Per Pale Argent and Azure, in the first an eagle dimidiated and displayed Sable in the second issuant from the partition an arm embowed and vested, the hand holding a sword erect, all Argent.

I believe it can be shown that they derived from the arms of the medieval Schottenklöster paruchia centred in St James at Regensburg, Germany, the seat of a medieval Irish Benedictine community with monasteries in Erfurt, Nuremburg, Constance, Vienna and elsewhere in southern Germany.46 This Irish Benedictine community was founded in the eleventh century and endured in Irish hands until the sixteenth century Reformation, though by then much diminished. These Schottenklöster received Imperial protection of their temporalities and Papal protection for their spiritualities from the early thirteenth century. Their arms, which are known from at least the fourteenth of early fifteenth century, dimidiated those of the Holy Roman Emperor and just possibly the later Crest-device of the O’Briains, whose early King Conchobhar Slapar Salach O’Briain (d. 1042), was listed as a ‘fundator’ of the Abbey of St James at Regensburg.47 The Dal gCas O’Briains shared the kingship of Munster prior to the Norman Invasion, with the Eoghanacht MacCarthaigh, who also sponsored and supported the Schottenklöster community in medieval times. The arms of the Regensburg Abbey of St James, whose Abbot was Metropolitan of the Irish paruchia, can be found on a seal of the Abbot Philip dated 1408 48 and in both von Richenthal’s Das Konzil zu Konstanz (c. 1463) and in Von Grünenberg’s Wappenbuch (1493) as well as on a number of German maps of the sixteenth century.49 In a suitably Irish context they are mentioned as the ‘old tyme arms’ of Ireland by the Elizabethan Athlone Pursuivant, Edward Fletcher in or about 1575.50 With slight change of tinctures, these arms became transformed in the seventeenth century into the arms of Connacht.

Today, the arms of the four Provinces (usually in the order Leinster 1st, Connacht 2nd, Ulster 3rd and Munster 4th) are shown quartered beneath a chief Gules, charged with a Tudor Portcullis Or between two Scrolls Argent in the Arms of the Genealogical Office (Office of Arms), which is headed by the Chief Herald of Ireland (Priomh-Aralt na hEireann). Since its establishment by the Irish Government on 1 April 1943, the Genealogical Office has been headed by three Chief Heralds: 1. the late Edward Anthony Edgeworth MacLysaght, DLitt, MRIA (1943-54); 2. John Gerard Slevin, MA, AIH (1954-81); and the present 3. Donal F. Begley, MA HDE (1981-present).


  1. These arms are well known in other medieval contexts, and are often attributed to King Arthur (see Helmut Nickel, ‘Heraldry’ in The Arthurian Encyclopedia, ed. Norris J. Lacy, New York, 1986: 278-283.), the Heralds (see H.S. London, ‘Grants of Arms to Heralds’, in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, X, 5th series, Dec. 1938, London: 57 and J.-B. de Vaivre, ‘Artus, les trois couronnes et les heraults’ in Archives Heraldiques Suisses-Annuaire, 1974, Neuchatel: 2-13) pre-Norman Brythonic Celtic and Anglian Kings of England (see J. G. O. Whitehead, “The Three Crown Arms’, in The Coat of Arms, New Series Vol. I, nos. 89, Spring 1974: 13-20 and 90, Summer 1974: 65-68), Beli Mawr, the great Celtic divinity of Wales (see College of Arms Ms. 12) and the Kings of Sweden in the fourteenth century (see A. Berghmann, “The Origin of the Three Crowns of Sweden’, The Coat of Arms, Vol. III, no. 17, Jan. 1954: 7-10 and C. G. U. Scheffer, State Herald of Sweden, “The Coat of Arms of Sweden’, The Coat of Arms, Vol. VIII, no 63, July 1965: 273-279 who date it to 1364 and U. Lindgren, ‘Nytt om “Sweriges tree Chronor'”, Heraldisk Tiddsskrift, Bind 5, 2 Halvbind, Kobenhavn, 1984: 51-55 who suggests an earlier date of 1336)
  2. J. B. Burke, Vicissitudes of Families, vol i, London, 1869: 125 note. Burke claims the Anglo-Normans brought the banners of St George and St Edmund into Ireland along with the Royal Banner, though he does not state precisely when, nor does he account for how they came to be regarded as the arms of the lordship of Ireland. The earliest mention of the arms attributed to St Edmund, king and martyr, which I have found are in Segar’s Roll c. 1282, though they probability anteceded that date. See the next quote.
  3. The Anglo-Normans of Ireland had special devotion to St Edmund. Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke, otherwise ‘Strongbow’, Robert Fitz-Stephen and Raymond le Gros, all prominent lords in the Invasion of Ireland, in the company of Archbishop Lawrence O’Tool (Lorcan O’Tuathail) dedicated one of two chapels of Christ Church, Dublin to St Edmund, king and martyr. Goddard H. Orpen, Ireland Under the Normans 1169-1216, vol 1, Oxford, 1911: 363-364, refers to the Black Book of Christ Church, Dublin, which states that this commemoration to St Edmund marked the victory near St Edmunds on October 17, 1174 in which many of the (Anglo-Norman) barons of Ireland marched ‘praeferentes sibi vexillum Beati Eadmundi regis et martyris’: Gesta Hen. i.61 and Song of Dermot, 11. 2946-79. This would seem to indicate that J. B. Burke was perhaps correct in his ascriptions, and that a banner of St Edmund, king and martyr was known much earlier than it appears from the Rolls of arms.
  4. A. R. Wagner, Historic Heraldry of Britain, London, 1939: 53; G. A. Hayes-McCoy, A History of Irish Flags from Earliest Times, Dublin, 1979: 20. For their use in the Irish Lordship see J. A. Otway-Ruthven, A History of Medieval Ireland, 2nd ed., London, 1980: 320-321.
  5. For a good brief account of Archbishop Cranley, see The Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by Sir L. Stephens and Sir S. Lee, Vol V., Oxford, 1963-4: 17-18. Also see Rev. H. J. Lawlor, ‘Monuments of the Archbishops of Dublin’, in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (hereafter JRSAI), XLVII (1917) for a depiction of the monument to Cranley and his arms. There are other illuminated Mss such as the French (c. 1410) Roman de Tristan, (Vienna, Austrian National Library, Ms 2537), which reflect the arms of the ‘King of Ireland’ as: Vert, three crowns Or, a slight change in tincture from the contemporary arms of the Irish lordship. This Ms was once in the possession of Jean, duc de Berry. See Tristan and Isolde with introduction by Dagmar Thoss and text by Gabriel Bise, Fribourg, 1986.
  6. G. Chalmers, Caledonia, I Edinburgh, 1807: 463. Reference to this Royal Commission is also to be found in the Notes of Clarenceux Sir William Le Neve cited in Rev. James Ffrench, ‘The Arms of Ireland and Celtic Tribal Heraldry’, JRSAI, XXXV (1905): 246. a subsequent indenture of Edward IV (1483) affirming the three crowns arms of the lordship of Ireland is printed in An Olla Podrida, II, Dublin, 1853: 60-64.
  7. The commission was held in 1467-68. Bellengier was made Ireland King of Arms in June 1467. According to Sir Anthony Wagner, H. S. London and W. H. Godfrey, in The College of Arms, London, 1959: 269, Bellengier is supposed to have been ‘at first employed in Ireland’ and then to Scotland and elsewhere. It would appear reasonable to suppose Bellengier was a member of the royal commission on the arms of Ireland, given his title and his possible visit to the lordship.
  8. M. Dolley, Medieval Anglo-Irish Coins, London, 1972: 20-45 and D. W. Dykes, “The Anglo-Irish Coinage and the Ancient Arms of Ireland’, JRSAI, XCVI (1966): 117.
  9. Dolley (1972): 20-45.
  10. Ulrich Muller (ed). Die Grosse Heidelherger ‘Manessische’ Leiderhandschrift, Goppingen, 1971 shows the arms and banner of Hartmann von Aue in 2 & 1 on the heater shield and ‘in pale on his banner’. R. Barber (ed) The Arthurian Legends, Totowa. NJ, 1979: 4 shows King Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies on Nicholas Batille’s magnificent tapestry of c. 1400, with the 2 & 1 disposition on his surcoat and three crowns in pale on his banner or pennon.
  11. H. Jenkinson, ‘The Great Seal of England: Deputed or Departmental Seals’, in Archaeologia, LXXXV (1935): 320-329. It is noteworthy that the three crowns arms on these seals are usually on a banner and disposed in pale. Their continuance after 1541 was probably simply to show the continuity in sovereignty between the lordship and the kingdom.
  12. The two English authors I am thinking of are Conrad Swann, York Herald Canada: Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, (ed) Boutell’s Heraldry, London, 1983: 213. Brooke-Little ought to have changed Boutell’s editions at least since 1954, when Paul Adam-Even and Leon Jequier published, ‘Un Armorial français du XIIIe siecle: l’armorial Wijnbergen’, Archives Heraldiques Suisses Neuchatel, 1951-4. Even earlier mention had been made of these arms, though in incorrect tinctures, by S. M. Collins, ‘Some English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Arms in Medieval Continental Rolls’, The Antiquaries Journal, XXI (1941): 203-210. The incorrectness of the tinctures had already been corrected by Colin Campbell in his, ‘The Royal Arms in the Grünenberg Roll’, The Scottish Genealogist, XIII, nos 3 and 4, Dec 1966: 45-6. Colin Campbell had also written a letter ‘The Arms of Ireland’ respecting the Wijnbergen arms to The Coat of Arms. Vol V, no 38 (1959): 216.
  13. Gottfried Von Strassburg, Tristan, trans, by A. T. Hatto, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1960. The heraldic attributions on the Arthurian legends is an  enormously interesting field. Gerard Brault, Early Blason, Oxford, 1972 shows how early and persistent the influence of the legends were for heraldry. Le roi  d’irlande is the father of the lovely Yseult (Isolde, etc), and enjoys her harp  playing  in Gottfried’s polished literary version.
  1. A rather garbled account of this poem is given in Aodh de Blacam, Gaelic Literature Surveyed, Dublin, 1973: 103-4 based on O’Curry’s translation. The translation is corrected and the identity of the poet questioned by Gerard Murphy, ‘Giolla Brighde’s Vision of Rolf MacMahon’, EIGSE, IV (1943-4), Dublin: 94-6. But, for more recent authoritative opinion of Prof O’Cuiv see EIGSE, XIII (1979) and N. J. A. Wiliams (ed). The Poems of Giolla Brighde MacCon Midhe, Dublin, 1980: 1-3 which tends to show that there were two poets of the same name one active c. 1220 the other somewhat later in the same century.
  2. John macRory Magrath, Caithreim Thoirdhealhhaigh, trans, by Standish Hayes O’Grady, London, 1929: 1-2.
  3. M. D. O’Sullivan, ‘Some Italian Merchant Bankers in Ireland in the later Thirteenth Century’, JRSAI, LXXIX (1949): 16 writes: ‘Between the years 1280-90 there was a great outbreak of sheep scab in England, the first and most virulent of its kind, which had a devastating effect upon the flocks. These years therefore, were a period of marked depression in the trade in England. The consequence was that the Italians turned to Ireland to help make good the loss and they became more active than ever in their quest for wool in that country’.
  4. James Lydon, ‘The years of crisis 1254-1315’ Chapter VII in A New History of Ireland, Vol II, The Medieval Age 1169-1541: 196-198 points out that John FitzThomas FitzGerald (later 1st Earl of Kildare) served in Flanders as did David Caunteton. Both had enduring and extensive contacts with the Gaelic Irish and their poets.
  5. R. Pinches and A. Weed, (eds), A European Armorial, London, 1971: 10-16. Adam-Even and Jequier (1951-54) claim that the compiler of the Armorial equestre de la Toison d’Or et de l’Europe copied the Norman section. Since the compiler is probably Lefevre, as Pinches and Wood claim, it therefore follows that he was familar with the Wijnbergen Roll. The Herald Painters would have been involved in any of the great tournament displays held on such occasions as the Pas de l’Arbre d’Or (1468) in celebration of the marriage of Margaret of York to Charles the Bold. They would, of necessity, been informed in order to paint the arms of various kings and chivalric characters on such occasions. See for example, the armorial decoration on St George’s Court at Ghent, with the arms of foreign powers as decoration by Lievan van Schelden, 1584.
  6. This took place in 1430, and tournaments and fabulous decoration of Bruges were everywhere in evidence, some of it heraldic. Indeed, all the nations trading in Bruges would likely have had some representative sign of their goodwill and congratulations.
  7. John Badier, Charles le Temeraire, Bruxelles, 1970-114 and 132 points out that in 1466/7 Louis de Bruges de Gruuthuyse (1422-92) was present for negotiating the marriage. In April 1467 an English embassy went to Bruges to arrange for the tournament. The tournament took place in June 1467 (Sydney Anglo, ‘Anglo-Burgundian Feats of Arms: Smithfield, June 1467’, Guildhall Miscellany, ii, no. 7, London, 1965: 271-283) and the commercial treaty was signed in November, 1467. The marriage treaty was settled in February 1468 and the marriage took place on 3 July, 1468. Painters from all over the Low countries had been called to Bruges to decorate the town for the wedding feast. Among others Garter King of Arms, John Smert attended Margaret of York on the occasion. It is possible some representation of Ireland’s arms were present on these festivities, given that Irish merchants traded regularly in Bruges via Calais. One of the decorators was Hugo Van der Goes of Ghent.
  8. John Rous, The Rous Roll, with an historical introduction … by Charles Ross, Gloucester, 1980; illustration between 62 and 63.
  9. Charles Ross, Edward IV. London, 1983: 145-160.
  10. Desmond Seward, Richard III. London, 1982: 155.
  11. As much is implied by Charles Ross in his introduction to John Rous (1980): vi.
  12. T. J. Westropp, ‘The Arms of Ireland’, JRSAI, XLII (1912): 172 and M. Mollat du Jourdin, M. De La Ronciere et al.. Sea Charts of the Early Explorers 13th to 17th century. London, 1984: 210 and plate 20.
  13. Nuttall Smith, ‘The Arms of Ireland’, JRSAI, XLII (1912): 340.
  14. A. J. Otway-Ruthven, A History of Medieval Ireland, 2nd ed, London, 1980: 403.
  15. E. G. Ravenstein, Martin Behaim. His Life and His Globe. London, 1905: 25-45.
  16. Otway-Ruthven (1980): 403.
  17. Ravenstein (1905): 47-50.
  18. I am very grateful for this valuable information to my friend Colin Campbell of Massachusetts, who pointed out this instance to me as well as much else of value and interest in February, 1987. See A. Machado de Faria (ed) Livro do Armeiro Mor, Lisbon, 1956: 179. Given Behaim’s close ties with the Portuguese court prior to his death in 1507 and the span of time given Jean Du Cros to complete the Livro do Armeiro Mor in 1509, there is a good chance they knew one another. Mehaim’s wife was raised in courtly circles.
  19. For the cultural influences of Burgundy at this time see C. A. J. Armstrong, ‘L’Echange culturel entre les cours d’Angleterre et de Bourgogne a l’epoque de Charles de Temeraire’, in England. France and Burgundy in the Fifteenth Century, London, 1983: 403-417. For a view of the Stall Plates of the Knights of the Golden Fleece (Chevaliers de La Toison d’Or) see Christiane Van Den Bergen-Patens, ‘Chapitres de la Toison d’Or au VXieme siecle. Quelques ensembles heraldiques conserves en Belgique’, Proceedings of the 14th International Congress for Heraldic and Genealogical Sciences, Copenhagen, 1980: 287-298. A comparison of these latter illustrations with the Livro do Armeiro Mor reveals the influence.Henry VIII’s desire for a new policy toward Ireland’s feuding lineages can be found already in 1520 in his letter to Lord Deputy Surrey (quoted in T. W. Moody and F. X. Martin, The Course of Irish History, Chapter 11, Cork, 1967: 78).
  20. T. E. Smith-Ellis (Lord Howard de Walden), Banners. Standards and Badges from a Tudor Manuscript in the College of Arms. London 1904: Introduction and plate 23.
  21. Michael Dolley, The Irish Coinage, 1534-1691′ in T. W. Moody, F. X. Martin, F. J. Byrne (eds), A New History of Ireland, Vol III Early Modern Ireland, Oxford, 1978: 408-410.
  22. Moody and Martin (1967), op cit, 174.
  23. The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1847-1848, Vol 1, Dublin, 1850: Frontispiece, Ulster King of Arms William Betham, attests that this document was in the books of Bartholomew Butler, the first Ulster, which are either at TCD or the Genealogical Office (Office of Arms). These books probably contain material antedating Butler’s reign as Ulster King of Arms (created 1552).
  24. Apart from the early instances named above (eg Wijnbergen Roll [c. 1280-1330], the Rous Roll [1483], the Behaim Globe [1492], and College of Arms Ms 12 [1531-3] and the Irish Harp Groats [1534], the following instances antedate the 1603 quartering in the Stuart Royal Achievement. Probably there are still others.
  25. Illustrated in James Carthy, Ireland from the flight of the Earls to Grattan’s Parliament 1607-1782, Dublin, 1949.
  26.     I am very grateful for this valuable information to my friend Colin Campbell of Massachusetts, who pointed out this instance to me as well as much else of value and interest in February, 1987. See A. Machado de Faria (ed) Livro do Armeiro Mor, Lisbon, 1956: 179. Given Behaim’s close ties with the Portuguese court prior to his death in 1507 and the span of time given Jean Du Cros to complete the Livro do Armeiro Mor in 1509, there is a good chance they knew one another. Mehaim’s wife was raised in courtly circles.
  1. Petchey, W. J., Armorial Bearings of the Sovereigns of England, 2nd ed, London.
  2. Letter of H. L. Gandell ‘The Arms of Northern Ireland’, The Coat of Arms, Vol VII  (1963): 264. Mr Gandell wonders why the arms of Northern Ireland are not  quartered in the Royal Achievement rather than the arms of Ireland.
  3. Three instances of these arms are known to me: the 1561 coins of Elizabeth I, the Boazio Map of 1599, where it is impaled with the Cross of St George in dexter and finally on the 1605 seal of the town of Carrickfergus. This last may have been in use prior to that time.
  4. I base this speculation purely on the comments of Athlone Pursuivant Edward Fletcher in 1575 and the paucity of other examples of the use of these arms.
  5. This can be best ascertained by consulting the various Rolls of arms. For the Bigods’ use of these arms see Matthew Paris Shields, 2 (b), c. 1244. The seal of Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster c. 1282 shews these arms on his seal three times along with a portrait of the earl (I am grateful to my friend Gerard Crotty of Glenarousk for this information from the Seals in the Ormond Archives upon which he is currently doing Post-Graduate research).
  6. Rev W. W. Reeves, DD, “The Seal of Hugh O’Neill’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Vol I (Old Series): 255-258. Muirchertach Ceannfada O’Neill’s seal is found illustrated in G. MacGearailt, Celts and Normans, Dublin, 1969: 150. The extensive genealogy of the O’Neills can be found in Iain Moncreiffe’s article in Burke’s Peerage Baronetage and Knightage, ed P. Townend, London, 1970: 2025-2030.
  7. In a forthcoming article, I hope to show all the evidence for this derivation. For the crucial articles on the Schottenklöster paruchia see, D. A. Binchy, ‘The Irish Benedictine Congregation in Medieval Germany’, Studies, 18 (1929): 194-210; Rev. P. J. Barry, ‘Irish Benedictines in Nuremberg’, Studies, 21 (1932): 579-597 and Studies, 22 (1933): 435-453; A. Gwynn, SJ, ‘Ireland and Würzburg in the Middle Ages’, Irish Ecclesiastical Record, July-Dec, 1952: 401-411 and ‘Some Notes on the History of the Irish and Scottish Benedictine Monasteries in Germany’, Innes Review, 5, no 1 (Spring, 1954): 5-28; Dagmar O’Riain-Raedel, ‘Irish Kings and Bishops in the Memoria of the German Schottenklöster’, in Ireland und Europa/Ireland and Europe, ed by P, Ni Chathain and M. Richter, Stuttgart, 1984: 390-404; P. A. Breatnach, ‘The Origins of the Irish Monastic Tradition at Ratisbon (Regensburg)’, Celtica, XIII (1980): 58-77.
  8. P. A. Breatnach, ‘The Origins of the Irish Monastic Tradition at Ratisbon (Regensburg)’, Celtica, XIII (1980): 77. I think it can be shown that the arm in the Schottenklöster of St James at Regensburg arms derives from the war cry of the O’Briain kings of the Dal gCas and Thomond ‘Lamb Laidhir an Uachtar’, which somewhat later became their heraldic crest: an arm embowed holding a sword. This is still borne by the present Lord Inchiquin.
  9. G. A. Seyler’s article on the ‘Schottenklöster’s arms’ in J. Seihmacher’s Grosses Wappenhuch, Band 8, ‘Die Wappen der Bistümer und Klöster’, Neustadt an der Aisch, 1976: 74 und Tafel 86.
  10. Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Konzil zu Konstanz, Faksimileausgabe, Kommentar und Text bearbeitet Otto Feger, Stamberg, 1964: plate 103; illustrations of these arms in Conrad von Grüenberg’s Wappenbuch are found in Colin Campbell, ‘The Royal Arms in the Grünenberg Roll’, The Scottish Genealogist. Vol XIII, nos 3 and 4 Dec, 1966: 39-46 and elsewhere. Subsequently they appear on the map of Europe of Kaspar Vopel’s (1555) somewhat later published by Bernhard von Patte in 1566 illustrated in H. Sigurdsson, Kortasaga Islands, Reykjavik, 1971: 209. They may also be discovered on the curious map of Europa Regina (1587) by Matthias Quadt von Kinkelbach, in his Geographische Handtbuch: Cologne, 1600. Amsterdam, 1976.
  11. E. A. MacLysaght, ‘Some Observations on the Arms of the Four Provinces’, JRSAI, LXXIX (1949): 60-62.

Lastly, I would like to thank John A. Goodall for his article, ‘A New Version of the Fifteenth Century English Royal Arms from Bruges’. If I read his evidence correctly, it adds grist to my mill. The 1468 appearance of this instance of the ‘Azure, a harp Or, stringed Argent’ for Ireland in the Royal Arms in Bruges supports the validity of my hypothesis about the Burgundian tradition and connects it with the interesting personality of John Morton (later mentor of Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury). Moreover, it provides my hypothesis with a concrete example from the former duchy of Burgundy, something which had evaded the net I cast in my search for evidence.