Heraldry and The Crusades, part 3. The Arms of Jerusalem

Queens College Arms
No Coat of Arms from the time of the Crusades are more reverently regarded than those of the crusader’s Kingdom of Jerusalem, which consists of five crosses. The central one is a large cross ‘potent”, or crutch shaped, and it is surrounded by four small plain crosses, one in each corner of the shield. All crosses are gold upon a silver shield which is one of the rare exceptions to the rule in Heraldry whereby a metal object may not lay upon a metal field in the Coat of Arms. It is thought that the violation was intentional due to the specials sacredness of the Arms of Jerusalem. There are various schools of thought as to the meaning of the Arms of Jerusalem, some writers see in the form of the central cross a combination of the letters ‘I” and “H” standing for Iesus (Jesus) and Hierusalem (Jerusalem). The number of crosses has also been thought to represent the Five Wounds of Christ; but the most probable theory is that the crosses symbolize the Savior, Jesus and the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The reference to Jerusalem in the Psalms may have been the reason for the metal upon metal design of the Coat of Arms:
“Though ye have lien among the pots

Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove

Covered with silver and her feathers with gold”
To modern minds this may seem like a stretch however it must be remembered that in the Middle Ages much importance was attached to the prophetic interpretations of the scriptures; and it may well be that the designers of the Arms of Jerusalem had this text in mind, and felt they were assisting in its fulfillment.
Arms of Jerusalem
See of Lichfield Arms
The close resemblance between the Arms of Jerusalem and those of the See of Lichfield are too close to be merely a coincidence. In the Lichfield Arms the central cross is squared at the center, and the four small crosses are of the form known as “paty”. The field is divided vertically in red and silver, and the crosses are counterchanges, silver on the red background and red on the silver background. An early Bishop of Lichfield is believed to have assumed this Coat of Arms after a journey to Jerusalem; but as the patron of the Cathedral is St. Chad ( a 7th century Bishop of Mercia), the Arms have come to be incorrectly associated with him.

They were deflected still further from their true significance when they became the basis of the Arms of the family of Chad, baronets from the 18th century. The Arms of Jerusalem are quartered in the shield of Queens’ College Cambridge, founded by Henry VI’s Queen, Margaret of Anjou, daughter of the landless King of Naples and Jerusalem; and the Arms of Lichfield have been embodied in the shields of Selwyn College, Cambridge; Denstone College, Derbyshire and other foundations linked in some way with the Diocese of Lichfield.

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