National Arms, part 3

Hessen coat of arms
The National Arms of England remained relatively unchanged until the end of the 16th century. In 1603 Queen Elizabeth I died and the new sovereign was James VI of Scotland who succeeded Elizabeth as James I. He added to the Royal Arms quarterings for Scotland and Ireland, the Harp of Ireland and the Lion of Scotland. The shield then bore four quarters; in the first and fourth appeared the arms of his predecessor Queen Elizabeth I, in the second the Arms of Scotland and in the third the Arms of Ireland. The crest remained the English lion set upon the crown, while the unicorn of Scotland replaced the dragon supporter. The next monarch King Charles I continued this arrangement until he fell upon the scaffold in 1649. England then, for the only time in its history became, nominally, a republic. This was an unprecedented event and had heraldic as well as political consequences. The former Royal Coat of Arms was at first completely abandoned and replaced by a Seal with two engravings, one bearing the Cross of St. George for England and the other bearing the Harp of Ireland. In 1655 a new Great Seal came into use and bore on the reverse a complete achievement of Arms.

This usage is interesting as it was based on the former royal arms but at the same time there was a nod to the present bearer of the Sovereignty. Once again the shield was into four quarters. In this instance the first and fourth bore St. George’s cross, the second the saltire ( cross) of St. Andrew representing Scotland, and in the third quarter the harp of Ireland retained its accustomed place. The royal helmet, mantling and crest were reintroduced, as also was the crowned lion supporter, the unicorn being replaced by the former dragon. The motto was changed from the royal Dieu et mon droit ( God and my right) to Pax quaeritur bello ( Peace is sought through war).

House of Naasau coat of armsUpon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II continued to use the Coat of Arms borne by his father. His brother James II also used the arms as did James’ daughter and son in law William III and Mary II who succeeded him on the throne as joint monarchs. During this monarchy there was a single Coat of Arms which consisted of the Arms borne by James II but upon which was placed a smaller shield ( an Escutcheon ) of the Arms of William’s paternal House of Nassau ( see left). It is claimed that the purpose of this was as a token of William being an elected monarch when in fact he merely followed normal continental protocol

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