National Arms, part 6

Albrecht I and Son

Up until the end of the 13th century the arms used by the Swedish rulers, those of Knutt the Tall and the Folkunga dynasty were of Swedish origin and were family Coat of Arms converted through regal and official use into the Arms of the State. A different situation arose in 1363 when Duke Albrecht I of Mecklenburg ( left with his son ), who had married a sister of Magnus Eriksson, attacked his brother in law and the next year secured the proclamation of his own son as King of Sweden. The choice of what Arms to bear as king of Sweden was one fraught with difficulty. Although he had a claim on the Folkunga Arms through his mother, Albrecht could not adopt the Arms of te family he had driven out of the land, even though those very Arms had been used as the Arms of the State. As an heir of his father, Duke Albrecht I of Mecklenburg, he was entitled to bear some combination of the Arms of Mecklenburg, Schwerin and Rostock; but as King of Sweden these would be inappropriate and he would need some insignia of his own representing his newly acquired territory. He had to create a new Coat of Arms and naturally he adopted the Crown as a charge on his shield, the Crown being the symbol of dignity. Yet by doing so he was not creating an entirely new Coat of Arms; his own Arms of Mecklenburg would have made him familiar with the Crown as a charge. Undoubtedly Albrecht calculated that he could not politically use his ancestral bull’s head in Sweden and so he retained its Crown as a convenient symbol, arranging three of them on his shield. This is a typical medieval arrangement giving convenient symmetry. Such an arrangement first appeared on his seal in 1364.

When Albrecht was defeated and captured by Margaret, Queen of Norway and Denmark, at Falköping in 1389, the three Scandinavian countries were united. One of Queen Margaret’s seals shows a shield charged with three crowns, but this is said to represent the union of the three countries rather than the Swedish National Arms. In another seal Sweden is represented by the Folkunga Arms. Her successor, Erik of Pomerania, used both the three crowns and the Folkunga Arms to represent Sweden.  His second Great Seal has a shield quartered, the quarters separated by a cross with an escutcheon ( smaller shield) separated overall. This escutcheon shows the Arms of Norway while the four quarters show respectively the three leopards of Denmark, the crowns of Sweden, the bendlets and lion of the Folkungar, and the griffin of Pomerania. A different arrangement appeared on the ship’s flag of this period which was formerly in the Marien Kirche at Lübeck. This displayed the Arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania in the four quarters of the flag separated by a white cross.

Mecklenburg coat of arms


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