Written By: Ria Sajit
For every powerful and influential family, there is usually a family crest or coat of arms to symbolise their triumphs and familial bonding. Here is a look at some of the family crests of history’s most powerful and influential families.
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet ruled England for over three centuries, a dynasty supposedly established in the early 10th century by Fulk I of Anjou. The family gave birth to fourteen of England’s kings; Henry II, Richard I, King John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III.
The House of Plantagenet family crest consists of three lions against a red background, symbolizing the Norman Dynasty. It specifically belonged to Geoffrey Plantagenet – Count of Ajou. Originally the coat of arms consisted of three lions at first during Henry II’s reign but was later changed to three lions for his successors.
House of Medici
The Italian House of Medici, unlike the Plantagenets, were originally powerful bankers in Italy. Their dynasty was political; attaining their wealth in the 13th century in Florence. Due to the family’s support of the arts, they helped lay the foundations of the Renaissance period in the 15th century.
The Medici family crest is made up of six balls; five red and one blue, on a gold shield. It is debated amongst historians exactly what significance the balls have. Some say it relates to Medici name itself; the balls are medicinal pills, as the Medici family dates back to being doctors and apothecaries in Tuscany. A creative theory about the crest illustrates that the balls are in fact dents in the shield inflicted by a vicious giant named Mugello that was defeated by Charlemagne’s knight, Averardo.
House of Rothschild
The famous House of Rothschild is known to be one of the most powerful families in the world, similarly to the Medici family, finding their riches in banking. Rothschilds attained international power through the hands of Mayer Rothschild who, with his financial knowledge and intuition, developed a financial house and stationed each of his five sons in Europe’s financial hotspots; thus creating the Rothschild dynasties. Their power and wealth was so extreme, they have elevated into Austrian and British nobility. To this day, the Rothschild family still goes hand-in-hand with wealth and power, however they are less known today than they were in the 19th century. They are in a variety of industries including mining, charities, winemaking, finance, energy and mixed farming.
The Rothschild family crest consists of a clenched fist clutching onto five arrows. These arrows symbolize the five dynasties established by Mayer Rothschild’s five sons. Their family motto that appears on the shield in Latin, “Concordia, Integritas, Industria” which translates to, “Unity, Integrity, Industry”. Furthermore, the arrows are also in reference to Psalm 127, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.”
The study of family crests helps historians and genaeologists alike investigate symbolism in these insignias and, hopefully, aids in drawing parallels to events that occured hundreds of years ago.