650th Birthday of Henry IV

On the occasion of the 650th birthday of Henry IV (*April or May 1366 or 1367 at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire; † March 20th 1413 in London), King of England at the time, we decided to compare his Coat of Arms with the one of Queen Elizabeth II.

The life of Henry IV

Henry IV was the first of three kings from the house of Lancaster. His parents John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III and Blanche of Lancester, daughter and inheritress of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancester were cousins. In 1377 Henrys cousin Richard II became king of England. 1386 Henry belonged to the group of opposition, which sentenced party members of Richard II to death. After the death of Henrys father Richard II banished him for life. During an Ireland-campaign of Richard II, Henry succeeded getting great parts of English nobility behind him. So, he forced Richard II to hand in the crown and in October 1399 Henry IV was crowned. After 1405 his health deteriorated and so he died on 20th March 1413. His son Henry V succeeded his father on the throne.

The Coat of Arms of Henry IV

By Sodacan This vector image was created with Inkscape. (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Coat of Arms in comparison:
Henry IV & Queen Elizabeth II

The two fields with three lions (leopards in heraldry due to the turned heads) on both Coats of Arms are common.

Three lions
Richard I from the house of Anjou-Plantagenet (1157-1199) better known as Richard Löwenherz bore the three lions first.
French lilies
Under the reign of Eduard III (1312-1377) in addition French lilies are depicted on the shield to assert the claim on the French throne.
Three golden lilies
After Henry IV was crowned the Coat of Arms got adapted to the French customs and so it just had three lilies in the blue fields. This version varied several times and maintained until Elizabeth I (1533-1603).
Supporter Lion & Antelope Since Richard II (1377-1399) the supporters were two silver deer. Afterwards Henry IV replaced them with a lion on the right and a heraldic antelope on the left side. The Crest however, was and is still is a golden lion (leopard).
England, Scotland & Ireland
Karl II (1630-1685) from the house of Stuart became King of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1660. Since then you can see the English Coat of Arm in field 1 and 4, the Scottish in field 2 und the Irish one in field 1.

The Coat of Arms of Great Britain and the Scottish variation

Again the crest is the golden lion (leopard). The supporter on the right side is the British lion and on the left the national animal of Scotland, the unicorn. The Scottish variation by the way has the Scottish Coat of Arms twice in its shield (field 1 and 4). In addition, the British part is reduced on field 2 and the unicorn is placed on the right side which is the more important side in heraldry. The lion at the top of the helmet is red.


*Original article in German, written by: Dr. Sutter


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