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Lions and Hearts




Early Arms

The Royal Arms

The Arms of State


The Crest

The Crown


The Greater royal arms

The Royal achievement

The Greater Royal Achievement



Back to Denmark



Erik II, the Memorable



Ericus, rex Danorum. 1140

Petersen  4a-b


Seal of Majesty. The king with crown, sceptre and orb

Counterseal: Equestrian seal of invisible charge on the shield


Canute V


as co-regent in shifting alliances with Sweyn III and Valdemar I. Canute was killed at the so-called Bloodfeast of Roskilde in 1157.


Bracteate with crowned  kings’ bust



Svend III



Sven (Sweyn) III Grathe (ca. 1125 - 1157) was king of Denmark between 1146 and 1157. He served as a co-regent with Canute V of Denmark from 1152 until 1154 and again 1157.

Sweyn was the illegitimate son of Erik II Emune and a mistress. At the abdication of Eric III in 1146 Sweyn was elected a king on Zealand but for the next years he had to fight against his rival Canute V who ruled in Jutland. Sweyn participated in the Wendish Crusade of 1147. An Imperial German intervention made Sweyn “first king” with Canute as a co-ruler but Sweyn's position was undermined by his alleged tyrant manners and pro-German behaviour. 1154 he was overthrown by a co-operation between Canute and Valdemar I of Denmark, the latter having until then been his supporter. After some years of exile Sweyn was 1157 by German military help able to force through a tripartition of the kingdom making himself the ruler of Scania.

At a banquet (the so-called Bloodfeast at Roskilde) 1157 Sweyn is said to have tried to put his two co-rulers out of the way. Canute was killed, Valdemar escaped to Jutland and on 23 October Sweyn was defeated at the Battle of Grathe Heath (hence his nickname) and was killed during his escape.



DENMARK. Svend III Grathe, Knud V, and Valdemar I den Store (the Great). 1146-1157. AR Breacteate (15 mm, 0.16 g). Mint in Nørrejylland (Northern Jutland). Two helmeted, confronted busts in stylized ship, each holding sword over shoulder; annulets above / Incuse of obverse. Hauberg 1; Hauberg Collection 1434 = Hede III, 75. Good VF, toned, slightly ragged flan. Rare.


Vassal of  Frederick Barbarossa, 1152.


Valdemar I the Great

Canute VI


co regent 1165-1182


Canute VI



Seal and counterseal of Canute VI, ca 1190,

Petersen 5a-b


Seal of Majesty: The King on his throne with crown, sword and orb

L.: (completed): kanutus dei gracia danorum sclauorum que rex.

Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant guardant

Legend: …………q rex.


Valdemar II the Victorious


Valdemar the Younger


Erik IV Ploughpenny


King 1202-1241


co regent 1215-1231

 co regent 1232-1241


Equestrian seal of Waldemar II, 1203

Petersen 6


Arms: (strewn with hearts) three lions passant, in his left hand the staff of a banner

L.: [..MINVS NORThA...]




Seal and counterseal of Waldemar II, 1216

Petersen 7b


Arms: Strewn with hearts three lions passant.




Seal and counterseal of  Waldemar II, 1230

Petersen 9b


Arms: Strewn with hearts three lions passant guardant



Erik IV, Ploughpenny


co regent t 1232-1241

King 1241-1250


Seal and counterseal of  Erik IV, 1232

Petersen 10b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant  (co-regent)

L.: S : DE....A : DANOR[V]M : SCL[AVORV]M q” : R[EG...]


Seal and counterseal of Erik IV, 1241

Petersen 11b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant



Eric Plovpenning,

Sct. Bendts Kirke, Ringsted




Duke of Jutland

King 1250-1252


Seal and counterseal, 1250

Petersen 12b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant



Christopher I



Seal and counterseal 1253

Petersen 15b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant guardant



Erik V Klipping



Representation of a King ~1260

alias St. Canute

Mural painting in Dädesjö church (Växjö)


Walford's Roll (1275), 12: Le roy de Hungrey, d'or estenzelé a trois leons passans d'azure.

That is.: The King of Hungary, Or scintillated, three lions passant Azure.


Camden Roll (1280) D. 15: Le rey de Denemarche, l'escu de goules od treis haches d'or.


Seal and counterseal, 1283

Petersen 19b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant guardant



Erik VI, Menved



Seal and counterseal, of Erik VI, 1288

Petersen  21b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three crowned lions passant guardant, between two eagles





Seal and counterseal 1290

Petersen 22b


Arms: Strewn with hearts, three lions passant guardant




King Erik Menved was buried in St. Bend’s church in Ringsted next to his queen Ingeborg. Over their grave was a brass plate, truly royal ornamented, and  almost three meters in length.


The Crested arms


Christopher II



1st term 1320-1326

Brother of preceding

Seal of Christoforus, son of Erik V Clipping 1293

Petersen  28


Helmet with crest of ox horns set with peacock feathers

L.: [† S'] KRISTOFORI, ERICI : REGIS DA[NORVM] F ILII. (Christopher, son of king Eric (V Clipping))


Seal and counterseal of Christoffer II, 1320-1330

Petersen 30a-30b


30 a King in majesty between wo lions sejant. In base a lin couchant 



30b Counterseal: Crested Helmet.



Erik Christoffersen


co-regent 1st term 1321-1326


Eric Christoffersen (~1307 – ~1332) was king of Denmark from 1321 until his death, jointly with his father, King Christopher II. He was a member of the House of Estridsen.

Eric was the eldest son of King Christopher II and Euphemia of Pomerania. In 1321, he was elected king and crowned in alongside his father as his junior co-ruler in 15 August 1324. In 1325, his father asked him to halt the Counts of Holstein and their allies, but was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner and confined in Haderslev Castle. His father was forced to abdicate and go into exile, while the 12-year-old Duke Valdemar of Southern Jutland was made king of Denmark under the regent, Count Gerhard III of Holstein. After a period of chaos in the "magnates’ republic" of Denmark, King Christopher was restored as a puppet monarch in 1329 through the help of his half-brother Count John III


Valdemar III of Schleswig


Duke of Schleswig 1325-1326

King of Denmark 1326-1329

Duke of Schleswig 1330-1364


Valdemar III (1314–1364) was a king of Denmark from 1326 to 1329 briefly when underage, as well as in 1325–26 and from 1330 to 1364 Duke of Schleswig as Valdemar V. He was a rival king set up against the unsuccessful Christopher II and was widely opposed by his many subjects. His term was ended when he abdicated. Sometimes the earlier king Valdemar the Young is called Valdemar III instead.



Valdemar's father was Duke Eric II of Schleswig and his mother was Adelaide, daughter of Henry I of Rendsborg.

When his distant kinsman and the head of the rival royal branch Christopher II of Denmark was exiled from his kingdom, the Holsteiner and Danish high nobles got to choose a new king. Their choice fell to 11-year old Duke Valdemar V of Schleswig, who was the head of the branch descended from king Abel of Denmark. Due to his young age, his maternal uncle, the mighty Count Gerhard of Rendsborg (Gerhard III of Holstein) who also was the biggest pawnholder of mortgaged Denmark, was appointed as the Regent and guardian (“grev Gert” or “Den kullede Greve”).

Valdemar's ascension promissory was at least as strict as Christopher's had been. There were some new stipulations, such as all royal castles in Scania should be demolished, and all nobles received the right to fortify their homesteads. The most important agreement however was so-called Constitutio Valdemariana that promised that in the future, the same person could never be both ruler of Slesvig and Denmark simultaneously.

Valdemar accordingly gave up his patrimony, Schleswig, and entfeoffed it to his uncle and guardian, whereby the first Holsteinian became a Duke: Gerhard, Duke of Jutland (or Southern Jutland or Schleswig).

Denmark was now held totally by certain nobles, in practice. That was not popular among peasants. A portion of the nobles were foreigners, and many set up new taxes. In 1328, peasants in Zealand rose to rebellion, which though was quelled. In 1329, was Jutland's turn to rebel. They had a better success, but were also quelled in the end. Finally, count Gerhard gave up in the name of his king, and in 1329 Christopher II was allowed to return to the throne. Valdemar became again Duke of Schleswig.

In 1340, he gave his only sister Helvig of Schleswig to marriage with Valdemar IV, the new king of Denmark. During the rest of his rule he led a changeable policy towards Denmark by which war alternated with co-operation.

Valdemar died in 1364. He was married to Richardis of Schwerin (died 1384), daughter of Count Günzelin VI of Schwerin-Wittenburg. They had two sons, Valdemar (1338–1360) and Henry (1342–1375). Henry succeeded as Duke of Schleswig when his father died.


Valdemar 3 kongesegl.jpg

Seal of Waldemar III

By E Rondahl (1858-1914) – From: Danmarks Riges Historie, vol. 2 edited by Kr. Erslev (1852-1930).



Armorial Bellenville  fol. 4v


The arms of  Denmark (Valdemar IV, 1340-1375) and the arms of Schleswig: strewn with hearts (Valdemar III/ V). (1330-1364)

In the right-hand corner a representation of the arms of the Holy Roman Empire.


Christopher II



2nd term 1330-1332


Erik Christoffersen

Co-regent 2nd term 1330-1332


Photo H.d.V. 2017

Crested arms of Erik Christofferson

On the folding table of Lüneburg, 1330 ca

 from the ducal castle on the Kalkberg.  Museum Lüneburg


Arms: Or, three lions passant Azure

Crest: On lambrequines Azure and Or, two ox horns set with peacock-feathers proper.


Eric was released in 1330, on the condition he married Elizabeth of Holstein-Rendsburg, dowager duchess of Saxe-Lauenburg and sister of his father's enemy, Count Gerhard III, by whom he had no children. The marriage was dissolved the next year as war again erupted between his father and Count John III and his brother-in-law Gerhard III.

He predeceased his father, fighting in the battles, which subsequently broke out between his father and Holstein. In 30 November 1331, Eric was defeated at the battle at Danevirke, but managed to escape to Kiel, where he died of his battle wounds, a few months afterward, either in late 1331 or early 1332. Eric was buried at Sorø Abbey, later his remains were transported to the St. Bendt's Church. Upon his father's death in the same year, Denmark ceased being a formal kingdom, and for the next eight years it was subdued by various mortgagees to German military rule. His younger brother would later regain Denmark from the Holsteiners and succeed as Valdemar IV of Denmark.


Interregnum 1332-1340


Valdemar IV Atterdag


King of Denmark 1340-1375

Duke of Estonia 1344-1346


Arms and Crested Arms 1333-1343

Petersen 35-36


35 Otto, (brother of Erik, ~*1310-†1346) dei gracia Danorum domicellus, Estonia et Lalandie dux. (Lord of Estonia and Laalandia)

Arms: Three lions passant


D.: 1333 10.06


36 Woldemar (IV), (brother of Erik) van der gnade gods des hochgeborn fursten konig Cristoffers sun von Denemarken. (King Christoffers’son)

Arms: Three lions passant

Crest: Bulls horsn set with peacock-feathers


D.: 1340, 1341, 1343

Crest of Waldemar IV, 1346

Letter of Waldemar IV. ( Reg. Archief Zutphen (NL))


Gelre fol. 55v  n° 548. (Bergshammer n°  3292: as with Gelre)


1364 Arms: Or, strewn with hearts Gules,  three lions passant guardanr Azure.

Crest: On a helmet lamrequined a pair of horns ermine set with four little discs Gules sete wit peacock-feathers proper. 

L.: Die conīc vā Denemarcke.


And a representation of the Danebrog: Gules, a cross Argent


King Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark (1340-’75)

On a fresco in St. Peter’s Church in Naestved, painted shortly after his death.


The date reads: X anno milleno tercio septuageno quinto (1375)


Valdemar Atterdag represented on a limestone painting in Sankt Peders Church in Næstved. The fresco was created shortly after the king's death in 1375, later over-calcified and rediscovered at the end of the 19th century. Parts of the painting have been reconstructed, especially the three lions in the coat of arms are 19th century reconstructions based on the same king’s seal.


On this fresco the hearts from the arms are on the purple tunic of the king. The lambrequines are strewn with black hearts instead of being ermine which is quite unusual. 


Arms: Or, three lions passant guardant Azure.

Crest: On a crowned helmet lambrequine Argent strewn with hearts Sabel, a pair of ox-horns set with peacock-feathers


The arms strewn with hearts was borne by his father Waldemar III, deposed in 1330 and since then Duke of Schleswig (†1364)


House of Pomerania



Erik VII of Pomerania



King of Denmark 1396-1439

Erik VII was a a si-dau-so of Margareta)


Photo H.d.V. 08.1993

Choir stalls of Roskilde Cathedral

Arms of Erik VII *1382-†1459


Arms: Three crowned lions passant guardant.

Crest: a crowned helmet and two buffalo’s horns set with peacock-feathers.



Arms: Or, three lion guardant Azure, crowned and clawed Gules

Crest: On a helmet labrequined Azure, a crown Or and two buffalo’s horns ermine set with peacocks feathers proper.

L.: denemerken. (Bergshammer n° 4)


Christian I



From Grünebergs Wappenbuch, 1483 (n° 42)


With and early representation of the collar of the Order of the Elephant  founded by Christian I







Rei Ÿ d Ÿ Danemarche

Livro do Almeiro Mor, (20) 1506,


Christian II



King of Sweden 1520-1521

164th knight of the Fleece, Barcelona 1519

deposed 1523



Arms:  ¼ Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Wenden (the field Azure). Over alles heen een wit kruis met rode rand. H.: ¼ 1&4 Schleswig; 2. Hol­stein; 3. Stormarn. H. Oldenburg. (Trespassé)

Also on his seal Pet. n  98.


Royal arms in the Knight´s Hall of Rosenborg. Castle Kopenhagen.


The arms of Denmark


The arms of the kingdom of Denmark are: Gules, a cross Argent. As a flag it is called the Dannabrog.


Square crosses are common all over christian Europe, in connection with Denmark they are known from the 11th century.






A white cross on red was used, among others, by Charles the Good of Flanders (1119-1127), by the German and Roman King Henry VII and by the Order of St. John (1259). King Rudolf of Habsburg (1273-'91) also used red banner with a white cross. From 1285 a white cross on a red field were the arms of the Counts of Savoy.[1]


The banner of Henry VI

Red, a golden square cross [2]


The banner in the hands of the ensign is the banner of the Eastern Roman Empire. A banner with a white cross on a yellow field of the same shape is represented on an other leaf.


A banner with a red medallion charged with a square cross is preserved in Bamberg.


The Banner preserved in Bamberg

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München, Hss Cod.icon. 391, Fol.86


The inscription reads: Der fan zu Bamberg den man holdt fur den rechten fannen des hailligen riters und martterers sand Jörgen


Hingegen andere wollen den Ursprung auf des Bambergischen Bisthums fundation referieren, welche von dem Römischen Kayser Heinrich dem Anderen zu Anfang des XI. Seculi ſecundum Cruſium Annal: Suev. p. 2: l. 6; c. 2. p. 176. beſchehen indeme neben andern Reliquien die Fahne des Ritter St. Jörgens dahin verehrt worden, wie ſie dann von solche Zeit an ſecundùm Bruſchiu de Epiſcop. Germ apud Limnæ. cix d. l. n. 35. zu Bamberg solle verwahret worden seyn. [3]


....By some however the banner is ascribed to Henry II (1014-‘24) but it may date as well from the time of king Henry VII (1222-‘35).


The banner of the Order of St. John and of he Templars

At the battle of Gaza, 1239 (by Matthew Paris)

Seal of Jan van Zierik, bishop of Utrecht. 1291

The arms are Gules a cross Argent



Resurrection of Christ

Psalterium, about 1335

Stiftsbibliothek Engelberg, CH


During the rule of  Waldemar IV the arms and flag of the realm of Denmark in the form of a square cross were designed 

Seal and counterseal, 1356

Petersen 41 a.b.


A Arms: Strewn with roses, a cross edged, charged with roses and their tendrils,  in the quarters WAL DE MA RVS

B Arms: Chequered per bend sinister, each diamond charged with a rose and a bend sinister, inscribed TYL DANALOGh. between two bendlets set with roses.

Seal and counterseal 1367

Petersen 42a-b


42a Waldemarus, dei gracia Danorum sclavorvm gotorum que rex.

Arms: Strewn with stars and crosses, WALDE MARVS IIII REX square cross charged with nine crowns


Arms: Strewn with crosslets a listel inscribed TIL DANELOGh per bend

Date: 1367.05.23


In two 14th century Armorials the white cross on a red field is described within a danish context:



The arms of the duke of Schleswig and of the Holy Roma Empire in the Armorial Bellenville (1330-1364)

The banner of the kingdom in the Armorial of Gelre (1340-1375)


This is the oldest representation of the Imperial flag in a danish context and the origin of the Dannabrog



Achievement, 1369

Petersen 60

Emblem:  Square  cross

Crown: A royal crown

Supporters: D.: Lion S.: Griffin

L: [signetu erici dei gra re] gis et ducis pom et c.


In 1378 the arms of the parts of the Empire of Emperor Charles IV (1346/’55-1378) are described in the Augsburg Chronicle (1368-1406) reporting his funeral:


Darnach fürt man den fan des haligen richs, ain wizz crütz mit ainem langen zagel in ainem rotten feld (The banner of the Holy Empire: Red, a white cross).


Ten years after the imperial funeral queen Margarete used a seal ad causas figuring the cross of the Empire charged with a crown for difference:

Seal of Margarete  ad causas, 1388-01-21

Petersen 54

Rimmed cross charged with a crown

L.: sigillum regni dacie ad causas


Thes arms mean: A queen/king of the Holy Roman Empire

Seal of Erik ad causas 1399-1436

Petersen 63


Arms: Rimmed cross charged with an escutcheon of three crowned ions passant guardant

L.: X sigillu erici Ÿ dei gracia regis Ÿ danorum  ad causas


These arms mean: The king of Denmark of the Holy Roman Empire.



In the 15th century the cross became an integral part of the royal arms until th present day. At first it was straight and reaching to the bottom of the first four quarters. From the end of the 17th century it is a rimmed cross patée reachting to the bottom of the shield (see below). Nowadays it is strait again


The cross on the royal arms from Christian V until 1972

after: Poul Bredo Grandjean, Tavle II [4]


The Dannabrog itself was adopted officially by Christian IV in 1625. At the time the Holy Roman Empire was replaced by the German Nation of the Holy Roman Empire. Therefore Denmark is cosidered here as a remnant of the H.R.E. and not a part of the G.N.H.R.E.


Flags on danish ships at the Battle of Køge Bay (1677)


Ensign and flag of Christian V (1670-1699)

From: Dankertsz, 1700 ca [5]


In 1748 the flag was officially described


Forordning om Coffardi-Skibes og Commis-Farernes samt de octrojerede Compagniers Skibes Flag og Giøs, samt Vimpeler og Fløie.  11 juni 1748


1. Det danske Coffardi-Flag skal være rødt med hvidt Kors uden Split; Og skal, naar Flagets Brede ved Stangen sættes som Basis og Grund for Proportionen, det hvide Kors være 1/7 af Flagets Brede ved Stangen; De 2de agterste røde Qvarterer være en lige Fiirkant, og de forreste røde Qvarterer være 6/4 af de agterste Fiirkanter.

2. Coffardie-Fløien skal være uden Split af een Couleur, eller med et hvidt Kors; I Længden fra 2 til 5 Alen, efter Fartøjets Beskaffenhed, og Breden 1/16 af Længden.

6. Alle Kongens egne Coffardie-Skibe skal føre Coffardie-Flaget fra Campagnen, men fra Bogspydet en Konge-Giøs, og fra Toppen Konge-Fløie; og alle andre Undersaatternes Coffardie-Skibe alene Coffardie-Flag fra Campagnen, og fra Toppene Coffardie-Fløie.

9. Alle Flagmagere og Skippere skal rette sig efter denne Fr., og ingen Flage, Giøs, Vimpler eller Fløie, uden efter foranførte Proportion, enten forfærdige eller lade forfærdige, eller paa Coffardie-Skibene uden efter denne Fr. føre, alt under Straf efter Fr. om Vimpel-Føringen 17 Febr. 1741, som herved igientages; og skal med Angivelse, Processer og Bødernes Inddrivelse denne Fr. angaaende i alle Maader forholdes, som i Fr. om Vimpel-Føringen er anordnet.


The elongated cross reflects the use as maritime flag in the 18th century. The flag became popular as national flag in the early 19th century. Its private use was outlawed in 1834, and again permitted in a regulation of 1854. The flag holds the world record of being the oldest continuously used national flag


From: Admiralty, Drawings of Flags, 1915


From: Flags of All Nations. London 1955



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 © Hubert de Vries




[1] Gritzner, E. op.cit. 1902 pp. 68-71.

[2] From: Ebulo, Petrus de.: Liber ad Honorem Augusti.  sive de rebus Siculis. Codex 120 II der Burgerbibliothek Bern Fol. 105

[3] Historische Nachricht von der St. Georgen-Fahne, so vor Zeiten der Teutsche ...(1732)

[4] Grandjean, Poul Bredo: Det Danske Rigsvaaben. J.H. Schulz Forlag. Kobenhavn, 1926.Pp.15-23

[5] Danckertsz, Cornelis:  Nieuwe Tafel van al de Zee vaarende Vlagge des Weerelts, ca. 1700. Christain V: 1670-1699.


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