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Visconti and Sforza






Duchy of Milan

French Rule 1515-1521

Imperial Rule 1525-1529

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History & Heraldry


Liguria was a late Roman province in Italy in the 4th–6th centuries. Despite its name, it encompassed most of the modern Italian region of Piedmont and parts of Lombardy, but not the medieval and modern region of Liguria, which was included in the province of Alpes Cottiae. The province's capital was Milan (Mediolanum), and it was governed by an official of consularis rank. Administratively, it was subject to the Diocese of Annonarian Italy and to the praetorian prefecture of Italy.


Early heraldic devices in relation to Milan can be found in the Sant’Ambrogio Basilica in Milan.The most impressive are two sea-monsters (ketos/cetus) on the so-called Sarcophagus of Stilicho (*359-408), probably dating from 385, together with an achievement of a christogram supporterd by two birds, most resembling grouses (tetrao urugallus) the emblem of the staff of a high-ranking warrior.


Ketos respecting and Christogram achievement

Sant’Ambrogio Sarcophagus.


The achievement is of an Emperor’s staff for which the couple represented on the front might be Gratian (ass. Lyon, 383) and his spouse Flavia Maxima Constantia (383). For this statememt the tomb from the St. Irénée church in Lyon  pleads, decorated with an achievement also of a christogram supported with grouses. This may have served as a temporary tomb for Gratian. [1]


Foto Sailko

Clipeus of Gratian and Flavia

Sant’Ambrogio Sarcophagus


The symbol of the governor must have been an eagle, badge of rank of a consul, depicted in a relief in the forecourt of the anti-arian S. Ambrogio in Milan, (consec. 379-386) supported by two Paschal Lambs, the symbols of Christ. This “achievement” thus literally represents “the commander of  Christ” and that may have been, for example, the King of Italy. For these the arian kings Odoacar (476-493) as well as Theodoric (493-526) qualify.


Foto H.d.V. 2000

Eagle and paschal lambs relief

Forecourt S. Ambrogio Basilica,


The Cross of Milan


In the ninth and tenth centuries, Milan and the surrounding area was actually ruled by archbishops with the help of a military aristocracy they created.

In later times the relationship between military and spiritual authority focused on a rivalry between the king and the archbishop, and still later between the king in the person of the emperor and the pope as the representative of the spiritual authority. The Pope had a red cross on a white field as a symbol.


In the early eleventh century, the clergy was at the height of his secular power, enabling Archbishop Aribert (1018-'45) to unite the population of the city in the years 1037-39 against the attacks of the Roman emperor. However, the rapid economic development of the city tested the good relations between the archbishop and the bourgeoisie. The result of this was a popular uprising against the corrupt higher clergy of the city. The rebels were supported by reformist ecclesiastical circles in Rome. In this context, their leader, Erembald, was given a special blessed banner by Pope Alexander II (1061-73): "In publico consistorio vexillum S. Petri Herembaldo dedit eumque Romanæ et Universæ Ecclesiæ vexilliferum fecit". [2] In a letter from the Milanese to the citizens of Tortona dated 1155, he is described as “Album vexillum cum cruce D.N.J.C. rubeum colorem habens ”. [3]

 [The city was conquered by Frederick Barbarossa in 1157 and razed to the ground. An eagle was placed on top of the facade of the cathedral as a sign that the city was in imperial (= royal) hands [4]]


The same Otto Morena informs us (Res Laudenses, in SS. xviii, 625/26), that the Milanese hat a cart “carozulum, supra quod maximum vexillum album cum cruce rubea in medio deferebatur” in the year 1160 which Frederick I captured et boves ipsius carozoli accidit, ipsumque carozulum incidit et crucem deauratam, quae super perticam carozoli erat, atque vexillum ibi impositum, abstulit...” [5]


Warriors on the Porta RomanaMilan

Showing the ensign-bearer in the front foloowed by the commander (Guido da Landriano) with a shield with a cross moline and another commander with a shield charged with a bull (Torino?)

At the end of the 12th century, the cross was sculpted in high relief on the Porta Romana in Milan. The relief represents the return of the Milanese after they defeated Emperor Frederick Barbarossa at Legnano in 1176. They are preceded by an ensign with a banner on which the cross is prominently placed. [6] The relief is now in the museum in the Castle of the Sforza in Milan. At the time of the emergence of the relief, the city was an independent community ruled by a People's Representation. In 1187 Frederick Barbarossa ceded the imperial rights to the city to the people's representation. Coins minted in the city were marked with the cross, which was later heraldized into a coat of arms.

The Serpent of Visconti.

In the thirteenth century, the city council was confronted with a party that aimed to restore the archiepiscopal power. The city army however was defeated by archbishop Ottone Visconti at the Battle of Desio in January 1277. Ottone became lord of the city, which meant the end of independence (of the people's representation). The Visconti family remained in power with a brief hiatus until it died out in 1477. In 1294 Matthew Visconti became Imperial Vicar, an office also held by his successor. In 1349, the lordship became hereditary to the family, and in 1395 the reigning monarchs were conferred the ducal title. The coat of arms of the genus Visconti is, on a white field, a blue snake with a dragon head that devours a man. It first appears under Matthew (1295-1322), Ottone's second cousin and successor. It can be found in the funerary chapel of the Visconti built in 1297 by Matthew in St. Eustorgio Church in Milan. In the mausoleum of Azzo (1328-’39) in the St. Gotthard Church it is depicted together with the city coat of arms with the cross. In this way, the royal authority that had now been reduced to a minimum was replaced by the authority of the Visconti and the eagle by the serpent.


On the orders of Matthew, the writers at his court had to write the history and legends of the family and, in particular, invent the illustrious acts of his ancestors. [7]

According to one of these writers, a certain Fiamma, the coat of arms was adopted by the founder of the Visconti family, Ottone. Legend has it that Ottone took part in the first Crusade and the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. In a duel he killed a Saracen with a man-eating snake on his shield or, according to other sources, as a crest. Ottone took the armor as a trophy and from then on used the snake as a personal emblem.

The same Fiamma says that when Ottone went on a crusade, he received a flag from the archbishop, as captain of the Milanese contingent, with the bronze serpent of Mozes on it.

In the legend Fiamma tells, two things are confused: the biblical snake seen in the Basilica of St. Ambrogio and a tradition that was disappearing at that time: the blue snake, the emblem and totem animal of the Lombards. In Lombard mythology, the snake was the symbol of the highest military power. He is also known from the legend of Desiderio, king of the Lombards who was entwined by the serpent without being injured, and from the legend of Uberto, lord of Angera who killed a dragon at the beginning of the fifth century was from Milan and surroundings. The Visconti included both their ancestors, making the Lombardian totem animal the expression of the  ambitions and power of  the family .


[Mogelijk is de slang een uit de romeinse tijd stammend veldteken (i.e. vlgs Vegetius xiii het veldteken van de cohorten (= 555 + 66 man): “Draconius etiam per singulas cohortes a draconariis feruntur ad proelium.” De draak, toendertijd nog zonder vleugels en poten afgebeeld, was het veldteken bij uitstek van de infanterie)  dat van het symbool van de stadsmilitie werd tot het symbool van de stad en, in brons, een plaats kreeg in de belangrijkste kerk van de stad, de nog door Ambrosius, bisschop van Milaan in de ive eeuw gestichte basiliek. Deze basiliek werd in de xi - xiie eeuw herbouwd waarbij de bronzen slang kan zijn geplaatst.[8]) Ongetwijfeld werd de slang in de xiiie eeuw het symbool van de bisschoppelijke partij waarvan Ottone Visconti (de naam betekent “Burggraaf” ) de protagonist was. Het gebruik van de slang als wapen en/of veldteken hield in feite een inpassing in de rijksorde en een mandaat dan wel van Rijkswege, dan wel van een volksvertegenwoordiging in. De legendes proberen dit feit te verdoezelen door te stellen dat de familie het symbool op eigen titel heeft verworven. De uitgeoefende macht hoeft zodoende ook niet meer van (rijks-) overheidswege gesanctioneerd te worden.]

The serpent may be an ensign from Roman times (i.e. according to Vegetius XIII the ensign of the cohorts (= 555 + 66 men): “Draconius etiam per singulas cohortes a draconariis feruntur ad proelium.” The dragon, at that time still without wings and legs, was the pre-eminent field sign of the infantry (the dragon as an ensign) which became from the symbol of the city militia to the symbol of the city and, in bronze, was placed in the main church of the city, the still Basilica founded by Ambrose, bishop of Milan in the 4th century. This basilica was rebuilt in the XI - XIIth century where the bronze serpent may have been placed. Undoubtedly, in the 13th century, the serpent became the symbol of the episcopal party of which Ottone Visconti (in office 1277-1282/ 1282-1287) (the name means “Viscount”) was the protagonist. The use of the snake as a coat of arms and / or ensign actually meant an integration into the national order and a mandate either from the empire or from a popular representation. The legends try to cover up this fact by stating that the family acquired the symbol in their own right. The power exercised therefore no longer needs to be sanctioned by (national) government. [9]


Later Developments

In 1395 Gian Galeazzo married Isabella of Valois and on this occasion King Charles VI of France granted him the right on January 29 to quarter his coat of arms with the French lilies with a red and white bordure. As a counterbalance to French influence in Milan, Gian Galeazzo was awarded the Ducal title by Roman King Wenceslas in the same year. Two years later, by decision in Prague of 30 March, he was given the right by the king to quarter his coat of arms with the German (royal) eagle [10]. In a Milanese manuscript, the coat of arms is crested with the serpent of the arms on its helmet. [11] Next to it is the personal emblem of Gian Galeazzo: a gnarled branch burning at the base with fire buckets hanging from it, an allegory of boldness tempered by prudence. In other versions, the coat of arms is crowned with a ducal crown.

With the death of Gian Galeazzo's son, Filippo Maria in 1447, the Visconti family died out. The same year, the bourgeois party restored self-government and proclaimed a republic known as the Ambrosian Republic, after the patron saint of Milan, St. Ambrosius. The flag of the republic features the figure of the saint on a medallion in the center, surrounded by a frame with the official name of the Republic: COMVNITAS MEDIOLANI. The edge of the banner is decorated with the crowned city coat of arms and the city's 'impresa': the crowned word LIBERTAS. [12]

The Ambrosian Republic was short-lived. In 1450 the administrative system of the Viscontis was restored by Francesco Sforza who was married to Bianca Maria, the daughter of Filippo Maria. As a sign of his legitimate claims to the duchy, Francesco also took over the quartered coat of arms in addition to the name Visconti. His impresa was a greyhound seated under a pine tree, leashed by a hand with the motto NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET (Nobody challenges me with impunity). Another impresa of Francesco is a high wave symbolizing the eventful life of the condottiere and a cloud in a halo. His successors also used an impresa.

The French Claims.

After the marriage of the daughter of Gian Galeazzo, Valentina, with Louis of France, Duke of Orleans, the House of Orleans also had, after 1447, a claim on the duchy. The Ducal title was borne first by Louis's eldest son, Charles, and then by the second son and his descendants who were Count of Angoulême. They quartered their innate coat of arms, respectively Orleans and Angoulême with the coat of arms of the Visconti. [13] In 1495 Louis of Orleans succeeded in claiming Milan. When he succeeded in France in 1498, he handed over both ducal titles (from Orleans and Milan) to Francis of Angoulême, who also took over the use of the arms. Until his accession to the throne as successor to Louis XII in France, he bore a arms quarterly of Orleans and Visconti, then placed the arms of France in the first and fourth quarters. In 1500 Louis XII conquered Milan from Ludovico il Moro (Louis de Moor) but after his death in 1511 the duchy was recaptured in 1512 by his son and successor with the help of the Swiss. Three years later, the Duchy was again in the hands of the French, but they were finally expelled in 1521.


Lordship of Milan


The Sant’Ambrogio serpent


Next to the third pillar and positioned on a Roman column with Corinthian capital made of Elba granite, inside the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio there is a black bronze serpent in a semi-erect position.


The sculpture is said to have been created during the reign of Hezekiah (King of Juda 795-696 BC) which condemned the depictions and icons, but this statue managed to survive. It is said that this serpent was forged by Moses during his crossing of the desert to defend himself from the attack of snakes (that is the troops of the Egyptian Farao) in his camp. To save himself from a bite of a serpent it was enough to look at its sculpture.


The statue was brought to Milan in the year 1000 by Archbishop Arnolfo da Arsago (998-1018). during the reign of Otto III (Emperor  696-1002).

Probably the serpent was given to Arnolfo by the Byzantine Emperor whom he visited to take a Byzantine princess as the future wife and empress for Otto III. A pastoral staff  with serpents is used as a badge of rank of orthodox Christian bishops. In particular a single serpent is on an Armenian pastoral staff, the Armenian chuch being considered to be subordinated  to Byzantium. See: Serpent

Therefore the serpent in Sant’Ambrogio may be considered to be the badge of rank of Archbishop Arnolfo da Arsago himself. At about the same time the shepards crook was replaced by the modern crozier. See: Crozier

The origin of the Visconti serpent as a badge of rank of an archbishop is confirmed by this citation: “Ugone Visconti who seems to be the one who sold it to the Republic, carried an emblem in the flag of his company: it is proved by the Pastoral staff adorned with Vipers of Ardengo Visconti Cellerario of the Monastery of S. Ambrogio which stood beside him buried with the corpse 1226. [14]

Once arrived in Milan in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio it became a symbol of Judaism, islamism and paganism in general. In that time a dragon, fomerly the symbol of the Old Testament, became usually killed by St. George, patron of the Holy See. On the other hand the Milanese people began to interprete the serpent as the attribute of Asclepios having thaumaturgical properties, thinking that it was enough to touch it for healing. In fact it was thought that it could heal mainly intestinal  diseases reason why many women brought their children with them, in the hope of a quick recovery.

It is also said that the bronze snake, on the day of Judgment, would have gone to the place where Moses created it, after being animated and whistled for.

The cult of the Bronze Serpent was forbidden in the time of rising protestantism by Carlo Borromeo in 1566, because he considered it superstition.


Foto H.d.V. 01.2000

Bearded man standing on winged two-tailed dragon, end of 12th century.

The dragon symbol of the Empire. From the Porta Romana, Milan.

Museo Sforzesca, Milano. Inv. n° 776.


Probably one of the first podestas is represented for which Uberto Visconti (1186) is a candidate.  His counterpart was archbishop Uberto Crivelli, (1185-1187) the later pope Urban III (1185-1187) and opponent of Fredrick Barbarossa. Therefore the dragon may represent Frederick Barbarossa.


House of Visconti



Ottone Visconti

Archbishop of Milan 1262-1295

Lord of Milan 1277-1295


Matteo I, the Great

Commander of the people 1287-1302

1311 - Lord 1313 - 1322


Supported by the Ghibelline Party


In the Sant’ Eustorgio in Milan a chapel was built in 1297 by Matteo I Visconti. On the oldest frescoes are  the arms of Visconti in color: Argent a serpent Azure eating a man proper.


Foto H.d.V. I.2000

Stone with crowned man-eating serpen. Probably a  boundary stone.

Museo Sforzesco, Milan. No date and explanation.


Foto  H.d.V. 2000

Arms supported by Matteo I

San Eustorgio Milano (before restoration)


Heraldic stone on the wall of the sepulchral chapel  of the Visconti of the Sant’Eustorgio in MIlan.


Arms: Man-eating serpent.

Inside the church is the arms painted in colour. It is white, the serpent blue and the man red.



La “parlera” (balcone) da cui venivano annunciate, fra l’altro, le condanne a morte. Le immagini simmetriche del biscione inquadrano l’Aquila della giustizia. La chiusura a cerchio della seconda spira indica che ci troviamo in presenza del ramo principale della casata.


Le bâtiment a été construit en 1321 sur ordre de Mathieu Ier Visconti, qui désirait faire construire une série de portiques à proximité du Palazzo della Ragione pour y abriter les activités judiciaires et notariales de la cité. Son nom provient de la famille des Osii, qui possédait quelques palais dans les environs avant la construction de la structure actuelle.

Les peines et edits étaient prononcés par les juges milanais depuis le balcon de la Loggia (connu comme le parlera). Ce balcon est par ailleurs orné d'un aigle portant une proie, symbole de justice.


Galeazzo I









Foto H.d.V. jan. 2002


De andere fresco's zijn uit ca. 1330 en later. Links staat de triomf van St. Thomas door Giovanni di Milano (1373) en rechts de legende van  St. Joris (1375).


1339. 04. 24. Wax seal with arms Visconti. ASMantova, A.G., b. 387.


Arms: Man-eating serpent. L.: ?


Arms of Azzone


Mausoleum of Azzone Visconti in Saint Gotthard church Milan




 Seal of Luchino Viscontii, 06.08.1341.


Arms: Man eating serpent.

Crest:  The serpent from the arms between two wings.

Caption: luchini viceco­mitis dni mediolani etc .

Æ 60 mm. Sella, P.: N°  1103; AA Arm. I-XVIII 6189 (2). 6190 Atti varii.





Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 15.01. 2007.


Coat of arms of the House of Visconti, on the Archbishops' palace in Piazza Duomo, in Milan, Italy.

The coat of arms bears the initials IO.(HANNES) of the name of archbishop Giovanni Visconti (1342-1354)


Stefano Visconti

~ 1287-04.07.1327


Foto HdV 2002

Fresco of bull painted over with Arms of Visconti and of the Empire

Sant’ Eustorgio Milano


Stefano Visconti and his sons

Matteo II, Galeazzo I and Bernabó

Sant’Eustorgio Milano


Matteo II


Galeazzo II



Sant’Eustorgio, Wall painting ~1375

The arms of Visconti and St. George slaying the dragon


Foto H.d.V. I.2000

Heraldic stone in the Museo Sforzesco in Milan.

Second half of the 14th century


In the center a shield with a ball. On both sides the arms of members of the Visconti family, the dexter crested with a ball and the siniser with the Visconti-serpent.

On the dexter of both arms the letter ‘G’.

Perhaps the arms of Galeazzo II and his son Gian Galeazzo are represented which would explain the two ‘G’s.





From Armorial Bellenville


Gian Galeazzo


Grant of arms to Gian Galeazzo Visconti by King Charles VI of France, dd. 29 januari 1395.

(Paris Arch. Nat.s, Registre Original J.J. 147, fol. 68)

(Meurgey, J. In: Nouvelle Revue Heraldique, oct. 1934).


Arms: ¼: 1 & 4: France ancient with bordure parted Gules and Argent; 2 & 3: Visconti


Seal of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, 1400


Arms: As before


ASV, Miscellanea atti diplomatici e privati, b. 30, n. 891


Duchy of Milan



Gian Galeazzo


Duke 1395-1402


1 Grosso, 1395-1402




Grant of arms to Gian Galeazzo Visconti by Roman King Wenceslas, dd. 30 March 1397.

"Cupientes insuper tibi, tuisque Descendentibus et Successoribus Ducibus Lombardiae pro nobis et Ducatu Lombardiae praedicto de Armis et Insigniis providere, praesertim de Insigniis nostris Imperialibus, quae Majores tui et tu nostro, et Serenissimorum Praedecessorum nostrorum Romanorum Imperatorum et Regum nomine retroactis temporibus, in Bellorum actibus et ubique strenue detulerunt, non ad tuae petiti­onis instantiam, sed de benignitate Regia, motuque proprio ac tuae originis nobilitate poscente, ex certa scientia et de Romanae Regiae Plenitudine Potestatis, tibi, tuisque Descendentibus legitimis et legitimandis a nobis, sive a Successoribus nostris Romanorum Imperato­ribus et Regibus eorumque Descendentibus in futurum, quos Duces Lombardiae esse continget, concessimus, et concedimus ac tenore prae­sentis nostri Privilegii licentiam elargimur, quatenus pro dicto Ducatu Lombardiae Arma seu Insignia nostra Imperialia, videlicet Aquilam nigram in Campo aureo, in forma, qua ipsa Arma Serenissimi Romanorum Imperatores portare consueverunt, aut per quarteria tu, tuis, tuorumque Descendentium Armis, pro ut tibi, Descendentibus, et Succesoribus tuis Ducibus videbitur et placuerit, ubique tenere, deferre et portare, ac teneri, deferri et portari facere valeatis cunctis temporibus affuturis, ut per hoc inter Nos, Successoresque nostros in Imperio, ac te, tuosque Descendentes et Successores Duces memoriale perpetuum, vinculumque unionis maneat et perduret; nolentes, sed potius inhibentes, te, tuosque Descendentes et Successores Duces ut supra in Armorum ipsorum delatione per quecumque, cujusqumque Dignitatis et Auctoritatis existat, protinus succesive quommodolibet impediri.[15]


Coronation of Gian Galeazzo Visconti to a Duke of  Milan, in 1378 in the  basilica of St. Ambrogio

miniature of the Messale Ambrosianum di Anovelo da Imbonate Milano

Biblioteca del Capitolo di S.Ambrogio  (Milano Biblioteca del Capitolo di S.Ambrogio )


Giovanni Maria




Filippo Maria




(Foto H.d.V. I.2000)


Arms of Philip-Maria Visconti on the façade of the Castello Sforzesco, Milaan.

Probably from the former Visconti castle


Arms: ¼ of the Roman King  and Visconti.

Crown: of eighet leaves

By way of supporters: Two angels armed with a shield


 Giacomino da Ivrea’s frescoes at Marseiller (Valle d’Aosta) 1430-1440


Alexander Sforza, Count of Pesaro († 1473)


Foto H.d.V. I. 2000

Visconti Arms 14th century

Museo Sforzesco, Milano.


Visconti arms with man-eating serpent. For crest a lion’s mask and two pomegranates

L.: co pe to.. 


Ambrosian Republic



Arms: Argent a cross Gules


Banner of the Ambrosian Republic


Medallion, in the center of which is placed Saint Ambrose, patron of Milan. This banner dates from the Ambrosian Republic which existed since the death of the last Visconti, Filippo-Maria (13 August 1447), until the advent of Francesco Sforza (1450).

It is also one of the "eight or nine beautiful banners" which Peter Falk announced was sent to his wife in his letter of 25 July 1512.


Pierre Crolot, Le livre des drapeaux 1648, folio 5

Saint Ambrose, in priestly costume, holding a whip in his right hand and the stick in his left hand; he is surrounded by allegories of cardinal virtues: Justice, Strength, Prudence and Temperance. The medallion frame bears the following legend: X COMUNITAS * MEDIOLANI, in Roman capitals.


The medallion itself is surrounded by four figures probably representing the four elements: fire, earth, water and the sky.



The flag is made up of a strewn of Milan's coat of arms (Argent, a cross Gules) and crowns surmounting the motto libertas, in Gothic minuscles

The whole is surrounded by a border which alternates the coat of arms of Milan and the same motto

Reconstruction O. Neubecker

Crowned motto


Seal of the Ambrosian Republic, 1449


St. Ambrose between two coats of arms with a cross

L.: sigillum • communitatis / * mediolani.

ASV, Atti diplomatici i privati, b. 38, n. 1128.(Sigilli n° 70)



Charles of Orleans  1447-1465  Knight of the Fleece    40, VI Capital St. Omaars, 1440.


Foto H.d.V. 2010

Stall plate of Charles of Orleans

Grote Kerk, Den Haag


Arms: ¼: of France (ancient) and Visconti

Crest: A fleur de lys Or


The quarter for Visconti is explained by his mother Valentia Visconit who was a daughter of Gian Galeazzo Visconti.


House of Sforza



Francesco I Sforza


¥ Bianca Maria Visconti *1425-1468


Foto Giovanni dell´Ordo

Heraldic stone in the Museo Sforzesco in Milan.

Two coats of arms in alliance supported by an angel ,


On the dexter arms a bull, probably the arms of Francesco I Sforza. On the arms of the sinister the arms of Biancal Maria Visconti.


Galeazzo Maria



Arms of Galeazzo Maria Sforza on a vault in the Castello Sforzesco in Milaan.


Arms: ¼ of the Kindgdom the eagle crowned and Visconti.

Crown: of five larged and four small leaves and eight pearls, decorated with a palmleaf  and a branch of olive.




Gian Galeazzo




Ludovico Maria




Milano 1498: a document signed by Ludovico il Moro

Archivio Storico Civica e Biblioteca Trivulziana


Goldenes Dachl Innsbruck 1497-1500


French Rule 1499-1512


Louis XII of France




Arms: ¼: 1 & 4: France; 2 & 3: Visconti.


Massimiliano Visconti


Son of Ludovico Maria

Bannière de Maximilien Sforza, comte de Pavie


Le champ est parti d'argent à la guivre de sinople, hallissante de gueules, qui est Milan, et d'or à trois aigles de sable, posées en pal, couronnées d'or, qui est Empire. Le tout est entouré d'une bordure à caissons disposés dans l'ordre suivant de droite à gauche, et séparés chacun par un vairé plein: 1. vairé; 2. une couronne de nuages; 3. un pinceau (scofetta), entouré de la devise NERITO ET TEMPORE; 4. une colombe brochant sur un soleil et tenant dans ses pattes la devise A BON DROIT; 5. un mors de cheval (?) surmonté de la devise CH VERGES NIT; 6. une branche de laurier et une palme passées en sautoir dans une couronne; 7. une housse de poitrail de cheval. Puis, les caissons se répètent dans le même ordre jusqu'au haut de la hampe.

D'après Charles Stajessi, cette bannière aurait vraisemblablement appartenu à Maximilien Sforza, fils de Ludovic-le-More, que les Confédérés ont installé sur le trône du duché de Milan en 1512.

Ce drapeau a dû faire partie de l'envoi de Peter Falk à son épouse, en 1512.


Pierre Crolot, Le livre des drapeaux 1648, folio 7.


Etendard de Maximilien Sforza, comte de Pavie


De pourpre semé de flammes d'or, au soleil du même, une colombe d'argent brochant sur le tout et tenant entre ses pattes la devise A BON DROIT, en capitales romaines.

Il ne s'agit pas d'une enseigne bourguignonne, comme le croyait Max de Diesbach, mais bien d'un drapeau italien. La colombe, tenant cette devise, est en effet un emblème des familles Visconti et Sforza, représenté exactement de la même façon sur la bordure de la bannière de la planche N° 7.

La facture de l'étendard étant la même que celle de la bannière de Maximilien Sforza, on peut l'attribuer, sans grand risque d'erreur, à ce seigneur italien.

Comme cet étendard n'a pu être pris par les Fribourgeois après que Maximilien Sforza eut été installé sur le trône du duché de Milan, il faut admettre qu'il lui a appartenu, comme la bannière de la planche N° 7, alors qu'il n'était encore que comte de Pavie. Ce drapeau a certainement été pris à Milan et rapporté en 1512 de la campagne de Pavie.

Pierre Crolot, Le livre des drapeaux 1648, folio 19


Archives de l’État de Fribourg CH


French Rule 1515-1521


Francis I of France


Knight of the Fleece. n° 129, XVIII, Brussels, 1516


 Foto Marc Beaudoin

Arms: France

Crest: Fleur de lys

Order.: De la Toison d'Or.  


Franceso II



Foto HdV. 1998

Heraldic stone in the town hall of Cremona

Arms: ¼ Of the empire, the eagle crowned,  en Visconti..

L.: FR. II..


Imperial Rule 1525-1529


Charles V Habsburg


King of Italy, crowned Bologna 22.02.1530

Emperor, crowned Bologna 24.II.1530


The first and at the same time the last Roman Emperor to be crowned with the Iron Cown of Monza was Charles V.


The Master of Ceremonies Biagio da Cesena tells about this

Imperator qui iam in Germania primam cornam ..... sumpserat, vellet secundam cornam quæ ferrea dicitur capere

[The Emperor who had recived the frist crown in Germany wanted to have also the second crown called the Iron Crown ]

About the cown itself:

Corona, quæ dicitur ferrea licet sit ex auro et argento, ac multis margaritis ornata

[The crown called the Iron is of gold and silver and decorated with many pearls]


Haec corona ut habeatur aliqualiter eius cognitio et eius formæ, circularis et latitudine 4 digitorum est vix coronam unius episcopi cicuiens, nec capiti firmare poterat ... erat sine florentibus pinnis in simplicem et latum orbem cicumducta, ferro introrsus tempora præcengenta, sed exteris auro et gemmis exornata.

[This  crown is for her meaning and shape to be descibribed one way or another about four fingers high and enclosed barely the tonsure of a bisshop and neither can be fastened on the head ... she was, without leaves

set with a broad binding around the temples and covered


[To somehow describe its meaning and shape, this crown is round and four fingers wide and barely covers the bishop's tonsure nor can it be fastened to the head ... she was without fleurons with a wide band all around applied the temples covered the inside of the iron and the outside was decorated with gold and precious stones.] [16]


After the death of Charles V Lombardy came to Spain and no emperor crossed the alps to follow the italian  coronation ceremonies.


Franceso II



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 © Hubert de Vries 2020-05-19




[1] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%89glise_Saint-Ir%C3%A9n%C3%A9e_de_Lyon_-_Crypte_-_Sarcophage_A_TERRA_AD_MARTYRES.jpg

[2] Galbreath, D.L.: Papal Heraldry. London 1972, p. 2.The reference at G. reads: Cambridge Medieval History, V. 47.; Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter. Stuttgart & Berlin, 1908. IV. 147 with reference to *Acta Sanctorum, June 27, p. 291.

[3]  Manaresi, C.: Gli Atti del Commune di Milano, fino all’anno mccvi.

[4]  Also see  Gall, p. 39  : Der 1158 den Mailändern aufgezwungene Adler gehörte wohl noch in die älteste Kategorie der Giebeladler.

[5]  Gritzner E. 1902, pp. 40-41.

[6]  Luraghiu, G. The Coats of Arms of the House of Visconti and the City of Milan. The Alfa Romeo Emblem. p. 51.

[7]  Luraghiu, op.cit. p. 54, from which the next alinea is borrowed.

[8]  From the same time are  the city-sculptures  of  Brunswjck, Pisa and Venice..

[9]  For the same reasons, the Savoies removed the Ring of St. Maurice.  Ripart, Laurent: L’anneau de Saint Maurice. In: Andenmatten, B. Ed.: Heraldique et emblématique de la Maison de Savoie. Many  legends about  coats of arms have the same tenor. https://www.monitoremilanese.com/?tag=ottone-visconti

[10]  Seyler Gesch. p. 349. Ex: J. du Mont, corps univers diplomat. Tome II, partie I. p. 261 f. For the text of this capital infra.: Gian Galeazzo,

[11]  Milano, Biblioteca Trivulziana, Cod. 1309, fol. 1.

[12] Freiburg, Staatsarchiv. The banner was captured in 1512 by the Eidgenossenschaft and in this ay came to  Freiburg. Het zegel van de Republiek:  ASV, Atti diplomatici i privati, b. 38, n. 1128.

[13]  In 1440, at the Sixth chapter of the Order of the Fleece in St. Omaars, Charles of Orleans (1391-1465), was made knight n° 40. His coat of arms is quarterly of France (ancient) and Visconti with a crest of France.  His stallplate is now in the Grote Kerk in The Hague.

[14] Campiglio, Giovanni: Storia di Milano. Milano per Felice Rusconi, 1831. p. 45 (giulini, Mcm., Tom. I, c. 330, IV. 415, and ff, V. 13, 30, 398, VII 397, 403, VIII, 68, 127 ff). Ugone Visconti che sembra colui che alla Repubblca lo cedette, portava nel suo vessilo per impresa uno stajo: che le trovasi comprovato dal bastone Pastorale ornato di Vipere di Ardengo visconti Cellerario del Monastero di S. Ambroio che stava a lato del di lui cadavere disotterrato nel 1226. (giulini, Mcm. , Tom. I, c. 330, IV. 415, e seg., V. 13, 30, 398, VII 397, 403, VIII, 68, 127 e seg.)

[15] Ref.: Seyler Gesch. p. 349. Ex: J. du Mont, corps univers diplomat. Tome II, partie I. p. 261 f.)

[16] Barany p. 40.

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