Information about the Heraldry of the Crusader States

Academy of St. Gabriel Report #1666


From: "Brian M. Scott" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 01:44:10 -0500
Subject: Client 1666: Crusader States*~ -- Quick Final Report

Greetings from the Academy of S. Gabriel!

You asked for information about the armory of the Crusader States,
especially the County of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch.

Unfortunately, there appears to be very little direct evidence of
the armory used by the Crusader States, and most of that is
relatively late, i.e., after the final loss of the city of Jerusalem
in 1244. [1] I'll begin with the strictly armorial evidence.

Even the familiar and often-cited arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
have a complex and uncertain history. Originally they seem to have
been a simple cross, either 'Or, a cross argent' or 'Argent, a cross
gules'. Matthew Paris, writing in the mid-13th century, assigns the
former version to several 12th century kings of Jerusalem. To John
de Brienne (reigned 1210-37) he assigns both this coat and 'Or
crusily and a cross argent', i.e., a white cross on a gold field
strewn with white crosslets. In the Heralds' Roll (c.1279) the
tinctures are reversed ('Argent crusily and a cross or'), and in
Smallpece's Roll (1298-1306) the central cross is given its modern
form ('Argent crusily and a cross potent or'). The first examples
of the form given in most modern sources ('Argent, a cross potent
between four crosslets or') are found in Walford's Roll (c.1275) and
Segar's Roll (c.1285 . [2, 3]

Cyprus was in the hands of the Lusignan family, which bore 'Barruly
argent and azure' (like 'Barry argent and azure', but generally with
more and narrower stripes). At least in the 13th century the
Lusignan kings of Cyprus bore the family arms differenced with a
gold-crowned red lion: 'Barruly argent and azure, a lion rampant
gules crowned or'. In 1269 Hugues III de Lusignan, king of Cyprus,
took the title 'King of Jerusalem' and thereafter often marshalled
these arms with those of Jerusalem. The resulting quartered coat
was still being used by Jacques I, king of Cyprus (1382-98) and of
Jerusalem (1386-98). [4, 5]

The Heralds' Roll gives the arms of 'Le Prince de Antioche' as
'Gules, three trumpets palewise or'. The prince in question would
have been Bohemund VII, who in 1275 succeeded his father, Bohemond
VI, as titular prince of Antioch. Unfortunately, these arms cannot
be confirmed, as it appears that no other source mentions his arms.
He was also count of Tripoli, but we found no specific mention of
any arms associated with that state. [6, 7]

There is also a little numismatic evidence (i.e., evidence from
coins), some of it quite early. For example, Raymond II, who ruled
Tripoli 1137-52, issued coins showing a cross and a horse on the
obverse and a cross between four roundels on the reverse. Some 13th
century Tripolitan coins show a cross formy, an eight-pointed star,
or both, and the cross formy is also found on some coins from

For further information and references we recommend that you read
the article on the Crusader States at F. Velde's Heraldica Site, from
which the numismatic evidence above was taken; the URLs for the
site's front page and the article in question respectively are:

The available evidence is rather unsatisfactory, but I hope that
this letter answers at least some of your questions. If anything in
it isn't clear, please feel free to write us again.

For the Academy,

Talan Gwynek
7 April 1999


References and Notes:

[1] It had originally been lost in 1187 but was briefly recaptured
by the Franks in 1229. See, for instance, Bernard Grun, _The
Timetables of History_ (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), under
the dates in question.

[2] Aspilogia II. Wagner, Anthony Richard, ed. Rolls of Arms:
Henry III (London: The Society of Antiquaries, 1967); pp. 12, 13, 15,
23-4, 36, 169-70.

[3] Brault, Gerald J. The Rolls of Arms of Edward I. Aspilogia
III. 2 vols. (London: Boydell Press, 1997); I:85, 175, 309, 472.

[4] Brault, op. cit., II:131; Aspilogia II, p. 170.

[5] Bibliothe\que royale Albert Ier. Gelre (Leuven: Jan van Helmont,
1992, ISBN 90-74318-03-7); folio 69v.

[6] Brault, op. cit., II:8.

[7] The county of Tripoli had originally been in the hands of
descendants of the counts of Toulouse, but it passed into the hands
of a cadet line of the counts of Antioch late in the 12th century.
(Grand Larousse Encyclope/dique en dix volumes, Paris, Librairie
Larousse, 1960-1964, s.n. Tripoli.)

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