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Many theories are opposed concerning the origin of the coat of arms of Berlin.

The first theory is based on the fact that bears were hunted in the forest around Berlin.

Another theory, is the phonic representation, as bear is "bär" in German.

Today, the bear stands up on a silver background.

This representation comes from the sovereignty of the "land" of Berlin in 1945.


Many families choose the bear on their coat of arms, as you can see for the Gelas of Lautrec.

Places also choose the bear as "Ossau" valley, wellknown in the Pyrenees for its bears.

Others show one bear fighting with the cry " Ussau and Bearn, viva la vaca "

Copyright "The  passion of bears" from Dominique Pascal

The Bear has an important place in the heraldry not only in France but especially in the German alpine countries.

It is on the coat of arms of countries towns, orders of knighthood, or coat of arms of clergy. Many families recognizing themselves as stemed from an ursine ancestor, having names remindind bear.

Théodore de Renesse in his dictionnary of coats of arms, registred 530 French and foreign families, who chose the bear to decorate their coat of arms.

Updating the 17th march 2012. During a linguistic stay in England, in Warwick , I observed  on several occasions a coat of arms which has questionned me.  Some researches allow me to learn more. 

The bear and the Ragged Staff

© Geneviève Hamelin

Here is the coat of arms of Warwickshire County Council in 1931. It is composed of various elements, combining the county's past and present.  we can see a silver bear with red muzzle and gold collar and chain supporting a silver ragged staff on a red shield, with three red crosses on a gold band at the top, the whole surmounted by a crown.

© Geneviève Hamelin

© Geneviève Hamelin

The origins of these emblems have been associated with the earls of warwick since at least as early  as the 14th century. William Dugdale, writing in the 1650s, said  that Arthgal, an earl of  Warwick at the time of king  Arthur, thought that his name came from the Welsh " artos " or bear. He also suggested that the ragged staff was chosen because Morvidus, Earl of warwick, killed a giant with the broken branch of a tree.  
Of course, neither of these earls really existed and dugdale was just recalling medieval legends. The bear was a common heraldic device and implied boldness and courage;

© Geneviève Hamelin

The bear and the ragged staff were first used by the Beauchamp family, who became earls of warwick, in 1268, as a badge or mark of identity in to addition to their own coat of arms. The bear alone appears on the tomb of Thoams Beauchamp in the chancel of St Mary's chrurch in Warwick.


Creation date : 10/11/2007 : 21:50
Last update : 17/03/2012 : 17:37
Category : BEARS IN ART - Coat of arms
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