Coat of arms of Norway
State arms of the Kingdom of Norway
Coat of Arms of Norway.svg
Stylised version from 1992
Details
Armiger Norwegian State
Adopted 1280 (1905)
Crest The crown of the King of Norway (on a royal crown a demi-lion rampant or, crowned and bearing an axe with blade argent)
Escutcheon gules, a lion rampant or, crowned and bearing an axe with blade argent
Royal Arms of the
King of Norway
Royal Arms of Norway.svg
Details
Armiger King of Norway
Adopted 1280; elaborated in 1905
Crest The crown of the King of Norway (on a royal crown a demi-lion rampant or, crowned and bearing an axe with blade argent)
Escutcheon gules, a lion rampant or, crowned and bearing an axe with blade argent
Orders Order of St. Olav
Other elements An ermine mantling Purpure

The coat of arms of Norway is a crowned, golden lion rampant holding an axe with an argent blade, on a crowned, triangular and red escutcheon. Its elements originate from personal insignias for the royal house in the High Middle Ages, thus being among the oldest in Europe. In Norway, the motif of the coat of arms is often called den norske løve; literally translated, “the Norwegian lion”.

Contents

Royal coat of arms

The coat of arms of the royal house as well as the Royal Standard uses the lion design from 1905. The shield features the insignia of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav around it.

The shield is framed by a royal ermine robe, surmounted by the crown of Norway.

History

Magnus Barefoot (1093–1103) was the first Norwegian king to use an heraldic lion in his standard. Håkon the Old (1217–1263) placed the lion on escutcheon.[citation needed] In 1280 a crown and a silver axe was added to the lion in King Eirik Magnusson's insignia. The axe is the martyr axe of St. Olav, the weapon said to have killed him in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.[citation needed]

The design of the Norwegian arms has changed through the years, following changing heraldic fashions. In the late Middle Ages, the axe handle gradually grew longer and came to resemble a halberd. The handle was usually curved in order to fit the shape of escutcheon (or the changing union quarterings) preferred at the time, and also to match the shape of coins. The halberd was officially discarded and the shorter axe reintroduced by royal decree in 1844, when an authorised design was instituted for the first time. In 1905, the official design for royal and government arms was again changed, this time reverting to the medieval pattern, with a triangular escutcheon and a more upright lion. The painter Eilif Peterssen was responsible for the design. The present design was introduced in 1937, but slightly modified with royal approval 20 May 1992.

The coat of arms is always to be displayed surmounted with the royal crown. During the political and constitutional conflicts of the late 19th century, republican anti-union liberal forces could use an uncrowned shield as an emblem, as can be seen on the banner of Kristiania Folkevæpningssamlag in the Oslo City Museum.[citation needed] During World War II the Quisling regime continued to use the lion coat of arms, although another coat of arms, bearing the Nasjonal Samling emblem, was also used concurrently. In 1943, the design of the lion was modified, and the royal crown was replaced with an open medieval type of crown. The legitimate Norwegian government continued to use the coat of arms with the royal crown during exile.

According to the rules of heraldry, any design is acceptable and recognizable as the arms of Norway, provided it fits the blazon "gules a lion rampant or, crowned and bearing an axe with blade argent".

The Norwegian official blazon: "Ei upprett gull-løve på raud grunn med gullkrone på hovudet og gullskjeft sylvøks i framlabbane".

Stand-alone national coats of arms

In spite of the various unions that Norway has been party of throughout the centuries, the coat of arms of the Norwegian nation was simultaneously also depicted separately in domestic contexts. In line with the conventions of heraldry, the design of the heraldic elements vary with each individual depiction, but the most tangible and consistent elements of evolution are outlined below. Note that the design of the crown surmounting the escutcheon is anachronistic, as no separate heraldic crown was devised for Norway until the 19th century.

Coat of arms Description Dates Used
Arms of the Kingdom of Norway.svg In 1280 a crown and a silver axe was added to the lion in King Eirik Magnusson's insignia. The axe is the martyr axe of St. Olav, the weapon said to have killed him in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.[citation needed] c. 1274–Late Middle Ages
Arms of the Kingdom of Norway (Late Middle Ages–1844).svg In the late Middle Ages, the axe handle gradually grew longer and came to resemble a halberd. The handle was usually curved in order to fit the shape of escutcheon (or the changing union quarterings) preferred at the time, and also to match the shape of coins. Late Middle Ages–1844
Arms of the Kingdom of Norway.svg The halberd was officially discarded and the shorter axe reintroduced by royal decree in 1844, when an authorised design was instituted for the first time. 1844–present

Coats of arms of regents

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