Crowns and coronets in heraldry by Tomas Bragesjö

Coronet or crown

In Swedish crown and coronet are the same word , "krona". In English crown means that the bearer is a King or else it is called coronet.

Many burgher coat of arms in Svenskt Vapenregister uses coronets. There has been some burgher coat of arms with coronets even before Svenskt Vapenregister was created, for example Trollencrona (red coronet of the type saxon crown) and Rehbander (jeweled coronet) and Bragesjö(red coronet) and Chronier (red special unique coronet based on a mural crown), but the number has increased much when the register was created.

Some but not all existing coat of arms with coronets also entered Svenskt Vapenregister and others can be found in Skandinavisk Vapenrulla or in a few cases in both. Particularity crowned animals increased much in popularity when Svenskt Vapenregister was created. But there are also some examples of open coronets and one coat of arms used a closed coronet as a part of a key. But I have no intention to cover them here, visit Svenskt Vapenregister instead.

Sometimes the coronets are decorate items on them self or a sometimes used as crowned animals or as part of an other item.

Rank coronets

Nobility rank coronets may only be used by corresponding nobles. This mean noble like member of Riddarhuset and on father side and not on mothers side unless one is ennobled one self. Also nobilitys coat of arms may according to law not be used as one's own coat of arms unless direct member of the house and not on a female line or illegitimate way. There has however also been some exceptions like Trolle-Wachtmeister, a branch of the counts Wachtmeister af Johannishus, Trolle-Bonde, a branch of the counts Bonde af Björnö, and Trolle-Löwen, a branch of the baron family Löwen, where entail created the names and royal permission that the holder should use House Trolle coat of arms together with hes own coat of arms.

Nobles may use rank coronets directly on top of their coat of arms shield if using a matching rank coronet instead of using the crest and the granted number of helmets.

Royal coat of arms always follows the kingdoms succesion order and nobles coat of arms always on male lines only. Burgher coat of arms can on the other hand be inherited according to to the takers specification.

Open coronets

Open coronets are no symbol of rank. A Globus cruciger is also no sign of rank. In Sweden closed coronets means member of a Royal House and is not forbidden no matter of family roots but not recommended and can be considered bad taste but it is still no problems. Open coronets can be used as decoration and animals that is crowned is not forbidden nor any sign of rank. Coronets can be part of items without problems and can be used both as shield item and crest item.

Coronets may not be placed directly on top of a burgher coat of arms shield unless it is a clear sign of not being a ranking coronet or a noble coat of arms that uses a matching rank coronet instead of crest and the granted number of helmets. Countys and regiments coat of arms often has a closed coronet. Citys coat of arms uses special coronets as do ships and also Freemasons lodges.

A legal but tricky coronet is used at Rehbanders coat of arms since it is a open gold coronet where jewels are mentioned in blazon and it can therefore be easy by mistaken for a nobility coronet for the untrained eye depending of how the artist draws it.

Other types of coronets

I have also seen coronets of other types like for example ancient crown or laurel-crown or custom made coronets and that is not a sign of rank either. I have seen one burgher coat of arms that uses a Globus cruciger as a shield item but it is not a sign of rank either.

I have also seen that one member of Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen uses an open crowned helmet at hes shield but thats not a sign a rank either even thought that in both Sweden and in Finland only nobles can and may only use an open helment above the shield and burgher coat of of arms can and may only use a closed helmet above the shield but when used at the shield it self as an item it is simply a decorative shield item.

Drawing of coat of arms

Coronets on burgher coat of arms should be painted in a way that its is clear that they are no symbol of rank. They should be painted in a way like Swedens national teams in icehockey coronets, simple, clean and good looking. In some of my drawings the artists made my coronet like a nobility coronet colored red but according to blazon it is simply a red coronet. Heraldic artists has and should always be given freedom in interprating the blazon. And at any rate in my case there should not be confusions as nobility coronets are always gold and not red.

Sample image of my coat of arms with a correctly drawn coronet by Thomas Falk

Nobility symbols in coat of arms

Apart from ranking coronets both at the shields, at the crest or directly above shield, nobility coat of arms has a few privileges depending of how the letter of nobility describes the coat of arms.

Nobles and royal coat of arms can be granted a heart shield or in some rare cases like Lewenhaupt heart shields.

Nobles can also be granted royal monograms, both as shield item and as crest item.

Royal and nobles coat of arms can be granted supporters holding the shield.

Nobles may be granted flags as mantling.

Nobles can be granted more than one helmet and nobles helmets are in Sweden and Finland always open while burgher coat of arms can only use one helmet and it is always closed. In the rest of the world an open helment are no sign of rank and is a remnent from a failed attempt when nobles in Sweden tried to make coat of arms exclusive to nobles.

Quartering on the other hand is not a privilege but burgher coat of arms are advised to not do so.

Further reading

I have written articles for both Svenska Heraldiska Föreningens magazine Vapenbilden and also for Svenska Heraldiska Föreningens homepage.

I have also written som articles in English for use on this site that is not going to be published else where. Some articles are translations and slight modifications of articles I wrote for Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen.