boar, British Monarchy, coat of arms, heraldry, King Richard III, Kings Arms, Kings Arms Public House York, National Portrait Gallery, National Portrait Gallery London, Plantagenet, Public houses, pubs, Richard III, Richard III Society, white boar, York
The “Kings Arms” was not the first public house I visited in York that cold November evening back in 2010, but I obviously wasn’t so merry that I didn’t notice this portrait of King Richard III hanging over me; inspired by one of my favourite painting from the National Portrait Gallery in London, by Anon. To quote from the Gallery’s website, “This portrait, in which he appears to be placing a ring on the little finger of his right hand, has been seen by some as evidence of his cruel nature and by others as evidence of his humanity”, so you can read into it what you like!
As well the portrait the pub also displays the Arms of Richard III, which include his personal heraldic device, the white boar, flanking the Plantagenet coat-of-arms. A certain on-line encyclopaedia informs me that a complete boar in heraldry, as opposed to just the head, might represent the courage and fierceness the boar displays, but I haven’t had much experience of boars in the wild [or in captivity, for that matter]. The Richard III Society, which promotes research into King Richard III related matters, still uses the white boar on some of its heraldic devices and logos.
According to the Leeds Coat of Arms section of the Leeds Owl Trail website, Sir John Savile put the European Eagle Owls into Leeds. His ancestors arrived in England from Anjou during the Norman conquest and were awarded extensive property in Yorkshire by William The Conqueror, as a thank you for service rendered at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. So why did Sir John Savile adopt owls as his heraldic device? Nobody seems to know, but he was quick to get his favourite owls onto the Boroughs coat of arms when the city was given its first charter in 1626, during the reign of King Charles I. If you’re interested in Leeds, heraldry or owls you might want to look at the Leeds Owl Trail map, which includes the owls photographed here, outside the Civic Hall.
It’s interesting how people like to promote different things about themselves, especially British Monarchs. When this coat of arms was erected King George I or King George II were so keen to promote the fact they were Prince – Electors of Hanover that they squashed the heraldic symbols of England and Scotland together in order to fit in a number of heraldic devices they brought with them from Hanover, including the white horse. They have also given ample room over to the fleur-de-lis, to show that, like so many other British Monarchs, they also laid claim to the throne of France (to quote Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, “No King of England, if not King of France“). Interestingly, this coat of arms would become redundant when King George III gave up the ancient arms of France; I guess there was little point protesting a claim to a throne that no longer existed after the foundation of the French Republic.