Country : Belgium
The arms were granted on October 7, 1986 and replaced older arms granted on December 18, 1841, October 6, 1819 and December 16, 1810.
The arms are the arms of the Estate and County of Mechelen. The arms with the red pales are those of the Berthout family, Lords of Mechelen in the 12th and 13th century. In 1490 Emperor Frederic III granted the city the use of an escutcheon with the imperial eagle.
The arms from 1490 (source)
On the seal of the city, dating from the same year, the new arms are shown, with two griffins as supporters. These are the supporters of the Habsburg family, who were Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The motto was also added in the late 15th century.
The dragon crest is probably derived from the arms of the Kingdom of Aragon, which also showed red pales in gold (see for the crest the province of Valencia, in Spain), but which had nothing to do with the city. In the new arms the helmet and crest were replaced by a crown of a Count, for the historical County of Mechelen.
In the 16th and 17th century the eagle in the escutcheon was often shown with two heads, but these were never officially used.
Napoleon granted arms to Mechelen in 1810, showing the shield with the pales, but instead of the eagle, a free canton with a crowned N, the symbol of cities of the Second Class.
In 1819 the arms were granted without the supporter, which was added in 1841. In 1986 the crest was replaced by a crown.
The arms of 1841 showed the a crest with a golden dragon. The arms also used the motto 'In fide constans' The present arms show two griffins as supporters and the translation of the motto in Dutch, 'In trouwen vast'.
The arms in a 17th century manuscript
The arms in a 16th century manuscript
The arms in the Wapen- en Vlaggenboek van Gerrit Hesman (1708)
The arms in: Hendrik van Huldenberghe, "Geboorte-linie ofte geslachts afcompste der Heeren Vooghden van Mechelen", 1638
The diploma from 1810 (source)
The arms in the Koffie Hag/Café Hag albums +/- 1930
Police badges of Mechelen (source)
The arms on a Dutch Willem II cigar band
Literature: Anonymous : Van evers en heiligen - wapens en vlaggen van de gemeenten in de provincie Antwerpen. Antwerpen, 1998. Main image © Philippe Pille; Viane-Awouters and Warlop, 2002.
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