ARMORIAL GOLD HERALDRY SYMBOLISM LIBRARY
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LABEL: See Cadency.
LADDER (scaling ladder): A military ladder with curved top. Denotes one who was fearless in attacking; used in warfare only by extremely brave soldiers; when born up against a tower, it symbolizes awareness to stand carefully on guard as the castle is continually assailed by our spiritual and corporal enemies.
LADY'S SLEEVE (maunch, manche): Used in heraldry from the custom of knights who attended tournaments wearing their ladies' sleeves as a pledge of love.
LAMB: An emblem of the Redeemer; symbolizes gentleness, innocence, and purity; sacrifice. In Christian symbolism, the lamb represents Jesus, "the lamb of God". Standing with a banner, the lamb represents the risen Christ triumphant over death (see Paschal Lamb). It is said when the lamb is resting on a book, it represents the judgment of Christ.
LAMP (Tin workers, Roman, Ancient): If not used for the purposes of profession (tin worker), lamps of this sort were used as vessels of light, and as beacons to ward off evil.
LANCE: See Javelin.
LANTERN (falot): Ship's Lantern; watchful; cautious; a great navigator of tormented seas.
LAPWINGS (pewit, plover, tyrwhitt, sea-pye): An ancient bird said that to protect its young, by luring the enemy from its nest by flying away and crying loudest when furthest from its nest. An Old World wading bird of the family Charadriidae, characterized by a markedly slow beat of the wings, dark, glossy plumage, and distinctive white markings. Denotes one who protects the young with cunning and ruse rather than force or confrontation.
LARK (skylark): An Old World bird characterized by an unusually long, straight hind claw. It was symbolic merriment as the lark sang hymns at the gates of heaven; the lark was the bird that announced the coming of the day. Because of the bird's boundless energy, it is said the lark is also the symbol of hope, happiness, and of good fortune; creativity.
LATHS: A bundle of laths is borne by the 'bricklayers' company', and also by the 'woodmongers' company, but not by any family that I know of.
LAUREL LEAVES (branch): In ancient times these leaves were used as remedies against poison and were used as tokens of peace and quietness. The branches were held in honour in the temples of ancient Greece.
LEAVES (Bay, Ivy, Oak, Olive): Oak leaves; antiquity and strength. Olive leaves; peace and concord. Ivy leaves; strong and lasting friendship. Bay leaves; the victor's laurel.
LEG (usually in armour): Is emblematical of strength, stability, and expedition.
LEOPARD: In heraldry, represents those brave and generous warriors who have performed some bold enterprise with force, courage, promptitude, and activity. Leopard skins were worn by the priests of ancient Egypt to ward off evil. Because the spots of the leopard resemble eyes, several ancient cultures referred to the leopard as the ‘Great Watcher.” Associated with the Greek god Dionysus, who is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers/leopards. The Lion léopardé is a French term, that has proven somewhat confusing. There are actually three terms you should know: Lion léopardé: This is lion passant; léopard lionné: This is lion passant, guardant; léopard: This is leopard.
LIGHTNING: The classical preservatives against lightning were the eagle, the sea calf, and the laurel. Jupiter chose the first, Augustus Caesar the second, and Tiberius the third. Bodies scathed and a man struck dead by lightning were said to be incorruptible; and the ancients held anyone so distinguished in great honour. The bolt of lightning is a traditional symbol of sudden illumination and the destruction of ignorance; it also represents a punishment of humans by the gods from the skies.
LILY: Emblem of chastity, innocence, and purity. See Fleur De Lis
LIME TREE (linden tree): The Crusaders brought the lime tree to France and Italy in the 13th Century. It is a symbol of life, vitality and energy; resurrection. From the very earliest times, lime was a well-known tree for its therapeutic virtues. Ancient German civilizations considered it a sacred tree, while the Celts saw in it a symbol of selflessness. It is considered that the Linden tree influences people to be truthful, which is why in Medieval times, lovers swore eternal love in the shade of a lime tree. In Roman mythology the Linden tree was a symbol of conjugal love and fidelity.
LINES OF PARTITION: There are many lines of partition between the fields. Some have documented symbolism others were merely added for artistic purposes or for purposes of distinguishing one shield from another. Nebuly or Nebulee; signifies clouds or air. Wavy or Undee; sea or water. Engrailed; earth or land. Invected; earth or land. Indented; fire. Dancettee; water. Raguly or Ragulee; difficulties that have been encountered. Embattled; fire or walls of a fortress or town. Dovetail; strength. Rayonnee; sun, radiant. Potent; determined through adversity.
LING (cod, hake, whiting): These fish all belong to the family Gadidœ. The Hake is more slender, and sports a larger head than the cod but otherwise the drawing does not usually distinguish the many varieties. The symbolism for cod is generally accepted to be the same for the Ling.
LION: An emblem of majesty, strength, and justice, military might and deathless courage, the Lion was indeed a foe to fear. The French heralds call the lion passant a leopard; accordingly Napoleon said to his soldiers, "Let us drive these leopards (the English) into the sea." In heraldry any Lion not rampant is often called a lion leopardé. The Lion is also an emblem of the resurrection; according to tradition, the lion's whelp is born dead, and remains so for three days, when the father breathes on it and it receives life. Another tradition is that the Lion is the only animal of the cat tribe born with its eyes open, and it is said that it sleeps with its eyes open; although not completely true the Lion does sleep watchfully and lightly. The Lion in the arms of Scotland is derived from the arms of the ancient Earls of Northumberland and Huntingdon, from whom some of the Scottish monarchs were descended. The Lions in the arms of England: They are three Lions passant guardant, i.e. walking and showing the full face. The first Lion was that of Rollo, Duke of Normandy, and the second represented the country of Maine, which was added to Normandy. These were the two Lions borne by William the Conqueror and his descendants. Henry II added a third Lion to represent the Duchy of Aquitaine, which came to him through his wife Eleanor. Commonly referred to as "the king of the beasts," it is a symbol of kingly power and might, but as the lioness it is commonly related to the Great Mother and to protection. The following is the symbolism associated with the more popular lion positions typically blazoned:
LIZARD: Lizards are seekers of the sun and may symbolize the human soul seeking the light; also borne to ward off evil; may symbolize death followed by resurrection. It also symbolizes safety and welfare because it can lose it's tail and regenerate it.
LOBSTER (crayfish): The Crayfish and Lobster, along with the Crab were used to symbolize the Zodiacal sign of Cancer; water symbol. Denotes tenaciousness; one that moves quickly; also regeneration, steadfastness, resoluteness. The lobster was thought to be the enemy of serpents (sin) and hence a symbol of temperance. Bearers would also use the Lobster to represent the trade of lobster harvesting.
LOCK (padlock): Symbolizes guardianship and dominion; security, protection. See Keys.
LOTUS FLOWER: The lotus flower appeared in legends originating both from India and from ancient Egypt. The lotus is a flower that opens and closes each day. In ancient Egypt the lotus also known as the sacred water lily was frequently represented; it was associated with the life-giving power of the Nile River and with Osiris, lord of the dead. It is a symbol of purity, virtue and honesty.
LOZENGE: Denotes honesty and constancy. Held to be a token of noble birth. A lozenge that is shown voided is called a mascle. In post-renaissance heraldry some countries required single and widowed women to use a lozenge shaped shield (without helm) to display their arms. This tradition still remains popular but is completely optional.
LUCE (hake, pike): from the Latin luci-us, from the Greek lukos (a wolf), meaning the wolf of fishes. Now commonly called the pike. Bestowed on one not to be set at naught or underestimated. Russian mythology holds that the pike/luce was an evil water spirit, blamed for annihilatimg the fish population in many rivers.
LYNX: Stealthiness and cunning; vigilance, alertness; the lynx is a predator that was once believed to have incredible powers of vision. During the Middle Ages, people thought it could see through walls. In representations of the five senses, the lynx is used to symbolize the sense of sight. One of the Argonauts who sailed with Jason in search of the Golden Fleece was named Lynceus because of his exceptional powers of vision. To be "lyncean" or "lynx-eyed" is to be sharp-sighted.
LYMPHAD (Lymphiad): See Galley or Ship.
LYRE (Harp): The lyre was the attribute of the Greek god Apollo. Hermes, who later became the messenger of the Greek gods and, as Mercury, became the god of merchants and thieves in Rome, stole some oxen from Apollo. The dispute was settled when Hermes gave Apollo his own musical instrument, the lyre; symbolic of one who was well-composed and tempered judgement; contemplation.
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Heraldry Symbolism Library by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Symbolism Library and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Golds own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.