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old-fashioned fantasy and history geek, I enjoy the simplicity and symbolism
in coats-of-arms and general heraldry. Here I present a collection of
the arms of my various hometowns and motherlands (presently including
Sweden, Germany and Finland).
I was born in the province of Småland and spent my childhood in
the small town Gislaved at the Nissan river. Gislaved had an history dating
from Viking times, when Nissan was an important trading route. The golden
thingy in the centre of the arms symbolises an inn.
(The Small Lands)
This province belongs to Götaland, the southern third of modern Sweden.
The Smålännings are reputedly very industrious and economical
(some say cheap...). The land is stony and covered with dark forests.
Religion is strong here, as is the tradition of peasant uprisings against
the Crown. The crossbow
is the traditional weapon of the Göta tribes.
(The Kingdom of the Svea) - Sweden
This is the smaller coat-of-arms of the Kingdom. The three
crowns symbolize the medieval union between Denmark, Sweden and Norway,
which is funny because Sweden was the first one to leave it. Probably
because the only union they'd agree to is one that's led by Sweden...
(a popular joke is that the Swedes think the EU decided to join Sweden
When I was just about 12, we moved to the
Federal Republic of Germany. The year was 1991 and Germany was in
the process of reunion. We were as overwhelmed by this consumer's
paradise as the old DDR
citizens. No wonder we made good friends among the 'Ossis', although we
settled in the west.
My first German town. A Saxon called Wuonher settled down
here in the 600's AD. Gives you a taste of the historical dimensions you
encounter in Germany...
OF THE LIBERTY-LOVING SAXONIANS! In German
Saxony. Famous for providing England with the composer Handel and
a few kings in the 18th century. The white horse is an ancient symbol
of the Saxon tribe. The Saxons who conquered England together with the
Angles in the 500's AD had names like Hengest and Horsa ("stallion"
and "horse"). Even today, traditional farm houses in Lower Saxony
have horse's head ornaments on the roofs for good luck. A note for Tolkien
fans: The riders of Rohan resemble
in some ways the Anglo-Saxons, and even quote Anglo-Saxon poetry on
occasion. You might remember their
banner: A white horse on a green field.
The Capital of Lower Saxony. I lived here 1992-1995. The Allied bombings
destroyed it to the ground in WW2, which sounds remarkable when you
see the prosperous city today.
The coat-of-arms is from the 16th century, when
Finland was declared a Grand Duchy under the Swedish Crown. At this time,
the eastern border towards the rising Muscovite empire began to take shape
under long wars. Thus we see the lion of the Swedish Folkkunga royal family
wielding the straight sword of the west, trampling down the curved sabre
of the east.
OX ROAD TO HÄME
The lynx is a handsome animal and a symbol of the Finnish conifer forests.
The tribes of Häme were quite warlike and only subjugated under Swedish
rule when the leaders were promised rights to tax the Lapps freely. The
strong and lonesome predator seems a fitting symbol for this province.
Today, the reigning joke about the Häme people seems to be that they
are slow thinkers and very stubborn to the point of bloody-mindedness.
My 75% Finnish heritage is basically from Häme. Go figure...
Lived here 1995-1997. Weird little town in the darkness of Häme's
forests. Some might say that the people are inbred and/or evil. Urjala
is actually quite famous for its "magic nights" and for being
the birthplace of the author Väinö
Linna ("The Unknown Soldier"). Linna's other epic novel
about tenant farmers' struggle during Finland's 20th century wars is set
in the Urjala area, and one of the main characters in "The Unknown
Soldier" comes from this region - the stubborn and bluntly honest
As I moved back to Sweden in 1997, I briefly settled down in the second-largest
city, "the gateway to the west". I have an aunt and four cousins here.
We meet the Swedish royal lion again.
The southernmost province of Sweden, taken by force from Denmark in the
17th century - thus has been Swedish for a much shorter time than Finland!
The inhabitants are proud of their region and sometimes openly nationalistic.
Their dialect is unfairly ridiculed in other parts of Sweden (throat-R's
and diphthongs). In fact, not even the Danes understand what the Scanians
say. They are famous for fat geese, flat fields and smoked eels.
My present home town. The medieval city-planning with winding little streets
has been well preserved and protected, to the dismay of motorists. The
university is spread throughout town, there is no single central campus.
||Seal of Lund
The third oldest Swedish university, if you count the university of Åbo
(now Finnish). Founded in order to educate the Scanians to become faithful
servants of the Swedish crown. A stroke of genius from king Charles XI,
because a controlled amount of education is a better motivation to patriotism
than total ignorance.
Third largest island of Sweden. At the west coast (according to the local
board of tourism, the "Best Coast"), somewhere between Gothenburg
and Norway. The Orustians consider themselves neither Swedish nor Norwegian
and have tried to fight off both in pre-modern times. As you can see on
the coat-of-arms, the traditional industry is fishing.