Ancient and modern are terms used in heraldry to differentiate two different coats of arms used at different periods by a family or other bearer. Reasons for changing arms have been numerous, the most famous being the 1376 change in the French royal arms by Charles V of France to show three fleurs-de-lis instead of semee de lis, possibly to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The reasons for other changes were more prosaic, for example where a court of chivalry ordered a change or differencing where two families claimed the same arms, as in the famous case of Scrope v Grosvenor. The resulting two versions of arms are referred to as "France ancient" and "France modern", "Grosvenor ancient" and "Grosvenor modern".

List of examples

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (December 2015)
Family Ancient arms Modern arms Date of change Notes
Capet (Royal arms of France)
Arms of France ancient: Azure semée-de-lis or
Arms of France modern: Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or
1376 See article Royal Arms of France
Portugal (Royal arms of Portugal)
Portugal ancient: Argent, five escutcheons crosswise the dexter and sinister ones pointing to the center azure each semée of argent plates
Portugal modern: Argent, five escutcheons in cross azure each charged with as many argent plates in saltire, all within bordure gules semée of seven castles or
1245 (first version of Portugal modern)/1485 (current version) See article Coat of arms of Portugal
Denmark (Coat of arms of Denmark)
Denmark ancient: Or semée of waterlily pads gules, three leopards passant azure crowned or langued gules.
Denmark modern: Or, three lions passant in pale azure crowned or langued gules, nine lily pads gules.
1819 Originally the lions were heraldic leopards facing the viewer and the number of hearts (officially blazoned as waterlily pads) was not defined and could be much larger than today. The lions were defined as heraldic lions and the number of hearts specified to nine in 1819.
Grosvenor ancient: Azure, a Bend Or
Grosvenor modern: Azure, a Garb Or
1389 See article Scrope v Grosvenor
Gorges ancient: Lozengy or and azure
Gorges modern: Lozengy or and azure, a chevron gules
1347 See article Warbelton v Gorges
Percy ancient: Azure, five fusils conjoined in fess or
Percy modern: Or, a lion rampant azure
1273-1314 See article Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy
Talbot ancient: Bendy of ten argent and gules
Talbot modern: Gules, a lion rampant within a bordure engrailed or
See article Baron Talbot. Modern arms are of Rhys Mechyll (d.1244), Prince of the Welsh House of Dinefwr, grandson of Rhys ap Gruffydd), whose daughter Gwenllian was the wife of Gilbert Talbot (d.1274), grandfather of Gilbert Talbot, 1st Baron Talbot (d.1345/6)
Cantilupe ancient: Gules, three fleurs-de-lis or
Cantilupe modern: Gules, three leopard's faces jessant-de-lys reversed or
1275-1282 See article Thomas de Cantilupe
Killigrew ancient: Gules, three mascles or[1]
Killigrew modern: Argent, an eagle displayed with two heads sable a bordure of the second bezantée[2]
See article Arwenack
Crewe ancient: Gules semée of quatrefoils and fretty or
Crewe modern: Azure, a lion rampant argent
bef. 1303 Sir Thomas de Crewe, Lord of Crewe used a seal depicting fretwork with quatrefoils filling in the spaces.[3] His son Patrick would begin using a lion rampant, which became the modern arms of Crewe.[4] See the 17th century portrait of Sir Ranulphe Crewe by Peter Lely for a quartered depiction of both arms.

See also


  1. ^ Dunkin, p.20; Tregellas, p.116, footnote. These mascle arms are also visible on the Wrey monument (see File:BlancheKilligrew TawstockChurch.JPG) now in Tawstock Church, Devon, (moved from St Ive Church, Cornwall) of Blanche Killigrew (d.1595) and her husband John Wrey (d.1597) of Trebeigh, St Ive, Cornwall. The monument was moved from St Ive Church to its present position against the east wall of the north transept of St Peter's Church, Tawstock, Devon, in 1924 by Sir Philip Bourchier Sherard Wrey, 12th Baronet (1858-1936), of Tawstock Court.(Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.790)
  2. ^ The bezantée bordure indicates a connection to the ancient Earls of Cornwall(See Martin Lister-Killigrew's History of the Killigrew Family [1]: "What their arms were before is uncertain, but from ye Heralds Office we know that in the time of Rchard Duke of Cornwall, brother of Henry III, and King of the Romans, he gave to Ralph de Killigrew the spread eagle, with the border of Cornwall, which undeniably denotes the family to be of consideration, so high back as those antient times"
  3. ^ Carter p. 117 The Early Crewe Pedigree
  4. ^ Hinchliffe p. 363 (Barthomley: In Letters from a Former Rector to his Eldest Son)