Wars of The Guelphs and Ghibellines - in Heraldry

In Heraldry

During the 12th and 13th centuries, armies of the Ghibelline communes usually adopted the war banner of the Holy Roman Empire—white cross on a red field—as their own. Guelph armies usually reversed the colors—red cross on white. These two schemes are prevalent in the civic heraldry of northern Italian towns and remain a revealing indicator of their past factional leanings. Traditionally Ghibelline towns like Pavia, Novara, Como, Treviso and Asti, continue to sport the Ghibelline cross. The Guelph cross can be found on the civic arms of traditionally Guelph towns like Milan, Vercelli, Alessandria, Padua, Reggio and Bologna.

Some individuals and families indicated their faction affiliation in their coats of arms by including an appropriate heraldic "chief" (or horizontal band at the top of the arms). Guelphs had a capo d'Angio or "chief of Anjou", containing yellow fleurs-de-lys on a blue field, with a red heraldic "label", while Ghibellines had a capo dell'impero or "chief of the empire", with a form of the black German imperial eagle on a golden background.

Families also distinguished their factional allegiance by the architecture of their palaces, towers and fortresses. Ghibelline structures had "swallow-tailed" crenellations, while those of the Guelphs were square.

  • Coat of arms of Pavia with Ghibelline Cross

  • Coat of arms of Milan with Guelph Cross

  • Coat of arms of an Italian family with Ghibelline-style heraldic chief at top

  • Coat of arms of the Roberti family of Reggio, with Guelph-style heraldic chief at top

  • Ghibelline swallow-tailed merlons of the "Casa di Romeo", of the Montecchi family of Verona.

Read more about this topic:  Wars Of The Guelphs And Ghibellines

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