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Eagle (heraldic animal)

The Eagle (French: aigle; engl .: eagle displayed) is one in heraldry Common figure and the second most common heraldic animal after the lion.


Heraldic eagles

The common figure eagle is modeled after the bird of the same name. The motif appears in coats of arms as a rule heraldically stylized ("heraldic eagle"), freely floating, frontal, with the head tilted towards the heraldic right side. The heraldic eagle must Not specially reported.

  • Eagle (heraldic),
    Raising flight feathers
    Fig. 451. Eagle displayed

  • Eagle (heraldic),
    Coil springs lowered
    Fig. 452. Eagle displayed with wings inverted

The heraldic eagle becomes common

"(..) frontal with sideways turned head, symmetrically spread wings, protruding fangs, spread toes and claws and evenly arranged tail feathers (..) head: sideways, usually turned to the right, the beak strongly curved and open, the Tongue knocked out, eyes large, neck feathers more or less accentuated (..) Body: either featherless or regular, feathered like scales, usually two laterally protruding, upwardly curved neck feathers at the base of the neck. Wings: in a semicircle on both sides and regularly spread out, only a few wing feathers, slightly bent up at the bottom, symmetrically arranged and spread, often fine feathers in between. The wing bones are only slightly curved or curved in a semicircle, are sometimes knotty, curled up at the end, and additionally covered with smaller feathers (..) Fangs disproportionately large, the thighs feathered, three front toes and one rear toe noticeably spread, the claws clearly set off and strongly curved . Tail: Always ornamental, few, symmetrically arranged feathers, the middle one directed downwards, the rest in curved or tighter forms, running sideways. "

Tinging of the heraldic eagle

The eagle can be tinged in all heraldic colors and metals. Body and flight (Swing, the wings) are generally tinged in the same way. In addition, the weapons - the reinforcement (beak) and the Eagle catches (Bird's feet) - be executed in a different color, as well as the tongue.

"Color: different. Black, red and gold predominate. The reinforcement, beak with tongue and fangs below the legs including claws or even these alone, in a pungent tincture (..) "

Depending on the color of the eagle and its ground, a distinction is made between typical eagles by name, such as the black eagles on gold of the Holy Roman Empire, or the red-silver boxMoravian eagle. The beak wasn't particularly emphasized at the beginning. Depictions of the animal with its tongue knocked out appear in coats of arms only after 1400.[2]

Natural eagle

Only in exceptional cases does the eagle appear rather unstylized in coats of arms (“natural eagle”); this form is not generally heraldically recognized or controversial.

- Gert Oswald: Lexicon of Heraldry (1984)[3]

The natural eagle(French: aigle naturel; engl. eagle close) must be reported in the coat of arms description. He usually appears only slightly stylized, "standing", with attached wings ("attached wings"), looking heraldically to the right, sometimes lifting one of the two fangs, which is to be reported.

  • Eagle (Naturally)
    Wing attached
    Fig. 446. Eagle close

Eagle, ready to fly or soaring

In addition to the traditional representation of the heraldic eagle, it can also be shown ready to fly or soaring, with wings behind the back or wings outstretched, et cetera. In both the ready-to-fly and the up-flying representation, the catches are to be represented “standing”, although the figure as a whole is also represented floating freely is (i.e. without touching other motifs or the edges of the shield / field).

  • Eagle ready to fly,
    Raising flight feathers,
    Wings over the back
    Fig. 447. Eagle rising, wings elevated and added.

  • Eagle ready to fly,
    Balance springs lowered,
    Wings over the back
    Fig. 448. Eagle rising, wings addorsed and inverted.

  • Soaring eagle,
    Raising flight feathers,
    Wings spread
    F.ig. 450. Eagle rising, wings elevated and displayed.

  • Soaring eagle,
    Balance springs lowered,
    Wings spread
    Fig. 449. Eagle rising, wings displayed and inverted

Eagle, to the right überzwerch

Some coats of arms show the eagle looking to the right above or downwards to the right, including, for example, the coat of arms of the noble family from Eptingen and derivatives of the family coat of arms (Ziefen, Eptingen).

Eagle, flying

Flying eagles rarely appear in coats of arms and are considered unheraldic by some heraldic authors.

  • Back: osprey, flying, with closed flight and a fish in its claws

Further eagle positions

In rare cases the eagle appears not floating in the coat of arms, but with both fangs on a raised or exposed place (three mountain or similar) or another coat of arms figure "Standing", "sitting", "enthroned". These or other peculiarities of the eagle position must be reported explicitly and precisely when they appear in the coat of arms. There are also isolated representations in a dive. A special form is free-floating Eagle in the secondary coat of arms.

  • On Dreiberg a soaring, resisting eagle (coat of arms of Arnstein)

  • Eagle, clawing on a goose, beating its beak in its neck (Kremmen)

  • Slanted eagle (coat of arms of those from Motschelnitz)

Style forms of the eagle

The styles of the heraldic eagle are diverse. Even with identical blazon, there can be great differences in the exact design of the eagle, depending on the time of origin, the shape of the shield or the form of the coat of arms, and the fashion, style and skills of the heraldist or artist. Below are ten examples of a red-armored and red-tongued black eagle looking to the right:

Number of heads

In heraldry, the eagle usually appears with one, two or three eagle heads.

Double-headed eagle

The Double-headed eagle, a two-headed eagle, is one of the oldest eagle motifs in heraldry. Among other things, it was used by the Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. Other nations that have the double-headed eagle as their national coat of arms are Albania, Yugoslavia (former), Serbia, Montenegro and Russia.

Eagle with three heads

In the case of a three-headed eagle, the Saxons are turned inward and equipped with inward-facing eagle heads at the ends. The actual eagle head follows the heraldic rules. This representation is known from the Great Heidelberg Song Manuscript. A three-headed eagle in Conrad Grünenberg's coat of arms refers to the coat of arms of the Roman-German emperor.

Attributes of the eagle

Quaternion eagle, a nimbly double-headed eagle, the wings with the imperial estates, as a symbol of the empire
Woodcut by Hans Burgkmair the Elder, 1510

The basic attributes of a heraldic animal are also found in the eagle:

The following are typical of the eagle:

Nimbed eagle

The nimbled Adler took its place in the coat of arms. The halo(Nimbus), often in gold, rarely colored differently, is only detectable from the 15th century and is limited to the head. Emperor Sigismund is said to have used it in the coat of arms around 1433/37. With the double-headed eagle, the nimbus is around both heads and symbolizes the "holy" in the name of the Holy Roman Empire.

It was also used in the inter-war period - alienated from its meaning - by the Austro-Fascist corporate state (Austria).

  • Nimbed eagle in the Spanish coat of arms (1945–1977)

Shapes of the figure

Half eagle

The eagle can also be used in the coat of arms split or divided occurrence.

When it is at the gap, it is split in the middle into two equal parts. The eagle head is excluded from this and is shown in full. The viewing direction determines the side of the shield. The half eagle at the gap can be shown to the right or left of the vertical dividing line in the coat of arms. The description[4]half or growing (from a dividing line or a herald's picture) do not apply to this heraldic animal arrangement. The origin of the half eagle is assumed in the combination of several coats of arms in a shield, which emerged in the late Middle Ages, and in order to meet the space requirements.

  • Split eagleright

  • Divided eagle above
    (Apchat, Puy-de-Dôme)

Young eagle / aiglette

Young eagle (also Young eagle, Eagle cub, Aiglette, little eagle or called similar; French: aiglette, aiglon; engl .: aiglon) is a name for eagles that are particularly small in the coat of arms. The name can be found in the blazon of older heraldists. The term is used when there are more than three eagles in the shield or field or when there is a small eagle on a heraldic figure, such as a bar, for reasons of space. The description is unheraldic, as the proportions must be reduced with a larger number of the heraldic animal. The situation is the same with Leo, and the term is used here young lions second hand.[4]

  • Three Aiglettes
    (= small eagles / eagle cubs)

Mutilated eagle / Alérion

The eagle is shown partially mutilated (for example without eagle catches and eagle's tail, respectively "Mutilated below" as in the coat of arms of the district of Heilbronn). The exact form of the mutilation must be reported. He is called without a beak and claws Alérion (Example is the coat of arms of Lorraine).

  • Three Alérions
    (= small eagles / stubby eagles)

  • Below mutilated Adler (district of Heilbronn)

  • Alérion: eagle without fangs, later also without a beak (coat of arms of the Duchy of Lorraine - Scheibler, around 1470)

Headless eagle

Parts of the eagle

Often only parts of the eagle are used in coats of arms. So the head, only one catch (leg) or both catches are used for design. Colors correspond to the heraldic rules. If only the upper body is shown in the coat of arms, it can be growing or, if it does not touch the edge of the shield, it can be floating. If only the wings or at least one is attached in or above the coat of arms (upper coat of arms), the heraldist speaks of flight. This flight can be open, closed or a half flight. Beak, tongue, body and tail, but also the claws and wings can always have other colors in the shield. The extinct Moravian noble family of Lomnitz had an eagle wing in their coat of arms.

A special form of flight is the impeller, one-sided or two-sided. The main use is less in heraldry and more as a badge on service uniforms.

The half-flight eagle catch is also called Claw wings designated. The claw on the wing is often swinging an object, especially a sword.

Variants of the eagle

Special types of eagles

Bald eagle

In contrast to the other nations, the USA use the bald eagle a certain species of eagle and a coat of arms in the form of a seal.


Becomes an eagle rising from ashes, embers or fire Phoenix called. It is often used in heraldry.


In heraldry, a natural ("naturalistic-heraldic") representation of a eagle ready to fly up described.

Dragon eagle

The Dragon eagle is generally a chimera of an eagle with a dragon tail (or a snake tail).

  • Bald eagle
    (Seal of the United States)

  • Phoenix
    (in the coat of arms of Buko)

  • Dragon eagle
    (in the coat of arms of Brig, Switzerland)

Eagle with a different body

These eagle shapes are to be counted among the mythical creatures.

Eagle lion

The great coat of arms of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was to the right of one Eagle lions held as a shield holder. On a lion's body, the front part has been replaced by the upper part of an eagle.

Virgin eagle

The Virgin eagle and Harpye are mixed mythical creatures made up of humans (predominantly female and with a bare torso) and a heraldic eagle. One expression of the virgin eagle is the so-called imperial / royal eagle in the coat of arms of Nuremberg, which is a heraldic eagle with a male face / upper body and a crown.

Eagle man

The is rarer in heraldry Eagle man.[4] This fantasy figure is composed of the torso of the eagle and the legs of a man.

Eagle with armored arm

An eagle with armored sword-wielding arm (Armored arm) can be found in the coat of arms of West Prussia.


Garuda is a hybrid being in the Thai coat of arms. The general description of this heraldic animal has been since 1910: human upper body in red with wings of the same color, golden crowned lion-like head, red tail feathers and golden eagle claws on the lower body. In the coat of arms of Indonesia is the Garuda eagle but a normal golden eagle.

  • Virgin eagle with female face / upper body (also Harpye called)

  • Imperial / Royal Eagle with male face / upper body (coat of arms of Nuremberg)

  • Eagle with armored arm (Coat of arms of the Prussian royal share after 1450, since 1772 coat of arms of West Prussia)

Eagle with a different head

Other forms have emerged in heraldry. So there is the in the coat of arms of the Brandenburg family von Flans Wolf eagle