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Lordship of Ireland

Last modified: 2008-02-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: lordship of ireland | crowns: 3 |
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Possible Flag (Banner of Arms)

 [Banner of arms of Lordship of Ireland] based on Wikipedia

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Description and use of flag

This flag of the Lordship of Ireland, which dates from the Elizabethan period is very similar to the arms of the Earls of Cork and Orrery. According to the image information on Wikipedia, this is not a real flag but a historical banner of arms, made to represent the Lordship in Wikipedia timelines.
Ron Lahav, 2 January 2008

The creator of the image says it is not an official flag, but is based on the arms of the Lordship. If the arms were indeed the arms at that time, it would seem to me that the banner of arms would be an officially legitimate flag at the time. Of course, this does not imply that such a flag was actually used.

The Wikipedia article says that the Lordship did not have an official flag (an interesting statement in itself - in what sense did other entities have an official flag at that time?) but that the arms (Azure, three crowns Or, bordure Argent) were found to be the arms of the Lordship by a commission established by Edward IV, who reigned during the relevant time. The article does not give sources for this and Ron says to disregard it. However, Ron also says it dates from the Elizabethan period, hinting that he might know some more about its origin.
It appears that the flag (and arms?) is non-historical.
As for similarities to other arms, surely the three crowns on blue are derived from the arms of Munster, the province containing Cork.
Jonathan Dixon, 2 January 2008

There is an earlier connection with these arms and Ireland. According to 'Historic heraldry of Britain' by Sir Anthony Wagner (Chichester, Phillimore, 1972) pp.53-54, by letters patent of 3rd January 1386, King Richard II authorised Robert de Vere, Marquess of Dublin and Earl of Oxford, to quarter the arms shown with his existing arms (quarterly gules and or a mullet argent in the first quarter), so long as de Vere should hold the lordship of Ireland.
The arms of three crowns (without the bordure) were often attributed at this time to St Edmund, one of England's patron saints, and since Richard had granted the use of the arms of another of England's patron saints, St Edward the Confessor, to the Dukes of Surrey, Exeter and Norfolk, who were likewise the King's favourites, this grant may have been on the same principle.
Note that Wagner says the 'lordship' of Ireland; another source says de Vere was made Duke of Ireland ( Wagner goes on to say, 'There are some (but not, I think, conclusive) grounds for thinking that the same coat, perhaps in consequence of this grant, came to be looked upon as that of Ireland (Gentlemen's Magazine 1st June 1845, vol.115 pp603-7 "Were three crowns the ancient arms of Ireland?"; and J. Archaeological Institute vol.9 p.23, J.G. Nichols, "The descent of the Earldom of Oxford").'

De Vere raised a rebellion in 1387, was defeated in battle and had to flee abroad, where he died in 1392. All his titles were declared forfeit in 1387, so he never got to enjoy them for very long. A floor tile has been found in Essex decorated with the arms, so perhaps they appeared on an armorial banner.

I've been unable to find any arms attributed to the Lord of Ireland in the thirteenth century rolls.

So, what may have happened is:
1) since the Lord of Ireland is the king of England, there are no separate arms for the lordship in the thirteenth century
2) Richard II grants a differenced version of the arms of St Edmund to Robert de Vere to use while he is Duke of Ireland
3) Because of the terms of the grant, nearly one hundred years later these arms are assumed to be those of the lordship of Ireland

Ian Sumner, 3 January 2008