Did Medieval European noble houses have mottos?

May 2016
Vatican occupied America
Mottoes were associated with Western heraldry and noble families. Eastern European heraldry was unrelated to Western heraldry and I don't know if they had mottoes or not. If you do heraldic research on the armorial bearings (miscalled 'Coats of Arms") you'll find their mottoes.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
Prior to becoming the first Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III became identified with the acronym A.E.I.O.U. Sometime in the mid fifteenth century these letters were inscribed onto buildings around the Habsburg patrimony and became associated with the Imperial House. I do not know if the Burgundian-Spanish Habsburgs used the acronym or not.

Many translations/interpretations have been put forth, but I personally prefer this one:

Austria erit in orbe ultima.

"Austria shall be supreme in the world" is a rough translation.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
I just thought of the phrase and did a Wiki. Dieu et mon droit is the motto of the monarch of Great Britain regardless of the royal house. According to Wiki, the motto was in use before Henry V adopted it in the course of the Hundred Years War

The motto being in French referred to Henry's right to the Crown of France.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Many people. group and leaders had war cries in medieval Europe.

I have read that at the Battle of Courtenuovo 27 November 1237 the arriros of Emperor Frederick II used the battle cry of "miles Roma, miles imperator" - "soldiers of Rome, soldiers of the emperor", for example.

Many war cries became mottos of the noble families that led the groups. And as such they became part of the coat of arms of the nobles, being written on a scroll included in the achievement of arms.


In the full achievement of arms of the United States of America, the motto is in the scroll held in the beak of the eagle that is the supporter of the coat of arms.


The coat of arms or full achievement of arms was used by one individual or by one family during the middle ages and there were often requirements for every single member of the family who used arms to difference his arms in some way from those of the head of the family.

See marks of Cadency:


An arms possessing person would use his coat of arms in colored or uncolored form in many different ways: on his seal, his shield, his surcoat, his civilian clothing, his horse trappings, his banner, his personal fabrics, his personal possessions, etc.

The coat of arms was mostly personal to the person it belonged to. It was rare for the arms bearer to allow other persons to use their coat of arms.

Heralds were allowed to display their employer's coats of arms on their tabards.


And there are stories of knights volunteering to wear their king or lord's surcoat, shield, and banner during battle so the lord's enemies would attack them and not their lords.

Late medieval lords also had badges, semi heraldic images that ere more personal than coats of arms and decorated their personal possessions. It was also quite common for the servants or retainers or other underlings to wear the lord's badge on their clothing. So in battle a lord's followers would wear his badge instead of his coat of arms.

A form of badge called a device was also used consisting of an image and words, often different from the motto in the coat of arms.