Stained-glass window with the arms of Bordeaux

15th century. Glass and lead. Inv. 8 461

Dated from the 15th century, this stained-glass window represents the coat of arms of Bordeaux and England. It came from the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Rose in the church of Saint-Seurin at Bordeaux.

The entire history of Bordeaux is related in these arms, which were created from the successive addition of new symbols: the crescent of the port, the bell towers of the Town Hall (now known as the Grosse Cloche or Large Bell), and the English lion.

The lion belongs to the symbolic bestiary upon which the European heraldic tradition is based. A symbol of power, courage and sovereignty, it is here represented "passant" (in other words horizontal), its head face on, its tail above its body: this is the Plantagenet heraldic "leopard" of the English coat of arms ("Gules three lions passant guardant in pale"). The extra two lions were added following the reign of Richard the Lionheart; before that date the arms of Guyenne only bore a single golden lion.

Stained-glass window with the arms of Bordeaux (c) mairie de Bordeaux. Photo J. Gilson