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The Percy lion revisited

The Percy lion on the roof...

Syon House, and the (now lost) Northumberland House, London.

picture 1, of Syon House, by BerylM, at flickr

Is there a mystery in the origin of the Percy lion?

It seems that the lion came to the Percys from the marriage of Agnes de Percy
to Jocelyn de Louvain, in the 12th century.

Is there a link to Robert the Bruce?

Note that the Percy lion, in heraldry, is a blue lion.

The Mysterious Blue Lion

" the middle of the 12th century Jocelyn de Louvain,
brother of Queen Adeliza (second wife of King Henry I) and son of Godfrey, Duke of Brabant, Count of Louvain, came to England and married Agnes, one of the two co-heiresses of the huge Percy possessions.

It was for a long time believed that he was given the choice of taking either the Percy name or the Percy arms, and that he took the name and retained the blue lion of Louvain, but there is charter evidence that he retained the Louvain name, and the belief that he bore a blue lion, although possible, is unproven.

The arms of his heir general today, the Duke of Northumberland, feature

Or a lion rampant Azure

in the pronominal quarter, and the family insists that these are the arms Jocelyn brought from Louvain.

As we have seen, they were the arms also of the senior Bruce, Jacques de Brezé, in Normandy, while with a silver field they were the arms of the senior Bruce in England.

Perhaps we are getting closer to the origin of the blue lion and to the origin of the Bruces. The next article, the last of this series, will propose a solution to both puzzles."


"We have noted also that Jocelyn de Louvain, half-brother of Queen Adeliza (second wife of King Henry I) and son of Godfrey I, Duke of Brabant, Count of Louvain, came to England shortly afterwards and in 1154 married Agnes, one of the two co-heiresses of the huge Percy territories.

His descendants also bore the blue lion rampant, but on a gold field, as his representer, the Duke of Northumberland, still does today."

A chart of the de Louvain, de Percy and Bruce family tree.

"That is not the end of the story of the blue lion. It lives on today, not only, as we have seen, in the arms of the Chief of the Percy clan, the Representer of Jocelyn de Louvain, the Duke of Northumberland.

The Chief of the Bruce family, the Earl of Elgin, bears it on a silver canton in his arms,

and the City of Bruges bears today Barry of eight Argent and Gules a lion rampant crowned Azure armed and langued of the Second wearing a collar and cross Or. The picture below right shows an older version of these arms, without the crown, collar and cross."

Henry de Percy 8th Baron de Percy and 1st Lord Percy of Alnwick

Was born at Petworth in 1272 and succeeded his brother John in 1293. He was Regent during the Kings absence abroad and was among English magnates summonsed to a convention at York to which the Scottish prelates and nobles were ordered to attend.

In 1299 Henrico de Percy was summonsed to parliament with a Barony By Writ, whereby he is held to have become the 1st LORD PERCY.

In July 1300 he was with his maternal grandfathers retinue at the siege of Carlaverock where he displayed for the first time

a yellow banner with a blue lion.

This represented a major change from the Percies ancient arms,

azure, a fess engrailed argent and then azure, a fess engrailed d'or

to this blazon

D'or a lion rampant azure.

The reasons why Henry de Percy changed his arms is unsure and it is still a matter of conjecture where this new blue lion originated.

Some have associated the blue lion with that of Louvain, others with that of Fitzalan Earls of Arundel.

Henry was the constable of Scarborough castle by 1307 and was summonsed to the coronation of Edward II and in November 1309 purchased Alnwick castle from the Bishop of Durham.

He married Eleanor de Arundle and they had two sons Henry and William. Henry died in 1315 at Alnwick and was buried at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. His widow a Dowager died in 1328 and was buried in Beverley, Yorkshire where her orbit is celebrated.

The Percy lion

The Percy family

Henry Percy...did he write Shakespeare?

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