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African History

Africans on the MOORS Coats of Arms in Europe

Moor’s Heads of Europe

The contributions of the Moors will forever be remembered through Moor’s heads which appear all over Europe–as paintings, statues, and on the official coats of arms (and flags) of municipalities, religious groups, and noble families. The Europeans positively portrayed the Moors — often adorning them with crowns, pearls and gold. When examining the portrayal and background history behind each European Moor, we gather important clues about the identity of true Moors:



The coat of arms of Abfaltersbach, a small town in the southern Austrian alps, is unique because in the way in which the Moor is portrayed. Holding the olive branch symbolizes peace–a direct contradiction to any false legend claiming these Moors were the heads of the captives or enemies. The combining of the head with the lion’s body can be traced to the sphinxes of Egypt and the Nubian lion god of Dedun. It’s worth mentioning that the lion’s body is depicted in a similar manner to those found on the coats of arms of European royalty as well as the government of Morocco.


Coburg, the ancestral home of the British royal family Saxe Coburg-Gotha, otherwise known as Windsor. The town is known for its picturesque castles and museums, but its most popular resident is the Coburg Moor which appears on the town’s edifices, coat of arms, and flag (as shown below). As previously mentioned, the town’s history tells that this was the catholic church’s patron saint from Thebes (Luxor), St. Maurice. Therefore, according to both the town’s history and the Catholic church, for which he is a patron saint, Maurice was an Egyptian. Again, we can see that the gold earrings and necklace, which could be symbolic of opulence and high regard.


According to town history, the coat of arms is descended from the stamp/seal of noble family, Gaasbeek (Corneille de Man, 1691 AD).


The birthplace of Pope Benedict is adorned with a crowned-head Moor which may be seen at the Freising castle and on the town’s official coat of arms and flag.

The pope uses the same representation of the Moor on his official papal coat of arms. As the pope put it in his autobiography, the “caput aethiopicum” has been used by Freising bishops for over 1,000 years. More importantly, he admits that he does “not know its meaning.” Nonetheless, we are aware that legend tells of Abraham of Freising’s encounter with a bear and how his Black servant defeated this bear. Abraham promised to reward his servant by depicting his head on the town’s coat of arms. Although this legend explains why the pope has the bear on his coat of arms, the legend is still questionable since the Moor is crowned like a king. Regardless, the story and portrayal of the Moor affirms the presence of Blacks in Medieval Europe and their high status.


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