Here begins the history lesson.
There is no definitive answer to the question, where does
the Three Lions crest come from? The simple answer is, we don't know,
nobody seems to! But we are going to try our best to give you the origins of
the three lions and the ten rosettes.
The Three Lions
The best that we can establish is that the Three Lions
came into existence through the reign of Richard I, the Lionheart, around the
turn of the twelfth century, as the official Royal Coat of Arms of England,
and remained so for the next 140 years.
When Richard I came to the throne, so too did his
personal coat of arms
. The 'three
lions passant guardant in pale' appeared in gold on a red background.
Before this point, only two golden lions had adorned a red crest, following the
Norman Conquest of 1066
(the House of
hen following the
succession of King Henry II (the House of Plantagenet) in 1158, it became one golden lion.
Differing stories will have you believe that Richard's
lions were based on the original Normandy arms, with an extra lion added to
represent the ongoing Anglo-Norman alliance. Another story will tell us
that two leopards were combined with another from Aquitaine, a region in
South-West France, on the acquisition of more territories to the crown.
But the more cynical will tell you that it was simply down to an artist being
only bothered to design three lions for England, just as they had designed
only two for Normandy. The number of lions had no apparent significance,
as this was Heraldic Coats of Arms in its infancy, based on decoration, above
any other reason. Yet another version could be more simple, King Richard
simply brought together the lions of Normandy and Plantagenet, and created the
new Three Lions. A simple case of mathematics. Some things can be
explained simply, instead of complicating matters.
The lions themselves do hold significance.
There are so many Heraldic Lions, that the very stance of each
means something. These three lions are, 'lion
rampant guardant', a walking lion. The dexter forepaw
is raised, with the other three paws remaining on the ground, and
the head turned to face the spectator. It is these three lions that make
up the England Coat of Arms. This Lion of England can only be used when
it has been honourably warranted, that is, Royalty must give its express
permission for its use. So it is the Royal Monarch of the United Kingdom
that own the three lions, not the Football Association, as we may believe.
Which leads us to more uncertainty. Would it have
the same ring to it if we called our national team the Three Leopards?
But that's what it could, or possibly should be. Remember that the
Coat of Arms came into fruition following the Norman Conquest in 1066, and
with that came the French language. In a French blazon
(a blazon is a formal description of any Coats of Arms),
a lion without further description is always rampant, on its hind legs, in
French, this is called a lion. Yet, a lion passant guardant, the
English lion, in the French language, is a léopard. But it
should be remembered that this only describes the beasts posture, not its
species. Whatever its true name, will Baddiel and Skinner rewrite their
The Ten Rosettes
To be honest, this one is a little more difficult.
The ten roses only appeared on the FA crest after the second World War ended.
It was first worn on a football shirt in April 1949. So from this, we
have come up with two conclusions. The flower in question is a red rose,
the Rose of Lancaster. This rose was adopted as the official emblem of
England, and bears itself on the crest for this reason.
The Football Association also resided at Lancaster Gate since 1929, the Rose
of Lancaster - significant or coincidental? But why ten? Surely
eleven is more significant, or did the FA not like goalkeepers!?
We have established what the emblems are. Where
the three Lions came from, and possibly, even found reasons behind the roses.
But as to the reason why the Football Association adopted them is still
bewilders us. There is, as yet, no official explanation regarding the crest.
Perhaps there never will be.