Carantania
and its full coat of arms
Dr. Jožko Šavli
April 15, 2007

At the beginning of the 80s my attention was drawn to the Black Panther sign, which was the original coat of arms of Carantania (Carinthia). The sign appears for the first time in 1160 on the seal of Otokar III, the Margrave of the Carantanian March (later Styria). Its colours are quoted in the poem Parzival (ca. 1210) by Wolfram von Eschenbach:

A Panther Sable (black) on a shield Argent (white), with a crest above the helmet depicting a tuft of peacock feathers.

Jans Enenkel, a chronicler from the 13th century, described the crest of Ulrik III, son of the Carinthian Duke Bernard, in the following way: buffalo horns coated with ermine and adorned with peacock feathers (ca. 1246).

Ulric III bore the crest while he was still a prince and junior co-ruler with his father Bernard. In the course of time, this symbol became the coat of arms of the province of Carinthia (Kärnten).

When, in 1256, Ulric III succeeded his father († 1255) as Duke of Carinthia, he adopted the arms of the Black Panther with a tuft of peacock feathers on top of the helmet.

A picture of the full arms of Carantania does not exist, but it can be reconstructed from the given descriptions. Its elements have been preserved in the arms of later dukedoms, which originated in Carantania: Styria has preserved the shield with panther, but in white colour on a green (vert) shield; Carinthia has preserved the buffalo horns but adorned with batons, on which linden leaves are suspended. The above picture of the coat of arms of  Carantania is a reconstruction of two original elements: the shield with panther and the crest with tuft of peacock feathers.

It reflects the heraldic style of the 15th century. The crest already depicts the buffalo horns with the points sawn-off. At the time, when Jans Enenkel mentions the horns, they still could have had their points. However, in heraldry the horns without points prevailed soon after. The crown on the helmet presented at that time a sign of ancient nobility.