Lions are among the most-widely used creatures in heraldry. After all, “The King of the Forest” is associated closely with royalty and—for centuries—we have invested him with the traits we wish to see in our leaders (royal or otherwise): strength, bravery, majesty, beauty, beneficence. Lions often are viewed as strong and gentle—at the same time—something we recognize in the best of leadership.
Heraldry is defined as “the profession, study, or art of devising, granting, or creating arms [as in “coats-of-arms”], tracing genealogies, and determining (or ruling-upon) questions of rank or protocol.” By its nature, heraldry is of great significance to militaries and monarchies.
The use of a lion in national crests or flags—either rampant (standing at attack), passant (walking), statant (standing), sejant (seated) or couchant (reclining)—is far too common to list. It includes countries throughout Western Europe, the Baltic, Africa, the Middle East and all parts of Asia. Add to that innumerable examples of sculpture, tapestry, or paintings which show lions guarding, protecting, defending or presenting and you’ll agree: the lion is the King of Heraldry.
Our noble lion, above, stands ready to guard his master’s favorite books.