The following was prepared from the classic heraldic reference Herbarz Polski by Kasper Niesiecki, S J., Lipsk [Leipzig] edition, 1839-1846. For each herb [clan shield, coat of arms] the blazon or verbal description of the arms is first given in authentic heraldic style, followed by a translation from the Polish description by Niesiecki. The right and left sides of a shield are identified from the standpoint of the bearer, i. e., the one holding the shield. His right would be your left and vice versa. The tinctures (colors) in heraldry are as follows: azure = blue, gules = red; sable = black; or = gold, argent = silver; vert = green. In heraldry all charges (pictures) on a shield are assumed to be facing dexter (right side) unless otherwise specified. In Polish heraldry all animals or birds are assumed to be in their natural coloring unless otherwise specified.
The technical blazon, or verbal description, for the clan Leliwa is given in the authentic heraldic style, followed by a translation from the Polish description.
Arms: Azure, within a crescent, a star of six points, both Or. Mantled of his liveries, and issuant from a ducally crowned helmet, a panache of peacock plumes proper, charged with the arms of the shield.
There is supposed to be a moon not full, as if new, with horns pointing upward, and in its center a six-pointed star, on a field of blue, but some use red: the moon should be gold, and on the helmet is the tail of a peacock, on which there is a similar moon; thus the arms were described in Paprocki (Gniazdo, pps. 408 and 1160), in O herbach (pps. 376 and 658), in Okolski (vol. 2, p. 61), and in Klejnoty (p. 63). A great many families in various Kingdoms use arms similar in all respects, witness Petrasancta (chap. 59) and Braun (book 3). Civit. page 23, and I mentioned in my second volume (p. 174) that Blessed Bertold, abbot of Garsten in 1140, used these arms, from which I conclude that these arms came to our Poland from foreign lands. Stanislaw Orzechowski was of the opinion that they originated within the boundaries of Poland - the name "Leliwa" inclined him to believe so, as it sounds quite suited to a Slavic language - but Paprocki and Okolski believe it was brought here from the Rhine, and the latter adds that to this day on the river Rhine there is a castle which is called "Monstern" in German [Editor's note: probably from German Mondstern, "moon-star'], in Polish "Leliwa." It is difficult to ascertain at what time this importation took place. Długosz attests to this effect: "It arrived in the time of King Wladyslaw I, and had as its first author Spicimir, who bore it from his ancient home, since he came from the Rhine. But with the passage of time it joined with and entered into that house of the Poles which bears a crescent moon with a star, in which there are men farsighted, hard-working, and zealous for the Republic." But Paprocki does not care for Długosz's opinion: for in ancient grants of privileges he read of Spicimir, who during the rule of Wladyslaw Herman I, King of Poland [Editor's note: circa 1043-1102], gave the bishop of Gniezno the village of Spicimierz, founded in his name, in which village - as Cromer writes in book 5 - was included the town of Archbishop Marcin, arch-deacon of Gniezno, but that archbishop was alive in the year 1092 and died in 1118. From this it is evident that Leliwites were in Poland before Wladyslaw Herman, because they were already distributing villages, including some founded or settled in their name; thus Paprocki reasoned. There are also some who state that these arms were first bestowed in Poland only in the days of Boleslaw Wstydliwy, for a victory won from the enemy on a night when the moon and stars were shining; but this cannot be maintained, for I have already mentioned that these arms were customary with this symmetry in other countries well before then. Okolski adds that Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, made war on the Muslims, over a moon that was not full, which the Turks bore on their standards, as was seen among them in the camp near Belgrade, a moon in a field of green, in 1456. In his Annales Vadingus added a star with the inscription Deo sic placuit (Thus it was pleasing to God), but Bonanus, S. J., in Ordinate Equestria., p. 71, attests that Renatus, King of Naples and Sicily, funded a cavalry in Messalina known as Equites lunae (Knights of the Moon), and these knights were supposed to bear hanging on their bosoms on a golden chain a silver crescent moon in a starry field strewn with lilies, with the inscription Donec totum impleat (Until all is completed). It was their profession to wage war against enemies of the truth faith. Some ascribe the Leliwa arms to Bodzeta, Gniezno archbishop, but he belonged to the Szeliga arms, as was discussed in volume 2, p. 188.
Families Bearing these Arms
[Additional notes by Jan Nepomucen Bobrowicz, editor of the Lipsk edition of Herbarz Polski]:
Dunczewski, Kuropatnicki, Malachowski, Wieladek and other heraldic writers give the following families as using the Leliwa arms:
Copyright © 1993 Leonard J. Suligowski. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in Rodziny (Vol. XVI, No. 2, November 1993), the journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America.