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The Armorial Register - International Register of Arms - Oettle, M.E.

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Last Update: 12/04/2018

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Michael Eric Oettle

Registered: The International Register of Arms, 23nd December 2006. Registration No. 00084.

Arms: Gules chapé ployé Azure, overall a unicorn rampant Argent, armed, crined and unguled Or, langued Gules, between three estoiles Or.

Crest: Issuant from a torse Or, Azure, Argent and Gules with mantling dexter Or and Azure, sinister Argent and Gules, a demi-kudu Azure, attired and unguled Or, langued Gules, striped Argent..

Motto: The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.

Registration: South African Bureau of Heraldry on 4th October 2012. certificate number 3789.

The Arms of Michael Eric Oettle

The Oettle family of Baden-Württemberg has for centuries borne the same coat of arms as the Oet­tel family of Franconia: Chapé ployé azure and gules, 1 & 2: three mullets of six points or, 3: a unicorn argent. Crest: A demi-unicorn issuant argent. Torse: Or, azure, argent and gules. Mantling: dexter or and azure, sinister argent and gules. Oettles from various parts of Württemberg display these arms, in places as far apart as Stutt­gart and Tübingen.

The arms are also borne by the Oettle family in South Africa, descended from the brothers Georg Johann and Christian Frederich Oettle, immigrants from the small town of Urbach, east of Stuttgart, where their father owned the local Schloss Urbach, which he had purchased, ly­ing between the villages of Oberurbach and Unterurbach.

As a small boy, the armiger was fascinated by a wooden carving of the shield which hung in the family home and had been made, years earlier, by his grandfather Emil Frederich (Erich) Oettle when he himself was schoolboy in Port Elizabeth; this fascination was to lead to a lifelong interest in heraldry.

In Urbach there is a second Oettle family that bears arms that are also chapé ployé with the upper segments blue and charged with three gold stars on each side, but the lower seg­ment is silver and charged with mining tools in black. In German, the mullets are blazoned as Sternen, but when the armiger first encountered a blazon for the arms, it was quoted in French from Rietstap, who called the stars étoiles. In his ignorance he assumed that this was equivalent to the British charge called an estoile, which is a star with wavy arms.

When the armiger inquired about registering the arms with the Bureau of Heraldry in Pretoria, he was told that since the arms belonged to a family in a different region of Germany, it could not register them without some mark of difference. He then decided to enlarge the unicorn and place it across the entire shield, not just the red portion, and to reduce the number of stars to three, placing them in the three corners. Having become attached to the estoile, he chose to use it instead of the straight-armed mullet.

A typical German method of differencing is to change the crest, so he decided to dispense with the demi-unicorn and replace it with a South African animal. Initially, he favoured the kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), but it is a popular charge, appearing in various coats of arms and military badges, so he chose to alter its colour to blue.

The torse and mantling are distinctly in German style; in Britain only three colours would nor­mally be allowed, and the mantling would be uniform but he chose to retain the German style.

The motto was chosen because the armiger’s Swiss great-grandmother Marie Oettle, wife of Georg Johann, made a number of wooden shields in poker writing, bearing the legend “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,” a quotation from Proverbs 14:27. This happens to be the third reference in Proverbs to the fear of the Lord, the third to a fountain of life, and the first combining the two. The armiger had toyed with the idea of using the motto in German, considering the origin of the family, but since Marie was French-speaking and chose to do her poker work in English (since she lived in the colonial English town of Port Elizabeth) he decided to stick to English.

The official blazon as registered with the Bureau of Heraldry in 2012 is: Gules chapé ployé Azure, overall a unicorn clymant Argent, armed, crined and unguled Or, langued Gules, between three estoiles Or. Torse: Or, Azure, Argent and Gules. Mantling: Dexter Or and Azure, sinister Argent and Gules. Crest: A demi-kudu issuant Azure, attired and unguled Or, langued Gules, striped Argent.

The decision to use the verb clymant signifies two things: firstly, the unicorn is sup­po­sed­ly derived from the goat, and clymant is used in Scottish heraldry to indicate a goat in a ram­p­­ant pose. Since the armiger’s ancestry is also partly Scottish (through my mother’s maternal grand­father) the usage is also a nod to his Scottish connection.

The Standard Michael Eric Oettle


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The Armorial Bearings of Michael Eric Oettle