What Do the Three Lions Mean on the England Badge?

The badge that appears on the football jerseys for England's soccer team, as well as on other regalia, dates from the twelfth century and is a combination of the coats of arms of Aquitaine and the House of Normandy. This combination of families led to the ascendancy of King Henry II in 1154.

Lions are associated with strength and majesty, connections that go all the way back to biblical times. The Old Testament lists the lion as the symbol for the Kingdom of Judah, and the lion appears in Genesis as "the king of beasts."

While modern England does not claim any land on the European continent, in the centuries before the Renaissance, England and France fought bitterly over parts of what is now modern France. When Prince Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine, he took the one lion from Aquitaine's coat of arms and added it to the two already on the coat of arms of his own family, the House of Normandy, creating the "Three Lions." The alliance gave Henry the power and land to claim the throne as the first member of the House of Plantaganet, whose coat of arms bore these three lions. When Henry's son, Richard Lionheart, took a coat of arms with three lions to the Crusades, their link to the Plantagenet name and the identity of England was sealed.