Malteagle Symbolism and Meaning

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The Malteagle is a mythical creature that has been a part of European folklore for centuries, appearing in various forms across different cultures. It is often depicted as a combination of a marten (a small carnivorous mammal) and an eagle, with the body of the former and the wings and head of the latter. This unique creature holds significant symbolism and meaning in various aspects of life, from heraldry to literature. In this article, we will explore its origins, symbolic representation, and cultural significance.

Origins of the Malteagle

The Malteagle has its roots in medieval Europe, where it was used as a symbol of nobility and power. It is believed that the creature originated from the coat of arms of the House of Savoy, an Italian noble family. The emblem was later adopted by several European countries, including England, Scotland, and France. Its popularity grew over time, leading to its incorporation into heraldry and literature.

Symbolism in Heraldry

In heraldry, the Malteagle represents strength, vigilance, and swiftness. It is often seen as a symbol of nobility and power due to its association with the Savoy family, who were known for their military prowess and political influence. The combination of the marten’s agility and eagle’s majesty signifies the balance between cunning and authority. The Malteagle is also associated with the ability to adapt and change according to circumstances, reflecting the adaptability required by those in positions of power.

Symbolism in Literature

In literature, the Malteagle has been used as a metaphor for various characters. For instance, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” it symbolizes the character Alisoun, who is both cunning and noble. In Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” it represents the Duke of Burgundy, showcasing his dual nature as a warrior and diplomat. It also appears in Arthurian legends, where it signifies the balance between wisdom and courage.

Cultural Significance

The Malteagle holds cultural significance across Europe, particularly in England and Scotland. In England, it is associated with the House of Lancaster, while in Scotland, it represents the Stewart dynasty. It has also been used to represent various knights and noble families throughout history.

Symbolism in Religion

In Christianity, the Malteagle symbolizes the Holy Spirit due to its dual nature – a combination of earthly (marten) and celestial (eagle). In alchemy, it represents the union of opposites, signifying transformation and enlightenment. It is also linked to Hermes Trismegistus, an ancient Greek god associated with wisdom and communication.

Malteagle in Art and Architecture

The Malteagle has been featured in numerous artworks and architectural designs, often representing nobility or wisdom. Its presence in these fields highlights its importance as a symbol of power and knowledge.

Symbolism in Astrology

In astrology, the Malteagle is associated with Mars, the planet of warfare and leadership. It represents courage and ambition, reflecting the dual nature of the creature itself – earthly cunning and celestial might.


The Malteagle’s symbolism transcends time and culture, making it a versatile emblem that carries deep meaning across various fields. Its dual nature makes it an enduring symbol representing adaptability, power, and wisdom. From heraldry to literature, art, architecture, and astrology, the Malteagle continues to captivate our imagination with its unique blend of earthly cunning and celestial might.

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