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ARMS: Quarterly:
1st Azure with a sheath of lighting with lighting strikes in saltire Or;
2nd Gules an eagle displayed Argent;
3rd Gules two cannon in saltire facing upwards between three cannon balls in fess and base Or;
4th Or a lion rampant langued and clawed Gules holding in its dexter paw a sabre Argent.

SOURCE/NOTES & CREDITS: The arms were granted in a patent of nobility by the Danish King Frederick IV in 1716. The Danish king was also King of Norway, which at that time was almost reduced to a provincial dependency. The source of the blazon and B&W illustration for background: page 521, “Danske Adelsvåbener en Heraldisk Nøgle” by Sven Tito Achen, Politikens Forlag, København, 1973. Blazon translated by D. Q. Wedvick, Color illustration done by J. H. Gaylor. The text was primarily adapted from the Wikipedia article.

Peder Jansen Wessel Tordensjold was born on 28 October 1691 in Trondheim, Norway, the tenth child of alderman Jan Wessel. He was considered a wild and unruly lad and ran away to sea at 13 and became a Danish naval cadet in 1709. He made a name for himself through audacity and courage and who in an eight year period sailed, shot and stormed his way from Sea cadet to Vice-admiral ! His activity took place in the Great Northern War against Sweden. Two senior officers: the Norwegian Admiral Baron Waldemar Løvendal and Admiral Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve saw his potential and got him promoted and commands to support their war efforts.

He gained the reputation of attacking Swedish vessels regardless of size with unusual success. In 1714 King Frederick IV promoted him Captain after a vicious duel with a superior Swedish frigate. He only quit the fight after running out of ammunition…He actually asked the opposing captain to borrow some ammunition so they might continue the fight. The man refused but they drank to each others’ health and went their separate ways.

At the Battle of Kolberg on 24 April 1715, he captured Swedish Rear-Admiral Hans Wachtmeister ( one of the important Swedish noble families ) as well as the frigate Vita Örn ( Swedish for White Eagle ) which he was granted as his new flag ship under the name Hvide Ørn ( Danish for White Eagle ). When he returned to Denmark at the beginning of 1716 the King ennobled him with the name Tordenskjold ( Thundershield ).

In 1716 he destroyed the Swedish transport fleet of 30 ships with two frigates and five smaller vessels causing the Swedish King Charles XII, Sweden’s great warrior king, to raise his siege of the fortress of Frederikshald and abandoning his attempt to invade Norway with 40,000 soldiers. He was then made Post Captain.

For bringing the welcome news of Charles XII’s death in 1718, King Frederick made him Rear-Admiral. In 1719 he caught and partial destroyed and captured Sweden’s great Gothernburg squadron and was rewarded with the rank of Vice-Admiral. Tordenskjold was killed in a duel at age 29 on 12 Nov 1720 by a Colonel Count Jakob Axel von Holstein. Tordenskjold died without sons. In a Danish patent of nobility in 1762 a nephew, Captain Johan Christoph Wessel was allowed his uncle’s name and arms but this family branch died out in 1828 with Johan Chr. Tordenskjold.

Tordenskjold is considered Norway’s greatest sea hero in the post Viking age.

The artwork is an interpretation by John Hamilton Gaylor.

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