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Three yellow wheels are arranged in a field of red, with two above the one in the middle. Three peacock feathers stand above the crowned helmet. Many families in Europe have wheels in their coats-of-arms. Some have one; others, four. I have not seen any with three. Our writers state that this coat-of-arms came from Germany, as the name Berszten would indicate, but none gives the period of its arrival. To the two families that they list, KARNIOWSKI and WIERZCHLEJSKI, I add GASZYNSKI. These latter two have changed the form somewhat, to BERSZTEN II Coat-of-Arms. Two wheels are arranged as on the coat-of-arms above, in the same colors. However, instead of a third wheel, there is a picket fence, like that surrounding a fortress. Two wings in flight formation are above the helmet.
My guess is that this change occurred in 1563 during the reign of Zygmunt August, when Prince Ivan Wasilewicz of Moscow lay siege to Polock. Many quickly turned themselves over to the enemy, but WIERZCHLEJSKI, Captain of the Polish cavalry, resisted bravely for a long time before surrendering after extensive negotiations. Out of gratitude and admiration for his courage, the enemy feasted Wierzchlejski and his Poles, presented them with gifts, and set them free. I surmise that Wierzchlejski received the change in his coat-of-arms upon his return to the King.
- translated by Jo Piegzik
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Last Updated on September 11, 2013