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How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:08 pm
by Templar Knight
How did they chose the charges and which devices they used.

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:26 pm
by Phil the Grips
Quite often the result of bad jokes or puns on their names or things they were known for. Visual nicknames in many ways. A man named "Armstrong" may have a muscular arm, for example.

How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:49 pm
by Templar Knight
How did they chose the charges and which devices they used.

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:09 pm
by Brother Ranulf
It depends on the period. The earliest formal English heraldry appeared around 1140 - 1150 and was pretty much a free-for-all, since there was at that stage no legal governing body. On the other hand there were so few people entitled to bear heraldry that being different to everyone else was relatively simple.

The first "Kings of Arms" were attached to the Royal Court of England around 1285 and they had legal powers over who had which blazon - and sorted out cases where two or more knights claimed the same arms (for example the well-known case of Grosvenor and Scrope). It was not until the early 1400s that the first College of Arms was established, with its heralds and pursuivants. Heaven help anyone who tried to choose their own armorial at that stage.

Another point to note is that heraldry was never awarded to families - an individual was granted arms which in most cases passed to the eldest son. Other sons might have the same arms with differences such as labels or borders to indicate they are not in direct line of descent, but a knight's brother might have completely different arms, or none at all. The widespread Mandeville family is recorded as bearing at least 30 different coats of arms during the medieval period (a friend of mine, now sadly passed on, produced a booklet on "The Arms and Lands of de Mandeville" in 2002 to illustrate this point).

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:41 am
by guthrie
{mod} I just merged the two posts, since you don't need two to ask the same question. I'm happy to say that the merge function works.{/mod}

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:06 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Well merged! :thumbup:

As for the charges/devices, very little is known of how some of the charges first came about. Simple divisions of the field look impressive and can be easily distinguished at a distance, which must have had some bearing on the choice (in the case of Mandeville, the field was often quartered, gold and red). Some charges derive from metal or other fittings - the border may reflect strengthening around the shield edge, while the escarbuncle was originally metal strips radiating from the boss.

In some 12th century cases, the king had a hand in awarding charges with royal connections: one of the Mandeville earls of Essex was permitted a shield showing the royal regalia (orb and two crossed sceptres), while Henry II's royal forester (fitzAucher or fitzArcher) was granted "ermine, on a chief indented azure three lions or" - the ermine for nobility/royalty and the lions being the three lions of England.

Other charges appear to be connected with the knight's name (as stated above) or chosen simply on the whim of the moment.

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:35 pm
by Templar Knight
Thanks for that mod, I pressed back after posting the thread and it posted it again.
I have the illustrated book of heraldry by Stephen Slater, and while it does have a lot of information I couldn't find the out how they chose it. I am trying to chose my heraldry for a kit, but it is really hard deciding, and trying to think of things about my name and what I do make the choices harder.

Re: How did a family select their heradlry?

Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:56 pm
by Colin Middleton
Some elements of the heraldry also come from lands owned, either directly or through a spouce.