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Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:36 pm
by Thalion
Hi all!

I'm wanting to create some pennons, banners, and various other heraldic displays. But unfortunately I can not find any proper sources for ones that would be used around 1250s, such as how to make them, common measurements, etc.. etc... Any help would be brilliant.


Re: Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:07 am
by Brother Ranulf
Even in the 13th century there was no governing body to supervise heraldry or flags in England so standard sizes and uniformity would be unlikely. Many people have studied manuscript images and tried to come up with "typical" sizes, but these are only estimates and by no means definite.

One set of speculative sizes I have seen is as follows:

Penoncel: small penon of about 18 inches in length attached to a lance, either triangular or swallowtailed. Used by knights bachelor.

Pennon: About 3 feet long, triangular or square/rectangular with two or three tails attached. Used by knights below the rank of banneret.

Banner: square or rectangular (tall and narrow) featuring the bearer's arms as they appeared on the shield. Bannerets were a smaller version. Size depended on relative rank, so a royal banner would be very large; those of dukes and earls next in size and those of barons of smaller dimensions. Perhaps an average banner might be about 30 inches square, or about 46 inches by 20 for the tall variety.

Banneroles were tiny banners used in funeral processions and to mark a tomb, often stiffened along the top edge to keep them open to view.

Standard or Ancient: immense tapering flags that could be 33 feet long for a royal standard, used not to display the coat of arms but the livery colours and badges/crest/supporters of the bearer. Used by senior aristocracy.

This is an English knight shown in the Westminster Psalter of about 1250 or a little after; he carries a pennon with three tails on his lance:


Matthew Paris is the best source for genuine English heraldry in the first half of the 13th century. His work is widely available online (search google images: Matthew Paris heraldry) - use him as your Bible. I have seen some really disgraceful attempts at heraldry of that era by some reenactment groups who should be ashamed of themselves. There is no excuse for ignoring the Rule of Tincture, for example. Follow the examples recorded by Matthew Paris and you can not go wrong.

Re: Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:22 am
by Thalion

That's perfect, thank you very much!


Re: Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:03 am
by phil ainsley
a selection of differing style of pennons in the douce apocalypse

Re: Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:52 am
by Brother Ranulf
Thanks to Phil for that image. The flag on the far right is a banner featuring what look like three frogs symbolising the Devil, then comes a pennon with bendlets, then a rectangular banner with chevrons and more pennons.

Just for clarity:


In the centre is a banner (Sir Hugh Hastings, died 1347), on the right small banneroles of Lord St Amand in funeral procession and on the left is a gonfannon (St Edmund, King and Martyr). The Intrernet confuses matters by calling this last type a "banner" when it is definitely not - gonfannons were rarely used in England for heraldic purposes as they were (and still are) extensively on the Continent. They were generally used for religious subjects as here and were mainly Church-related.

Re: Standards, Pennons, and Banners

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:25 pm
by Mark Griffin
Once met an Admiral who bemoaned that the Navy still has to use some of HVII's statutes to do with flags as a 22yds long flag plays havoc with those twisty turny radar things.