Sunday 19 April 2009

Heraldry .. "a shorthand of history" - part 3/4

Dear Mr Postman .. thank you for delivering the 3rd part of our heraldic story .. my mother and I love talking about these historical facts .. especially as they stretch so far back in time and we did laugh about the early concept of advertising!!.. it will be wonderful to have some more of these jigsaw pieces put into place .. the colours, background reasons etc ..

As we saw in yesterday's post the "plain coat" was held by the eldest member of the dynasty, the eldest son inherited the estate, the second and third traditionally went into the Church and the Army ... however the fourth son had no well-defined place and had to earn his own. To differentiate these heirs, their personal shields had cadences (marks) on them.

Prior to the 11th century (1200s) most inhabitants were unable to read or write, including the nobility, so the use of pictorial designs was essential in establishing rights .. the first came from the star shapes in the skies, the sun, moon, deities; animal mascots - lions, leopards, eagles; reptiles and invertebrates - serpents, lizards, and dragons .. botanical symbols - wheat, the turnip, oak tree, the rose - symbolising their importance to society; then there were also a few inanimate objects - towers, volcanoes, a mount (green hilltop) and the Cross.

Richard the Lionheart was the first to use three golden lions on his scarlet shield .. he was also first used the English motto : "Dieu et mon Droit" (God and my Right) - Richard spoke French and a great many of heraldic terms come from the French or Latin.

The rule of tincture is the most important convention of heraldry .. and provides for contrast and visibility. The names used in English blazon for the colours and metals came mainly from the French: Or (gold), Argent (white), Azure (blue), Gules (red), Sable (black), Sinople (vert in French – green) and Pourpre (purple).

Metals being the most important of the tinctures – gold and silver; the colours encompass blue, red, black, green, purple .. while gold and silver become yellow and white; then the third component is the ‘furs’ – the patterns – representing the white winter fur coat of the stoat and the blue-gray of the Vair (a kind of squirrel) – which is simultaneously a two-coloured filed treatment.

So now we've a little more detail to go on .. we can see how the coat of arms developed over history and actually put our garden of history together tomorrow with its rules, colours, patterns, hatchings, fields, quarterings etc .. quite a story ..

Dear Mr Postman .. it's such an interesting history - we forget that 1,000 years ago most people couldn't read or write .. we've come such a long way in so little historical time .. it'll be really interesting to have the pieces put together tomorrow .. many thanks ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Jacques said...

Interesting how all these elements came along. I know the Violette's have a shield with different designs on it and I would need to do some research to see what it all means. Thanks for the insights!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jacques .. thanks for visiting .. and seeing how the elements come together .. I would think that Violette would have some overseas connection - ie connection with some meaning.

I hope you can find out - it would be interesting to know ..

Good to have you back ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Peter Baca said...


Your post really started me thinking! I noted the shield and immediately knew it was the heraldry for Richard the Lionheart.

He was such an dynamic and infamous English king. I remember him most for his part in the Third Crusade...with his victories against the infamous Saladin.

Highly interesting information!

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. thinking re heraldry is a challenge!! There is so much .. however I'm extremely glad you can remember Richard the Lionheart and his crusades .. and his victories .. and that you recognised his crest (shield).

Thank you .. for commenting .. it's all so interesting for me too ..

All the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Liara Covert said...

I found your blog through Jungle of Life. Stories stimulate the imagination. Thanks for sharing these insights into heraldry.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. welcome .. it's really lovely to have you here and see the connection with Jungle of Life - Lance writes very well ..

Stories do stimulate & these do help me with my mother .. she loves all sorts of information and we can laugh and remember together.

Thanks for coming to have a look - it'll be good to see you in the future ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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