Although true Heraldry “ the systematic use of hereditary devices centered on the shield” officially originated only in the second quarter of the 12th century, by the end of the middle ages there were approximately 800,000 coats of arms recorded, many more than even the most knowledgeable of herald could memorize. Heraldic devices served not only to identify a knight in battle but were also legal marks on seals, boundary markers on property etc. This vital material was recorded Heraldic armorials or rolls. In addition to the Rolls mentioned in the two previous posts there are another 17 of importance from this early period, all from Great Britain.
The Rolls are Heralds Roll ( 1279), Dering Roll ( 1280), Camden Roll ( 1280), St. George’s Roll ( 1280), Charles’ Roll ( 1285), Segar’s Roll (1285), Lord Marshal’s Roll (1295), Collins’ Roll (1296), Guillim’s Roll ( 1295-1305), Galloway Roll (1300), Smallpece’s Roll (1298-1306), Stirling Roll (1304), Nativity Roll (1307-1308), Fife Roll ( early 1300’s), Sir William le Neve’s Roll (early 1300’s).Twelve of these rolls are illustrated by shields painted in full color, the remainder contain the blazons only ( the written description of each coat of arms). The Camden Roll contains both Blazon and painted illustrations. Most of the bearers of arms represented in these rolls are Englishmen, although there are Welsh Scottish and Irish knights to be found as well as a considerable number of continental European knights and nobles, such as the Gascons and Savoyards who were attached to King Edwards court at one time or another.
Five of the Heraldic Rolls ( Herald’s, Camden, Segar’s, Lord Marshal’s and Smallpece’s) begin with a listing of kings graded according to an arbitrary hierarchy. Herald’s and Segar’s place Prester John first, Camden’s and Smallpece’s have The King of Jerusalem first, Lord Marshal’s has the Emperor of Constantinople in first place. Interestingly, the King of England is ranked number 3 in the Smallpece Roll and number 7 in the Camden and Segar Rolls and number 9 in Herald’s Roll. On the other hand the arms of the King of England are listed first in four of the rolls ( St. George’s, Collin’s, Guillim’s, Galloway).