Heraldry in the 17th and 18th Centuries part 2

Chaucer, A Knight's TaleDuring the Tudor and early Stuart periods in England, there was a lot of activity in the field of Heraldry. As we have previously seen, many of the Heralds’ Visitations were ignored or not fully attended. Despite this the Heralds did succeed in making many people take out grants of Coats of Arms, and also register pedigrees. This activity was brought to an untimely halt by the abdication of James II from the throne in  1688 and by the failure of the Court of Chivalry to sit after 1735.As no Visitations took place and the Court of Chivalry did not sit after this time, the Heralds were placed in a position where no one was obliged to come to them.

In the Middle Ages and right up until the reign of Charles II  (1630-1685) Heralds had had many functions. In the Medieval battles Heralds not only traveled with the armies but also tallied the dead and injured according to their rank. Chaucer alluded to this in the Knight’s Tale when he says that the particular corpses were recognized “in the tass of bodies dead” by their coat armour. In Henry V, when the short tale of English dead is rendered, the few persons of quality are recognized and described by their arms emblazoned on surcoats and shields. But the passing of body armor did away with this heraldic function. The ambassadorial functions of the Heralds lasted much longer. As late as the reign of Charles II we find Heralds being used as ambassadors. The family of St. George had as many as five Kings of Arms, one of them Sir Henry St. George, Garter King of Arms, was sent in 1625 with William le Neve, the York Herald, to accompany Princess Henrietta Maria to England for her marriage to Charles I, for which service he received from King Louis XIII of France the sum of 1,000 French crowns. In 1627 Sir Henry was joined in a commission with Lord Spencer and Peter Young to present the insignia of the Order of the Garter to Gustavus Adolphus when the latter was made a Knight of that order. From Gustavus Adolphus , image below, Sir Henry had an augmentation of his arms, showing the royal arms of Sweden.

Gustavus Adolphus

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