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The limitations of Heraldry part 2

Arms of casual origin include the basic ordinaries of the chief, fesse, chevron, and pale and they probably owe their origin to the bands of metal added to a shield for the sake of increasing its strength. A very early instance is the gold pale (vertical band) on a red shield Gules a pale or, belonging to Hugh de Grandemesnil, in the reign of Henry I, image below. Banded and studded shields appears on the pre-heraldic Bayeux Tapestry. Such shields became heraldic in character when the strengthening pieces were colored differently from the surface (field) of the shield upon which they were laid. The shield of a branch of the Montgomery family provides an example of Arms which sprang from the emblem...

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The Origins of Heraldry part 7

What do we mean when we say that a certain design is heraldic and another is not, and that symbols have been used on shields for thousands of years without being heraldic? The answer is that for a design to be heraldic it must be hereditary. The designs used by the warriors of the Bayeux Tapestry, such as Count Eustace of Boulogne ( above ) are not the same as those of his descendants, from this we can infer that the Bayeux design was not intended to be hereditary.The essence of Heraldry is that the symbols used become hereditary and are passed down in families from father to son. This is what differentiates them from the symbols used on the...

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The Origins of Heraldry part 5

Early examples of evidence of documented heraldry include the great east window of Gloucester Cathedral (image above) which is described as the earliest war memorial in England. It was installed by one of the warriors of Agincourt and contains at the base the coats of arms of some of the fighters who were there in 1415. Consequently when we say that the use of coats of arms arose in Europe in the 12th  century we have to depend on indirect evidence, which fortunately is available. The Bayeux Tapestry is a great aid in this respect. The Tapestry was created   in the 11th century, and it shows the process of the Norman Conquest from the period of the latter part of Edward the...

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