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Heraldic Flags and Standards part 2

Flags were not only used by the nobility in the Middle Ages, the military used flags bearing regimental colors and in the Catholic Church the position of gonfalonier, or standard-bearer, of the Church, was one of the most prestigious offices the pope could bestow. The office of gonfalonier takes its name from another type of flag popular among city states and other nations during the Middle Ages, the gonfalone (image above). Such flags were often massive in size and bore many tails. They were carried hanging down from a cross beam, like the sail of a ship. Prior to battle the gonfalone was blessed by the clergy and it was considered a great disgrace to lose it as some were...

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Heraldic Flags and Standards part 1

One of the most evocative symbols is that of the flag or standard. Such objects of attention are as old as history itself. Flags have borne heraldic symbols since the advent of heraldry. Heraldic designs appear on the Bayeux Tapestry on the flags and pennants of the Flemish contingent in Duke William’s army. On the opposing side King Harold’s standard-bearer displays the “wyvern” or two-legged dragon of Wessex. The lance pennants of the Normans and Flemish at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 were made of cloth but it would seem that the standard of Wessex was carved in metal or wood. Whatever the materials, both armies at the Battle of Hastings made use of flags of some sort and...

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