The Medieval Herald part 2

Medeival herald
By the time of the late 14th and early 15th century the Herald had become a permanent fixture in the households of royalty and major nobility. Their primary functions was to act as emissaries, arrange tournaments and advise their master on matters relating to chivalry. While lesser nobles might have only one herald, the households of ruling dukes, princes and kings were more likely to have a number of Heralds with their own hierarchy according to experience and years of service. The Heraldic staff was headed by a King of Arms which was the highest ranking officer of Arms. The followers, known as “ Pursuivants” were apprentice Heralds. All Heralds wore the Coats of Arms of their master, together with certain other insignia designating their exact rank, and by the 15th century the Heralds had assumed a more respectable role than in earlier times. During battles in the Middle Ages, the pecking order of the nobility took precedence over strategy and tactics. The Heralds were attached to the retinue of the marshal who led the army, and assisted him in marshaling the forces on the battlefield, in camp and on the march. Heralds were given the medieval equivalent of diplomatic immunity, even when they were traveling in enemy country. The Heralds duties included negotiating with the opposing forces, helping with prisoner exchanges, or in the ransom of knights. They were kept busy on missions of national and royal importance.

Earl of Shrewsbury.When Heralds were on missions in different countries the fraternized with other Heralds and they would regard each other as members of an international brotherhood and would often speak each others language. At this time French was the international language of the educated and also for commerce and most Heralds were fluent in it. This degree of companionship between Heralds went so far as keeping council with each other on the field of battle and exchanging tallies of the dead. An account of a battle between the French and the English in 1453, at Castillon in France, illustrates the nature of medieval warfare and the relationship between Herald and master. Among those killed in battle was the English commander John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. His body was so badly disfigured that Talbot’s personal Herald was unable to identify his lord, he placed a finger in the lord’s mouth feeling for a prominent gap between his teeth. Upon finding it he took off his tabard, signifying the end of his office as Herald, and only then did he mourn the death of his master

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