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The Battle of Hastings and The Norman Conquest, part 3

The actual Norman conquest which followed the Battle of Hastings occurred in a piecemeal fashion. This is suggested by the similarity between the Coats of Arms of certain cities and towns in widely disparate parts of England. For example, the gold and blue checkers of the Warrennes, Earls of Surrey appear in the shields of places ranging from Lewes (arms above) to Dewsbury and including Lambeth. This indicates not only the possessions granted by the Duke of Normandy to William de Warrenne, ancestor of the checker-bearing family, but also the scattered nature of their territory, and indirectly the manner in which Duke William distributed the spoils of his conquest. Faced with a clamorous demand for land by a host of...

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The Battle of Hastings and The Norman Conquest, part 2

Duke William of Normandy had the sanction of the church for his expedition, and this is shown heraldically by the banner depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry; a red cross on a white background with a blue border. This was the flag that received the blessing of Pope Alexander. Although enjoying the support of the Church, William was by no means subservient to the Pope’s wishes, as in later years he said the following to Pope Gregory: “ Fealty I never willed to do, nor do I will to do it now. I have never promised it, nor do I find that my predecessors did it to yours.” Another Norman banner represented in the Bayeux Tapestry may have been the famous raven of...

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The Battle of Hastings and The Norman Conquest, part 1

When William, Duke of Normandy, wrested control of England from King Harold, heraldry was not widely practiced in even the more advanced societies in Europe. The Bayeux Tapestry, the famous pictorial record of the Norman invasion, shows decorated shields and banners, and attempts have been made to identify individuals by these shields but with not very convincing results. However Wace, writing at the time of Henry II stated:‘They ( the Normans) had shields on their necks and lances in their hands, and all had made cognisances that one Norman might know another by, and that none others bore, so that no Frenchman might kill another.”It is unlikely that Wace meant that the Normans bore individual cognisances, or shields, but rather...

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Castle Spotlight, Schwerin Castle, Germany

Schwerin Castle located near Meclenburg in the old East Germany is a fairytale Castle set on a small island in a lake within the city of Schwerin. For many years the Castle was home to the Dukes and Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg. The Castle currently serves as the seat of the state parliament for the state of Meclenburg-Vorpommern. The Castle dates to the 10th century when first reports of a castle in the locale are recorded in 973. The Polabian Slavic tribe founded a fort for defence on the strategically situated island.In 1160, the fort became a target of Germanic noblemen planning to expand their territory eastward under the leadership of Henry the Lion (1129–1195).However, the German conquerors recognised the...

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The Arms of Edward the Confessor

A familiar site in Westminster Abbey is the Coat of Arms of Edward the Confessor which stand in many places in his greatest monument. Edward the Confessor (1003-1066) was the son of Aethelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy and is widely acknowledged as the last king of the House of Wessex. He ruled from 1042 to 1066. Edward’s successor Harold Godwinson was defeated by William Duke of Normandy, which led to the England’s domination by the Normans. Edward the Confessors Arms consist of a golden cross”flory” and five gold doves on a blue shield; Azure, a cross flory or between five doves of the same. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR COAT OF ARMS The thirteenth century heralds that devised this shield based...

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