Heraldic "Meanings"

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Edward Hillenbrand
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Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 01 Aug 2015, 17:21

I had mentioned previously about who defines what symbols mean. I found a rather complete list on the American College of Heraldry site. I believe it was used (with permission I presume) from fleurdelis.com

http://www.americancollegeofheraldry.org/

http://www.fleurdelis.com/meanings.htm

Your thoughts.
Ed Hillenbrand

"Memento te esse Mortalum"

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Martin Goldstraw
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 01 Aug 2015, 18:33

These so called meanings are from the wild imaginings of Victorian writers. It is dangerous to take them as being authoritative or meaningful. (A polite way of saying "what a load of cobblers!")
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Chris Green
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Chris Green » 01 Aug 2015, 21:54

Cobblers it most certainly is (for those of you who aren't British, this is an example of cockney rhyming slang which I shall not explain).

That said, I looked up martlet since they are prominent in my CoA. Apart from the difference for a fourth son, which of course my three martlets are not, the meaning given is: may signify one who has to subsist by virtue and merit, not inheritance. Now that of course is what a fourth son would have to do (first son inherited, second son -army, third son - church, fourth son - made his fortune as best he could). But it does in fact apply perfectly to my circumstances.
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Chris Green
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Chris Green » 02 Aug 2015, 07:58

Thinking further on the "meaning" of the martlet. If indeed it is supposed to mean: one who has to subsist by virtue and merit, not inheritance a great deal of recently granted CoAs should include martlets. But what of their heirs, who may well be entirely devoid of virtue or merit but live in the lap of luxury on the inheritance from their forebears? If there ever is a "meaning" to a charge it can only possibly apply to the original armiger
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 02 Aug 2015, 12:43

In my own case, and I am quite sure that this is also the case for almost all newly designed arms (and quite possibly in fact all arms throughout history), the charges I chose, as first designer/user/grantee of the arms, reflect that which is important to me; these of course have little relevance to my heirs except for my crest which was chosen to represent the origins of the surname. So, unless the arms are canting arms or, in the absence of a suitable cant, some other reference to the surname which will be the only guaranteed constant, all arms surely reflect the things that are important to their designer and are unlikely to reflect the status/occupation/hobbies of subsequent generations. That is why, when petitioning for arms, we petition for a "memorial" (at least that is how it is termed in petitions for grants from the College of Arms).
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 02 Aug 2015, 15:52

I believe most folks whose knowledge of heraldry goes beyond buying a certificate ( or maybe a key chain, coffee mug or tee shirt) of the arms of their family name, recognize that the esoteric meanings ascribed to various colors or charges are at best far-fetched; Gules can mean blood shed by heroes or martyrs, or one's school of team colors, or a nick-nsme for a red-head, or the color of grandma's tobacco or dsiry barn or the little red schoolhouse. All are equally valid to the first bearer, and only mildly if at all to later observers. I suppose if one is desperate for a canting or allusive design element, one might find something useful in one of these old lists, but a bit of a last resort.
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Edward Hillenbrand
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 04 Aug 2015, 16:52

I held off replying to the comments as I want other people's thoughts on this. Meanings were assigned to colors in the 1500s by one other. I can't find his name now but should if pressed. These meanings are being used on the web sites I linked earlier. Western society in general has assigned meanings to other symbols (charges). Bones for morality, the lion courage, bravery and such to mention two. Some others are obvious, the gelder who has as his charge the parts removed and the hammer, and some are not so obvious, the arms with three scrotums (I really DON'T want to know). :shock:

We know in the 21st century whoever gets their message out first defines the object, be it a politician or a unicorn. ;) Since there are two, reasonably respected sites, one of which is a not for profit education organization that are listing/posting meanings to items I think if we should bestir ourselves. Either we to start defining charges ourselves or we will find that the internet and Google have already done so. I suspect those two web sites get more visitors in a month than we do all year.
Ed Hillenbrand

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Chris Green
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Chris Green » 04 Aug 2015, 18:21

Either we to start defining charges ourselves or we will find that the internet and Google have already done so. I suspect those two web sites get more visitors in a month than we do all year.


Why on earth should the IAAH start giving charges meanings?! And what has the number of site visits got to do with it? "Meanings" for charges was a historical dead end for heraldry several hundreds of years ago. Please let's not try to dig up its bones and resurrect it.
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Edward Hillenbrand
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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 04 Aug 2015, 23:58

The point I am making is whether you want to address the subject or not it will be addressed. Those bones have been resurrected and are alive and well on the internet. Even those of us who study such a dry subject as heraldry have embraced the 'net. And, as I tell the youngsters I work with, once it is on the 'net it is there forever. So we have a choice: ignore the subject and let others do the defining for us, which is happening currently, and live with it, or we can attempt to start forming a consensus on some things.

When I said "we" I was not referring to the IAAH but ALL of the heraldry family.
Ed Hillenbrand

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Re: Heraldic "Meanings"

Postby Chris Green » 05 Aug 2015, 06:16

The point I am making is whether you want to address the subject or not it will be addressed.


So. We are addressing it. That does not mean that the subject is in any way relevant to the art and science of heraldry. One could as well say that the colours and designs of football shirts have a "meaning", that cricketers wore white to indicate that they had devoted their lives to purity and chastity.
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