John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Hungarian Heraldry
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Chris Green
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 17 Sep 2012, 10:51

It is the horseshoe that confirms both are ostriches.


Ah yes. Ostriches are usually depicted holding a metallic object in their beaks. The artist who did the first picture clearly had no idea what an ostrich looked like, nor had he heard of the "metallic object in beak" convention. Conrad Swan's heraldic artist colleague was better acquainted with both ostrich and conventional depiction thereof.
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Chas Charles-Dunne
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chas Charles-Dunne » 17 Sep 2012, 11:07

I agree that they are both ostriches - I see horseshoes in both mouths.

I can find two very separate reasons why, both interesting.

http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=411&p=6132

and

http://www.minterne.co.uk/mjs/history/13-the-digby-family-crest.html

The Digby Family Crest - The Ostrich.

Legend has it that the Ostrich dates from 100BC, when the Romans were attacking Numidia, which is now Tunisia. Jugurtha, who was the King of the Numidians, put young warriors on ostriches who were so fast that they outflanked the Roman cavalry who subsequently fled the scene. The horseshoe in the Ostriches mouth is to show how they defeated the horses. This was apparently a well-known tale in Hungary & Romania.

It was later the crest of the Angevin Kings with Charles Robert, King of Hungary adopting it as his Crest and in particular, his son, Louis the Great of Hungary. Louis donated a chapel at Aix-le-Chapelle in the cathedral as a place of pilgrimage for Hungarians & this contains a large number of ostriches with horseshoes. Several of the tombs in Aachen Cathedral depict the ostrich.

Our records do not show how it came to be in the Digby family, although it has been the family crest since 1350 AD
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 17 Sep 2012, 11:30

I see horseshoes in both mouths.


Now I look again, I agree. I first thought that the artist had depicted the beak open, but what I thought was the bottom "jaw" is intended to be the horse-shoe.

The origin of the horse-shoe in the beak may well be North African, and I like the notion of ostrich-cavalry which is not beyond the realms of possibility (lads on ostrich-back armed with bows could have been both fast and deadly - certainly disconcerting for anyone who had never seen the like). Ostriches (and lions and elephants) did exist in North Africa in Roman times, but not I think in Romania or Hungary, then or later, so the migration of the myth would have come from North Africa by way of the Turkish Empire to Hungary, which warred with the expansionist Turks for centuries - which (to lead us back to the thread) is how John Smith came to be fighting in Transylvania.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 17 Sep 2012, 12:17

I too missed the horseshoe. I prefer the Ostriches eat iron theory, which is also cited by Fox-Davies who mentions Ostriches also were depicted eating keys. http://archive.org/stream/completeguidetoh00foxduoft#page/242/mode/2up

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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chas Charles-Dunne » 17 Sep 2012, 12:36

I suppose we will never know the real reason, but it is one of those things that has entered the heraldic psyche and will stay there like some of the saints always being depicted with their symbol.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 17 Sep 2012, 12:43

I prefer the Ostriches eat iron theory, which is also cited by Fox-Davies who mentions Ostriches also were depicted eating keys.


I suppose it's possible that an ostrich in captivity might eat a horse-shoe or a key out of boredom or curiosity. But there can't have been that many ostriches in captivity in Hungary or Romania (or elsewhere in Europe) for such a trait to have become well-known. In the wild of course ostriches would never have the opportunity of sampling either horse-shoes or keys, or indeed anything metallic. They do however eat stones.

"They lack teeth so they swallow pebbles that act as gastroliths for grinding food. It is reported that an adult ostrich carries about 1 kilogram of stones and pebbles in its stomach. They fill their gullet with stones while eating that in turn passes through their esophagus in form of balls that are known as bolus."
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 17 Sep 2012, 20:26

well I think it is from medieval bestiaries, which also said that Panthers had sweat breath.


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