12th-century heraldry

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Arthur Radburn
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12th-century heraldry

Postby Arthur Radburn » 10 Jun 2018, 15:43

International Heraldry Day marks the anniversary of the earliest recorded grant of arms, namely by King Henry I of England to Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127 or 1128 (depending on which source you use). Here's the well-known picture of Geoffrey and his arms :

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What other 12th-century arms do we know of? Here are a few, most of which are still in use today. These are modern renditions, of course, so they may differ in detail from the original 12th-century designs.

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Count Philip of Flanders.

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King Louis VII of France .

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Duke of Normandy.

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Duke Leopold of Austria.

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Portsmouth (England).

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King Richard I 'the Lionheart' of England.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Chris Green
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Chris Green » 10 Jun 2018, 16:46

The arms of Portsmouth? In the late 12th century these were the arms of William de Longchamps, Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of King Richard I. They may at a later stage have become the arms of Portsmouth, but not when it received its charter in 1194. The arms of the City of London, far more important than Portsmouth, cannot reliably be dated back further than 1381.
Chris Green
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JMcMillan
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby JMcMillan » 11 Jun 2018, 04:36

Modern scholarship deprecates the now outdated view that the enamel on the tomb of Geoffrey Plantagenet is the earliest known coat of arms, let alone that it constituted a grant of arms. The enamel can be dated no earlier than 1160 and the story about the shield having been a gift from Henry I not until the 1170s. Geoffrey's only known seal, from 1149, does not depict any arms. The earliest known armorial bearings are apparently on an 1135 seal of Raoul of Vermandois, which shows a banner with the same armorial device that later appears on a shield on another seal dated 1146. See http://heraldica.org/topics/origins.htm for more. There have also been some interesting articles in recent issues of The Coat of Arms, if I recall correctly.
Joseph McMillan
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Chris Green
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Chris Green » 11 Jun 2018, 05:52

Joseph: Too late! While scholars may have other ideas, International Heraldry Day (and by association the 1128 date) has caught on. To get off the ground IHD needed a date on which people could hang it. However strong the research, the story behind 10 June 1128 is such a convenient one that it isn't going to go away.
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Arthur Radburn » 11 Jun 2018, 10:06

Chris Green wrote:The arms of Portsmouth? In the late 12th century these were the arms of William de Longchamps, Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of King Richard I. They may at a later stage have become the arms of Portsmouth, but not when it received its charter in 1194.
You may well be right, Chris, but the Portsmouth city council seems to regard its arms as dating from the 1190s, and to have been derived either from De Longchamps' or from a device on the king's seal.
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Arthur Radburn
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JMcMillan
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby JMcMillan » 11 Jun 2018, 14:19

Chris Green wrote:Joseph: Too late! While scholars may have other ideas, International Heraldry Day (and by association the 1128 date) has caught on. To get off the ground IHD needed a date on which people could hang it. However strong the research, the story behind 10 June 1128 is such a convenient one that it isn't going to go away.


I wasn't arguing with IHD, but with the repetition of the legend as fact in Arthur's original post. The legend does damage to our understanding of the development of heraldry, not least in that it encourages the belief that the history of coats of arms began with a "grant."
Joseph McMillan
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Jeremy Fox
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Jeremy Fox » 12 Jun 2018, 00:51

"Portsmouth city council seems to regard its arms as dating from the 1190s"


"Received wisdom" when I was a boy in said city was that the star & crescent, although derived from Richard I's seal, were not used by Portsmouth until the seventeenth century. Prior to that, insofar as Portsmouth had a coat of arms, the symbol used was a ship. The arms of the current Anglican diocese of Portsmouth combine the sword and keys of Winchester diocese, out of which Portsmouth diocese was carved with, in chief, the ship that featured on the old seal of the town of Portsmouth.

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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 14 Jun 2018, 16:19

I can see how facts get distorted, for example, the Star and Crescent was used by King Richard, if not as a coat of arms. So someone can say the the design in the Portsmouth arms dates to 1190. That easily is misunderstood that Portsmouth used the arms since that date.

I have seen this more than once with municipal arms based on medieval seals in Germany. The municipality adopted the arms relatively recently, but lifted the design from a seal that in some cases predate heraldry.

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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: 12th-century heraldry

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 15 Jun 2018, 04:41

Given the general understanding that the principal function of Heraldry is identity, borrowing emblems from old civic seals - even, or especially, seal designs with a history of useage that predate heraldry - strike me as a very good approach for civic arms.
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California


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