A New (slightly off topic) Book

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Chris Green
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A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby Chris Green » 27 Sep 2017, 21:02

I have been asked by Professor Sam Clark of the University of Western Ontario to give a plug for his new book: The Evolution of State Honours in Western Europe. I know the subject matter isn't strictly speaking heraldry, but many of us are also interested in the bits and bobs that encircle or dangle from the shields of the great and good.

http://www.mqup.ca/distributing-status-products-9780773546844.php#!prettyPhoto
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby Arthur Radburn » 28 Sep 2017, 19:26

There is certainly quite a strong connection between heraldry and orders/ decorations/ medals.

1. Recipients of orders and decorations often display the insignia as external ornaments to their arms.
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Example : the arms of Sir Ninian Stephen, a former governor-general of Australia, bedecked with no less than six orders, i.e. the Order of the Garter, the Order of Australia, the Order of the British Empire, the Order of St Michael & St George, the Royal Victorian Order and the Order of St John.

2. Then there are arms which contain the insignia of orders or medals as charges.
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Example : the arms of Malta, which display the George Cross awarded to the population for their bravery during enemy air bombardment in World War II.

3. And there are plenty of gongs which display coats of arms.
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Example : the (US Army) Distinguished Service Medal.

Odd, though, that the designer of Prof Clark's book's dust jacket chose to illustrate it with the UK campaign medals for World War I. While honourable, they are not "honours" as such, and they can hardly be status symbols when millions of them were issued to all ranks. The badges of a few orders would surely have been a more appropriate design.
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Arthur Radburn
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Chris Green
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Re: A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby Chris Green » 29 Sep 2017, 15:55

Prof. Clark has asked me to respond to the comments.

In a spirit of friendly debate, let me respond to the comments of Number 3. This criticism of the cover was also made by Antti Matikkala in a review of my book. I would like to make two observations.

First, one of the arguments of my book is that medals came to be adopted as devices for communication and coordination because they could be produced in large numbers, survived over time, and could be easily transported. There have been war veterans as long as we have had wars, but only recently have states routinely awarded medals in vast numbers to veterans of campaigns. One of the purposes of my book was to explain this historical development. The fact that the medals on the cover of my book were handed out in the millions is quite appropriate. Second, I cannot agree with the suggestion that there was little status gained by receiving one of these campaign medals. I am sure you know soldiers who have received campaign medals, and I do not need to tell you that most take great pride in them, show them to relatives and friends, mount them, and wear them in memorial ceremonies. Campaign medals may not have the status of elevation to an order of knighthood, but to ordinary people they most definitely provide status.

I was aware of the meaning of the term “honour” as used by your commentator, but in my book I chose to employ it in the broader sense to include all honorific rewards. This broader definition is consistent with the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives, as one of the meanings of honour, “something conferred or done as a token of respect or distinction”, which includes a “decoration, adornment, [or] ornament”. I have no objection to those in the phaleristic/heraldic community using the term in a more restricted sense. In my academic discipline we use lots of words in a more restricted sense than they are used outside our discipline, but we would not claim that ours is the only way in which they can be used.

In any case, thanks again for sending these comments and I hope that we can stay in touch.

Sam
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JMcMillan
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Re: A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby JMcMillan » 30 Sep 2017, 15:27

Chris Green wrote:Quoting Prof. Clark:In my academic discipline we use lots of words in a more restricted sense than they are used outside our discipline, but we would not claim that ours is the only way in which they can be used.


Unless we are pedantic heraldists who react like Pavlov's dogs whenever we encounter the terms "crest" or "standard."
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby Arthur Radburn » 30 Sep 2017, 16:23

Thank you, Chris, for posting the professor's response. It is interesting to read a different take on the subject of campaign medals, and perceptions of their status.

To relate this to heraldry : the Canadian Heraldic Authority has changed its views on the subject in recent years. Until 2014, the only decorations which they would depict with coats of arms were orders, and decorations which carry post-nominal letters. No campaign medals or jubilee medals. That has also been the English and Scottish approach for a very long time.

Now the CHA will include campaign and jubilee medals too (as shown here), the stated reason being that "although orders, decorations and medals honour different types of service to Canada, they all exist within the Canadian Honours System, and we decided not to have a situation in which some are seen as being suitable for heraldic display and others are not."
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: A New (slightly off topic) Book

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 30 Sep 2017, 19:58

Good for Sam Clark, and for the CHA. To update Shakespeare, "We many, we band of Brothers..." - though compared to the millions on the home front, it's still relatively few...
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California


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