Merchant Achievements

General Heraldry subjects
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Cameron Campbell
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Joined: 13 Jul 2012, 11:38
Location: United States

Merchant Achievements

Postby Cameron Campbell » 01 Jul 2020, 18:38

Did Arms belonging to merchant families (individuals, not guilds) have certain types of helm/crest conditions or restrictions at any time? What were they? I'm assuming that in the early period of granting Arms to commoners they weren't allowed to use a Peer's helm, and other such oddments.

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Chris Green
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Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Merchant Achievements

Postby Chris Green » 02 Jul 2020, 05:37

You will need to specify the countries/free cities in which you are interested. The rules that applied in one might be markedly different to those in another (quite nearby in the case of the Holy Roman Empire).

As far as England was concerned there was never any specific regulation for merchants. If the merchant comported himself as a gentleman, then he was equally entitled to bear arms as a minor landowner, and there would be nothing in those arms to distinguish the one from the other. The English never had the concept of "untitled nobility" as opposed to "burghers" so prevalent on the continent.

PS: You used the word "oddments". There is a technical term: "additaments".
Chris Green
IAAH President

Bertilak de Hautdesert

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Cameron Campbell
Posts: 57
Joined: 13 Jul 2012, 11:38
Location: United States

Re: Merchant Achievements

Postby Cameron Campbell » 02 Jul 2020, 08:12

Thank you. I will group merchants with gentry.

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Chris Green
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Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Merchant Achievements

Postby Chris Green » 03 Jul 2020, 06:37

Cameron Campbell wrote:Thank you. I will group merchants with gentry.


That is fine for England and Scotland. It would not be strictly accurate (at least in the Middle Ages and somewhat later) if one was talking about large swathes of continental Europe, where the minor, untitled, nobility had tax and other privileges not available to burghers. A burgher might be far richer and more influential (and own and live on land outside the city), but until the Holy Roman Emperor, the King of France, or Sweden (for example) stated otherwise he was still "merely" a burgher, while his poverty-stricken neighbour might be noble because the family had been noble from time immemorial. Just to rub it in, most parts of Europe provided for the use by untitled nobility of a coronet in their heraldic achievement.

This link provides a (reasonably) readable guide to the nobility of Sweden which includes an explanation of "untitled nobility". Note that these largely consisted of people previously considered esquires - mostly officers and officials.

http://www.almanachdegotha.org/id224.html
Chris Green
IAAH President

Bertilak de Hautdesert


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