System of Maltese Heraldry

The heraldry of Malta
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Arthur Radburn
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System of Maltese Heraldry

Postby Arthur Radburn » 21 May 2021, 19:34

While its legal status is being investigated by the Maltese ombudsman, the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta has published a document on the System of Maltese Heraldry on its website. It's undated, but was evidently drawn up within the past three or four months.

This document provides interesting insights into the OCHAM's policies, and includes an appendix explaining basic heraldic principles, and rules of blazon, aimed at lay persons. There's a strong emphasis on English practices (including some which the College of Arms has abandoned).

Some key points :

Grants of arms -- A grant of arms is "a singular honour, issued at the discretion of the Chief Herald of Arms". Criteria for a grant are :
- grant of a Maltese or foreign honour
- involvement in public life
- professional qualifications
- membership of an order of chivalry.

Citizens of other countries can also apply for grants of arms.

Form of arms -- Men's arms consist of shield and crest (with helmet, mantling and wreath), women's arms consist of a lozenge or oval, without crest. "This outdated principle probably requires eventual revision in line with current equality legislation." An exception is already made for a female head of state, who can have shield and crest (with helmet, mantling and wreath).

Helmets -- Different patterns of helmet indicate rank, each facing in a fixed direction. Mantling and wreath are in the principal colour and metal of the arms.

Coronets of rank : For marquis, count and baron (all established patterns of coronet) plus one for untitled nobility, introduced by the Chief Herald.

Supporters -- May be granted to :
- holders of high offices of state (non-hereditary supporters)
- holders of Maltese or foreign noble titles (hereditary supporters)
- knights grand cross in foreign orders (non-hereditary supporters)
- members of Maltese orders (non-hereditary supporters).

Motto -- Not granted, but will be included in the patent granting arms.

Quartering -- Apparently, arms can be inherited though both male and female lines. The Chief Herald will allow an applicant to quarter arms inherited through both paternal and maternal lines, the paternal arms being placed in quarters I & IV.

Cadency : The English system is followed. Currently only applied to men's arms; "however, as equality laws take effect, they may, in the future, also be extended to female descendants".

Marks of difference -- If an applicant requests it, the arms of an illegitimate [sic] child can be denoted by means of a baton sinister or a bordure compony, or by a bronze(?) open-visored helmet facing the sinister.

An adopted child may bear the arms of either their birth parents or their adoptive parents. In the latter case, a mark consisting of two links of chain may be added to the arms, if requested.

Insignia of honours -- In January 2021, the Director of the Cabinet Office authorised the Chief Herald to "adorn" the arms of holders of Maltese honours with the insignia of those honours. Holders of foreign orders may display the insignia of their orders, and mayors and former mayors may display their badges of office below their arms.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Martin Goldstraw
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Re: System of Maltese Heraldry

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 25 May 2021, 14:05

Arthur Radburn wrote:

Coronets of rank : For marquis, count and baron (all established patterns of coronet) plus one for untitled nobility, introduced by the Chief Herald.

Supporters -- May be granted to :
- holders of high offices of state (non-hereditary supporters)
- holders of Maltese or foreign noble titles (hereditary supporters)
- knights grand cross in foreign orders (non-hereditary supporters)
- members of Maltese orders (non-hereditary supporters).



You see, this is a prime example of the muddled thinking of the so called Chief Herald;
Chapter 251, Laws of Malta. Article 29(4) states: It shall be the duty of every public officer or authority, and of every body established or recognised by law and of every member thereof, to refrain from recognising in any way, and from doing anything which could imply recognition of, any title of nobility or any honour, award, decoration, membership or office which is not recognised in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this article.

Here, he is clearly stating that not only will he recognise titles and nobility, whether domestic or foreign, but he is also going to recognise their coronets and supporters. This is a clear breach of Chapter 21 of the Laws of Malta!

Madness.
Martin Goldstraw
Cheshire Heraldry
http://cheshire-heraldry.org.uk

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: System of Maltese Heraldry

Postby Arthur Radburn » 25 May 2021, 19:24

Martin Goldstraw wrote:Here, he is clearly stating that not only will he recognise titles and nobility, whether domestic or foreign, but he is also going to recognise their coronets and supporters. This is a clear breach of Chapter 21 of the Laws of Malta!

And not merely recognising them by means of heraldic additaments. To judge from the circular which the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility has issued to the titled families, he would like to have a say in determining the succession to titles too.

I wonder if the Chief Herald is actually a "public officer" under Maltese law. As I understand it, he's an employee of Heritage Malta Ltd, which is a limited company, set up by Heritage Malta, which is a statutory body set up by Act of Parliament.

So, is he a public officer, or an employee of a private company providing a service in the name of the state? Hopefully, the Ombudsman will clarify that point in his report.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: System of Maltese Heraldry

Postby Arthur Radburn » 26 May 2021, 21:57

I see that Heritage Malta have produced a video of a "master class" on heraldry, presented by the Chief Herald. It covers much of the material covered in the 'System of Maltese Heraldry' document, but with much more heraldic eye candy. The video runs for 43 minutes, and can be found here :

https://m.facebook.com/HeritageMalta/videos/139379218204497/.
Regards
Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education


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