"Equality of Arms" campaign

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Arthur Radburn
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"Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Arthur Radburn » 08 Jul 2019, 12:45

I see that a someone has launched an "Equality of Arms" campaign, aimed at persuading the College of Arms to introduce gender equality in English heraldry. The campaign has a twitter page and a blog.
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Martin Goldstraw
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 08 Jul 2019, 13:33

Arthur Radburn wrote:I see that a someone has launched an "Equality of Arms" campaign, aimed at persuading the College of Arms to introduce gender equality in English heraldry. The campaign has a twitter page and a blog.


Hmm. I commend the effort however, there's a well known figuratively, vulgar, phrase which describes the likely outcome. Its non vulgar meaning is To waste time on a pointless or fruitless task; do something that is ineffective.
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Chris Green
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Chris Green » 08 Jul 2019, 14:33

Haven't they missed a trick? Surely the demand should be for future grants of arms to women to be free of charge to address the historical imbalance in the number of grants made to women.
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Jeremy Fox
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Jeremy Fox » 08 Jul 2019, 23:52

Obviously women should have gender equality in heraldry. And no doubt all the rainbow shades of gender will soon be clamouring for an equal standing. I'm not sure how you would determine which would be the dexter coat and which the sinister when impaling arms to show a same sex marriage. Alphabetically, perhaps; that would provide a future-proof precedent for the time when heraldry had to cope with polygamandry.

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Cameron Campbell
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Cameron Campbell » 09 Jul 2019, 08:10

Wouldn't just switching to absolute primogeniture be the way to go? And to avoid chaos, DO NOT make it retroactive.

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Arthur Radburn » 09 Jul 2019, 14:58

Jeremy Fox wrote:I'm not sure how you would determine which would be the dexter coat and which the sinister when impaling arms to show a same sex marriage. Alphabetically, perhaps; that would provide a future-proof precedent for the time when heraldry had to cope with polygamandry.

The College issued directions about this a few years ago. The text is in this thread.

The campaigners are evidently aware of the 2014 ruling and of the 1995 ruling about the arms of women, but they seem to have overlooked the 1997 ruling. The campaigners assert that an heraldic heiress' children can inherit her arms only after she has died, and that a female grantee cannot transmit her arms to her children. However, the 1997 ruling states :

11. Children of an heraldic heiress (living or deceased) shall be allowed to quarter her arms provided they are armigerous and their mother's father is dead.

12. A woman grantee is to be considered as the representative of her arms which may be transmitted as a quartering to her descendants during her lifetime and thereafter, unless the patent specifies otherwise.


All the same, the ruling is not full gender equality.
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Cameron Campbell
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Cameron Campbell » 11 Jul 2019, 07:31

Cameron Campbell wrote:Wouldn't just switching to absolute primogeniture be the way to go? And to avoid chaos, DO NOT make it retroactive.

Bump.

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Arthur Radburn » 11 Jul 2019, 10:00

Cameron Campbell wrote:Wouldn't just switching to absolute primogeniture be the way to go? And to avoid chaos, DO NOT make it retroactive.

It's certainly one option for them to look at. Ireland adopted that principle about eighteen years ago. There, arms are now inherited by both daughters and sons, and the marks of cadency are applied to indicate birth order of all of them. So if the first-born child is a daughter and the second is a son, the daughter gets the arms with a label (which she drops after the parent's death) and the son gets a crescent.

Canada, of course, has a very flexible system, which allows the armiger to decide which child will inherit the undifferenced arms, and it allows arms to be transmitted through the female line, even if they become separated from the original armiger's surname in the process.
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 11 Jul 2019, 16:02

Its not really equality.

This only seems to be, because there are a lot more people with arms marrying those without. If we presume all arms are equal (a not undisputable presumption), then it is hard to claim that because a child only inherits his father's arms and not his mother's arms, the said child is being disadvantaged. However, when the father has no arms, but the mother does, then it is easy to see the child as discriminated against.

If one argues that the undifferenced arms are superior and thus the first born male inherits a privilege, I would argue that the daughters are then privileged over the younger sons. As they are able to use their father's arms only differenced by shape of the shield.

The heart of the issue, is really what exactly ownership of arms means, and who owns them. I would argue, that especially after the death of the grantee or assumee, arms are communal property of the family. This is also how they are often seen by people who have little knowledge of heraldry.

Thus, I argue, the right to arms should be limited to members of the family. Since, western society is patrilineal, which is not the same as patriarchal, family membership is determined by the father and is reflected by last name.

Of course, it is more complicated as that. Married daughters are treated as members of both families, and in some way sons as well. I think names and clauses provide the flexibility needed.

It is similar to last names. Yes, some mistaken exteremists believe that a women exchanging the name of her father, for that of her husband is misogynist. But most people keep doing it the traditional way.

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Jeremy Fox
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Re: "Equality of Arms" campaign

Postby Jeremy Fox » 12 Jul 2019, 00:48

The use of coats of arms was closely tied to the rules, or the reality, of inheritance. The general rule of inheritance, in feudal England, was that the eldest son took all. Only he, therefore, took the undifferenced arms. Quarterings were only transmitted through daughters when there were no surviving sons to inherit the property. That was the standard procedure.
Often enough, however, a son adopted his maternal arms, particularly in situations where inheritance from the mother's family was more significant than that from the father. This situation seems to have been more common in the case of a younger son, who was not infrequently provided for from his mother's estate. A man with or without arms of his own might adopt his wife's arms, she being heiress to more significant property than his paternal inheritance.
A man who inherited nothing significant in property (or prestige) from a family whose arms he was entitled to quarter, would often enough not include that quarter in his own arms.
Children born out of wedlock had no right to inherit property or arms.
Names, similarly, were adopted or transmitted to suit whatever version of reality an individual or family wished to promote.

Current rules of inheritance are much more equitable, both as regards the gender of children and of the marital status of their parents. Heraldry used to relate to practical realities. If it is anything other than an exercise in vanity, it should do so still.


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