Summer quiz 4 – heraldry

There are many heraldic charges and I don’t propose to work my way through a list of them at this precise moment. However, I have written about quite a few of them over the years. So, taking a Late medieval and Tudor theme before we move on to quarterings lets get started:

  1. Which Tudor queen used a personal device of a crowned falcon?
  2. Which Tudor queen’s arms featured a pomegranate?
  3. Whose coat of arms depicted a portcullis?
  4. What kind of dog was a supporter for the Tudor coat of arms.
  5. If you went to Hampton court you might find a panther – whose royal supporter was this?
  6. Whose heraldic device featured a black bull?
  7. And what about a white boar – or more correctly a silver boar as white isn’t a heraldic colour.
  8. What is depicted in the image – Richard of York used this with a falcon on his arms.

Labeling- The eldest son was permitted to carry his father’s arms after his father’s death. During the father’s life time a label was attached to the coat of arms of the son. After the father’s death the label was dropped.

differencing – younger sons were not allowed to carry their father’s coat of arms. Instead they had to make some permanent difference to it. They could change the colour, add a boarder, stick in a new charge or else combine it with their wife’s coat of arms. In time a regular system for differencing developed. The second son added a crescent, ht third a mullet, the fourth a martlets, the fifth a ring, the sixth a fleur-de-lis, the seventh a a rose and the eighth cross moline. over time the coat of arms gets more crowded as each successive generation apart from the eldest son of the eldest son was required to continue differencing….it can also be called cadencing. As you might expect the system doesn’t always work particularly neatly because it evolved.

cadencing for younger sons
A label!

Impaling – essentially if a man entitled to bear arms married a woman whose family carried arms their shared coat of arms – theirs arms could be impaled – the field would be divided in half along the vertical. The husbands arms are displayed on the dexter half and the woman’s arms are displayed on the sinister half. before marriage a woman would be denoted by her father’s arms alone.

Quartering –

A son might quarter his coat of arms – divide the shield into 4 and add his father’s coat of arms on the top left and bottom right section of the shield and his mother’s on the top right and bottom left – the arms were the arms from both sides of the family inherited by their owner. So far so good – just remember that there can be many quarterings where a family has married many heiresses. So you can have a quarterly of ten or however many coats of arms you are entitled to. See the Heraldry Society’s explanation and a rather wonderful coat of arms:

9. Identify which of these arms has a label, which is impaled and which is quartered.

10. Which one of these coats of arms belongs to Eleanor of Castile and which one belongs to Edward I’s younger son Edmund of Woodstock?

Answers to summer quiz 3

So – where to find coats of arms other than shields at tournaments- they turn up often in churches. It was a way of identifying patrons- an identity stamp to godliness, wealth and quite often ownership. I love spotting different coats of arms on medieval tiles or Victorian reproductions. They can also be found on effigies and brasses – which is always helpful.

Summer quiz 3 – more heraldry

Original: Eixo Derivative work: Silsor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Charges are the objects, birds or animals that are added to the field of the shield to identify its owner. The field can also be divided and coloured with different tinctures (colours).

Party is not an invitation to a shindig – it simply means parted or divided. A shield can be divided per fess – halving the shield across with a horizontal stripe or per pale which means halving the shield down the middle. The per is important as it makes it clear in the description that its the way the shield is divided and coloured where as a fess is a horizontal charge on the field and a pale is a vertical charge on the shield. Look for the per to see if its describing the tinctures of the field. The shield can also be divider per saltire which is a snazzy two tone colouring based on a saltire cross or even just per cross. And if you want to get really carried away then there is per bend – which is a diagonal division. Per chevron is nice and straight forward as the inverted ‘v’ shape should be becoming familiar and then there’s per pall. A pall can also be a charge.

And just to make life that little bit more exciting bends can be per bend sinister (top right to bottom left) or per bend dexter (top left to bottom right). Sinister is left and dexter is right. Another thing the Romans did for us.

With the passage of time those nice neat straight lines were adapted to be pointy or wavy further complicating the names that anyone interested in heraldry has to learn but extending the range of fields available for use.

Can you identify the following signatories of the Magna Carta from some of the elements of their coat of arms. One of them should be very familiar to readers of the histroyjar:

  1. Geoffrey de Say – per cross or and gules.

2. William de Mowbray – lion rampant argent

3. William Marshal – per pale or and vert

4. Robert de Ros – three water bougets argent ( a pair of water bags on a yoke)

5. Robert de Vere – mullet argent.

Heraldic summer quiz 2 – answers

In an attempt to be organised the answers for last week’s quiz are below. I hope that the captions are clear to read.

  1. Starting with some charges based on shape -bezant = circle or disc, mullet = star, lozenge = diamond and annulet= ‘little ring’

2) Lion charges

3) County coats of arms – in some cases with some rather wonderful crests.

heraldic summer quiz 2

First of all there is no reward for spotting that I labelled the crest for Derbyshire as the crest for Bristol – I have no idea what came over me! Many apologies. Have now amended it online.

So – to the shield – the background of the shield is called the field and it is usually made of a colour (a tincture) or a metal or a design representing a fur.

  • metal – gold (or) and silver (argent)
  • colour – red (gules), blue (azure), green (vert), black (sable), purple (purpure)
  • fur – ermine, ermines, peon and vair – (I’ll come back to them)

Keeping things straight forward for the time being -we’ll come back to the way the shield is divided up- a charge is then added to the field. This is the shape, object, bird or animal that identifies the shield’s owner. A colour is never put on a metal!

There may be one large charge or several smaller repeated ones.

Popular charges include; crosses, stars, rings, balls, crescents and diamonds. – except of course nothing is as straight forward as that – why call a star a star when you can call it something different!

  1. Can you identify the following: bezant, mullet, lozenge and annulet

A certain well known online encyclopaedia provides a list of heraldic charges.

Canterbury’s coat of arms includes a lion passant and three Cornish choughs which are associated with Thomas Becket.

Lions are a popular charge!

2) Which countries do these lions belong to?

And finally can you identify these English or Welsh county coats of arms – I’ve selected ones with repeating charges. The Derbyshire coat of arms should be no problem as he represents the fact that Derbyshire was initially founded by the Danes who came on their dragon boats (presumably not all the way to land locked Derbyshire) and there’s also a nod to the county’s mining. And of course its an opportunity to spot lozenges, lions rampant and martlets. How I managed to miss the crests for Lincolnshire and Suffolk I do not know!

Summer quiz – crest answers

Last Friday I left you with a number of crests belonging to the coats of arms of various towns, cities and counties in the UK. The crest sits above the shield, the torse (not a horse as the spell check keeps trying to tell me) and the helm. How did you do? And of course, there were some notable exceptions – the owl on Leeds crest, Hereford’s white lion and Lancaster’s sailing boat to name but a few. The next instalment will follow today.

3) Halifax – the pascal lamb standing on a Saxon crown.
West Yorkshire

Getting to grips with a coat of arms – and summer quiz 2…crests

The Armorial Register -composition of arms

The shield is only part of a coat of arms – often the shield is at the bottom of a ‘stack’ – there may be a helm above the shield followed by a crest and a motto. The coil or wreath between the helm and the crest even has its own name – a torse – not a horse as the spell check insists that I actually mean. Fabric draped from the torse down around the helm is called mantling – mantling can be subdued or full on drapery with twiddly bits – see left.

Just to confuse matters the motto, placed on a scroll, can either go at the top of the coat of arms or at the bottom beneath the shield. The latter tends to occur if the arms is being held by two supporters – one on either side of the arms as in the lion and unicorn supporting the royal arms. The other thing that might appear beneath the shield is a ribbon or collar from which decorations may be hung – no not Christmas decorations! – medals and suchlike.

The images on the shield are called charges- I will be coming back to them.

Crests can sometimes appear on the torse above the shield without the helm just to help identify the owner. Crests often appear on retinue badges or in Scotland on clan badges. So how did that all come about? In the medieval period, the thirteenth century, it was acceptable to wear an actual crest made from a light wood or even boiled leather on top of the helmet usually for tournaments and jousts rather than real warfare – not sure how long that phase lasted as it sounds fairly silly to me – but that’s just me opinion. The mantle had a more practical use – it helped keep the sun off the back of the armour and was kept in place by the torse – so at least the knight wouldn’t fry.

This week’s quiz is to identify the crests belonging to towns, cities or counties – one or two have cropped the edges just to make it that little bit more tricky but it wasn’t a deliberate act on my part! The Telegraph had a competition to guess the coats of arms of 25 cities quite recently – I’m not a subscriber so that was as far as I got. Instead here are 12 crests for you to identify – some will be easier than others. Answers next week.

Summer picture quiz 2022 – getting to grips with heraldry

Many apologies to those of you who are very comfortable with your heraldry – I’m having a bit of a refresh and am starting with canting arms which isn’t necessarily a logical place to begin but never mind. Essentially the image depicted on the arms is a pun or rebus playing on their owner’s name. The French call them armes parlantes or talking arms.

Simply say what you see! One belongs to a family and the second belongs to a kingdom – which is a bit mean of me as the kingdom tends to be described without it’s second smaller component. Not all canting arms are obvious as language and imagery has changed across the centuries. The third arms is another family name.

Canting arms 1 and 2.
Canting arms 3

Summer quiz 2: medieval monarchy mishaps

A straight question and answer quiz about Edward II – yup – I’ve been busy writing about Edward’s favourites, his wife’s scandalous family and the difficulties of royal marriages – Edward’s wife was the first to say ‘there’s three of us in this marriage…’

  1. Where was Edward II born? According to legend his father offered Edward to a country because he spoke no English.
  2. Who were Edward II’s parents?
  3. In which castle is Edward supposed to have been killed in 1327? Ian Mortimer presented a theory that he was not assassinated.
  4. Edward granted the earldom of Cornwall to which of his friends much to his father’s irritation?
  5. Who negotiated Edward’s marriage?
  6. What were the nobles called who sought to reform the royal court and get rid of Edward’s unpopular male favourite?
  7. Which Anglo-Scottish battle did Edward II famously lose?
  8. Edward had his cousin Thomas of Lancaster executed after Thomas lost which battle in Yorkshire?
  9. Which father and son with the same name gained notoriety as the king’s favourites?
  10. Who was Edward’s wife? She is the only medieval queen known to have had an adulterous relationship.
  11. Who did she have an affair with?
  12. Which part of the country did Edward’s wife invade with a very small army in 1326?
  13. When one of Edward’s hated favourites was executed in Bristol, what was his body fed to?
  14. Where is Edward II buried? Can you give the place more than one name? Which other disposed ruler is buried in the same place?
  15. Name Edward II’s children.
  16. Which earl was Edward’s half brother who was executed by Edward’s queen and her lover?
  17. Which area of France did Edward and his wife’s family disagree about?
  18. What unusual beast did Edward keep at Langley?
  19. And what kind of pet did he take on campaign to Scotland?
  20. Which murdered Tudor playwright wrote a play about the murdered monarch ensuring that we remember all the scandal?

All blinged up – summer quiz 1 answers

  1. Cameos were originally carved in Ancient Egypt, somewhere around 15,000 BC. However, it is the Greeks and Romans who we are more likely to associate with cameos. They started to become popular in England during the Elizabethan period but really became very popular during the eighteenth century as a consequence of the Grand Tour.
Elizabeth I cameo from the Royal Collection Trust – it was exhibited in the collection of Queen Caroline, wife of George II.

2) The scarab beetle symbolises rebirth. It is symbolic of Khepri, an Egyptian sun god.

3) The oldest known jewellery is thought to be made from snail shells. A string of snails shell beads was found in a cave in South Africa. It’s thought to be 30,000 years old.

4) The Snettisham Hoard is an Iron Age treasure. It was found in 1948 during ploughing. The area was repeatedly dug and more treasure unearthed. It’s famous for its twelve torcs found in one pit.

5) Bakelite.

6) Cloisonn̩ appears in the jewellery of Ancient Egypt Рso back to the pharaohs again.

7) The spelling went wrong! I can only apologise. It should have said penannular which essentially means an incomplete ring – think Celtic and Viking.

Penannular brooch from the Penrith Hoard.

8) Viking women wore turtle brooches – named because of their typical shape.

9) Unicorn horn worked as an antidote to poison – so if you dunked your ring containing the unicorn horn in your goblet you would be completely safe. Lady Margaret Beaufort’s possessions included one such ring.

10) Queen Elizabeth I owned thousands of pearls. The earl of Leicester often gave her ropes of pearls as a New Year’s gift.

11) Alfred’s jewel fitted on the end of an aestel, or pointer, to follow words in a book.

12) Black jewellery associated with mourning – Whitby jet. Apparently when it’s worked it smells of rotting tree.

13) The Cheapside Hoard contains the largest collection of Tudor and Stuart jewellery in the world. it was probably during during the English Civil Wars and its location reflects the fact that it was an area known for its jewellers… wonder what happened to its owner?

14) The Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since the Fourteenth Century – although of course, Oliver Cromwell sold them off and melted them down so that the only medieval piece is the Coronation Spoon.

15) The Triskelion brooch is part of the Sutton Hoo treasure and can be seen in the British Museum.

16) Birmingham is famous for its jewellery quarter.

17) It’s a pie crust ring – love the name.

18) This is the Middleham Jewel, found in 1985 near to Middleham Castle, the home of Richard III.

19) Hans Holbein is famous for his portraits of Henry VIII and his court but he also designed jewellery.

20) The rosary beads were owned by Henry VIII.