Friday, March 20, 2009

More Good Movie Heraldry

A second movie that I’d like to point out as having done the heraldry very well (however little the rest of the movie may have had to do with the late Middle Ages!) is A Knight’s Tale. Sure, the armor was wrong, the soundtrack was modern rock music, the Nike "swoosh" as an armorer’s mark was totally 20th Century, and any relationship to actual history was FUBAR, but the heraldry ... well, I’m pretty sure that someone reviewed at least one medieval roll of arms in designing the coats of arms and heraldic shields for this movie.

When I first saw this movie in the theater, as the procession of knights and shield-bearers was marching by in front of the camera, I thought to myself, "Wait a minute! I think I recognize that elephant." I haven’t found enough good stills from the film to double-check the way I’d like to, but I’m pretty sure that at least some of the shields that appear in the film, both borne by some of the knights and decorating the viewer’s gallery at the joust, came from the Zürich Wappenrolle. For example, that elephant that I thought I recognized? Check out the arms of Helfenstein at to see what I thought of when I saw one of the shields in the movie. Was it the arms of Helfenstein that appeared in the movie? I don’t know for certain. I’ve not been able to find a still from the film that shows it. But I’m pretty sure .... And certainly a lot of the other shields that I have been able to find stills of are equally good heraldry.

As a consequence, A Knight’s Tale is high on my (short) list of movies with good heraldry in them, despite it’s entirely non-medieval "feel" and multitude of anachronisms.


  1. I also like one of the deleted scenes on the DVD, wherein they discuss over a campfire the fact that he needs his own coat of arms, and what it should be. Something fierce, and noble, and all that. A phoenix! Only three phoenixes, because there are three of them.

  2. I also liked the movie, I was very surprised that it was very successful in the box office. Heath Ledger really portrayed the effectiveness of William and really captured the Renaissance era.

  3. I really enjoyed A Knight's Tale; I enjoy all things Knightly, and the movie was a pleasure to watch (and re-watch, any time I caught it on TV).

    I enjoyed its anachronism - its mixing of modern day into a medieval "setting" and story - as much as I did of Romeo & Juliet w/ Leonardo di Caprio where, though they still used Shakespeare's play, their weapons were guns (not swords) and their "steeds" were cars (not horses).

    I never thought to look into the heraldry in the movie; I probably spotted the elephant you mention, and presumed all the arms were "made-up" for the sake of the movie. Hadn't a clue any elephant was ever used as a charge.. though, admittedly, my own curiosity in heraldry hasn't extended to the Germanic - I've read about English, and have taken some time to look into Portuguese (and some Spanish) heraldry.

    Good to stumble across your blog while doing a random search today. Thank you. :)