The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Monday, July 13, 2015
I Expect Better
No, really, I do! When I see the production of a play put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, I expect them to get the heraldry right. All of the heraldry.
In watching the DVD of the 2013 RSC production of Richard II starring David Tennant, some of the heraldry just looked a bit "off" to me. Surprisingly, when I hit the heraldry books and did some research, some of it was correct, and I was the one who was wrong.
For example, the coat of arms worn by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, in the play were not the Mowbray arms of Gules a lion rampant argent. Which are the arms Mowbray bore as Earl Marshall (quartered by England with a label). But as Duke of Norfolk, he bore Per pale, the arms of St. Edward the Confessor and England with a label argent.
So Round One to the RSC. However, ...
The arms shown for Richard II were simply Quarterly France ancient and England. Which at the time of the play, late in Richard's reign, were not the arms he was using. Those were the arms of his grandfather, Edward III.
The arms that Richard was using at this point in his reign were these; the arms of St. Edward the Confessor marshaled with the then Royal Arms of England.
You can easily see the difference.
And the arms worn by Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford and Derby, son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, were shown in the play as Quarterly France modern[with only three fleurs-de-lys] and England; in other words, the arms he adopted as King Henry IV. But not the arms he used at the time:
Or the ones he bore later, after his father died, and he became Duke of Hereford and Lancaster:
It's great when a production gets the heraldry right, as this one did in several instances. I especially liked the projection of the White Hart badge of Richard II on the backdrop of the stage for one scene.
But really, if they can get some of it right, can't they also get the rest of it correct, too?