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
Thursday, December 10, 2015
An Unusual Heraldic Find
One of the my "guilty pleasures" in looking at/for coats of arms is the occasional find of another coat of attributed arms; a coat of arms designed and representing an individual, real or mythological, who lived some time before the introduction of heraldry in the 12th Century.
There are the ones you find in any number of old books, of course: King Arthur and the rest of the Nine Worthies; the three magi (below, from the Wernigeroder Wappenbuch); Jesus; and even Satan.
I even have a subfolder on my computer labeled "Attributed Arms" in which I place images of such arms that I run across, just so I can go back to them periodically without having to hunt them down in all the armorials, etc. from which I originally found them.
I was going back through another old source on-line which wasn't even primarily about heraldry; the Speculum humanae salvationis, Hs-2505, an old manuscript of illustrated stories from the Bible that I ran across on the website of the Darmstadt University Library.
While not specifically heraldic, a number of the illustrations included coats of arms to identify some of the figures they contained. The one that most attracted my attention was this one:
From the story of David and Goliath, we have the arms of the giant Goliath of Gath.
It came as a complete surprise to me; I'd not seen attributed arms for Goliath before. And what a great, and simple, coat of arms it is, too! Very much Germanic in style, with the crest on the helmet matching the charges on the shield. Goliath of Gath! Who knew?