Monday, December 11, 2017

Royal Heraldry in St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow is a substantial edifice, and so it is not surprising to find examples of the Royal Arms there.

For example, the Royal Arms of Scotland;

On a panel behind the altar;

Another on a ceiling boss;

 And even in one of the needlework tapestries which depict events from the history of the church.

There are also the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom as used in Scotland:

Again, from a panel behind the main altar;

And a Hanoverian carved achievement of arms (King George I and/or II) mounted on some of the stonework.

There is even, in another one of the needlework tapestries there, the Arms of the United Kingdom under the Commonwealth.

The arms depicted are, of course, Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent a cross gules (for England); 2, Azure a saltire argent (for Scotland); and 4, Azure a harp or (for Ireland), on an inescutcheon of pretense, Sable a lion rampant argent armed and langued gules. (This last is the arms of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Nothing quite like saying, "Yeah, that's me. I'm the boss" heraldically.)

It was really nice to be able to see some of the historical, as well as the current, Royal Arms in the church.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Another Saint, and the Arms of an Earl

In the third panel of the stained glass window at St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow, Scotland that I've been sharing with you, above the lower portion of King David I and his attributed arms, is the figure of St. Bridget.

Above her head is a knight on horseback, bearing a banner with fleurs-de-lis and whose pauldron (shoulder armor) marks him as a Crusader (Argent a cross gules). But especially, he carries a shield with the well-known arms of Douglas: Argent a heart gules on a chief azure three mullets argent.

I suspect that this is meant to be "Good Sir James" Douglas, who was slain in August 1330 fighting under King Alfonso XI of Castile against the Muslims of the Kingdom of Granada, carrying the heart of Robert Bruce as a token of Bruce's unfulfilled ambition to go on crusade.

According to John Barbour's description of Douglas' last battle, when the enemy broke, Sir James and his companions followed hard behind. Having outstripped most of his men in the pursuit, Douglas suddenly found himself far out in front with only a few of his followers around him. As he rode back to rejoin the main body, he saw Sir William St. Clair of Rosslyn surrounded by a body of Moors who, seizing their opportunity, had quickly rallied and counterattacked. With the few knights who were with him, Douglas turned aside to attempt a rescue but, outnumbered twenty to one, the group was overrun. It has become a popular legend that Douglas then took from his neck the silver casket which contained the heart of Bruce and threw it before him among the enemy, saying, "Now pass thou onward as thou wert wont, and Douglas will follow thee or die." (Alas, this story seems to be a 16th-century addition to Barbour's poem.)

By 1333 Bruce's heart was incorporated in the arms of Sir James' son, William, Lord of Douglas, and it has been a prominent part, sometimes with a golden crown, of the family's arms ever since.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Saintly Coat of Arms

In the large four-panel stained glass window in St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow, Scotland, which I showed you in my last post, one panel was dedicated to the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew.

In addition to being shown with his cross, above his head is a shield Azure a saltire argent, which in flag form is probably the premier emblem of Scotland's people. (The arms with the red lion within a double tressure flory counter-flory is the emblem of the King or Queen of Scotland.)

The arms, as a symbol of Scotland, are also found elsewhere in St. Michael's Church, on a panel behind the altar;

and on one of the ceiling bosses.

Why, yes, I did almost get a dizzying  case of vertigo taking this picture. Why do you ask? All I can say is, "Thank goodness for a good telephoto lens!