Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Very Rare Medieval Seal Matrix Discovered

A recent (September 12, 2020) post on The History Blog remarks on the discovery (back in April 2019) of the silver armorial seal matrix dating back to the late 13th or early 14th Century.

The seal matrix is remarkable because its owner was a woman who is named in the inscription. As the post notes, seal matrices are not uncommon, but those with inscriptions naming a specific individual are more rare, ones that name a woman are "vanishingly rare", and those that are found in a context directly connected with the female owner "can be counted on the finger of one finger."

This particular seal matrix was discovered on the grounds of the Henley Business School in Hambledon, Buckinghamshire, and bears as its central motif a shield of Three garbs, two and one (that is, three bound sheaves of wheat, two in chief and one in base) surrounded by the legend: SIGILLUM * MAR * GERIE * PEVREL (the seal of Margerie Pevrel or Peverell).

The Henley Business School sits on what used to be the estate of Yewden Manor, owned by the Peverells from 1248 to the mid-1300s.

The Peverell coat of arms was Azure three garbs argent banded gules, often with a chief argent, which does not appear on the matrix here.

There are two strong possible identifications of the owner of this matrix. One is Margaret of Cornwall, the wife of James Peverell, d. 1349. The other is her granddaughter, Margaret Peverell, the daughter of Hugh Peverell IV, b. 1321. Both of them lived at Yewden Manor, where the matrix was found.

You can learn a little more about this rare find and see more pictures of the front, side, and back of the seal matrix, on The History Blog at:

Monday, September 21, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, The Final Part

This will be our final stops for the arms of the Geelhand and Ullens families, I promise!

For our first stop, we have yet another window donated to the Cathedral of Our Lady, in Antwerp, Belgium, by the same donors as the last two windows we have looked at: Jacob Ullens and his wife Clementia Geelhand.

That photo is not the best one, but the angle was a little weird, and was the best I could do to get as much of the window as possible.

This shot is a better view of the three central figures, St. Eligius (Eloi), St. Dympha, and St. Amand, between two rows of coats of arms that relate to them.

In the upper portion of the window, we have the arms of the two donors, Jacob Ullens and Clementia Geelhand, placed side-by-side, surmounted with a helm from which the crest of the Ullens, A garb or banded vert issues from the coronet of a marquis.

Of the coats of arms above the the three saints, we have, from left to right, the arms of:

Tornacum (Diocese of Tournai, Belgium, where St. Eligius (Eloi) was bishop, 641-660);
Ireland (where St. Dymphna was born in the 7th Century); and
Maastricht, The Netherlands (St. Amand was bishop of Maastricht, 647-650). 

Below the three saints, we have three more coats of arms relating this time to their deaths. From left to right we find the arms of:

Noviodunum (Noviodunum is a name of Celtic origin, meaning "new fort"), now Noyon, France (where St. Eligius died, December 1, 660);
Gheel, or Geel, Belgium (where St. Dymphna was martyred to protect her chastity in the 7th century); and
Tornacum, now Tournai, Belgium (St. Amand died in 679 in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near Tournai).

And now we go to our final photograph with the arms of Ullens and Geelhand:

This is, alas, another painted wooden panel underneath that row of windows with the sun shining in, and giving my digital camera a little sun flare that washes out the image a bit on the right.

Nonetheless, and as always, you can click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed one, in this row of four coats of arms, the first two on the left are essentially merchants marks, followed by Ullens (surmounted by a helm and the Ullens crest of A garb or banded vert, and Ullens impaling Geelhand. This last, being on a lozenge, is presumably for the wife of the Ullens in the third panel here.

Anyway, it's been fun, compiling - and sharing with you - all of the depictions of the coats of arms of these two significant Antwerp families. I can only hope that you have found it at least a little bit educational as well as entertaining.

Next time, somebody else!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, Part 3

This next window has the same donors (Jacob Ullens and Clementia Geelhand), designer (Edouard Didron), and year of installation (1872) as the last armorial window we looked at in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium.

In the main scene of the window, Saint Norbert restores the cult of the Blessed Sacrament in Antwerp. Although in about 1124 there was absolutely nothing like a Blessed Sacrament Procession, since the Counter-Reformation St. Norbert has been pictured with it as a defender of the Eucharist against the alleged heresy of Tanchelm. The immediate background to the procession is main porch of the cathedral and the late fifteenth century well attributed to Quentin Matsys. So it's a little anachronistic, but nonetheless conveys the location in the city of Antwerp well.

At the peak of the window, within an annulet inside of a five-lobed tracery, surmounted by the coronet of a marquis, we have two shields set side-by-side of the arms of Ullens and of Geelhand.

In a row beneath those two shields, we have the arms, from left to right, of: Cornelissen de Schooten (Per pale indented sable and or on a chief azure an escallop or between two lozenges argent), Ullens (which we have seen before), Geelhand (which we have seen before), and de Wael/de Wal (Argent three martlets sable). (I've not yet done the genealogical research to determine how these two families are related to the Ullens and the Geelhands, but I feel confident that they are.)

Anyway, it's a lovely window, and I just had to share it with you!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, Part 2

Our next armorial stained glass window doesn't have quite as much heraldry in it as the last one, but is well worth looking at on its own.

In the main scene of this window, created by Edouard Didron in 1872, Saint Amandus preaches in Antwerp. The pioneering missionary work of this Frank in Flanders, Brabant, and Maastricht took place in the 7th century, so in the images here there is no lack of anachronisms. In the background there is Saint Michael’s Abbey (founded only in 1124). The citizens’ clothes are 15th century, and an (early Medieval) missionary, even though he was a bishop, would never have walked around in his liturgical vestment, let alone a Gothic one. Flying from the castle are several flags, Gules a hand couped appaumy argent, which appear in the arms of the city and Margraviate of Antwerp. Flanking the tower of the castle are two shields, that on the left the arms of the Holy Roman Empire, Or a double-headed eagle displayed sable, and on the right quartered arms that may be Brabant and Flanders quarterly, Sable four lions rampant or. They are there, in any event, to make the location clear to the viewer.

Once again, you should click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed photo. There is a lot of detail in this window that you will miss if you only look at the smaller picture above.

The window has an inscription at the bottom which states that it is in the memory of Charles Geelhand, and was donated by Jacob Ullens and his wife Clementia Geelhand.

At the top of the window we see the achievement of arms of Geelhand, as well as the separated quarters of the arms of Ullens and Geelhand.

The shield of the Geelhand arms are surmounted by a barred helm with the crest A hand couped appaumy or between a pair of wings displayed argent. Beneath the shield is the Geelhand motto, Animo et fortitudine (Inspired and strengthened). Flanking the shield on each side is the coronet of a marquis.

The really fun part of this display of heraldry comes immediately below the coronets, where on the left you have the four quarters of the arms of Ullens, each on its own shield, and on the right, the four quarters of the arms of Geelhand, each on its own shield! (Here, too, you should click to see the larger image. It's a lot more impressive.)

This is not a form of armorial display that I recall seeing before (except perhaps in some memorial boards or hatchments where the arms of the various grandparents and great-grandparents are displayed), but I find it really attractive. Don't you?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, Part 1

Well, this may take a little longer than I had originally supposed. I've been looking in greater detail at the images I have from the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, and it looks like it's going to take more than two posts to review all of the photos with the arms of both the Geelhand and the Ullens families.

Now, you'll remember the arms of the Ullens family from our next to last post, and those of the Geelhand family from our last post. Now, we're going to look at those armorial stained glass windows and painted panels that contain the arms of both of those two families.

This stained glass window, designed by Pieter van der Ouderaa and executed by August Stalins and Alphonse Janssens in 1881, was a present of the Geelhand family to commemorate canon Christiaan Geelhand (died 1731). Underneath the traditional name saints, Saint Christian and Saint Louis, his motto is Animo et Fortitudine (Inspired and strengthened).

At the peak of the window, surmounted by a purple galero with three tassels on each side, are the arms of Christiaan Geelhand. (Note the tripartite division of the shield, as opposed to the later quarterings of the Geelhand family.)

The arms here are flanked on each side with a scroll containing his motto Animo et Fortitudine. Flanking those, are the arms of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Our Lady (which we have seen before), and the arms of the Margraviate of Antwerp (which we have seen many times before).

At the bottom of the window are two rows containing pairs of coats of arms (presumably representing married couples, relatives of the Canon. (Again, here I recommend clicking on the image above to see a larger and more detailed photograph of this part of the window.)

The top row, from left to right, has the heraldry of van Praet and Geelhand; and Geelhand and Guyot. (The arms of van Praet appear make up the third quarter of the arms of Geelhand everywhere but in the shield at the peak of this window. Presumably, that marriage is when the van Praet arms were brought into the family coat.)

In the bottom row, from left to right, we find the arms of: Moretus and Geelhand; Geelhand and Moretus; Robert and Geelhand; Ullens and Geelhand; Geelhand and de la Bistrate; and van der Werwe and Ullens.

What a beautiful and colorful way to memorialize not only an ancestor (canon Christiaan Geelhand), but his many relatives and their spouses.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Second of Two Families

In this post, we're going to look at the quartered arms of the other family whose arms are seen with those of the Ullens (the first family we looked in the previous post) in the windows of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp: the Geelhands.

In the center of this window, below the images of St. Eugenius, St. Mary, and St. Francisca Romana, surmounted by a coronet, we see the arms of van Delft impaling Geelhand. Seen better in the next photo is the van Delft motto on a scroll beneath the sheild: Fortiter et recta (Boldly and rightly).

Below those arms is an inscription noting the names of the donors, Baron Eugène Louis van Delft d’Eyssel and his wife, Françoise Marie Joséphine Geelhand de Merxem.

Eugène Louis van Delft d’Eyssel (1815-1877) was the son of Louis-Balthazar van Delft (1780-1853) and of Hélène van der Aa de Randerode (1784-1828).

He married Françoise Marie Joséphine Geelhand de Merxem (1799-1875), daughter of Henri Joseph Geelhand de Merxem (1760-1819) and Catherine Reine Constance Joséphine Mols (1766-1804). The couple remained childless.*

In the top row of shields, we have, from left to right: van Delft and van der Aa, the husband's parents; van Delft impaling Geelhand, the couple's marshaled arms; and Geelhand and Mols, the wife's parents. (Please note that the first two coats have their attributions reversed; van Delft is labeled van der Aa, and vice versa.)

In the bottom row of shields (which I can only assume are further relatives, perhaps the female grandparents of each of the couple)**, we can only see the two on the left: de Neuf and de Coninck. 

The two shields on the right are hidden from our view at this angle. Had I noticed that while I was still there, I would have tried to get a different angle, but I didn't, so we're stuck with this. 

* I could make some snark here about how the fact that they were childless perhaps helped them to have sufficient monies available to be able to donate this window to the cathedral, but that would be mean, and should be beneath me, so I'm not going to do it here.

** Louis-Balthazar van Delft's mother, the paternal grandmother of the window's donor, was Marie-Jacqueline van Neuf. I'm not certain about de Coninck. The genealogical records I can find on-line are not particularly helpful. It doesn't help that there are a lot of 18th Century van Delfts to try to keep sorted!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

A Tale of Two Families

Or, at least, the windows and paintings of the coats of arms of two families.

Today, we're going to review the stained glass windows and paintings memorializing one of these two families. Next time, we'll look at those of the other family. And following that, we'll look at those containing both families, which will probably take two posts, simply because of the sheer number of times their coats of arms appear together, sometimes in conjunction with, sometimes marshaled.

The first window we're going to look at contains quartered arms of the families of Ullens and Verbiest. This window was created by Hendrik de Coninck in 1708, and was repaired in 1867 by Jean-Baptiste Capronnier, but in a somewhat more austere version than most of the other windows in the Cathedral.

Although it was devoted to Henricus (Henrik, or Henry) Ullens, the caption mentions even more the merit of his uncle, Peter Verbiest. Thanks to the latter’s initiative the Blessed Sacrament could be taken to the ill at home, in the Fortnight’s Anointment of the Sick Procession. This was a triumphant parade, accompanied by six lantern bearers and four trumpet blowers into the bargain.

The Ullens arms would be blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent an eagle displayed sable beaked membered and crowned gules; 2 and 3, Argent a chevron gules between three garbs or.

The one other place in the Cathedral where I saw the Ullens arms without those of the other family we're going to look at next time was on a painted panel accompanying the arms of two different Popes.

(I apologize for the quality of this photograph; the sun was coming into the Cathedral from a window directly above this panel, and there is a lot of washing out from sunglare. Still, you can click on the image above to go to a larger version with more detail.)

The four coats of arms, from left to right, are: Popes: Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455),* Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), Ullens, and Ullens impaling Ullens (these being the arms of an Ullens woman - whose arms are placed on a lozenge shaped shield, with no helmet - who married an Ullens man).

* It is possible, of course, that these are simply meant to be the arms of the Papacy, and not those of any specific Pope.

Monday, August 31, 2020

More Civic Arms

Are you getting tired of all of these armorial stained glass windows yet? Never fear, we are nearing the end, and can then move on to other heraldry (e.g., some of the painted arms on the walls and fixtures of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp). But for now ...

Here we have two windows, neither of which has a lot of heraldry in it, but the four coats of arms that do appear there are civic coats. Three of them we have seen already, two of them many times in our heraldic tour of Antwerp, because they are the arms of the city.

For our first one, we see:

Right there in the center, between the two coats which consist of merchant marks, is the coat of arms of the City of Antwerp.

And in our next window, we find:

Here, in the center we have the arms of the Duchy of Brabant, flanked on the left by the arms of the City of Antwerp, and on the right by arms we have not yet seen in Antwerp, those of Brugge (Bruges), Belgium.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

I Know, I Know! I'm an Awful Person

Or at least, I've been informed that I am, because apparently I ruin some people's fun by telling them that something that they've done could have been better and more historically accurate without any more time and energy than they invested in doing it inaccurately. 

The people whose parade I am going to rain on today are a group of nine volunteers who back in 2014 in their village of Walkern, East Hertfordshire, England (population 1,541. Salute! as they used to say on the old American TV show Hee Haw), decided to create a tabard* to commemorate the village's link to Magna Carta in the person of William de Lanvalei. A worthy project, right?

But did they place the coat of arms of William de Lanvalei on the tabard? No, they did not.

The design of the tabard was "taken from elements on the newly designed Walkern flag." So, not especially historical, then, and no obvious connection to the Magna Carta.

I note also that instead of repeating the main coat of arms from the front (and back) of the tabard onto the sleeves, they opted for a half-circle sleeve of blue bordered with red on the right sleeve and red bordered with blue on the left. Generally, tabards display the arms on the front, back, and both sleeves, something like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Now, don't get me wrong. This tabard is a beautiful piece of work, and they put a lot of detail work into it. (Their post about the creation of the tabard, with plenty of photographs of its progress and those details, can be found on-line at

But wouldn't it have been better to have taken all of that time, money, and energy and created something that more clearly does what they said they wanted it to do? That is, to "commemorate the village's link to Magna Carta." I mean, it's not like we don't know what William de Lanvalei's coat of arms looked like:

William de Lanvalei III (d. 1217) was lord of Walkern, governor of Colchester Castle, and a Magna Carta surety, in addition to being related to several of the Magna Carta barons.

I mean, sure, ermine isn't a lot of fun to embroider. (Just ask my wife, who has done it before!) But wouldn't William's arms - Ermine two bars vert - on the front, back, and both sleeves of this tabard be a more historically accurate, as well as more historically meaningful, commemoration of "the village's link to Magna Carta"? Instead of putting all of that time, money and energy into a non-historical tabard "taken from elements on the newly designed [and thus, very modern] Walkern flag"?

But don't mind me. Apparently, I'm an awful person just trying to ruin people's fun by suggesting more historically accurate ways to do what they are trying to do.

* Tabard: A coarse sleeveless (or with short sleeves) garment worn as the outer dress as a surcoat over armor or by heralds acting on behalf of the person whose arms were emblazoned on the tabard.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Well, This Is Frustrating

This next window is a bit frustrating, in part because there is no inscription giving the name(s) of the donor(s), and in part because, as one site noted, "[t]he way their respective blazons were filled in ... is the result of misinterpretations."

The central figures in this window are Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. The window was restored by Jean-Baptist Capronnier in 1863. The central figures are flanked by the two donors, Cornelius and Agnes, whose given names are recognizable by their patron saints, who stand behind them. 

You might think that the presence of the coats of arms of the donors would make them easy to identify. But this is where the second part of the first paragraph above comes into play: "[t]he way their respective blazons were filled in ... is the result of misinterpretations." In other words, what you see may not be what was originally there, but the arms have been modified in unknown ways from what may have originally placed there. (This is a not uncommon phenomenon, where a painter or glazier comes in decades or even centuries later and misunderstands the often faded tinctures of the original, and miscolors the shield and/or charges on it.)

I found nothing in Rietstap's Armorial Général for the husband’s arms. The closest I could find in the Wapenboek van de Belgische Adel (a wonderful, and very colorful, and very thick - 887 pages! - ordinary of Belgian arms, which I refer to often when researching heraldry in the Low Countries) is that of de Wilmars: Gules a bend counter-compony argent and azure between two roses argent. So, a different color for the field, and a different color for half of the squares on the bend.

Rietstap gives 37 examples of Gules three crescents argent, several of whom might be Flemish. The Wapenboek van de Belgische Adel does not have this coat, but does have several instances of de Bailli: Azure three crescents or. Here, we have a different color of the field, and a different color of the crescents on it.

So, I don't know whose coats of arms these are, and neither, apparently, do any of the on-line sources I have used to help me better understand all of these stained glass windows in the Cathedral. If the donors wanted to remain anonymous, despite having placed their heraldry into the window, they have succeeded.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Two Saints, a Martyr, and Six Coats of Arms

Well, technically, two martyrs, only one of whom is a saint. So, two saints, two martyrs, in three individuals.

The three men, whose images are surmounted by the coats of arms of their respective orders, are, l-r:

St. John Berchmans, SJ (Dutch: Jan Berchmans), died 12 August 1621 in Rome, at the age of 22; 

Luis Flores, preacher, native of Antwerp, martyr of Japan, killed 19 August 1622; and

St. Francis of Roye, one of the Martyrs of Gorkum, a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics, secular & religious, who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle (or Den Briel) by militant Dutch Calvinists.

This detail showing the arms of their orders are, l-r: the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the Dominicans, and the Franciscans.

Below the figures of the three men we find six civic coats of arms:

There are two rows of three cities each:

In the top row, we find (l-r): Diest, Antwerp, and Brussels, all in Belgium (I assume these are their respective birthplaces). In the bottom row we have (also l-r): Rome, Italy, another city I haven't yet identified (but which is probably to represent the city in Japan where he was killed), and Gorkum, The Netherlands, where they died.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Guilds and More Guilds

The next window we're going to look at in our heraldic tour of the Cathedral of Our Lady is sometimes called "The Historic Window of the City of Antwerp." It is more properly called "Our Lady at the Stake" and was donated in 1878 by a prominent family that wished to remain anonymous. The legendary Our Lady at the stake can be recognized by the tree trunk (‘stake’) that bears the medieval statue of Mary.

At the peak of the window in the tracery we find: the Margraviate of Antwerp and the Dean of the Cathedral; below them we see the Margraviate of Antwerp and the Diocese of Antwerp; and below them a number of others, both civic and religious. 

Finally, framing the central scene are the arms, two by two, of a number of guilds, brotherhoods, and crafts, including, Capittel van O.L.V. (Onze-lieve-vrouwe = Our Lady), the Smiths, the Shipwrights, the Bakers, the Candlemakers, the Sawyers, the Barbers, the Coopers, and many more.

See how many you can recognize! (As always, you can click on an image above to see a larger, more detailed view, where you can also double-check to see if you guesses were correct!)

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Founding of a Guild

The next armorial stained glass window in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium that we're going to look at memorializes the founding of the Guild of Our Lady’s Praise in 1478.

This 1881 window was donated by a member of the Venerable Chapel, Petrus Heesmans, and his wife Eugenia Ceulemans, who, according to the caption, had a great devotion for Our Lady of Lourdes. The central panel of the window shows, in Saint-Joseph’s Chapel in the cathedral, the founders of the guild are blessed by a priest.

In the tracery at the top of the window, flanking the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, we find the arms of Lourdes, France (to the left) (blazoned in French as De gueules à trois tours d'or, maçonnées et ajourées de sable, celle du milieu plus élevée et sommée d'une aigle essorante contournée d'argent, tenant dans son bec une truite du même; à la champagne cousue d'azur chargée d'une chaîne de six montagnes d'or, posées sur une rivière d'azur, ondée d'argent mouvant de la pointe), and the City of Antwerp (to the right).

The central tableau framed by arms of noble families that used to be connected with the guild, with their names in scrolls underneath each shield.

Left column, top to bottom:                   Right column, top to bottom:

Jacob van Savoyen                                 Peter van Hennin
Philip van Brabant                                  van Rochefort
Jan van Bloys                                         Jan van Dinter
Walraven Draeck                                    Jan Colgensone, Jr.
Jan Colgensone                                      Adriaen van Delft
[not legible]                                           Jan Tiegelere
Jacob Mannaert                                      A. van Maugelaer

As always, you can click on one of the images here to go to a larger version to see more detail. And there is a lot of detail in this window to see!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Well, I Certainly Erred on That One!

At least the first time, anyway.

I guess that will teach me to take a cursory glance at a coat of arms and immediately decide I know what it is, without taking a closer look to be certain that I truly am seeing what is there. Here's the background:

A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a portion of a project that he's working on; specifically, black and white drawings of seven coats of arms. One of the coats was this one:

One of the first comments on the post was: "How is that tressure in the middle picture blazoned?"

I glanced at the photo (which was actually smaller on-screen than the image above, and thus slightly less distinct), and quickly wrote a reply: "It's a 'double tressure flory counter-flory', seen in a number of Scots arms, most especially the King of Scotland."

The poster responded, "I thought so but I was thrown off by the alternating flowers."

And I went, "alternating flowers? What alternating flowers?", and took a closer look at the image.

Imagine my surprise! Roses, and thistles, and fleurs, oh, my!

So I went searching through my Scottish and British armorials for “Hamilton-Gordon” (since the arms were labeled "John Hamilton-Gordon", and came up empty.

Then I had the bright idea to check one of my copies of Burke’s Peerage under the title, “Aberdeen and Tem…”, which turned out to be “Aberdeen and Temair,” where I found it! And, of course, an actual blazon for the tressure.

So I responded, a little more humbly and a lot less condescendingly, "You are correct; I had not looked closely enough to notice the thistles and roses alternating with the fleurs-de-lis. Checking my Burke's Peerage under 'Aberdeen and Temair,' the tressure is blazoned: 'a double tressure flowered counterflowered interchangeably with thistles, roses and fleur-de-lys."

(That said, I would have blazoned it as "thistles, roses and fleurs-de-lys" as being the "proper" plural of fleur-de-lys. But that in no way makes up for my earlier misidentification.)

So there you have it! I messed up, by not really looking at the picture to see what was there.

But as J.P. Brook-Little put it so well in his Introduction to An Heraldic Alphabet:

You can study heraldry until you are azure in the face but inevitably discover, from time to time, that you are really quite vert. I have found this over and over again and I have been a herald for forty years, but never despair, herein lies the fun and if heraldry ceases to be fun -- chuck it.

Monday, August 10, 2020

I Tried. I Really Did.

Honestly. But, alas, I only have so many hours in a day, and only so long that I can spend trying to identify coats of arms in a single window in a single cathedral in Europe. A place which is filled with many cathedrals, many of which have armorial stained glass windows, most of which have more - and sometimes far more - than one coat of arms in them.

Am I happy about this situation? No, I am not. I much prefer to be able to identify each and every shield in a window. (Because I have an emotional need to, that's why!) But pressing deadlines and other projects needing my attention mean that sometimes I just have to admit that I don't have the time to do that. So for today's entry in the heraldry to be found in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, I will have to be satisfied with those arms which I have been able to identify. (Some, of course, were easy, like the arms of Antwerp, which we have seen a number of times in recent posts here. Others, not so much.) Anyway, to continue:

The next armorial stained glass window we're going to look at has as its central theme The Last Supper. It was installed in the cathedral shortly after the 1566 Iconoclast Fury. It may be either a reconstruction or a re-interpretation of the original stained-glass window installed in 1503, and contains additions to the early Renaissance architectural background and the arms in the tracery added during a major restoration in 1870.

The commissioner of the window was Engelbert II of Nassau (1451-1504), the son of Jan IV of Nassau and his wife Maria of Loon-Heinsberg. He is portrayed, on his knees, wearing a tabard of his arms, in the lower front right, adding himself as a fourteenth figure to those of Christ and the Twelve Apostles.

The central scene is framed by the sixteen quarters of his coat of arms. In the original tracery were his personal blazon and his motto Se sera moy nassau. Now they are surrounded by the coats of arms of the counties and domains that he owned, with viscountcy of Antwerp, at the top.

From the top, and then moving down and going from left to right, we have the arms of (where I am uncertain of the attribution of a coat of arms, I have marked it with a question mark [?]):

Antwerp: The version we have seen several times before, with the hands in chief being displayed on banners issuing from the castle, and not placed directly on the field above it. 
Nassau: Azure billety a lion rampant or.
Vianden: Gules a fess argent. (Identical to Austria, but not Austria.)

?: Gules a fess argent overall an escarbuncle or.
Breda: Gules three saltires argent. (Englebert II is buried in the Grote Kerk in Breda.)
Diest: Argent two fesses sable.
?: Argent three chevrons azure.

Nassau and Vianden: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Azure billety a lion rampant or (Nassau); 2 and 3, Gules a fess argent (Vianden).

As mentioned above, framing the central scene on the left and right are the arms of Engelbert II's domains. (If you want to see better, more detailed images of any of the parts of this window, click on the image that you want above.) From the top center, they are:

Framing arms (left): 

Nassau (again)
Mark: Or a fess checky gules and argent.
Vianden (again)
Cleves?: Gules an inescutcheon argent overall an escarbuncle or.
Lek (Krimpen aan de Lek): Argent three crescents sable.
?: Gules crusilly argent two fish haurient addorsed or.
?: Or three (horseshoes inverted?) gules.
?: Argent a lion rampant gules.

Framing arms (right):
?: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Per pale barry or and gules, and Gules crusilly argent two fish haurient addorsed or; 2 and 3, Gules a lion rampant argent; overall an inescutcheon Sable a lion rampant or.
?: Or a lion rampant sable. (Is the field an error for Nispen: Argent a lion rampant sable crowned gules?)
?: Or in bend two lions rampant sable (or, Quarterly or and or?). 
England?: Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or.
?: Or a lion rampant azure.
?: Or a chief gules.
Roosendaal?: Argent a rose(?) gules(?).
?: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a chief gules; 2 and 3, Azure a wheel argent.

So, there you have it. A wonderfully armorial window, and a great way to show off your domains!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Heraldry: A Doorway into History

The next armorial stained glass window we're going to look at in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp is a lavish commemoration of a significant event in the city's history which was also a part of historical events on an even grander scale.

In this window, the central panel commemorates Alexander Farnese presenting the keys of the city to Our Lady.  On 27 August 1585, after he had reconquered Antwerp, Governor General Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma, went to the cathedral to assist at the sung Te Deum, as was the custom then when a new sovereign or governor took office. He also explicitly honored Mary "for the victory that she was to be thanked for," an important symbolic gesture, which showed that from then on Antwerp would adhere to Catholicism again. Pious tradition has wanted to give even more impact to this move by representing it as the presentation of the city keys.

The prelate wearing a miter, who represents the approval of the Church, can only be the abbot of Saint Michael’s Abbey, since the Antwerp bishop’s seat was vacant at that moment.

At the top of the window there are four coats of arms:

The one at the peak is, of course, the arms of the Margraviate of Antwerp, which we have seen a number of times before.

Directly below the arms of the Margraviate are those of Pope Sixtus VI (1585-1590) (Felice Peretti): Azure a lion rampant argent holding in its dexter forepaw a palm branch or overall on a bend gules mullet of eight points and a trimount couped argent.

To the right of the Pope's arms are those of the Diocese of Antwerp and Chapter of the Cathedral of Our Lady, which we have also seen a number of times already.

And to the left, topped by the coronet of a duke, and a collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, are the arms of Alexander Farnese (1545-1592), Duke of Parma. Sometimes blazoned as tierced in pale, a more concise way of blazoning these arms might be: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Or six fleurs-de-lis azure (Farnese); 2 and 3, Gules a fess argent (Louvain) impaling Bendy or and azure (Burgundy ancient), on a pale gules the Papal umbraculum surmounted by two keys in saltire wards to chief and outwards argent.

Framing the central panel are sixteen coats of arms: those on the left military (the top three have their arms encircled with the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece); and those on the right mostly ecclesiastical. (The bottom two have no ecclesiastical insignia, as the others on that side do.) The surname of the bearer of each coat of arms is written on a scroll beneath each shield. (You may click on the images here to see a larger, and more easily readable, version of each.)

But what of the "historical events on an even grander scale" does this window relate to? As it turns out, we are referring to the international events surrounding the sailing of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the proposed invasion of England. The plan was that the Duke of Parma's troops would cross the channel in barges, protected by the Armada. The Armada reached the area, but poor communication between Parma and the Armada's commander, Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia, made effective coordination difficult. Parma's troops were also threatened by the presence of Dutch forces in flyboats, who hoped to destroy the barges and drown Parma's army at sea. The English attack on the Armada in the Battle of Gravelines, followed by an unfavorable change in wind-direction, made link-up impossible. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Heraldry in the News!

Some of you may have seen this article already (I've seen it linked on at least two places on the internet that I frequent), but in case you haven't:

There's a very nice little article by Harry Wallop posted a few days ago entitled "What would be in your coat of arms? A heraldic designer reveals how the family emblems are created" includes portions of an interview with Adam Tuck, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms at the College of Arms in London. I particularly liked one quote: 

The main thing I say to people is that it needs to be elegant and simple. A lot of people have this idea that a coat of arms is a shield divided into four, like a cross, and you have a different theme in each corner like the Hogwarts crest. But that is not how English heraldry works.
And I would add, "That's not how pretty much any heraldry works."

Anyway, it's a fun little article to read, with some good points to remember and quite a bit of accurate information in it. Not to mention the two illustrations of heraldry: one of the College of Arms' herald painters drawing up Kate Middleton's coat of arms, and this little gem from the stern of the Royal barge Gloriana:

So please, head on over to the website of INews and spend a few minutes perusing an article about heraldry. You can find it on their webpage at: