Thursday, April 20, 2023

It actually isn't all that frequent, even in England, that you run across a statue of a Tudor man, dressed in his finery, along with a depiction of his coat of arms and crest. But that is in fact one of the displays of heraldry that I ran across in Cambridge.

The statue is that of Sir Thomas Gresham (1518/19-1579), an English merchant and financier who acted on behalf of King Edward VI and Edward's half-sisters, Queens Mary and Elizabeth. Gresham was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, whose arms we have reviewed recently. He later trained as a lawyer. And in 1565 he founded the Royal Exchange in the City of London. All in all, a man of means and influence.

And below his statue we find his arms and crest:

The Gresham arms are blazoned: Argent a chevron ermines* between three mullets pierced sable. The crest is: On a mount of grass vert a grasshopper or.

There are also, apparently, two statues of him in London which I discovered in researching his life, but this is the only of the three that I can find that also includes his coat of arms and crest.

* Sometimes, more especially in continental Europe, we find ermines, that is, a black field with white ermine spots, blazoned as counter-ermine, because (1) it is simply a counterchange or reversal of the usual tinctures of ermine, and (2) because it is very easy to mistake the word ermines for the word ermine, or even, sometimes, erminites. (Erminites is the same as ermine, but with two red hairs in each ermine spot. After all, how much fun can it be if you can't multiply minor variations of an heraldic fur and give each of these variants their very own, but also similar, names? Asking for a friend.)

No comments:

Post a Comment