Heraldry and The Crusades Part 6
The crescent was not the only heraldic symbol that has survived from the crusades. Other notable charges dating from the time of the crusades are the escallop shell and the water bouget, it does not however follow that every family that bore such emblem s on their Coats of Arms have an ancestor that took part in the crusades, as these charges passed into general heraldic use, and were adopted by many men whose forefathers never traveled to the Holy Land. The “escallop shell of quiet” was an emblem of pilgrimage. Assigned as a badge to St. James, patron saint of pilgrims, with reference to his original occupation as a fisherman, it was worn by those who made pilgrimages not only to the Holy Land but to the famous shrines in England and other European countries. From its use on garments to its appearance in armorial shields was a natural step, and the shell became a familiar heraldic charge from an early date. WATER BOUGET
A number of Coats of Arms, which contain escallop shells, clearly refer to the crusades. The family of Villiers have borne a silver shield with a red cross, and theron five gold escallops, since Sir Richard Villiers took part in the crusade of Prince Edward. He relinquished his old Arms; Sable three cinquefoils argent, derived from the cinquefoil of his feudal lord, the Earl of Leicester, for the newer one combining the emblems of St. George and St. James. A more famous bearer of these Arms was Villiers de L’Isle-Aadam, the last Grand Master of the Knights of St. John of Rhodes, who led the heroic defense of Rhodes against the forces of Soliman the Magnificent in 1522. A cross and three escallop shells appear in the Arms of John Kendal, Prior of the English Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in 1480 and commander of the cavalry protecting pilgrims from the Turks. The family of D’Acre supposedly took their name from an ancestor who distinguished himself at the siege of Acre. Their Coat of Arms is a red background with three escallop shells in silver, Gules three escallops argent.
The water bouget, a pair of leather bottles borne on a staff over the shoulder , was a very important object to armies in the deserts of the Middle East, and naturally finds a place in the Heraldry of the crusades. It appears in the Arms of Roos, who derived it from their kinsmen, the Trusbuts; and the three bougets-trois boutz- in the shield of the latter family are clearly a pun on their name. The three blue water bougets on a gold field , Or three water bougets azure, of the Bouchiers may have denoted some ancestor’s part on a crusade, especially as their crest is a Saracen king’s head. But here again we can trace it to a pun on the name, as the family name variously appears as Bucy, Boues, and Bouser, suggesting the old word for drink.
Heraldry and the Crusades Part 5, The Seals of Richard I
THE SEAL OF RICHARD I
The two seals of Richard the Lionheart contain emblems that have a special connection to the Crusades. The first seal contains two crescent moons, each surmounted by a star-shaped object. The crescent moon referred to King Richard’s vocation as a crusader. It was the ancient symbol of Byzantium, connected with its presiding goddess, who had saved the city from a night assault by Philip of Macedonia by making the moon shine with unexpected brilliance. TURKEY NATIONAL ARMS
A popular theory holds that the badge on Richard’s seal represents the Star of Bethlehem in ascendancy over the half-moon of the infidel is false, as the crescent was not yet the symbol of the Turks. The medieval writer , Geoffrey de Vinsauf, commenting on King Richard’s appearance at Cyprus noted “He was clothed in a vest of rose-coloured stuff ornamented with rows of crescents of solid silver, like orbs of the sun shining in thick profusion.” On Richard’s second seal the sun accompanies the moon and this leads some commentators to surmise that the celestial body above the crescent moon on the first seal also represents the sun.
If the sun was a badge of Richard I , the “sunburst” badge of Edward III and the “sun in splendor” of Richard II may have been a revival of what they knew to have been a royal emblem. Kings John and Henry III also used the star and crescent moon badge; they used the cross for policy reasons but never fulfilled their crusader vows. It also appears on the seal of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, an ally of Henry III. It also forms the Coat of Arms of Portsmouth, which received its first charter from Richard I, and appears in the shield of Dartmouth as this was the port that the crusading ships set sail from. Seized from the Christians by the Turks in the 15th century the star and crescent badge has been the Muslim emblem ever since. When it appeared on the medal presented by the Sultan in 1801 to English officers who had taken part in the Egyptian campaign, the descendants of the crusaders received a Christian emblem at the hands of the Infidel. In 1927 Turkey devised a Coat of Arms to replace those of the Sultanate. The star and crescent were retained and set upon a red shield above the white wolf of the Turks standing on a lance. The wolf totem recalls dark ages when the Turks were wandering in a tribal state in Central Asia. Legend tells that a white wolf appeared to guide the people across precipitous mountains to the more fertile lands to the West. The Coat of Arms are intended to point to Turkey’s westward conquest, and the resurrection of her old national spirit.
Heraldry and the Crusades part 4, Richard the Lionheart
Islington, a borough of North London, recalls in its Coat of Arms its ancient association with the crusaders through the Knights of St. John, who once held the manor of Highbury, the gold cross potent on a red field in the first quarter of the borough shield being taken from that of the Arms of Jerusalem. Hackney’s Arms include a quartering divided horizontally in black and white ( like the Templars’ banner) and containing an eight pointed cross, white on the black half of the ground and red on the white half, in token that the Manor was once held by the Templars, and afterward by the Hospitallers. The nails of the Cross also appear in early Heraldry. The Anstruthers explain their three black piles on silver field as a conventional representation of Passion nails, Henry, Lord Anstruther accompanied St. Louis to the Holy Land on the early crusades. ARMS OF RICHARD THE LIONHEART
Contemporary writers compared the crusader King, Richard I, to a lion. Richard of Devizes said of him that “he raged like the fiercest lion, and vented his anger in a manner worthy that noble beast.” Passages of writing such as this, as well as his famous nickname Coeur-de-Lion, have reference to the King’s habitual use of a lion as a badge or banner; though the name has the usual explanatory fable which tells how Richard, being attacked by a lion, tore out with his hands the royal beast’s heart.
The first Great Seal of Richard, used during the crusading period of his reign, represents him with a single rampant lion on his shield. But as the lion faces the center of the shield, of which only half is visible, there has been conjecture that there was another lion on the hidden half, and consequently Richard I has been credited with the Arms of two gold lions combatant ( facing each other fighting) on a red field. There is strong evidence to suggest that Henry II bore two lions on his Coat of Arms; we know with certainty that his son John bore two lions; and the evidence is in favor of the theory that in the earlier part of his career Richard also bore two lions. The fact that Richard’s lions are “rampant combatant” while John’s are “passant reguardant” supports this view as the brothers would naturally have borne their paternal lions in different attitudes so that their Arms would be different. On his return from the crusade, Richard adopted the three lions “passant guardant” as his Coat of Arms and these have been the Royal Arms of England ever since and hold the premier place in the Regent’s shield. Richard embodied these Arms in a new Great Seal and obtained considerable sums of money from his subjects by requiring all existing charters to be confirmed under the new seal.
Heraldry and the Crusades part 3, The Arms of Jerusalem
QUEENS COLLEGE ARMS
No Coat of Arms from the time of the Crusades are more reverently regarded than those of the crusader’s Kingdom of Jerusalem, which consists of five crosses. The central one is a large cross ‘potent”, or crutch shaped, and it is surrounded by four small plain crosses, one in each corner of the shield. All crosses are gold upon a silver shield which is one of the rare exceptions to the rule in Heraldry whereby a metal object may not lay upon a metal field in the Coat of Arms. It is thought that the violation was intentional due to the specials sacredness of the Arms of Jerusalem. There are various schools of thought as to the meaning of the Arms of Jerusalem, some writers see in the form of the central cross a combination of the letters ‘I” and “H” standing for Iesus (Jesus) and Hierusalem (Jerusalem). The number of crosses has also been thought to represent the Five Wounds of Christ; but the most probable theory is that the crosses symbolize the Savior, Jesus and the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The reference to Jerusalem in the Psalms may have been the reason for the metal upon metal design of the Coat of Arms:
“Though ye have lien among the pots
Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove
Covered with silver and her feathers with gold”
To modern minds this may seem like a stretch however it must be remembered that in the Middle Ages much importance was attached to the prophetic interpretations of the scriptures; and it may well be that the designers of the Arms of Jerusalem had this text in mind, and felt they were assisting in its fulfillment.
ARMS OF JERUSALEM
SEE OF LICHFIELD ARMS
The close resemblance between the Arms of Jerusalem and those of the See of Lichfield are too close to be merely a coincidence. In the Lichfield Arms the central cross is squared at the center, and the four small crosses are of the form known as “paty”. The field is divided vertically in red and silver, and the crosses are counterchanges, silver on the red background and red on the silver background. An early Bishop of Lichfield is believed to have assumed this Coat of Arms after a journey to Jerusalem; but as the patron of the Cathedral is St. Chad ( a 7th century Bishop of Mercia), the Arms have come to be incorrectly associated with him.
They were deflected still further from their true significance when they became the basis of the Arms of the family of Chad, baronets from the 18th century. The Arms of Jerusalem are quartered in the shield of Queens’ College Cambridge, founded by Henry VI’s Queen, Margaret of Anjou, daughter of the landless King of Naples and Jerusalem; and the Arms of Lichfield have been embodied in the shields of Selwyn College, Cambridge; Denstone College, Derbyshire and other foundations linked in some way with the Diocese of Lichfield.
Heraldry and the Crusades Part 2
The Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III, under the patronage of St. George. At the time it was written that he ‘appoynted his Souldiers to wear white coats or jackets, with a red crosse before and behinde over their armour, …” and “it was not only a comely but a stately sight to behold the English battles, like the rising sunne, to glitter far off in that pure hew; when the souldiers of other nations in their baser weedes could not be discerned” ( Speed). So for many years the red cross remained the uniform of the English armies, and even after it ceased to be used the soldiers continued to wear its martial red until the vagaries of warfare compelled them to don “baser weedes” which “could not be discerned”. Richard II invaded Scotland in 1386 and he commanded his followers to bear “ a sign of the Arms of St. George, large, bothe before and behynde, lest he be slain in default thereof by his own party; and that non enemy do bere the same token or crosse of St. George, notwithstanding if he be prisoner upon payne of deth.”Many families that have crosses in their shields claim that they signify an ancestor’s participation in one of the crusades. The writer Camden tells us that “the Lord Barkleys, who bare first Gules a Chevron Argent, after one of them had taken upon him the cross ,… to serve in those wars, inserted ten crosses ‘paty’ in his shield”.
Several of the crusading military orders adopted an eight-pointed cross, each point supposedly standing for on of the Beatitudes ( Blessings from Jesus supposedly given at the service on the mount). The Knights Templar bore the cross red on white the Hospitallers white on black. The red eight-pointed cross with the motto Sic Deus Vult ( For the greater glory of God) is still used by the Order of the Crusaders, a twentieth century revival of the orders of chivalry, which waged the “Tenth Crusade” against class hatred and social evils in Great Britain and the British Empire. The cross of the Hospitallers survives to this day as the badge of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, which assigns significance to each of the points, namely, Observation, Tact, Resource, Dexterity, Explicitness, Discrimination, Perseverence and Sympathy- essential qualities in ambulance work.
KNIGHTS TEMPLAR CRUSADE
Heraldry and the Crusades Part 1
SIEGE OF ANTIOCH, 1ST CRUSADE
“ Then might you have seen many a banner and pennon of various forms floating in the breeze ……. Helmets with crests, brilliant with jewels, and shining mails, and shields, emblazoned with lions, or flying dragons in gold.”
-- Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Itinerary of Richard I
The Crusades were a series of military campaigns during the time of Medieval England against the Muslims of the Middle East. In 1076, the Muslims had captured Jerusalem - the most holy of holy places for Christians. Jesus had been born in nearby Bethlehem and Jesus had spent most of his life in Jerusalem. He was crucified on Calvary Hill, also in Jerusalem. There was no more important place on Earth than Jerusalem for a true Christian which is why Christians called Jerusalem the "City of God". However, Jerusalem was also extremely important for the Muslims as Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim faith, had been there and there was great joy in the Muslim world when Jerusalem was captured. A beautiful dome - called the Dome of the Rock - was built on the rock where Muhammad was said to have sat and prayed and it was so holy that no Muslim was allowed to tread on the rock or touch it when visiting the Dome.Therefore the Christian fought to get Jerusalem back while the Muslims fought to keep Jerusalem. These wars were to last nearly 200 years. Heraldry played an important role in the Crusades.
Although we can trace the beginnings of Heraldry to a period prior to King Richard’s First Crusade, it was during that great adventure that the need for a developed system of armory became apparent, and the Heraldic emblems and nomenclature of the Middle Ages bear many traces of impressions left by the later Holy Wars. The impetus, which Richard’s expedition gave to Heraldry, is seen when a comparison is made between the Coats of Arms in use before the crusade and those in the Roll of Arms compiled later in the reign of Henry III. There are certain ubiquities in 12th century Coat of Arms, mainly due to the frequent repetitive use of only a small number of charges that were grouped and colored differently in order to produce differing Coats of Arms. The heraldic ordinaries, or charges, which consisted of birds and beasts, and common objects which served as a pun on the bearers name were the full range of arrows in the Herald’s quiver. But the Crusades gave birth to many new heraldic figures. The enrichment of Heraldry at this time is typical of the manner in which the ideas of Western Europe in art, science and philosophy were broadened through contact with the more ancient culture of the East.
Foremost amongst the emblems of the Holy Wars was the cross. Every man of the Christian armies, like Spenser’s knight St. George in his epic poem “ The Faerie Queene”
“Upon his breast a bloody Cross he bore, POPE URBAN II PREACHING THE 1ST CRUSADE IN 1095
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead, as living, ever Him ador’d;
Upon his shield the like was also scor’d”
Pope Urban II, the preacher of the First Crusade, decreed this practice at the council of Clermont in 1095. “The Cross of Christ,” he told the crusaders, “ is the symbol of your salvation. Wear it, a red, a bloody cross, on your breast and shoulders, as a token that His help will never fail you; as the pledge of a vow which can never be recalled.” His words echoed those of St. Olaf, who 60 years previously had ordered his men to paint the Holy Cross on their shields before their encounter with the pagan forces of Scandinavia. The color of the cross was later varied to distinguish the soldiers of one country from those of another.
In the Third Crusade the red cross was appropriated by the French forces, while the English displayed a white cross and the Flemish green crosses. But when the English adopted St. George as their patron saint they made his red cross their own, and in this ancient crusading device we see the beginnings of the English national flag, the Union Jack.
Castle of the week, Himeji Castle, Japan
Himeji Castle, also called Shirasagijo (White Heron Castle) due to its white outer walls, is one of the best-preserved castle in Japan. It is located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture and comprises 82 wooden buildings. Unlike many other Japanese castles, Himeji Castle was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes or fires and survives in its original form. Himeji serves as an excellent example of the prototypical Japanese castle, containing many of the defensive and architectural features most associated with Japanese castles. The tall stone foundations, whitewash walls, and organization of the buildings within the complex are standard elements of any Japanese castle, and the site also features many other examples of typical castle design, including gun emplacements and stone-dropping holes. Himeji Castle was originally built in 1346 by Akamatsu Sadanori as a fortification against local shoguns. After the emperor, Nobunaga Oda, took control of the Harima district in 1577, he placed Hideyoshi in control of the castle, who converted the fortified building into a castle with over 30 turrets.
In 1601, Ikeda Terumasa (1564-1613) was handed control of Himeji Castle as a gift for his support of Ieyasu Tokugawa in the Sekigahara battle against the Toyotomi Daimyo. He intended to model the castle after the emperor's own castle at Azuchi. He undertook a nine year construction program, at the end of which Himeji Castle assumed its present day form. The area which Terumasa ruled over, the districts of Harima, Bizen, and Awaji, was filled with sympathizers of the Toyotomi clan. Thus Himeji Castle played a crucial role in enabling Terumasa to assert his rule over the districts.
Some historians believe over 25,000,000 man days were spent on the construction of the castle, which included a five-storied tenshu and a middle and outer moat. Materials from Hideyoshi's old fortress were used in the construction of the castle which was ironically used to prevent Hideyoshi's son from communicating with the lords in the west. Several families took control of the castle after Terumasa, including the Honda, Okudaira, Matsudaira, Sakakibara, and Sakai. One of Himeji's most important defensive elements, and perhaps its most famous, is the confusing maze of paths leading to the main keep. The gates, baileys, and outer walls of the complex are organized so as to cause an approaching force to travel in a spiral pattern around the castle on their way into the keep, facing many dead ends. This allowed the intruders to be watched and fired upon from the keep during their entire approach. However, Himeji was never attacked in this manner, and so the system remains untested.
Himeji Castle is a hill castle located on the Harima plain. Actually the main complex, which consists of one main donjon and three secondary ones, is located on two hills. The main tower, almost 150 feet tall, is located on one hill and the western tower is located on the other. The size of the entire complex is 140 meters on the east-west axis and 125 meters on the north-south axis. The main tower is connected by corridors and passages (wateriyagura) to the other three towers, forming an inner court. At the base of the main tower once stood a palace, which was later destroyed by fire.
In the southeast corner of the court is an area called harakiri-maru, which was where a samurai would commit suicide. The main donjon consists of seven floors, five of which are visible. The tower is strengthened by two wood columns that run from the fifteen meter stone foundation to the roof. The eastern and western towers consists of four floors, three of which are visible. The northwestern tower has five floors, only three of which are visible from outside. In addition to the main complex there are several other buildings at Himeji Castle, which are serve as residences and storehouses. These buildings are enclosed by the the middle and outer moat, as well as stone walls. These buildings are also connected to one another by corridors and passages. The design of Himeji Castle is that of a spiral with the main complex located in the center, which the remaining buildings surround and protect. In 1992 Himeji Castle was recognized by UNESCO as a building of world significance and was added to the World Heritage list. Himeji Castle is an excellent example of traditional wooden architecture and its stone walls with their white plastered walls have been well maintained.
Heraldic Tabards and Surcoats PURSUIVANT TABARD
Today only English and Scottish Heraldic officers wear official ceremonial dress. On British state occasions, such as coronations, the officers of Arms wear their full heraldic regalia of tabard and knee breeches and carry their staffs of office, continuing a tradition that was begun 800 years ago. In most other European countries the tradition of wearing ceremonial garb ceased after World War I. In the 12th and 13th centuries, when the Herald acted as a messenger or envoy, he would have worn the lord’s own tabard, or short surcoat, as a mark of favour and acknowledgement of the special relationship between a lord and his herald. Wearing his Lord’s armorial tabard clearly indicated that he had his master’s favor and protection and indeed spoke with his master’s voice. The tabard of the time was constructed of several layers of cloth cut in the form of a “T”. The front and back panels and both sleeves were embroidered with the Coat of Arms of the master. Examples of surcoats and tabards emblazoned with Coats of Arms are found in illuminated manuscripts and tombs from as early as the 13th century. By the middle of the 14th century the surcoat had given way to the later period armorial jupon.
A pursuivant (junior heraldic officer) was singled out from officers of Arms of higher rank by wearing his tabard “athwart”: the shorter panels designed to fit over the arms were worn over the chest and back, with the longer panels over the arms. In England this practice occurred from the 15th until the late 17th century; and it was customary for the tabard to be fitted in this way by the Earl Marshal when the pursuivant was admitted to the office. If the pursuivant was later promoted to the rank of Herald, the tabard was turned around to its more normal position.Heralds would wear the tabard of a lord other than their own on certain occasions, for example during funerals of the major nobility when they would wear tabards bearing the Coat of Arms of the deceased lord. Also at tournaments they would have their tabards decorated with shields of other knights and lords and judges who were present at the tournament. Beginning in the 16th century officers of Arms of different degrees- king of arms, herald, and pursuivant- each wore a tabard made from materials commensurate with their rank; in France each rank’s garment had a different name. This practice still occurs in England and Scotland where kings of arms wear velvet, heralds wear satin, and pursuivants wear silk damask tabards. The garments are very heavy and all officers need to be dressed by assistants for state occasions.
Tabard Royal Armouries Main Museum,Leeds
Castle of the week, Butrón Castle, Spain
Butrón Castle in the Basque region of Spain evokes romantic images of medieval Europe. The castle design is based on the German medieval fantasy style with cylindrical towers standing out in a setting among lush forests in the middle of the Basque country in Gatica located in the province of Vizcaya.
The original settlement on the site dates to the 11th century when a medieval tower was constructed on the old house of Butrón, founded by Captain Gamíniz. In the 13th century a tower house was constructed on the site, this eventually was transformed into a Castle in the 14th century by the fifth Lord of Butrón. The Castle was the site of non-stop bloody rivalries for the next few centuries, mainly between the two sides of Vizcaya’s nobility at the time. The Lords of Butrón used the Castle as their power base and ruled the surrounding area from this stronghold.
When the bloody fighting dissipated at the beginning of 16th century the castle was abandoned, as the Lords of Butrón’s need for a defensive castle had ceased, and it fell into disrepair and was left to decay until its restoration in the late 19th century, where it acquired its present appearance. The Marquis of Torrecilla, Don Narciso de Salabert y Pinedo commissioned the noted architect Francisco de Cubas, who in 1878 rebuilt it in a romantic style inspired by Gothic forms with cylindrical towers, turrets, and cubes based on the Castles of Bavaria, Germany.
The Castle was renovated in the second half of the 20th century. A decree on April 22nd 1949 brought the Castle under the protection of the Vizcaya Provincial Council as a Spanish Historical Heritage site. It was at one time opened to the public, however costs forced the closure of the Castle itself, however the castle grounds with its beautiful landscape and trees, which were carefully planted and is now a reserve for a variety of flora and fauna are open to the public.
BARONESS VON RIESENBURG COAT OF ARMS
European noblewomen began using the Coats of Arms of their fathers and husbands as early as the 13th century. Evidence of this can be found on seals that exist from this time period. The seals were often of an oval shape , similar to the seals of the church. The seals frequently showed the bearer, sometimes holding a shield in each hand. By the 15th century a complex system of marks and joining of Arms showed the viewer the status of the person whose Coat of Arms they were studying. Sons, daughters, wives and widows were all able to denote their place in the family unit and the family could also show its alliance with another family of noble status through the heraldic pedigree.
In Britain this was particularly true during the Stuart and Tudor periods, when the old nobility was increasingly on the defensive against merchants who were keen to acquire the trappings of gentility including Coats of Arms. The rules of Heraldry pertaining to marriages and alliances are many, complex and constantly evolving. New rulings were enacted in the late 20th century by the heraldic authorities in Canada and in the United Kingdom pertaining to the rights of daughters and married women’s rights to bear husbands and fathers Coats of Arms.
As a shield was originally an item of warfare and thus traditionally associated with men only it was considered inappropriate for women to present their Coats of Arms upon. Beginning in the Middle Ages the lozenge, a diamond shaped charge, came into use for ladies Arms. By the 15th century the diamond or lozenge had become the normal way to display a single woman’s Arms in Britain, France, Belgium and Holland and this practice continues to the present day. An unmarried woman uses her father’s Coat of Arms on the lozenge, sometimes accompanied by a blue bow and ribbon, which is a symbol of maidenhood. While a bachelor is entitled to bear the family Arms on a shield surmounted by helm, crest, and motto, in most heraldic traditions a woman, married or single, cannot bear the crest. In Germany an unmarried daughter can bear the shield of her father’s Coat of Arms surmounted by a wreath or torse. In Scotland a woman who is clan chief is entitled to bear the crest above the lozenge.
DUCHESS OF KENDAL COAT OF ARMS