Heraldry in the 17th and 18th centuries Part 1
"So may you lose your arms;
If you strike me you are no gentleman;
And if no gentleman, why then no arms"
To which Petruchio replies, “ A Herald, Kate? Oh put me in thy books” William Shakespeare was more than willing to be put in the Heralds’ books. In 1599 arms were granted to William Shakespeare by the College of Arms. He had petitioned in 1596 for a coat of arms to be assigned to his father John, and the draft of the grant is dated 20 October 1596. The Arms granted were; or on a bend sable a speare or,steeled argent. ( On a field of gold, a black diagonal line with a spear with a gold handle and silver blade). Shakespeare’s interest in the matter may have been stirred by the possession of Arms on the part of his mother’s family. The Arden’s, which still exists in the male line to this day and is one of the very few English families that can be traced back prior to the Norman Conquest. Dethick, from the College of Arms, who granted arms to Shakespeare was criticized by his peers for the type of people to whom he granted Arms. Theater artists were not rated very highly in the Tudor period and for one of them to become a gentleman was not viewed favorably by many. There are large numbers of allusions to Heraldry throughout Shakespeare’s work.