Lighting Ancestral Lamps

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CHAPTER III

Background - Forbearers in England

At any rate, a bit of romantic history relating to customs, traditions, and the chivalry of the knights of old are included. After reading these glamorous accounts of the middle ages, one might superficially long to have lived in the misty past. But digging deeper, all soon realize that gigantic and almost unbelievable progress over the centuries has lifted man from the depths, even though he belonged to a select class, to a fairly high plane in life. In medieval times much strife, quarreling and warring were common. All yielded to desires of the church and state. Poverty was common everywhere. There were few conveniences. Superstition and suspicion were rampant, and lack of training and opportunity existed everywhere.

Nevertheless, the romances of the ages have at least been partially preserved over the centuries through many proud customs as yet in vogue. The romantic tradition of the English people has also been preserved through the careful recording of the ancestral Coat of Arms. The latter is elaborated on in this discourse.

The coat of Arms was devised in remote days of chivalry, borne by armed knights in tournaments and in ancient battlefields, cherished by illustrious forbearers of ages past, and handed down from generation to generation as a sacred emblem of family honor. The Coat of Arms is an object of pride and distinction for its possessor today and an heirloom which generations of his descendants still treasure.

Since armorial bearings are hereditary, American descendants of British and Continental families have the unquestionable right to use the arms borne by their ancestors. Moreover, such Coats of Arms are as vital a part of one's genealogical record as the names of the ancestors who bore them. With the growing consciousness of the "family tree" and the increasing interest among Americans, the kinder subject of heralding. "The science of the Coat of arms" is now receiving much attention.

1. What is heralding?

Heralding springs from the devices boldly painted in bright colors, which knights in the first half of the twelfth century began to bear on their shields to identify themselves in tournament and battle. Passing from father to son, these designs came to be thought of more as family than purely personal possessions. Thus, they became matters of family pride and social importance. Their form and use were reduced to a system; spreading from martial to civil uses and users. To understand these, it is important to look at the changing background against which they took place.

2. The History of Armorial Bearings.

True heralding, in the sense of systematized science of hereditary armorial bearings, dates from the early twelfth century. There is no record of the use of such bearings during the First Crusade in 1096. They were extremely rare during the Second Crusade in 1147. But by 1189 a number of the shields borne in the Third Crusade were emblazoned; and the great seal of Richard the Lion-Hearted in the same year, shows his shield charged with a lion rampant.

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Cover | Contents | Forward | Intro | Orgins | England | Crest | First | Interlude | Benjamin 1

Benjamin | Hyatts | Hyatt1 | Hazard | Perry | William | HM Bunn | Index