Lighting Ancestral Lamps

Page 13


Background - Forbearers in England

fee. (It was an inherited right in that era to lead this man and the duty to follow that man to war) But in becoming hereditary and linking itself to feudal status and service, it inevitably became a symbol not of the owners identity only, but also of his status. It was knights, not their followers, who needed to be distinguished by shields and Coats of Arms. Therefore, arms in their military aspect became in practice, a mark of knightly status.

But eventually, Coats of Arms became so numerous that confusion resulted from the unrestrained adoption or alteration of arms and from the practice of the feudal lords of allowing favorite followers to use their bearings. Early in the fifteenth century a proclamation of Henry V prohibited, thereafter, in England the assumption of arms except by inheritance of a grant from the Crown.

3. The Complete Coat of Arms.

The complete composition of a Coat of Arms includes the shield of arms, the helmet, the crest, the wreath, the mantling, and the motto. The Shield on which is displayed the armorial device, is the most important part of the composition. It represents the old knightly shield any may vary in shape according to the taste of the artist. The He1met derived like the shield from the defensive armor of the knight, is placed above the shield. It may be used even though the Coat of Arms includes no crest. The Crest, principal accessory of the shield of arms, surmounts the helmet. Like the shield and helmet, it has its origin in the accouterment of the knight who wore on his helmet as a special mark of distinction, an ornament of painted wood, metal, or leather. A Wreath of twisted silk, usually of two colors, was commonly worn on the knight's helmet, surrounding the base of the crest. In heralding, the wreath appears between the helmet and the crest as a support for the crest. It is sometimes replaced by a comer-a-chapeau. The Mantling, originally two pennant-like strips of silk attached to the top of the helmet, has in heralding taken the form of an intricate, conventionalized, scrollwork flowing down on both sides of the shield. It is generally believed that the mantling originated during the Crusade as a protection for the helmet from the sun and weather and that the artist's scrollwork represents the shredding of the cloth by enemy swords. The Motto, which is inscribed in a scroll placed either above or below the shield, is not an essential part of the composition. It is not necessarily hereditary and may be changed at will. Many of the oldest coats of Arms included neither Crest nor Motto.

4. The Significance of Heralding Today.

At the present time, many Americans are showing a greater interest than ever before in family history, genealogical research, and the intimately related subject of heralding. Genealogy and heralding are now largely ignored only by those who have no ancestors of whom they can be proud. Love of ancestry is certainly deep rooted in man's nature. Pride of ancestry is certainly an admirable trait that contributes to healthy self respect and a stirring ambition to add new honors to the family name. The thoughtful American of today takes sincere pride in a long line of distinguished descent and in the heraldic emblems which testify to the bravery, the achievement, and the honor of his forbearers.

Proud was he of his name and race,
Of Old Sir William and Sir Hugh,
And in the parlor, full in view,
His Coat-of-Arms well framed and glazen,
Upon the wall in color blazed.

-- Longfellow

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

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