The Manual of Heraldry; Fifth Edition by Anonymous


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Page 1

Heraldry is the science which teaches how to blazon or describe in
proper terms armorial bearings and their accessories.

Many volumes have been written on the origin of Heraldry and even on
the antiquity of separate charges contained in an escutcheon: it would
be filling the pages of an elementary work on Heraldry to little
purpose to enter upon an inquiry as to the exact period of the
introduction of an art that has existed in some degree in all
countries whose inhabitants have emerged from barbarism to
civilization. In all ages men have made use of figures of living
creatures, trees, flowers, and inanimate objects, as symbolical signs
to distinguish themselves in war, or denote the bravery and courage of
their chief or nation.

The allegorical designs emblazoned on the standards, shields, and
armour of the Greeks and Romans--the White Horse of the Saxons, the
Raven of the Danes, and the Lion of the Normans, may all be termed
heraldic devices; but according to the opinions of Camden, Spelman,
and other high authorities, hereditary arms of families were first
introduced at the commencement of the twelfth century. When numerous
armies engaged in the expeditions to the Holy Land, consisting of the
troops of twenty different nations, they were obliged to adopt some
ensign or mark in order to marshal the vassals under the banners
of the various leaders. The regulation of the symbols whereby the
Sovereigns and Lords of Europe should be distinguished, all of whom
were ardent in maintaining the honour of the several nations to which
they belonged, was a matter of great nicety, and it was properly
entrusted to the Heralds who invented signs of honour which could not
be construed into offence, and made general regulations for their
display on the banners and shields of the chiefs of the different
nations. The ornaments and regulations were sanctioned by the
sovereigns engaged in the Crusade, and hence the origin of the present
system of Heraldry, which prevails with trifling variations in every
kingdom of Europe.

The passion for military fame which prevailed at this period led to
the introduction of mock battles, called Tournaments. Here the Knights
appeared with the Heraldic honours conferred upon them for deeds of
prowess in actual battle. All were emulous of such distinctions. The
subordinate followers appeared with the distinctive arms of their
Lord, with the addition of some mark denoting inferiority. These marks
of honour at first were merely pieces of stuff of various colours cut
into strips and sewn on the surcoat or garment worn over armour, to
protect it from the effect of exposure to the atmosphere. These strips
were disposed in various ways, and gave the idea of the chief, bend,
chevron, &c. Figures of animals and other objects were gradually
introduced; and as none could legally claim or use those honourable
distinctions unless they were granted by the Kings of Arms, those
Heraldic sovereigns formed a code of laws for the regulation of titles
and insignia of honour, which the Sovereigns and Knights of Europe
have bound themselves to protect; and those rules constitute the
science of Heraldry which forms the subject of the following pages.



Arms are not only granted to individuals and families, but also to
cities, corporate bodies, and learned societies. They may therefore be
classed as follows:--


_Arms of Dominion or Sovereignty_ are properly the arms of the kings
or sovereigns of the territories they govern, which are also regarded
as the arms of the State. Thus the Lions of England and the Russian
Eagle are the arms of the Kings of England and the Emperors of Russia,
and cannot properly be altered by a change of dynasty.

_Arms of Pretension_ are those of kingdoms, provinces, or territories
to which a prince or lord has some claim, and which he adds to his
own, though the kingdoms or territories are governed by a foreign king
or lord: thus the Kings of England for many ages quartered the arms
of France in their escutcheon as the descendants of Edward III., who
claimed that kingdom, in right of his mother, a French princess.

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