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A transcript of the book A Grammar of English Heraldry, chapter 4



IT is the custom to-day for the arms of widows and spinsters to be displayed on a lozenge instead of a shield. This custom does not go much further back than the reign of Elizabeth; and the monument at Westminster of Frances duchess of Suffolk, ob . 1559, is an early example. But the use of a lozenge as a variant from the more usual shield of arms is much earlier, and was invented by the seal engravers in the thirteenth century. An example of a lozenge of arms occurs on a seal of Thomas Furnival, who died in 1279, and instances of its use for the arms of men may be found on their seals for at least a century later. Lozenges of arms may be met with almost equally soon on the seals of ladies, an early example being that of Joan countess of Surrey, 1306. But the lozenge was not reserved for the lady's arms, and the seal in question shows five lozenges in cross, that in the middle bearing her husband's checkers, and the others the arms of her father and her mother. Another lady's seal, that of Maud countess of Oxford, 1336, has her husband's shield in the middle, and four lozenges of the arms of her father and herself, of her mother, and of her first husband. Maud of Lancaster in 1344 also shows on her seal the shields of arms of her two husbands side by side with lozenges of Lancaster above for her father and herself, and of Chaworth below for her mother.

About the same time as the lozenge the seal-engravers introduced, for a like reason, roundels of arms. These, too, were used indiscriminately for the arms of men and women in the same way as lozenges. An early instance is afforded by the seal of Mary countess of Pembroke, 1322, which has the halved arms of her husband and herself in a shield (Fig. 95) between roundels of the arms of her mother, of King Edward II, and of Queen Isabel.

Fig. 95. Valence dimidiated or halved with Seynt-Pol

Both lozenges and roundels of arms were also used decoratively. They are to be found side by side on the embroidered orfrey, of late thirteenth century work, of the famous Syon cope now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has also for its border a contemporary stole and fanon, worked throughout with lozenges of arms (Fig. 96). In the same collection is a beautiful enamelled coffer of the same date as the Syon cope, also decorated throughout with armorial lozenges; and similar lozenges of the arms of England and Valence form a diaper on the remains of the gilt-latten plate beneath the effigy of William earl of Pembroke ( ob . 1296) in the abbey church of Westminster. The pillows of the effigies in the same church of Edmund Crouchback and his wife Aveline countess of Lancaster, are also painted with armorial lozenges. A fine and large roundel of brilliant enamel, with a gold charbocle on a field party gules and azure, forms part of the stall-plate of Ralph lord Bassett ( ob . 1386) (Fig. 97).

An early inventory of Christchurch, Canterbury, specifies a large number of vestments worked with shields and lozenges of arms and in one case with arms in quadranqulis . These might have been square or oblong like those on the band of the Syon cope, but they are in any case suggestive of the display of heraldry on banners.

Fig. 96. The Syon cope, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum
(From Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers)

Banners of arms were freely used throughout the medieval period, not only in the field, but in every kind of decoration. Everyone is familiar with the banner of the royal arms (miscalled the royal standard) that betokens the presence of the King, and with our

Fig. 97. Enamelled roundel from the stall-plate of Ralph lord Bassett
(From Hope's Stall-plates of the Knights of the Garter)

national banner called the Union Jack, which is compounded of the banners of St George, St Andrew, and St Patrick (Fig. 98). The banner of the arms of the city of London, which is flown constantly over the Mansion House when the lord mayor is in residence, is also familiar to many. Banners of arms were used decoratively as borders to the beautiful figures temp. Henry III formerly in the Painted Chamber at Westminster, and a similar use of them may be seen

Fig. 98. The Union Jack, with the component banners of St George, St Andrew, and St Patrick

in old painted glass windows of the fourteenth century in York Minster and divers other places. The banners of the Templars and Hospitallers are figured in the MS. by Matthew Paris already referred to, and that of Simon de Montfort, 'party indented of silver and gules,' is blazoned in Glover's Roll of Arms (Fig. 99). Large banners of arms upheld by lions and eagles form a conspicuous feature of the tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart at

Fig. 99. Banner of Simon de Montfort

Westminster, and enamelled armorial banners serve as stall-plates for many of the early Knights of the Garter (Fig. 100).

In all these cases, and in every other previous to the Tudor period, the banners have the longer sides upright, and this is the only shape that allows the heraldry to be displayed properly upon it. It will be found by a comparison of examples that throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the artistic treatment of heraldry was at its highest level, special, care was taken in all the best examples to cover the field of a shield, lozenge, roundel, or banner as far as

Fig. 100. Banner of the arms of Sir Peter Courtenay, K.G., from his stall-plate (the staff added)

possible with whatever was placed upon it; and to maintain a proper balance of colour between field and charges, even when the charge was but a simple ordinary, like the bend of the Scropes, or the saltire of the Nevills, or the cross of St George. With an upright banner all this is easy, but when, as is the present practice, most banners are twice as long as they are wide, and flown with their narrower end next the staff, it is often impossible to draw properly such charges as the English leopards, the Scottish lion, or the Irish harp upon the King's banner, which consequently has a large expanse of field 'to let' beyond the charges. The difference may readily be seen, when it is flying over Buckingham Palace, in the banner of the Queen, which contains the arms of the King in a square impaling a second square with her own arms. This banner is of course twice as long as it need be, but its greater richness of effect when compared with the King's banner is quite noteworthy. The field of a banner was almost always used for the display of arms only, which of course covered it; but in several of the banner stall-plates the Knight's shield with its crested helm and flowing mantling is displayed upon the field, and this in the fifteenth century. Banners were not unfrequently fringed, sometimes with gold, sometimes with a fringe of two or more colours.

A standard differed entirely from a banner both in shape and contents. It was a long and narrow flag, with the lower edge horizontal, and the upper aslant from the staff to the end, which was slit for a little way. An upright panel next the staff always contained the arms of St George, and the rest of the field was parted fessewise, or into three: or four bars, and powdered with badges. It was also divided into three parts by two bends with the owner's word, reason, or motto, and the first section then contained the crest or principal badge. The whole was fringed of the livery colours. Standards varied in size with the dignity of the owner, that of the King being twice as long as a knight's, while those of peers were of intermediate length according to their rank. Standards were only used for parade purposes and funerals, and were finally hung above the owner's grave.

It has been pointed out that the shape of a shield is quite immaterial and of no heraldic significance, but it may not be without interest to examine some of its forms. The earliest shields were long and kiteshaped, the better to protect the holder, and a survival of this appears in the rounded corners of the early shields behind the qui re of Westminster abbey church (see Figs. 3 and 101), and in many early seals. Then the shield became shorter, and its corners were made square, and this heater-shaped form has continued in use down to to-day. During the fourteenth century shields often had a tendency to become more straightsided and almost rounded at the bottom, to afford more room for the charges and devices carved and painted upon them. In the fifteenth century there came into fashion for decorative purposes shields of similar form to the notched and curved ones used in the lists, and sometimes the field was worked into a series of vertical grooves. An unusually ornate

Fig. 101. Shield of St Edward with rounded corners, in Westminster abbey church
(From Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers)

shield is shown in Fig. 102. Numerous varieties of this form were popular in the Tudor period, and quite naturally adapted themselves to the influences of the Renaissance. Beautiful examples are to be seen at Cambridge in King's College Chapel and on the gate-houses of Christ's and St John's Colleges; and of English work in gilt-bronze upon the tomb of Henry VII and his Queen, and that of the lady Margaret, his mother, at Westminster.

Fig. 102. Shield on a brass at Stoke Poges, Bucks., 1476
(From Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers)

A charming feature to be found at all dates in pictorial heraldry is the relieving of the plain surfaces of both fields and ordinaries on shields and banners of arms with the delicate decoration called diapering. Examples may be seen on all sides, on seals, and on monuments, and especially in heraldic glass. Some of the finest examples in carved work are the diapered shields on the monument of the lady Eleanor Percy in Beverley Minster (Fig. 103).

Fig. 103. Diapered shield circa 1345, in Beverley Minster
(From Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers)