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A transcript of the book A Grammar of English Heraldry, chapter 9



IN the first half of the sixteenth century the exuberant treatment of heraldry in art reached its highest point, as may be seen in such buildings as King's College chapel and the gate-houses and other parts of Christ's and St John's Colleges at Cambridge, St George's chapel in Windsor Castle, at Hampton Court, and in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster.

Simultaneously with this gorgeous architectural heraldry there was in certain quarters an outbreak of elaborate arms, in which not only such ordinaries as cheverons and crosses were placed between charges and charged themselves, but a chief with further charges was often added to the shield so as to fill it up as much as possible. The following may serve as illustrations of these crowded compositions:

Thomas Ruthall, bishop of Durham, 1509-23:

Party azure and gules with a cross engrailed and four ring-doves gold and a chief quarterly gold and ermine with two red roses.

Thomas Wulcy, archbishop of York, 1514-30, and cardinal:

Sable a cross engrailed silver with four leopards' heads azure and a lion passant gules on the cross and a chief gold with a red rose and two choughs.

William Atwater, bishop of Lincoln, 1514-21:

Barry wavy of six pieces ermine and gules with a cheveron and three crayfish gold and a red rose and two gilly flowers on the cheveron. (Granted in 1509.)

John Stokesley, bishop of London, 1530-39:

Lozengy ermine and ermines a cheveron silver with a demi-lion gules and two gillyflowers on the cheveron and a chief azure with a rose between a lily and a pelican, all of gold.

City of Gloucester (granted in 1536) :

Fig. 138. City of

Vert a gold pale and two horseshoes, each between three horsenails, with the state sword of the city surmounted by the swordbearer's hat upon the pale and a chief party gold and purple with a boar's head silver and a red rose and a white one each halved with a gold sun (Fig. 138).

Thomas Thirlby, bishop of Westminster, 1540-50:

Fig. 139. Thomas Thirlby bishop of Westminster

Gules a cheveron silver and three swans with five lozenges gules upon the cheveron and a chief gold with three slipped daisies (Fig. 139).

George Day, bishop of Chichester, 1543-51:

Quarterly silver and gules a cross quartered and counter-coloured and four rayed half- roses counter-coloured with a stalked daisy upon the cross (Fig. 140).

Fig. 140. George Day bishop of Chichester, from his tomb

Trinity College, Cambridge, 1546:

Fig. 141. Trinity
College, Cambridge

Silver a cheveron gules and three red roses and a chief gules with a gold leopard and two gold Looks upon the chief (Fig. 141).

Concurrently with the invention of such elaborate arms many others of quite simple character were likewise granted, but the overcrowded shield was nevertheless a distinctly new and characteristic feature of the time.

With the incoming of the Renaissance the artistic applications of heraldry underwent a change, and though survivals here and there may be noted, armorial displays henceforth became more and more restricted to chimney-pieces, firebacks, and monuments, or to a panel over the house door or porch. This falling off of the quality of architectural and ornamental heraldry after 1550 is accompanied by a continuance of the output of overcrowded and elaborate shields, which may perhaps be said to have reached a climax when such arms as the following could be granted in January 1560-1 to Doctor John Caius:

Golde semyd W th flowre gentle in the myddle of the cheyfe, sengrene resting uppon the heades of ij serpentes in pale, their tayles knytte to gether, all in proper color, resting uppon a square marble stone vert, betwene theire brestes a boke sable, garnyshed gewlos, buckles gold, ... betokening by the boke lerning . by the ij serpentes resting upon the square marble stone, wisdom with grace founded & stayed upon vertues stable stone: by sengrene & flower gentle, immortality y t never shall fade, &c.

Another typical grant of the same sort of arms was made in 1561 to William Downham, bishop of Chester, 1561-77:

Azure a cheveron silver with two doves with red beaks and legs in the chief and a wolf's head rased silver in the foot with a red rose between two books of the Old and New Testament gules with gold clasps upon the cheveron.

In the same year, 1561, the Company of Harbours and Chirurgeons of London was granted these arms:

Paly argent and vert on a pale gules a lyon passant gardant golde betweene two Spatters argent on eche a double rose gules and argent crowned golde.

In 1569 a new grant was made to the Company by the three kings-of-arms in these terms:

Quarterly the first sables a Cheveron betweene three flewmes argent: the seconde quarter per pale argent and vert on a Spatter of the first, a double Rose gules and argent crowned golde: the third quarter as the seconde and the fourth as the first: Over all on a Crosse gules a lyon passant gardant golde,

A final example of this class must be the arms granted in 1570 to Richard Barnes bishop of Carlisle:

Azure a bend silver and two gold stars with a black bear spattered with red stars and looking at a black child upon the bend and a chief gold with three red roses rayed.

After 1570, for some occult reason, there was for a considerable time a marked reversion in grants to arms of simpler character and better taste, such as the arms granted by Robert Cooke. Clarenceux, in 1572 to the University of Cambridge (Fig. 142), which were:

Gules a cross ermine and four gold leopards with a book gules upon the cross;

Fig. 142. Cambridge University

or those granted in 1593 to Richard Brownlowe:

gold a scutcheon and an orle of martlets sable.