Last updated 13 Dec 2002.
This collection of articles on medieval and renaissance heraldry is intended
to help historical re-creators to choose authentic armory. This archive
was created as a parallel to Arval Benicoeur's
Medieval Names Archive,
and as with that site, the articles published here
were gathered from various places, and some of them appear
elsewhere. In all cases, the copyright on each
article belongs to its authors.
Everything is new. Have a look around!
A few notes on medieval heraldry
Heraldic arms were invented in northwestern France in the mid-12th
century. The custom of using arms spread rapidly through western Europe,
and was well-established in most western cultures by the end of the 13th
century. It spread into eastern Europe by the 14th and 15th centuries,
though some cultures there did not develop native heraldry until well after
the 16th century.
Many medieval re-enactors portray characters derived from cultures that
didn't use heraldry, but because of the customs of the organizations in
which they participate, they want to use arms anyway. We've written a
on different approaches to this dilemma. Some other articles discuss
approaches for specific non-heraldic cultures.
You can help!
If you have any questions or comments, or if you have an article that you
would like to contribute to this library, please
let us know.
Table of Contents
- A list of articles we definitely want to use, sorted by general
type and geographical focus. This is based on Aryanhwy's
of Arms on the Web & Articles on Medieval Arms
- Collections of Armory, mostly medieval
Nine European Rolls of Arms of the Thirteenth Century, including names,
blazons, and emblazons of the arms in the Falkirk Roll, the Caerlaverock
Poem, and Glover's Roll, Walford's Roll, the Bigot Roll, the
Chifflet-Prinet Roll, the Camden Roll, St. George's Roll, and the Wijnbergn
Roll. The illustrations are in modern style, and we've noted some errors
in emblazoning. The author has some other material of possible interest at
Arms from the Siege of Caerlaverlock. Compiled by the shire of
Adamastor. The artwork is very modern; Iago's version (below) is a
better guide to the armory of the period.
Caerlaverock Roll of Arms, by Iago ab Adam. Master Iago is a
Society herald who researched the arms mentioned in the poem and
constructed a roll of arms. Absolutely lovely!
Treatises on Heraldry, in Latin and English. A 15th century English
The Edward IV Roll, titled Chronicle of the History of the World
from the Creation to Woden with a Genealogy of Edward IV. MS Lewis
E201, Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Book Department,c.1461. The
manuscript is gorgeous; the armory is
isolated in images of
Arms of the Livery Companies of the City of London, by Key West
Arms from Parker's Glossary, compiled by Saitou and published at the
of Adamastor Heraldry site. Not all the arms date from our period, and
all the emblazons are modern, in modern style.
Elizabethan Armorial. The arms of some Elizabethan peers and gentry.
- A Display
of Heraldrie by John Guillim. A transcription of the 1611 edition,
published by Paul Grant. The work is in progress.
- The English Emblem
Book Project. A collection of 16th and 17th century on-line books of
Annotated Bibliography of Scottish Heraldic Materials, by Zenobia
Naphtali and David of Moffat. Also available
on the SCA
The Heraldry Society of Scotland. Their website contains some
material of use to medieval re-creators. Their magazine
Double Tressure often contains articles useful to us. In
particular, the 2001 edition contains Leslie A. Schweitzer and
David Hunter of Montlaw, "Charge Use in Late Medieval Scots
Heraldry" (#24, pp. 11-32).
Warning: Much of the
website works only in Internet Explorer, and I can't get some pages to
display at all.
- Low Countries
Manesse Codex, with
plates. A collection of early 14th century illuminations that
includes many examples of heraldry.
- The Zurich Roll of
Arms, by Gerrit Bigalski and published by Ivanor of Sighty Crag.
Facsimile of a German roll of arms from about 1340. It starts with a collection of flags
and then a catalogue of the arms of royalty, some of them fictional. The
useful material for re-creators starts with the second row of arms on
the front of Strip II.
of Das Wappenbuch des Reichsherolds Caspar Sturm. A German collection
of arms from 1400-1600. Who created this list?
(Medieval arms). Part of a site,
Adelsvapen.com, about Swedish
heraldry. Talan wrote: Three pages of neatly executed tinctured
emblazons from Raneke, for a total of 95 coats. The emblazons are
modern but appear to be based on medieval originals. Otherwise there
appears to be little of interest [at the site] unless one
wants to order the CD [of Swedish arms]. There's also a Baltic
- Eastern Europe
- Banners from the Battle of Tannenberg
, by Lothar von Katzenellenbogen and Johannes von Narrenstein.
Kaj Malachowski's Polish Web Armorial. Some dated with
- Polish Nobility
and Its Heraldry: An Introduction, by Piotr Pawel Bajer. A
website recommended to us by a client. It looks very
promising, especially the two sections on Polish Medieval arms.
The author doesn't list the arms, but he does list sources
which contain Polish arms, with brief descriptions. At worst,
this is a great starting point for research. I think it would
be worthwhile to contact the author and see if he has further
material that can help us; or if he's willing to consult
- Panstwowe Archive
in Krakow. This archive contains images of manuscripts, maps, and
seals, all of which contain some heraldic images. Click on Galeria
and then Dokumetny i ksiegi, or go
there. There are more seals
- Middle East
- Academy of Saint Gabriel
report 2346 discussed the use of banners and standards in Han culture.
The Chinese apparently did not use anything like European inheritable personal
arms, nor anything analogous to Japanese kamon.
- General Articles on Medieval Heraldry
- Pedro de Alcazar
- Late Mediaeval
Oaths for Kings of Arms, Heralds, and Pursuivants
- Oaths for the creation of heralds, from medieval England.
- The Mediaeval
- An essay on the duties of a medieval herald.
at the Dawn of the Age of Chivalry
- A brief discussion of early tournaments.
- The Law of Arms
in Mediaeval England
- A brief discussion of the law as applied to heraldic arms.
- Labels and
- How family relationships were indicated in heraldry in the Middle
- A brief article on other ways to indicate family and feudal
- Abatements and
Augmentations of Honor
- A short discussion of these two aspects of heraldry.
- Precious Peers
and Planetary Princes
- A discussion of an alternate system of blazon used in the late Middle
Investigation into the Symbolism of Heraldry in the Legend of Tristram and
- Cadency in the
Matter of Britain
- Heralds' Staves of
- Lothar van Katzenellenbogen
A collection of articles written by Lothar,
mostly posted here in plain text. A few have been HTMLed and are listed
above. Some are definitely worth presenting to the public, others are not.
Please offer suggestions.
- Modar Neznanich
Modar's heraldry page. Lots of stuff; I'm not sure which bits we
want to include here.
- Other articles at the Laurel website
- Other stuff on the web
Héraldique Européenne, by Arnaud Bunel and Luca Gallo.
- A collection of period rolls of arms,
illustrated and published on the web. Unfortunately, their
illustrations are in a very modern style. This source must be used with
great care. It includes:
- Francois Velde's Heraldica
- A large collection of material on real-world armory. Most of it is
modern, but there are some useful articles. Please point out the ones that
we ought to link directly.
- British Medieval
Seals, by Gryphon Design
- A discussion of the use of seals on medieval English documents.
A Glossary of Terms used in Heraldry, by James Parker
Frequently Asked Questions on Italian Heraldry, Louis Mendola. A
guide to modern Italian heraldic practice.
Pietmontese. A roll of Piedmontese arms, unfortunately undated, by
The Heraldry and Coats of Arms Webring. Obviously we don't want to
include this link in our site, but there may be sites in the ring that
are useful. Please go hunting.