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Re: coat of arms necessary vs required (fwd)
Poster: firstname.lastname@example.org (Craig Levin)
> The balance of your post is presuming I intended harm. That is not the
> case. Forgive me, therefore, if I confine myself (as best I may) to the
> factual parts of your answer.
> In point of fact registering ones device is "necessary", if
> heraldry in the SCA is to represent anything like period heraldry.
> Not so. For most of period, there were no central authorities to register
> coats of arms with. When those did, they registered coats equally well for
> those that assumed them, and those that were given them. In fact, toward
> the end of period in England, a search was made for those that had assumed
> arms: those were registered by the Crown's authorities, and then taxed as
Visitiations also had some power of enforcement. Arms assumed by
those who were "not _our_ type, dear" were defaced and torn down
as per Henry V's proclamation and subsequent letters patent
announcing the visitations. Please also check my transcription of
the vows of the kings of arms, heralds, and pursuivants.
Moreover, armorial confirmations were subject to the Earl
Marshal's approval; one might think of them as grants on the spot
rather than making the armigers go to London.
But visitation seems to be confined to the British Isles. None of
England's Continental posessions-even Calais, which they held
until Mary's reign-were ever visited by any of the Kings of Arms,
as far as I know. Of the many Ulster Kings of Arms, only 2 made
visitations, and Lord Lyon relies upon a different method to keep
his heraldic brood in line. The closest we can get to visitations
on the Continent are in France (which had a chartered College of
Arms before England) and _possibly_ Portugal, though I'll have to
conduct a _lot_ of research on this matter-there is _no_ English-
language stuff on this subject as relates to Portugal. Call me
back in about 3 years. Generally, the Continental Kings of Arms
would only make rolls of arms, and didn't much care how anyone
got the rights to his arms.
> I dare say, my good herald, that you should read a bit more. If the SCA
> were to try to emuulate period heraldry more closely, it should seriously
> consider other methods than registration.
Well, a roll of arms would be nice, but I'm a wretched
draughtsman. I'd love it if Blazons (tm) could handle semys
> Now, every time this comes up, some herald will cite the case of Scropes:
> who litigated successfully against Grosvenor for heraldic conflict. What
> most heralds fail to mention, is that Scropes lost a similar case against
> Grosvenor. There is no real lesson to be learned there, except that Cornwall
> is far from London. Which we knew. (:-)
Scrope was sued by Carminow. I mistook a deponent verb for a
passive verb, as can happen frequently in Latin. My bad. Carminow
lost, because he was a poor country gentleman matched with one of
the most powerful people in England, and was forced to difference
_his_ arms on top of losing to Scrope. The Grosvenor thing was
not an easy case to adjudicate-G. had friends who were nearly as
powerful as Scrope, and Richard II had to finally settle the
issue-to Grosvenor's discomfiture.
> I'd urge you to check out Craig Levin's research on this topic, at
That's going to be revised when I get the time-this summer.
> The Society College of Arms has NO ENFORMCEMENT POWER. They cannot prevent
> conflict. All they can do is keep two similar arms from appearing on the
> list they keep. That is all.
> I defy your comment about the frequency of protection of arms. There is not
> enough evidence to rule conclusively, but the lack of evidence suggests that
> it was not the case.
Actually, the cases involving Lord Scrope are merely the
best-documented. I can think of about half a dozen others-in
England alone. The Earl Marshal's Court, unlike the common-law
courts, wasn't a court of record, so its proceedings had a nasty
habit of disappearing. All that's left of some are the letters
patent to appoint substitute judges for the Constable and the
Marshal-because letters patent had duplicates which the king's
> One's arms defined who they were, what they owned as well as their
> genealogy. In period one would neither assume nor be assigned arms
> without determining they were not in conflict with other known
> Citation, please?
I'd agree with Tibor. The fact that Bartolo had to pin down the
issue of a grantee vs. an ancient armiger shows that such care
was not often displayed in armorial grants.
Personally, I'd prefer it if people registered their arms,
because of some ancient Talmudic streak of control-freakishness
in my blood. If you don't want to, that's fine. But at least try
to keep your arms different from those used by your neighbors;
that's all that most mediaeval people wanted to do.
Pedro de Alcazar, AoA
Barony of Storvik, Atlantia
Pursuivant Extraordinary and Junior Minion
Or, six Castles Vert within a Bordure Gules semy of Roundels Or
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