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Re: heraldry rules

Poster: clevin@ripco.com (Craig Levin)

> Poster: Brenna of Lyonsbane <sunnie@exis.net>
> Herein lies one of the problems.  The rules are there for us to use, and
> I (and a few others I know) used them to no avail.  The problem comes in
> that we take the rules literally (i.e. this is protected or there are no
> more than X amount of charges allowed).  To us those statements mean, if
> I have something which is sort of similar, but not the protected item,
> it is okay, or if I have X number of charges (no more than that), I am
> okay.  The heralds, on the other hand, have the benefit of being able to
> "interpret" the rules which we see in black and white.  For instance, my
> by-name that was refused was because I was mixing two countries in one
> name. 

It's not the number of charges, actually. You can, after all,
have a semy of charges, which has no determined number. Semy, in
Old French, means scattered, like seeds. It's how the charges are
arranged that puts many to grief. This is why consulting with a
Trained Stunt Herald (tm) is worth doing before sending in the
check. As Storvik's pursuivant, I haven't _yet_ had to deal with
something that won't pass (at least at the kingdom level), but I
await with hope the chance to teach people in my barony about the
art or heraldry.

> I understand that they believe it would not have happened, though
> many a crusader brought home a wife (or some similar event occurred),
> but if you can't mix like this, why is there a rule that limits the
> number of mixes like that can exist in a single name entry?  Maybe I do
> see things very literally when it is a "rule," but these types of
> interpretations confuse me.  If the reason given for returning a blazon
> with X number of charges is that it "looks cluttered,"  I can accept
> that.  It's semantics, but it is important for those of us who have the
> rule book and are still lost out here.

Gaelic/non-Gaelic mixes have been prohibited for a number of
years. It has to do with the fact that while Gaelic uses the same
alphabet as English, Portuguese, and Danish, it uses the letters
for very different sound values. Also, we've never found a name
in period rolls that uses a Gaelic/non-Gaelic mix. If one element
is Gaelic, it's all in Gaelic, and if one element is in the
sound-system of the rest of Europe (ie, O'Flaherty instead of Ua
Flathbeirtagh (or whatever-I am a Portuguese, and the Irish are a
strange and faraway people, of whom Ptolemy says little), then
it's all in that sound-system.

Also, when people did travel from place to place, the locals
_usually_ translated the name out into their own language. The
Borgias of Italy are, in fact, the Borjas of Aragon, for example.
Pierre de Breze, a Norman pirate of the 1400's, was called Peter
Brice by his English victims.

One will also note that it was rare that people "brought a wife
back" from the Middle East or, for that matter, from anywhere
else, with the exception of dynastic arrangements. By and large,
one's position was governed by how much land you had in your
neighborhood, and the prudent man married an heiress of his

On top of all this, heraldry is a lot like the Torah. You cannot
understand Jewish law by merely reading the Torah; one wishes it
were that easy. Instead, there has been, over the years, a body
of commentary (Talmud + Responsa = Collected Laurel Precedents)
formed by the decisions made by (rabbis = Sanhedrin = Laurel) on
various cases. Luckily, heraldic precedents are nowhere near as
voluminous as the body of Jewish legal commentary, which can
easily fill a library.

Craig Levin
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