Aux armes …

More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys …

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

William Shakespeare (c. 1595). A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Figure: Marginalia


My theme is trivial, yet enduring: it examines a small corner of the Middle Ages' sole surviving practice (excepting the fantastical revival of jousting), heraldry. This once minor glory of Medieval art has long since largely degenerated to gaudy affectation, although vestiges of the vigorous and strange beauty of that vanished world linger in its time-tattered traditions.

Whether or not any such trace can be found here, for many these well-meaning airy nothings will offer little of interest — particularly for family historians, given the absence of genealogical detail. Even so, tastes vary and others may find an odd morsel among the unruly digressions, although none should confuse often solemn but otherwise flippant commonplaces with scholarship: this is plainly not a treatise on heraldry. If that is your object, your efforts would be better directed elsewhere and, to that end, the following could be helpful:

What follows is seldom more than an illustrated ramble through the scanty [antique fables] heraldic panoply of an obscure and undistinguished British commoner1 — namely, Alan Geal.2

The Arms and Crest



Azure semy of Mullets of six points conjoined Argent.


On … a Wreath Argent and Azure within a Circlet of Chain fracted Argent an Eagle wings expanded Or grasping in the talons the Chain.


Azure doubled Argent.

This arcane, but nonetheless ingeniously concise and precise, vocabulary is explained in a glossary.


Below the Arms:

Be bright: be daring: be joyful.

Above the Crest:

Seek the truth.


Within a Circlet of Chain sans the base link Argent an Eagle wings expanded Or grasping in the talons a link fracted also Argent.

Figure: the 'Seven Stars' badge

A Mullet of six points within a Circlet of six of the same all conjoined Argent.

As is appropriate to their free and independent nature, the depictions of both badges are somewhat diverse.3

Copyright © 2006 Alan Geal