Category Archives: Non-Ecclesiastical

Armigerous Candidates for US President

This is one of those posts that has absolutely nothing to do with the heraldry of the Church. Those do come up occasionally on this blog but I try to keep them to a minimum. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, however, to discuss how, for what must be the first time in a quite a while (although its not unprecedented) both of this country’s major party candidates are heraldically connected, so to speak.

The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is well known as a business man with hotels and resorts around the world. One such property is the golf course he built and owns in Scotland. To make it “look good” a logo for the place in the form of a coat of arms (not a particularly good one, in my opinion) was devised and used on their promotional materials. The problem is that Scotland happens to be one of the few countries where they take heraldry and the public use of heraldry very seriously.

The body that regulates heraldry in Scotland is the Court of Lord Lyon and indeed it is a standing civil and criminal court under the Scottish legal system. The incumbent of the office of Lord Lyon King of Arms is usually a lawyer well versed in the laws affecting genealogy and heraldry and he sits as judge over cases of dispute. By contrast the English Heralds are incorporated into a College and while there is Her Majesty’s High Court of Chivalry which has existed since the 14th C. and sits as a civil court to regulate all matters of English and Welsh heraldry it rarely sits. The last time was in 1954 for the case of Manchester Corp. v. Manchester Palace of Varieties, Ltd. Prior to that the court hadn’t sat for 200 years!

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Trump’s self-designed and adopted coat of arms (above) ran afoul of the Scottish legal system in 2008 when it was asserted that he had no right to use the coat of arms. In 2012 the Court of Lord Lyon ruled in Trump’s favor and now he may make use of the coat of arms originally designed for his Aberdeen golf course. Trump’s mother is of Scottish origin and Lord Lyon claims jurisdiction worldwide over any Scot, even expats, or anyone with Scottish ancestry. Unfortunately, I do not have an image of the coat of arms in full color. I wonder if anyone in the Trump organization even bothered to have one made in full color since this is primarily used as a logo.

The Democrat Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, does not, as far as I know, have a coat of arms in her own right, but her husband does. In 1995, at the request of the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister), Mr. John Bruton, the Chief Herald of Ireland devised and granted a coat of arms to Mr. Clinton whose mother was of Irish ancestry (below). It was presented to him as a gift on his state visit to Ireland. As I say, Mrs. Clinton does not have a coat of arms in her own right, at least not yet. Who knows? It is possible that another head of state may be asking another heraldic authority to grant her a coat of arms at some point in the future. Only time will tell.

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Of course the way the election on November 8 will turn out remains to be seen and there is a great deal of speculation on both sides. It does seem to be far from certain even at this very late stage in the campaign. But, one thing is, nevertheless, absolutely certain. Regardless of the result of the voting that will take place across the United States next Tuesday one of the two people mentioned above, Trump or Clinton, come next January 20th will be able to make use of yet another old and venerable means of identification that employs the ancient and respected use of heraldry as a large part of its symbolism. It’s an armorial seal…

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King of Thailand, RIP

With the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand, who was the world’s longest reigning monarch at the time of his death, the country enters into a period of mourning under a regent until the accession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. According to Thai law Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council, assumes the regency until the accession of the new king.

While the former Kingdom of Siam made use of an emblem a bit more similar to the western idea of a coat of arms the current royal emblem or “arms”, which appears on the yellow royal standard, is the Buddhist Garuda.

Appearing in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Garuda is the mystical firebird who serves as the mount of the god Vishnu. Garuda appears as the coat of arms of the Republic of Indonesia as well as the royal emblem of the Kingdom of Thailand.

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Yet More on Variations

Again, a continuation of this examination of different versions, as opposed to merely different renderings of the exact same version, of the coat of arms of one armiger used at various times, for certain occasions, for a specific place or group or to either add to or subtract from the elaboration of the display. We turn once again to the glorious Imperial arms of the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, later to be the Austro-Hungarian Emperor.

First we have the “small” arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (displaying the arms of Habsburg, Babenberg and Lorraine impaled together on the shield.

13726824_10208089859297016_8059400258853156733_nThe second image shows the “medium” common coat of arms of Austria Hungary with the shields of (counterclockwise): Hungary, Galicia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Carinthia & Carniola, Silesia & Moravia, Transylvania, Illyria and Bohemia. This was used from 1867-1915.

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Third, we see the “small” arms of Hungary.

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Fourth is the “medium” coat of arms of Hungary also displaying: Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Transylvania, the city of Rijeka and the Kingdom of Hungary on the inescutcheon.

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Next, the fifth example is the “medium” coat of arms of Austria.

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The sixth is the small common coat of arms of the dual monarchy from 1915-1918.

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Finally, the seventh is the “medium” common arms used 1915-1918.

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One Emperor: lots of versions of his coat of arms all of which are his.

More Variety

Another in this kind of series I’m doing on single armigers with various versions of their coats of arms. This time it is Elizabeth II, well, really the British Sovereign regardless of who it is. The first is a “small” version. You can see this one carved in stone on the facade of Buckingham Palace but it shows up most frequently on Letters Patent for a grant of arms.

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The second is a kind of “middle version” and it is versions like this frequently used by the government on documents and signage.

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The third is, of course, the “large” or full armorial achievement.

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Next is the Royal arms as used in Scotland (same sovereign but a different version of the arms).

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Fifth is the Royal arms OF Scotland as opposed to the Royal arms of the U.K. as used IN Scotland.

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Finally, one used by the sovereign for the Duchy of Lancaster. (By the way even though the Queen is a woman she is still the “Duke” of Lancaster).

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Varying Versions

A recent Facebook post of mine on the arms of three English Kings of Arms on a College of Arms devisal for the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama piqued my interest about how some armigers employ different versions, not just renderings by different artists but actual different versions, of their armorial achievements. Sometimes this reflects added honors; sometimes the exercise of a new or different office (appointed or elected); sometimes it’s a version to be used specifically on certain occasions or under specific circumstances or only for use within a particular group, etc.

One of the Kings of Arms whose coat of arms appeared in that post was the late, great John Brooke-Little. Here we see his full achievement as Norroy & Ulster King of Arms:

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Brook-Little’s own personal coat of arms were used by him without any extras. Here the arms are rendered by Anthony Wood:

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In addition, we see that sometime he added quite a bit to the achievement to indicate offices held such as a bookplate depicting his coat of arms and banner as Richmond Herald (1967-1980) including both the Richmond Herald badge and the badge from when he had been Bluemantle Pursuivant (1956-1967):

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Finally I include one probably not seen by many: a version of his arms impaled with those of The Heraldry Society which he founded and served for many years as chairman and later as president. This last one was simply for use within that Society:

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All his life his own coat of arms remained as it is depicted in the second image. In other words he did not “change” his coat of arms. However, throughout his life and career he did employ various versions of his achievement some of which included personal honors, some ornaments of office and others additions for private use. This is a good thing to know about and an idea that many interested in heraldry, especially the various uses for a coat of arms, too often overlook. A coat of arms as a personal mark of identification may be employed in various ways to suit the various things one does in life. The armorial achievement does not have to be singular and include everything from every aspect of the life of the armiger. To be sure there are those who prefer this “maximum display” theory. However, an equally meritorious theory is one that makes use of varying versions or varying achievements suited to the time, place, group or activity in which the armiger is engaged.

Here is another example, again from the English College of arms, using the coat of arms of Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, Bt. which are:

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Sir Henry, when he was still just plain old “Mister” served the College as Rouge Croix Pursuivant from 1983-1993 and the as York Herald from 1993-2010. In that latter capacity and prior to the death of his father and his inheriting the title “Baronet” he used the following achievement:

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Sir Henry was appointed Norroy & Ulster King of Arms in 2010 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2014. Here is a version of the shield of his arms from that time:

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Finally, another example of a different version for private use and also only for a set period of time. From 2012-2013, for just a year Sir Henry served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners and impaled his arms with the arms of the Company for use in that capacity while at the same time also using the version above and the version in the first photo:

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Again we see that he maintained the personal arms he had inherited from his father and did not “change” his coat of arms. Rather, he chose to display it in varying versions to suit the role of the moment or group.

The world at large already, for the most part, sees heraldry as effete but there are many within the (for lack of a better term) heraldic community, that is to say, the rather small group of people in the world who account themselves heraldic enthusiasts, who, through their own ignorance, misunderstand the concept I’m illustrating here. The advent of the internet has increased the possibility for communication between such enthusiasts throughout the world but has also made for a rash of self-appointed heraldic “experts” who don’t wish to engage in any scholarly pursuit of the heraldic arts and sciences and, either accidentally or purposefully, seek to limit the possibilities for heraldic display accusing anyone who deviates from their own preconceived notions as guilty of self aggrandizement.

It strikes me as slightly ironic that in a modern world that eschews heraldry as an anachronistic pretense anyone possessing a coat of arms themselves could accuse others of self aggrandizement. Then again, ignorance and irony can, at times, be seen to be cousins.