Heraldry in early-modern Spain according to the picaresque novel (1554–1668)
I have recently published an article in which I analyze the heraldic information contained in a total of twenty-seven Spanish picaresque novels from the years 1554 to 1668. Faced with the fantastic novel of chivalry, the realistic setting of the picaresque allows a better approach to the daily heraldic practices in Spain during the Early Modern Age, as well as to the perception of the coat of arms.
A first observation is the popularity of heraldry in modern Spain, according to various indications: heraldic contents are found in twenty-two of the twenty-seven novels; in several of them there are images or metaphors of heraldic inspiration; and the term “blazon” (blasón) appears in 63% of the novels.
The picaresque novels report on formal aspects of the coat of arms, such as the usual places where they were located, or on the multiplication of the number of quarters inside.
But social issues are the most interesting. Coat of arms appear as marks of identity, as well as of social rank. The possession of shields is perceived as a sign of nobility. And, since recent armories would indicate some plebeian origins, the new nobles resort to the usurpation of arms from other families of older nobility. In this sense, the social role of the kings of arms is fundamental, granting, in return for income, the certifications of armorial bearings required by rising families.
My article ends with an armorial made from the various testimonies of the twenty-seven novels examined, which includes royal, nobiliary (such as those of the Folch de Cardona), municipal, chivalry orders, or imaginary arms.
The full text (in Spanish), has been published in the journal Historia y Genealogía, of the University of Cordoba. You can download it at the following link: https://www.uco.es/revistas/index.php/hyg/article/view/735
Its reference is:
VALLE PORRAS, J. M.: «La heráldica española de la Edad Moderna y su percepción en la novela picaresca (1554-1668)», Historia y Genealogía, 6 (2016), pp. 251-299.