[Paper:] Torsten Hiltmann: Heraldry and Materiality – Oxford, 1 March 2017
In recent years the concept of materiality has become more and more important in historical research. In going beyond the study of texts and images, scholarship now also addresses the materiality of their media, as well as the role physical objects may have played in different historical settings. This talk will explore the relationship between coats of arms and the concept of materiality.
First, the talk will focus on the materials in and on which coats of arms could be represented. As the seminar series is dedicated to paper and parchment, the representation of coats of arms on those supports will be a key concern, demonstrating the immense range of ways in which heraldry could be represented here. It will be asked whether there is any relationship between the chosen support and the message conveyed by the coats of arms on it. Subsequently, the focus will be widened to all kinds of supports of heraldic communication. It will become clear that there is no single privileged material for the representation of heraldic devices in the late medieval and early modern era, but rather that armorial bearings could be displayed by a multitude of techniques on every imaginable support—to a certain extent even by music.
Second, the paper will try to explain this particular communicational adaptivity of coats of arms, and ask for the materiality of coats of arms as such. It will be shown how heraldic communication detached itself from its materiality in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and how it became a reproducible, abstract concept and how coats of arms finally could become some kind of virtual objects which were present in late medieval miniatures without having much of a counterpart in the actual physical world.
The talk thus aims to demonstrate the immense capacities of heraldic communication for modern cultural history and its research interests, and its deserving of closer study.
The title of the talk is ‘Coats of Arms in Books and Beyond: The Objectivation of Heraldry and its Materiality’. It will be held at the Late Medieval Europe Seminar ‘Paper and Parchment’, St John’s College, Oxford University, 1st March 2017, 17:00.