Category: Research Notes

Notes from the daily work of research, bringing up some ideas, presenting sources, summarising interesting readings or placing the subject of this blog in a larger perspective, e.g. the new approaches to auxilliary sciences or visual communication.

Pounder memorial (1525) in Ipswich. 13

Heraldry is Vanity! Moral Criticism of Heraldic Commemoration in Germany – A European Phenomenon?

Medieval churches still abound in coats of arms depicted on tombs, epitaphs, windows, altarpieces and other commemorative devices. And of course it was not just knights, nobles, princes and kings that tried to preserve their memory by means of heraldry. Medieval townspeople, too, left behind heraldic reminders in the churches in England and Germany, for instance. The Nuremberg patrician Sebald Schreyer (d. 1520) noted a stained-glass window embellished with...


Das „Bassenheimer Wappenbuch“ und das „Hofwappenbuch Herzog Ferdinands von Bayern 1544 – 1607“

In Gustav A. Seylers (1846-1935) süddeutschen Siebmacherbänden (Adel und Bürgerliche) findet man als Quellenangabe häufiger den Verweis auf das „Bassenheimer Wappenbuch“ und auf das „Hofwappenbuch“. Letzteres lässt sich relativ einfach identifizieren. Schließlich schreibt Seyler 1912 selbst im Bande 9 des Bürgerlichen Wappenbuches: In diesem Werke, namentlich in den Teilen III u. IV ist vielfach „des Herzogs Ferdinand von Bajern Hofwappenbuch“ als Quelle namhaft gemacht. Ich halte mich für verpflichtet,...


[Question:] Dear heraldists, we need your input: How did you learn to blazon?

Dear heraldists, dear fellow researchers, As a part of my studies, I am looking at concepts of ‚proper‘ blazon in general, and differences and parallels between the English, French, and German systems and traditions of blazoning in particular. For example, I plan to do some work on the ways in which heraldic ordinaries and charges are categorised and the rationale behind these categorisations. In this context, I am curious...


Weder Schild noch Wappen? Zur Suggestivkraft präheraldischer Handschriftenilluminationen

  Während der Quellenrecherche zu einer Seminararbeit zu den Anfängen des Wappenwesens stieß ich auf eine faszinierende heraldische Bildquelle, die mich aufgrund meines Erkenntnisinteresses zunächst zu einer gravierenden Fehlinterpretation verleitete, aber letztlich doch vieles über den Umgang mit Bildern als Quelle gelehrt hat. Ich betrachtete zunächst Handschriftenilluminationen, deren Digitalisate in großen französischen und englischsprachigen Bilddatenbanken mittlerweile frei zugänglich sind, darunter zum Beispiel Mandragore, Enluminures, Initiale, Gallica der Digital Catalogue of...


A world (map) of coat of arms: Richental’s mappamundi

The Aulendorf copy of Richental’s chronicle, today preserved in New York, is rightly famous as an important textual witness not only of the chronicle but also the armorial transmitted with the latter (see on the manuscript and the coats of arms it contains). Today, I would like to draw attention to a slightly hidden feature of the Aulendorf manuscript, namely the mappamundi it contains – a so-called ‘T-O...


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...


The Japanese Mon – An Eastern Equivalent to the European Coats of Arms? (II): The Emergence of Mon

In my two previous articles on the Japanese mon I have introduced the topic as such. In the first article, I have claimed that there are some similarities between the Japanese mon and European coats of arms. The second article has shown that although mon appear very different from coats of arms at first sight, comparing both in their forms and contents in detail uncovers some fascinating similarities, especially...


Richental-Rezeption in der Frühen Neuzeit: Ein weiterer Handschriftenfund

Das Wappenbuch, das mit der Richental-Chronik überliefert wurde, darf als eines der einflussreichsten Wappenbücher des Mittelalters gelten. Zu den offensichtlicheren Gründen dafür gehören seine frühe Entstehung (unter den universalen Wappenbüchern war es eines der frühesten, unter denen des frühen 15. Jahrhunderts eines der universalsten), das frühe Datum des Erstdrucks (1483) und sicher auch der Entstehungsort – im Oberrheingebiet entstanden nun einmal viele der großen Wappensammlungen, von denen viele (auch)...


An Armorial Cushion for Count John of Nassau-Saarbrücken as a Knight of the ‘Ordre du Croissant’ of King René of Anjou

René of Anjou (1409–1480) was the ruler of a vast complex of territories dispersed over parts of France. Being the titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem his courtly representation was particularly splendorous as René furthered chivalric culture in many ways. In 1447/48, he founded the Order of the Crescent.1 René had religious motives for this move, in the first place his veneration of St Mauritius of Agaune, but he...


Florence and its Signs, part 2: The Heraldic Diagram of another Florentine Guild and the Bossolo

In my previous text on this blog, entitled ‘Florence and its Signs: A Late Mediaeval Diagram of the City’ ( I presented the heraldic diagram painted at the main vault of the Palace of Judges’ and Notaries’ Guild. I proposed to interpret this image as ‘a peculiar visual political treatise’, main function of which was to legitimise the hierarchy of communities and the city’s political system. A confirmation of...


The Arms of the Florentine Republic in the “Bossolo” (End XIV s.): An Ideal Self-Representation of the Town

In “Florence and its Signs: A Late Mediaeval Diagram of the City”, Anna Pomierny Wąsińska described a fresco painted by Jacopo di Cione on the main vault of the Palace of the Judges’ and Notaries’ Florentine Guild (about 1360)1. She pointed out the close relation between the heraldic signs with an ideal ‘diagram’ of the town, formed of concentric circles and conceived as a «peculiar visual political treatise, which legitimises...

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