Later representations of medieval arms

Heraldry significant to History
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Hugh Wood
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Later representations of medieval arms

Post by Hugh Wood » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:00 pm

The Ludlow Castle Heraldic Roll of c.1580 includes the coats of arms of several early owners of the castle. These include Geoffrey de Geneville (d.1314) and Roger Mortimer, 1st earl of March (executed 1320). The arms of both these gentlemen are shown impaled with those of their wives. In the case of Geoffrey the arms relate to the period 1250-1304 and in the case of Roger to 1328-1330.

Surely there is no way they would actually have impaled their arms. It seems likely that, at that time, Geoffrey and his wife would never even have marshalled both arms on a single shield. The arms of Roger's daughter Katherine, Countess of Warwick (d.1369) are actually dimidiated with those of her husband above their effigies at Warwick, so I can't see Roger impaling his arms with those of his wife.

Is there an accepted convention that, when wanting to display medieval coats of arms, and lacking any evidence to the contrary, one can use modern methods of marshalling? The same pair of shields exactly exists in a 19th century window in St Laurence's in Ludlow.

All thoughts gratefully received.

Hugh

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Martin Goldstraw
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Re: Later representations of medieval arms

Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:15 am

Apologies for the delay.I believe that we need to put ourselves into the mindset of the compilers of the roll which, as you state, is circa 1576 by which time we were beginning to see regulation of arms via the Visitations so, it is likely that a "modern" form of marshalling may have been adopted. For the arms of Geoffrey de Geneville impaled with Maud de Lacy, I can't see why a sixteenth century mindset would not use impalement for a roll of arms indicating a marital alliance. It may have been the case that de Geneville would never have used an impaled shield in action, so to speak, but the same would apply to quartered shields; impalements and quarterings are not for the battlefield but are wholly appropriate for records (paper heraldry).
The same would apply to the use of the coronet - whoever compiled the roll in the sixteenth century would likely have taken it as the complete norm that a peer should be recorded with the coronet appropriate to his rank and probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. 
Why are some arms illustrated as impaled and some dimidiated? Without being able to speak to the compiler, who can know for sure except that he may have been copying some already existing illustration.
As with most things of the past, we can only provide conjecture.
I hope that this is of some assistance.
Martin Goldstraw

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