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The Proud Symbolism of Heraldry: Why It Matters; Why It is Fun!

The Proud Symbolism of Heraldry: Why It Matters; Why It is Fun!

Lecture by Laurent Ferri

Given at Cornell University on September 24, 2015

It is often regarded as an esoteric science and something for the snobs. To properly describe blasons arms, one has to use arcane terminology, codified and refined to a fault by heralds and scholars over the centuries. To make things worse, in English speaking countries the language of heraldry is normally still Norman French, the language habitually spoken at the court of England in the early heraldic age.

Another reason for relative discredit of heraldry is that being a noble and bearing arms are too often seen as synonymous which of course raisons suspicion in our democratic society. In fact, especially after the 14th century the use of armorial bearings was almost never restricted to certain individuals, families, corporations or institutions. Clearly there was a difference between England, where heraldry was most for aristocrats, and Italy, where heraldry was everywhere and pretty much for everyone.

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Laurent Ferri, curator of pre-1800 collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University Library, adjunct associate professor of comparative literature, and member of the graduate field in the Department of Medieval Studies.

Proud Symbolism of Heraldry

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