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Foreign Lions of England: Eastern European Royal Coats of Arms in the English Court during Edward I (1272–1307)

Foreign Lions of England: Eastern European Royal Coats of Arms in the English Court during Edward I (1272–1307)

By Eszter Tarján

Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU, Vol. 24 (2018)

Introduction: The present paper deals with the early rolls of arms in medieval England, the so-called general rolls of arms and specifically royal symbols connected to East Central Europe, the Hungarian, the Bohemian and the Polish royal coats of arms. This research focuses on the general rolls of arms compiled in England during the reign of Edward I. Those decades signified an outstanding period of English heraldry because numerous rolls of arms were compiled during them.

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It is always a central question whether a particular blazon illustrates the contemporary heraldic practice interrelated with the structure of the coat of arms, the terminology used or the depictions. Or, is the result of the lack of knowledge, false information and misinterpretation? When we read the list of the arm holders, many of the royal coats of arms seem fictitious. According to my research hypothesis, several of these fictitious armorial bearings, if not all, have some prefiguration. I also assume that the appearance of the examined royal coats of arms refers to the given regions’ political and dynastical relationships with England under Edward I or before him.

Connected to this hypothesis, numerous other questions are raised regarding whether the existence of a royal coat of arms in the rolls of arms means an independent or an autonomous kingdom, or how the changes in East Central European royal coats of arms were followed in England in the thirteenth to fourteenth century. Did the author work from a standard textual and heraldic tradition and can we distinguish the textual traditions? Through this research, I answer questions by the comparative analysis of the East Central European region’s royal coats of arms.

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Top Image: British Library Cotton MS Nero D I, fol 171v

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