A complete guide to heraldry - PDF by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

A complete guide to heraldry PDF book

A complete guide to heraldry
A complete guide to heraldry


Too frequently it is the custom to regard the study of the science of Armory as that of a subject which has passed beyond the limits of practical politics. Heraldry has been termed *' the shorthand of History/' but nevertheless, the study of that shorthand has been approached too often as if it were but the study of a dead language. 

The result has been that too much faith has been placed in the works of older writers, whose dicta have been accepted as both unquestionably correct at the date they wrote, and, as a consequence, equally binding at the present day. Since the *^ Boke of St. Albans " was written, into the heraldic portion of which the author managed to compress an unconscionable amount of rubbish, books and treatises on the subject of Armory have issued from the press in constant succession. 

A few of them stand a head and shoulders above the remainder. The said remainder have already sunk into oblivion. Such a book as '' Guillim " must of necessity rank in the forefront of any armorial bibliography, but anyone seeking to judge the Armory of the present day by the standards and ethics adopted by that writer would find himself making mistake after mistake, and led hopelessly astray. 

There can be very little doubt that the " Display of Heraldry " is an accurate representation of the laws of Armory which governed the use of Arms at the date the book was written, and it correctly puts forward the opinions which were then accepted concerning the past history of the science. There are two points, however, which must be borne in mind. 

The first is that the critical desire for accuracy which fortunately seems to have been the keynote of research during the nineteenth century, has produced students of Armory whose investigations into facts have swept away the fables, the myths, and the falsehood which had collected around the ancient science, and which in their preposterous assertions had earned for Armory ridicule, a contempt, and disbelief which the science itself, and moreover the active practice of the science, had never at any time warranted or deserved. 

The desire to gratify the vanity of illustrious patrons rendered the mythical traditions attached to Armory more difficult to explore than in the cases of those other sciences in which no one has a personal interest in up- holding the wrong; but a study of the scientific works of bygone days, and the comparison, for example, of a sixteenth or seventeenth-century medical book with a similar work of the present day, will show that all scientific knowledge during past centuries was a curious conglomeration of unquestionable fact, interwoven with and partly obscured by a vast amount of false information, which now can either be dismissed as utter rubbish or controverted and disproved on the score of being a plausible untruth. Consequently, 

Armoury, no less than medicine, theology, or jurisprudence, should not be lightly esteemed because our predecessors knew less about the subject than is known at the present day, or because they believed implicitly dogma and tradition which we ourselves know to be and accept as exploded. Research and investigation constantly go on, and every day add to our knowledge. 

The second point, which perhaps is the most important, is the patent fact that Heraldry and Armory are not a dead science, but are an actual living reality. The armoury may be a quaint survival of a time with different manners and customs, and different ideas from our own, but the word " Finis " has not yet been written to the science, which is still slowly developing and altering and changing as it is suited to the altered manners and customs of the present day. I doubt not that this view will be a startling one to many who look upon Armory as indissolubly associated with parchments and writings already musty with age. 

But so long as the Sovereign has the power to create a new order of Knighthood, and attach thereto Heraldic insignia, so long as the Crown has the power to create a new coronet, or to order a new ceremonial, so long as new coats of arms are being called into being, — for so long is it idle to treat Armory and Heraldry as a science incapable of further development, or as science which in recent periods has not altered in its laws. The many mistaken ideas upon Armory, however, are not all due to the two considerations which have been put forward. Many are due to the fact that the handbooks of Armory professing to detail the laws of the science have not always been written by those having complete knowledge of their subject. Some statement appears in a textbook of Armory, it is copied into the book after book, and accepted by those who study Armory as being correct; whilst all the time it is absolutely wrong, and has never been accepted or acted upon by the Officers of Arms.

Some contents of the book

.I The Origin of Armory i
'II. The Status and the Meaning of a Coat of Arms in
Great Britain . . . . . . .19
III. The Heralds and Officers of Arms . . . .27
IV. Heraldic Brasses ........ 49
V. The Component Parts of an Achievement . . -57
VI. The Shield .60
VII. The Field of a Shield and the Heraldic Tinctures 67
VIII. The Rules of Blazon 99
IX. The so-called Ordinaries and Sub-Ordinaries. .106
X. The Human Figure in Heraldry . . . -158
XI. The Heraldic- Lion 172
XII. Beasts 191
XIII. Monsters 218
XIV. Birds 233
XV. Fish .253
XVI. Reptiles 257
XVII. Insects .......... 260
XVIII. Trees, Leaves, Fruits, and Flowers . . . .262
XIX. Inanimate Objects 281
XX. The Heraldic Helmet . . . . 303

the book details :
  • Author: Arthur Charles Fox-Davies was a British expert on heraldry. His Complete Guide to Heraldry, published in 1909, has become a standard work on heraldry in England. A barrister by profession, Fox-Davies worked on several notable cases involving the peerage, and also worked as a journalist and novelist
  • Publication date 1919
  • Company: London, Edinburgh, T.C. & E.C. Jack
  • Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank and pedigree. Armoury, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement

  • Download 57.2 MB - PDF ebook with coloured illustrations 

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