Crusading families and the spread  of heraldry  

Coat of Arms 2012, 3rd series 8(2) no 224 : 59-84.

Crusading families and the Spread of Heraldry.

by Paul A Fox



The origins of heraldry can be placed with some confidence to Western Europe in the second quarter of the twelfth century. The idea was quickly disseminated across the continent  through a small but exalted social network which shared a common outlook of support for a reformist Papacy and great devotion to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This group had found common cause in the First Crusade ( 1096-99) and went on to champion the Second Crusade (1145-49) and the Templar Order. Heraldry appealed to a segment of the feudal military elite because it enhanced a sense of shared identity based on kinship and  participation in the Crusades. Further study of the wider context of the Crusading aristocracy facilitates a clearer understanding of the likely point of the origin of the arms of some families who  hitherto  have not been considered  armigerous from such an early period.


The idea that heraldry was born in the Crusades dates back at least to the time of William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms ( d. 1623), who was aware that many English  families cherished stories of such an origin for their arms.[ 1]  Over the centuries heraldic authors have been divided over their precise role, ranging from a belief that either the First or the Second Crusade witnessed the earliest armorial shields, to a  complete dismissal of  their part in the origin of heraldry. Most who adopted the latter position acknowledged that Crusading influence was, nevertheless, important.[2 ]  In the last few decades the relevance of the Crusades has once again been called into question on the grounds that all the evidence points to an initial origin and evolution in Western Europe. Michel  Pastoureau, for example, has recently stated   ‘ all historians are agreed that heraldry began neither in the Crusades, nor in the Orient ’. [3]


       There is broad agreement that the first heraldry can be discerned between the First Crusade and the Second.  Two important pieces of evidence demonstrating the absence of heraldry on the First Crusade itself, and in the 1130s, come from literary sources.  Firstly Anna Comnena, a contemporary witness of the First Crusade, describes the Frankish shields of that time as being  ‘ very broad at the top and running to a point, externally smooth and gleaming, with a brilliant boss of molten brass ’. [4]  That such shields were still being used in the 1120s is demonstrated by the tomb of William Clito, Count of Flanders ( figure 1). Secondly, an account of the siege of Exeter in 1136 states that it was impossible easily to distinguish one knight from another, suggesting that England was still essentially pre-heraldic. [5]

           Heraldry has been defined as defined as the systematic use of hereditary devices centred on the shield [ 6 ] . The current scholarly view on its origins is that it evolved  over a period of time independently in different parts of western europe as a result  of changing military and social needs.

Adrian Ailes has considered in detail the changes in military equipment which acted as drivers. [7]   Already by the time of the Norman Conquest the helmet made it difficult to recognize knights dressed for war, as evidenced by William the Conqueror having to lift his helmet on the battlefield of Hastings so that he might be recognized.  The invention of the couched lance meant that distinctive pennons could be attached to the lance to aid identification, as seen on the Bayeux Tapestry.  The idea of the surcoat, which might carry colourful designs, was copied from the Saracens as a result of the First Crusade.  We know that knights did decorate both their shields and their persons with distinctive marks, including animals, so that they might be recognized by their friends and not come under friendly fire on the field of battle. Near heraldic  geometric devices can be seen on shields depicted in the Bible of Stephen Harding, Abbot of Citeaux  produced circa 1109.[8]  William IX duke of Aquitaine who died in 1126 famously had an image of his mistress painted on his shield: changes in shield design leant themselves more to such shield painting.  Local lords had also begun to invent personal emblems for use on their coins and seals. Since the majority of the population was  illiterate it was not unusual for these to take the form of a visual illusion to the surname, what in later heraldry came to be termed canting. Good examples of this would be the lucy on the seal of  Richard de Lucy and the  oats on the coins of the Counts of St Pol which will be discussed in further detail below.[9]   All of the above are considered to have set the scene for the development of true armory and have therefore been termed “proto-heraldry”.

           This evolutionary model for heraldry imperfectly addresses the conundrum of what  brought all these influences together, in other words what ignited heraldry and what caused it to become such an important social movement. In animal evolution there is always a common progenitor, but  in heraldry there exists  strong doubt as to whether the first person to bear arms can be reliably identified. Pastoureau has remarked ‘ it has yet to be established which are the oldest extant arms, although it is a rather futile exercise: the appearance of arms is not due to any individual initiative but was a social phenomenon which took place over a fairly long period of time.’ [10]

          In order both to better understand this ‘social phenomenon’ and to redefine what role, if any, the Crusades had to play in the origins of heraldry, a study has been made here of the careers and inter-relationships of all those individuals considered by modern scholars to have borne arms in the early developmental phase of heraldry between 1130 and 1165. [11] What emerges from this analysis is that early heraldry occurs exclusively in a small interconnected group of families who were integrally involved with the Crusading movement. Jonathan Riley-Smith and Jonathan Phillips have studied these same families in detail. [12]  They are characterized by their support for the Papacy and religious reform, by links to reformist Cluniac monasticism, by earlier involvement with pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and, following the First Crusade, by their support for the military religious orders. These families were extensively inter-married. Their common outlook and their shared participation in the Crusades bonded them together. In order to facilitate insight into  the early diffusion of heraldry the evidence will be presented on a decade by decade basis.



1. Geoffrey Count of Anjou ( d 1151)

There are those who have suggested that some aspects of the account of the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1128, when the 15 year old was presented with  a shield of arms by his father-in-law Henry I of England, might be a later interpolation. [13] What these objections boil down to is a concern that the chronicler describing Geoffrey’s knighting  was writing decades after the event, and may have been influenced by the shield depicted on Geoffrey’s famous commemorative plaque. But John of Marmoutier’s description of Geoffrey differs significantly from his appearance on the plaque: he describes a helmet covered in jewels with no mention of a lion, whereas on the plaque he wears a simple heraldic cap. His slippers are described as bearing lions, which do not appear on the plaque. There are good reasons for doubting that the plaque was ever part of Geoffrey’s original tomb at Le Mans. The tomb was described in the 1170s as being sumptuously covered in gold and jewels, showing him dispensing ruin to the haughty and grace to the lowly; such a tomb no longer existed by the seventeenth century, having probably been completely destroyed by the Hugenots in 1562.[14]

          A fact about the plaque which has not excited much comment is that it does not actually name Geoffrey of Anjou. By implication when it was created his heraldry was so well known that any other form of identification was regarded as being superfluous. Moreover, the so called epitaph on the plaque is written entirely in the present tense. It begins ‘ by your sword O prince the mob of robbers is routed, and rest is granted to the churches’. Geoffrey’s subjugation of Normandy, achieved by 1144, brought an end to long years of fighting between Maine and Normandy. The closest stylistic parallel is the funeral plaque of bishop Ulger of Angers who died in 1148. It could easily be by the same artist or workshop, but differs in naming the bishop. A plausible explanation of Geoffrey’s plaque is that it was set up by a grateful bishop in order to impress his lord. This flattery was perhaps so successful that he chose to be buried at Le Mans. [15]

        If the Le Mans plaque supports the contention that Geoffrey of Anjou carried a  lion shield from the year 1128 we must next consider whether his background and influences lend further support to his usage of arms at such an  early time.  The actual symbolism of his arms is a pivotal but neglected topic. Roger Harmignies in his well argued contention that the original shield bore eight lions, attaches symbolism to the number eight, which according to St Augustine  ‘ is the symbol of the life of the righteous and the condemnation of the impious ’. [16] An aspect which has not been considered is that the manner in which the lions were depicted on Geoffrey’s shield represents something quite new in  European art.  Also, as Pastoureau has stated ‘ the twelfth century vogue for the lion in arms remains poorly explained ’. [17]

       There is in fact evidence that the twelfth century interest in lions was stimulated by the Crusades. It is true that depictions of lions can be found from antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages, with innumerable examples of lion carvings surviving to this day from the Roman Empire . They  were often used as architectural embellishments, a tradition that continued in the Byzantine Empire through which, of course, the early Crusades travelled. In the West,  lions were no longer  to be found in the wild, and the usage of the lion in art had dwindled. However, any visitor to the East would have seen  stone lions, and might also have encountered the animals themselves while crossing the remoter regions of Palestine and Asia Minor. Jerusalem itself had a Lion Gate which the brothers Eustace III count of Boulogne ( d. 1125) and Godfrey de Bouillon ( d. 1100) took in the First Crusade. [18] Eustace, before he retired as a monk of Cluny c. 1125, minted a denier showing a lion passant over an arcaded edifice in commemoration of this famous action. [19] The lion then was linked to Jerusalem in the minds of the Crusaders, but there was another aspect of the animal which also appealed to them: its ferocity. Robert of Rheims, who was an eyewitness to the First Crusade, writing circa 1107  described Godfrey de Bouillon  as having courage ‘ like a roaring lion who feared the attack of no man ’.[20]  The Crusades  took warriors en masse to Palestine,  requiring them to travel across remote areas where some would have been able to observe directly the awesome power and skill of the lion in stalking and killing its prey. Whereas earlier pilgrims would have avoided the lion because the church forbad them to carry weapons  [21], the heavily armed Crusaders must have looked upon the animal with profound respect and admiration. When they returned home to weave their stories the reputation in Western Europe of the lion as the king of beasts was considerably augmented. The lion then would have presented itself as an ideal  emblem for a warrior prince to put on his shield. From soon after the First Crusade there are reports of lions being brought back to Europe. [22]  At Caen in 1105 King Henry I of England exhibited a lion or lions and other exotic animals which were later kept in his menagerie at Woodstock. [23]

           The manner in which the lions are depicted on the shield of Geoffrey of Anjou is remarkable because the only  historical precedent which can be discerned for the lion rampant  is that of the Assyrian royal cylinder seals dating from the ninth to the seventh centuries before Christ. [24]   Between the fall of the Assyrian empire and the year 1128 the lion rampant posture seems to have been quite in abeyance,  and throughout this intervening period the  convention was to show the lion passant, or occasionally sejant. John Goodall has shown that the Crusaders brought back ancient seals as highly prized souvenirs, and he  postulated that the arrival of  a seal in Europe depicting Assyrian lion hunt could have triggered the lion rampant motif.  [25]

     However, Geoffrey’s lions have two other novel characteristics which would not suggest the copying of some Assyrian prototype: they are multiple, they lack manes, and they all face the same direction. This last characteristic is at variance with  an ancient artistic convention whereby  lions occurring in multiples were almost invariably paired and facing each other. [26]  This is all the more remarkable since most families who emulated the lion rampant in arms adopted only a single lion.  


      The  posture, multiplicity and  lack of manes of the lions on the Anjevin shield in fact require no tenuous Assyrian connection. All would be easily explained if the designer had first hand experience of lion movements and behavior.   A Crusader could have observed a pride of lions on the attack, and as anyone who has observed lions knows, it is the mane-less lionesses who work together to do the hunting and killing. It is documented that lion hunts were taking place in twelfth century Palestine. [27]

       There has arisen a notion that because Henry I of England knighted Geoffrey, he must have been the author of the arms, but there is no reason to suppose that he was himself armigerous, and the evidence is rather to the contrary. [28]  Not one single individual living in England during Henry’s reign can unequivocally be stated to have borne arms, and Henry, having not visited the East, could never have observed lions in their natural habitat.

       Considering all the above aspects together there emerges the impression that the arms were designed by a Crusader who had returned from the East. In the Angevin court  it is not necessary to look to far to find such a person because the boy’s own father, count Fulk V of Anjou, had led a force to Jerusalem in 1120 and had become closely associated with the Knights Templar within months of their foundation, probably as a lay confrater. [29]  By the time of his son’s knighting and wedding in 1128 he had taken the cross again, having already spent a protracted period in the Holy Land. Soon afterwards he returned to Jerusalem and was selected to be its next king. His son’s funeral plaque depicts Geoffrey bearing  a single lion on his cap or helmet.  If the shield represents a pride of lions then the single lion on the cap or helm would stand for Geoffrey himself, the warrior leader, and the lions on the shield for his subordinate warriors who together constitute an awesome killing machine. This does not preclude the possibility that there could be added layers of symbolism and meaning, for instance in the number of lions depicted.

     The choice of the lion for his son would have carried a further appeal for Fulk of Anjou: there is literary evidence in the form of the autobiography of his father count Fulk Réchin ( d 1109) that the quality that his line valued most highly of all was  prowess.[30]  There is a further example of Fulk’s love of symbolism and his desire to leave symbolic gifts to his son from the time after he became king of Jerusalem in 1131. He was presented with an ivory tau by the sultan of Egypt which he sent to Anjou to be used as a symbol of authority in rituals involving his heirs.[ 31] 

          Evidence of the popularity of the lion as an artistic motif in Fulk’s Jerusalem is supplied by the Melisende Psalter, on whose ivory covers lions were carved.  The psalter was made  in Jerusalem, almost certainly for  Fulk himself  as a gift to his wife Queen Melisende. [32]  On the front cover is King David overcoming a maned lion, while on the back is a series of  six roundels  each depicting a king, presumed to be Fulk. In the top central lacunus  a lion gores what appears to be a camel. The animals are crudely executed, but the attribution is supported by the contemporary coronation mantle of Roger II of Sicily which also has a lion attacking a camel.

    The idea of putting a charge on his son’s shield and helmet is something which Fulk may have copied from his father-in-law  Helias Count of Maine ( d. 1110), who after making his Crusader pledge  had the cross engraved on his shield and helmet. [33]  Fulk’s ancestor Fulk III count of Anjou was typical of his line in combining ferocity with exceptional piety. [34]  He made the journey to Jerusalem across Asia Minor on four separate occasions, and after the Muslim destruction of the church of the Holy Sepulchre he brought a large piece of it back to Anjou. His son, Fulk IV Réchin, did not himself take the cross, but  encouraged his vassals to do so, and Pope Urban V, the author of the First Crusade, presented him with his own golden rose as a special mark of favour. [35]

               Soon after Geoffrey of Anjou’s 1128 marriage to Henry I’s daughter the Empress Maud he  ‘went to the borders of Flanders and to lands far away to seek out tournaments’. [36] Thus many knights would have been introduced to his now famous shield. Pastoureau’s map of  the frequency with which the lion is encountered in European armorials of the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries would be consistent with a diffusion of interest centered on Flanders. [37] Crucially for us to be able to call Geoffrey’s arms true heraldry it must be determined that he transmitted the arms to his sons. The only son for whom there exists incontrovertible evidence is William fitz Empress, count of Poitou whose seal of 1156 shows a lion rampant on both shield and horse caparison. [38]  The eldest son Henry II of England is known to have been armigerous but no record of those arms survives. Henry’s eldest son Richard the Lionheart has a single lion rampant on his first great seal as king and there is literary evidence that he carried a banner bearing a single lion on the Third Crusade.[39]  Geoffrey’s grandson William Longspée  earl of Salisbury adopted a version of Geoffrey’s shield, identical except in that it was charged with six lions instead of eight. It appears that Geoffrey’s sons copied the single golden  lion rampant from their father’s cap, preferring it to his actual shield.


An important question must now be posed. Was it a coincidence that over the next several decades many of the leading families of the day adopted  heraldic devices? In other words could the same instinct which encouraged Geoffrey of Anjou to use a consistent shield device between his marriage in 1128 and his death in 1151 have been perceived independently by others at about the same time? This is certainly possible, but a careful look at the careers and the family connections of this rather special group of early armigers reveals a very strong interconnection between virtually all of them. Those who themselves took the lion may have seen or heard of Geoffrey of Anjou’s lions, but it was not Geoffrey’s circle who kindled the spark, possibly first struck by Fulk of Anjou , to adopt hereditary armorial bearings. Rather it was the circle of a quite different individual, Ralph count of Vermandois.



2.  Ralph count of Vermandois (d 1152)

has long been known to be significant in the story of heraldry as the owner of one of the earliest extant  heraldic seals, dating 1146 and showing a chequy shield. His earlier seal from 1135 shows the same device on his flag. [40]   Ralph certainly knew Geoffrey of Anjou, to whom he was also related through the house of Beaugency, and  as grand seneschal of France he may have represented Louis VI at Geoffrey’s wedding. Louis had once entertained a hope that Fulk of Anjou would serve as his seneschal, it being necessary for the king of France to try and maintain good relations with his nominal vassals in order to exercise his influence over them. [41] The  count of Vermandois was a famous and fearless fighter, having been a lynch pin in the royal army since he was a teenager. In the constantly shifting alliances of French politics men who were comrades in arms one year could be fighting each other the next, though the early 1130s were years of relative peace. Vermandois was then on the borders of Flanders, the very area specified as being part of Geoffrey of Anjou’s wedding tournament circuit.  [42]   This provides a further avenue by which Ralph might  have been influenced by Geoffrey’s arms from their inception.

        A likely year for Ralph of Vermandois to have adopted his own distinctive arms chequy azure and or ( assuming these were the colours) was in 1131 when he became seneschal.  So many other descendants of the House of Capet adopted these colours that it has been argued they were already by then established as the royal colours of France. [43]  Ralph was not only the most important representative of the monarchy, he was also a member of the house of Capet, and the king’s cousin.

    Ralph’s crusading father count Hugh of Vermandois ( d. 1101), the son of Henry I of France,  carried a golden papal banner on the First Crusade.[44]  Hugh returned home from the Crusade before it reached Jerusalem. His subsequent attempt to complete his Crusader vow led to his death. Ralph’s mother was Adelaide, daughter of Herbert IV count of Vermandois, a descendant of Charlemagne. Despite his own illustrious forbears the house of Vermandois was drawn to the lustre of  marriage alliances with descendants of the house of Anjou. Ralph  took as his fourth and last wife the step-daughter of  Fulk of Anjou’s daughter Sibilla, while Ralph’s daughter Elizabeth in 1156 married Sibilla’s son Philip of Flanders, and his son and heir Ralph II of Vermandois in 1160 married Sibilla’s daughter Marguerite.


Three other new bearers of arms it in the 1130s  were nephews of Ralph of Vermandois, suggesting either a degree of hero worship, or more likely, a direct role of Ralph in encouraging others to devise their own arms.  


3. Waleran count of Meulan and Lord of Worcester ( d. 1166)

who adopted  chequy arms ( probably chequy gules and or) based on those of Vermandois by 1136-38 [45]  , was the nephew of Ralph count of Vermandois, being son of the First Crusader Robert count of Meulan by Isabel, the daughter of Hugh of Vermandois. His parents were married on the eve of  count Hugh’s  departure for the Holy Land. Waleran sought and received the assistance of Ralph of Vermandois in his fight against Geoffrey of Anjou in Normandy in 1138, on behalf of king Stephen of England. [46]  He later switched his allegiance and joined  Geoffrey’s court in 1141, assisting Geoffrey at the siege of Rouen in 1143/4.[47]  In 1146 he took the cross with his half  brother, William III de Warenne, and with Louis VII, at Vezalay. [48]  His adoption of very similar arms to those of Vermandois was not suprising given his ‘known predilection for emphasizing his Vermandois connection because it gave him a line of descent from Charlemagne ’. [49]


4. William II count of Nevers (d.1148),

from the duchy of Burgundy, was using arms by 1140.[50] He was another nephew of Ralph count of Vermandois, and also of Ralph de Beaugency (d. <1130) , a participant in the First Crusades and one of the most distinguished warriors of his age. His great uncle ,Robert de Sablé, was another notable  Crusader and a vassal of the counts of Anjou. William II himself took the cross for the First Crusade. He succeded his grandfather as count in 1100 and abdicated in 1146 in favour of his son,William III, retiring to the Abbey of La Grande Chartreuse. He was a close associate of St Bernard of Clairvaux ( d.1153) and played an important role in promoting the Second Crusade. With Ralph of Vermandois he was one of the most constant and loyal  commanders of the French royal army. He was the first choice of the French nobility to be Regent of France during the Second Crusade, but he declined on account of his extreme age. William III count of Nevers took the cross at Vezalay in 1146. [51]


5. Gilbert fitz Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke ( d. 1148)

was the brother in law of Waleran Count of Meulan ( no. 3) and married to the niece of Ralph of Vermandois. He came to England in 1137/8 and was created earl of Pembroke by king Stephen in 1138, after which he had an armorial seal made showing six chevronnels on his shield. [52]  The Civil War in England prevented his participation in the Second Crusade, but his commitment to the cause is suggested by his  benefactions to  the Knights Templar.[53]  His nephew Gilbert fitz Richard de Clare, earl of Hertford  ( d <1153) bore three chevrons on his seal of 1141-46. [54]


6. Stephen count of Brittany and earl of Richmond (d. 1136)

had a field of fleurs de lis on both shield and surcoat as evidenced by a now lost seal. [55] Roger de Mowbray, who married count Stephen’s grand-daughter, Alice, also adopted the fleurs de lis, as shown on his seal which dates before 1157.[56]  Stephen was a member of a Crusading family, having succeeded his nephew Conan as Earl of Richmond after Conan’s death on the First Crusade in 1098.[57]  Roger de Mowbray was a participant in the Second Crusade in which he famously slew a muslim leader in single combat.[58]  Both Stephen and his brother, Geoffrey Boterel I, were linked to Anjou in that they were benefactors of the Abbey of Saints Sergius and Bacchus at Angers. [59]  Their cousin duke Alan of Brittany was married to Ermengarde the sister of Fulk V count of Anjou. A field of  fleur de lis can be seen on the background of Geoffrey of Anjou’s funeral plaque. It is known that at one of Geoffrey of Anjou’s early tournaments near Mont St Michel he fought on the side of the Bretons, and it seems that here we might have  an example of heraldry adopted  in emulation of Geoffrey. [60]


Related to the last two are the arms of Gilbert de Gant, earl of Lincoln (d 1156). On his lost seal, which dates after  c. 1148, he carries a barry shield. [61]  He was the grandson of Stephen count of Brittany  ( no. 6), and brother-in-law of Roger de Mowbray. His wife was Rohese de Clare ( d 1156), niece of Gilbert fitz Gilbert ( no. 5), sister of Gilbert fitz Richard, was the first woman known to have used an armorial seal. [62]  Gilbert’s father Walter de Gant ( d. 1139) bequeathed to Bridlington Abbey a reliquary which his brother-in-law Baldwin had sent to him from Jerusalem. [63]


1140s [64]


7. Hugh II duke of Burgundy ( d. 1143)

was a comrade in arms of Ralph of Vermandois in the royal army of France, for example in 1124 when he helped to repulse an invasion by the emperor Henry V. [65] By 1142 he was using an equestrian seal with three pales on the lance flag ( figure 2). [66] Possibly the engraver made a mistake, intending to represent bendy, the later arms of Burgundy, or possibly the arms began as paly rather than bendy. If the latter is the case then the arms might have served as a direct inspiration for the arms of the count of Barcelona ( no. 9). At some stage it was felt necessary to fabricate an altered version of this seal depicting bends on the lance flag, which was attached to a charter of 1106. [67]  Whether the intention of the forger was to authenticate the antiquity of the arms of Burgundy, or simply to authenticate a forged charter, is not clear.[68] On Hugh’s genuine earlier seal of 1131 he carried a sword rather than a lance in his right hand, and the shield simply showed the decorative metal strips which later evolved into the escarbuncle.[69]

       Hugh was the son of Odo I duke of ( French) Burgundy who went to the Holy Land in 1100 with Stephen of Blois and Hugh of Vermandois, and died there in 1102. Odo was a close supporter of the Papacy and probably a fidelis beati Petri.[70]  Hugh’s  mother was the daughter of William count of ( Imperial) Burgundy, another papal fidelis who was closely connected with Crusading and Cluniac monasticism. [71] Hugh’s mother-in-law was a Beaugency, a kinswoman of the counts of Vermandois and  also of the counts of Anjou. His wife, Matilda, was the daughter of King Alphonse-Henriques I of Portugal, who in 1142 made his whole kingdom a vassal of the Abbey of Clairvaux. [72]  The Crusading instinct remained strong in the ducal house of Burgundy perhaps because they were familiars of St Bernard of Clairvaux who became the great exponent of the Crusades, and who drafted  new statutes for the Templars in 1128. In the period 1125-33 Hugh II of Burgundy was a benefactor of the Templars. [73]  His grandson, Hugh III, died on the Third Crusade in 1192.


8. King Alfonso VII of Gallicia and Leon ( d. 1157)

inherited the kingdom of Leon in 1126, and in 1135, having also become king of Castile, was crowned as ‘ Emperor of all the Spains’. He was the son of Raymond of Burgundy and thereby cousin of Hugh II duke of Burgundy ( no. 7).  His kinsmen  Odo I duke of Burgundy and  William count of  Meulan, both  came to the aid of his grandfather Alfonso VI after a disastrous military defeat by the Muslims in 1086. [74]  From early in his reign Alfonso VII used the lion on his coinage as a canting emblem, a good example of the rising reputation of the lion in the early twelfth century. In the earliest examples the engraver clearly had little idea what a lion looked like, but later on the lions took on a typically heraldic appearance.[75] There is no seal evidence to show that Alfonso adopted the lion on his shield, but there is contemporary literary evidence that he did so, in the form of the mid twelfth century Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris. [76] This ends in a poem celebrating his great victory at Almeira in 1147, where his troops carried leonine shields and banners ( argent a lion rampant purpure). The choice of the colour purple suggests adoption some time between 1135, when he was crowned emperor, hence the imperial colour, and 1147. [77]  The kings of Spain were on the whole too preoccupied with their own Crusade against the Moors to go to the Holy Land, but their Iberian campaigns were given the same status by the papacy as those in the Holy Land in the Second Crusade. Alfonso’s heraldic inspiration is likely to have come from Burgundy. His family had long maintained a close relationship with, and had been heavily influenced by, the reformist Abbey of Cluny. Alfonso himself visited Cluny in 1132 and 1142, while Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, visited Iberia at his request in 1142.[78] He was married in 1128 to Berenguela, the sister of Raymond Berengar count of Barcelona, see next.  


9.Raymond Berengar IV count of Barcelona and prince of Aragon ( d. 1162)

was using the now familiar paly arms of Aragon by 1150.[79]  In 1137 he married Petronilla, heiress of the Kingdom of Aragon, whose father Alfonso I had bequeathed his whole kingdom to be divided between the Templars, the Hospitallers and the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Notwithstanding,  the son of Raymond and Petronilla ascended the throne as Alfonso II of Aragon in 1162, taking his father’s arms.  Raymond Berengar’s father had become a fully professed brother of the Templars in 1131, the year of his death. [80]  In 1144 Raymond allied himself with his brother-in-law Alfonso VII of Leon and Castile ( no. 8) in a highly successful Crusade against the Moors. Both monarchs were held in high esteem by Pope Eugenius III, and their campaign was given his blessing in 1147 when he made it part of the Second Crusade.[81]  Raymond made a substantial grant to the Templars in 1143, and from this time on the Templars were fighting in Iberia.[ 82]  New gifts to them were made in 1148 after Raymond captured Tortosa from the Moors, when grants were also made to the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. [83] His charter of 1150 on which his earliest intact seal survived, was made  jointly with his nephew, Raymond Berengar count of Provence, another armiger, ( d. 1166) in favour of the Knights Hospitaller. His grandfather and namesake died on the First Crusade.


10. Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders ( d. 1168).

The evidence that Count Thierry was armigerous is based in part on the earliest known heraldic coins. Having been supported by Henry I of England to rule Flanders from 1128, in 1139 Thierry went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and married Sibilla of Anjou, the daughter of  Fulk V of Anjou, king of Jerusalem. [84]  Their son Philip was still using a non armorial seal in 1159, but by 1163 his seal showed the  lion of Flanders on his helmet, shield and banner ( figure 3 ).[85] One might suppose that his adoption of arms was a consequence of his own marriage in 1156 to Elizabeth daughter of Ralph I count of Vermandois, but the lion on his helmet is strikingly reminiscent of the headgear of Geoffrey of Anjou on his funeral plaque, raising the distinct possibility that it was derived from the House of Anjou.  Such a possibility is strongly supported  by a study of the coinage minted by Count Thierry. Some of these are very similar to the coins minted by Baldwin II while he was count of Edessa between 1108 and 1118. [86]  Baldwin II went on to become king of Jerusalem in 1118, and was the grandfather of  Thierry’s wife whom he married in 1139. Few men of that era were more completely wrapped up with the Holy Land than Thierry of Alsace. He went there on no less than four separate occasions, including the Second Crusade,  which was triggered by the fall of Edessa in 1144. One of principal aims of that Crusade was to recapture Edessa.

           The Flemish deniers resemble their Edessan prototypes on both the obverse and reverse sides, but their key feature from the heraldic perspective is the armed man who carries a shield which in the prototypes and some of the copies the shield is left blank, whereas some of the coins of Thierry are charged with a lion rampant. ( figure 4)  Alexandre Hermand supposed these to be from the time of Thierry’s son Philip of Alsace ( acceded 1168) because of his abovementioned seal. [87]

    However, whilst  there exists a whole corpus of deniers bearing  Philip’s  name, none of them are heraldic and none of them resemble the coins of Edessa.  The historical context of the Edessa inspired deniers belongs to  the time of Thierry of Alsace, who perhaps began minting them  after 1144 as a political statement in support of the recapture of Edessa. There is a direct connection between Thierry of Alsace and Fulk of Anjou: the two men met in the Holy Land, and it is thus highly plausible that Thierry’s adoption of the lion was a result of his father-in-law’s direct influence. Pastoureau’s lion map puts Flanders its epicentre in terms of the popularity of the lion in arms based on medieval armorials. [88]


11. Henry the Lion duke of Bavaria and Saxony ( 1129/30-1195).

It is remarkable that the first evidence we have for heraldry in Germany is on a seal of this duke from 1144 which was created when he was only fourteen or fifteen years old. On his first seal a lion can just be discerned on the shield, especially when comparison is made to the better preserved seals from slightly later in his reign. [89] Interestingly one of his later seals reverts to having  no lion, the shield being a plain one of the ‘escarbuncle’ type. This further emphasizes the uncertainties of using seals as evidence of early armory. In view of Henry’s youth when he adopted arms it is highly probable that he was actually following his uncle, duke Welf VI (no. 18), although Welf’s own evidence of armory dates somewhat later. Henry had impeccable Crusading credentials, his great grandfather Welf  IV of Bavaria ( d. 1101) having been a key figure in the  Crusade of 1101, a papal fidelis, and married to the sister of the famous Crusader  Robert II count of Flanders. Welf VI was a supporter of the Second Crusade, and  when St Bernard visited Germany in 1146 to build up support for this Crusade he focused his attention on Welf’s territories,  meeting Conrad of Zähringen who was one of Welf’s principal supporters.[90]  Two years later Henry the Lion married the daughter of Conrad. Since the marriage is likely to have been arranged by his uncle this lends further support to his uncle having been the originator of his arms. Henry later divorced his first wife and she married the Count of Savoy.

    In 1142 Henry’s mother married Henry II of Austria ( no. 16) who was uterine half  brother of  king Conrad III of Germany. St Bernard obtained  papal approval for Henry and others to fight against the pagan Wends as part of the Second Crusade, as an alternative to going with Welf to the Holy Land. Henry eventually managed to visit Constantinople and the Holy Land in 1172-3.



12. Bouchard Lord of Guise

had an eagle on a roundel on his long shield on his seal of 1155. [91] The castellans of Guise were vassals of the counts of Vermandois. Bouchard ( d<1163) was the son of Guy of Guise (d. 1142) and Adeline de Montmorency, the daughter of Bouchard III de Montmorency

( d. 1130/32), constable of France. [92]  Bouchard of Guise was also a second cousin of Raymond Berengar count of Barcelona ( no. 9) through the royal house of Aragon.  He accompanied Louis VII on the Second Crusade in 1147.


13.  Matthew I de Montmorency (d>1160),

the uncle of  Bouchard of Guise, was the constable of France from 1138, and as such was responsible in 1146 for assembling the forces for Louis VII’s Crusade.  His nephew’s adoption of the eagle lends strong support that it was he who adopted the arms which were used by his son  or a cross gules between four eagles displayed azure. [93]  In 1141 Matthew married  Adelaide de Maurienne, widow of Louis VI of France, mother of Louis VII, and daughter of Humbert III count of Savoy. The house of Savoy used both the cross and the eagle heraldically. This coincidence suggests that Matthew either  adopted the arms after his 1141 marriage, or that the influence worked in the other direction.  Matthew’s sons and heirs were not descended from Savoy as their mother was a natural daughter of Henry I of England, so if the shield was a homage to the house of Savoy it is unlikely to have been adopted in the next generation.

    In going on the Second Crusade Matthew was following in the footsteps of his father, Bouchard III de Montmorency, who died in Jerusalem some time between 1130 and 1132. Two of Matthew’s sons later died in the Holy Land on the Third Crusade of 1189. Not only was he closely associated with Ralph of Vermandois in the royal court and at the forefront of the French royal army, but other close relations were armigerous from an early date. His step-mother was Adeliza de Clermont the widow of Gilbert fitz Richard de Clare ( no. 5).



14. Amadeus III Count of Savoy ( d. 1148),

was probably armigerous on the basis of his brother-in-law Matthew I de Montmorency’s usage of the cross and the eagle on his shield.  On  his seal of 1143 he carries pennant  bearing a  cross, assumed by D.L.Galbreath and others, probably correctly, to have been the cross of Savoy, gules a cross argent. [94] The shield on this seal is facing the viewer, a new trend which was beginning to be adopted for the purpose of displaying heraldry, but unfortunately surviving examples are too worn to determine whether this is in fact the case. His son Humbert III’s seal of 1150 also has a pennant with a cross but the design has reverted to the older stereotype of the shield reversed.[ 95] The earliest known shield of Savoy carries the eagle, presumed to have been or an eagle displayed sable, as found on the tomb of Count Peter of Savoy at Aquabella and the seal of his father Count Thomas in 1206.[96]

    The counts of Savoy sit at the very nexus of all the early armigerous families due to their extensive network of marriage alliances ( figure 6). They were a fidelis family on whom the Papacy felt it could depend, and even before the First Crusade Pope Gregory VII had been supported by Amadeus II in an abortive attempt to put together an army for the Holy Land.[97]  Amadeus III was the son of Humbert II ( d. 1103) who had pledged to go on the First Crusade but never went. His sister the queen of France was close to Ralph of Vermandois, who  offered his support after the death of Louis VI in 1137, an event which prompted the abbot of Cluny to write to Amadeus. [98]  Adelaide  then married Matthew I de Montmorency ( no. 12). Amadeus was first cousin of Hugh II duke of Burgundy ( no. 7), and of Alfonso VII of Leon ( no. 8). He was long known as ‘the Crusader’ because in 1128, when he came into conflict with Louis VI,  he achieved peace by promising to join Louis’ planned Crusade. Fatefully, he did not fulfill his pledge until 1147, after Pope Eugenius had written to him requesting his involvement.[99] He never reached the Holy Land, dying on Cyprus the following year. It is distinctly possible that the banner of Savoy was a consequence of his Crusader vow. The fact that the same banner was adopted by the Knights Hospitaller  reinforces the supposition that he took it first.[100]


15. Simon de Beaugency ( d. 1156)

is another nephew of Ralph of Vermandois. Although there is no seal evidence it is highly probable that it was he who adopted  the arms of Vermandois with a fess gules for difference. can be assumed with high confidence. In 1218 his descendant Simon II de Beaugency inherited the patrimony in succession to his elder brother, but he retained his cadency mark of three escallops on the fess. [101]  Simon I’s mother was Matilda of Vermandois. The family of Beaugency were of great eminence in the twelfth century, and one member of the family was Helias count of Maine, son John de Beaugency, grandfather of Geoffrey of Anjou, and perhaps an early inspiration for the placing of  devices on shield and helm. Simon’s grandfather, Lancelin de Beaugency, is thought to have visited the Holy Land on pilgrimage as he dedicated a new priory at Beaugency to the Holy Sepulchre in the 1070s, which his son Ralph I further endowed on his return from the First Crusade. [102] Simon’s uncle Odo was the standard bearer of Hugh of Vermandois on the First Crusade, while his aunt, Agnes de Beaugency, was the mother of William and Robert of Nevers who also took the cross. [103]


From the 1150s there is evidence of three noblemen from Germany using heraldry, all of whom participated in the  Second Crusade, and all of whom were related to Henry the Lion. If they were not in fact already armigerous before the Crusade then their shared participation in that expedition would very probably have encouraged them to become so. It seems unlikely that they would have adopted arms in emulation of Henry as he belonged to a younger generation. Such influences normally work the other way round, as demonstrated by the various nephews of Ralph of Vermandois who copied his use of arms. Various families armigerous by the mid twelfth century were well represented on the Second Crusade. These included William count of Nevers and his brother Renaud who died on the Crusade, both sons of William II ( no. 4); Simon, the brother of Ralph of Vermandois who died in 1148 on his way back; Matthew de Montmorency ( no. 13); Bouchard of Guise ( no. 12); and William and Ralph the brothers of Simon de Beaugency

 ( no. 15) who both died on the Crusade; and finally Amadeus III of Savoy

 ( no. 14) was another prominent participant.

16. Duke Welf VI ( 1115-1191)

sealed with arms in 1152, the year that his nephew the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa made him duke  of Spoleto, margrave of Tuscany, and prince of Sardinia.  He was the grandson of the First Crusader Welf IV, whose wife was Judith of Flanders. He was himself  a prominent participant in the Second Crusade, taking the cross from St Bernard in 1147. [104]  In a letter from that period to Louis VII he described himself as ‘a Knight of Christ and servant of the cross’. [105] His heraldic device was a lion, and it would make a great deal of sense for him to have adopted the lion from the counts of Flanders, from whom he was descended, and to have passed it on to his then teenage nephew Henry the Lion (no. 13).[106 ] This would date his arms to 1144 or earlier, the year when Henry sealed with a lion.

17. Otakar III margrave of Styria ( d. 1164)

was the nephew of Welf VI. He was also  first cousin of Henry II of Austria (see next) through his mother, Elizabeth Babenberg, daughter of Leopold II margrave of Austria, and sister of Leopold III. Elizabeth actually joined the First Crusade, on which she died, as a widow in 1100. Otakar  brought Byzantine artists back with him to his principality in the aftermath of the Second Crusade. His first seal, last known to have been used in 1157,  shows no arms on his shield, but by 1160 his shield bore a lion. [107]


18. Henry II Duke of Austria

depicted no heraldry on his shield on a seal of 1143, but had adopted an eagle by 1156. [108] He was the son of Leopold III of Babenberg ( d. 1136) margrave of Austria and uterine half brother of Conrad III king of Germany, who created him duke in 1143. [109] For a time he was the step father of Henry the Lion ( no. 11). He accompanied Conrad on the Second Crusade in 1146,  and in 1148 married Theodora Comnena, niece of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I in Constantinople. It is very likely that his adoption of the eagle was  influenced by his imperial Roman connections, and it may be surmised that  Conrad and his nephew, Frederick Barbarossa,  adopted the eagle as a true heraldic charge at this time, following its long usage by the Holy Roman Emperors as an emblem. Duke Henry is known to have been present at a magnificent Franco-German meeting near Acre on the Second Crusade in June 1148, at which were also present Welf VI of Bavaria and duke Frederick (Barbarossa) of Swabia. [110]



Two families from Flanders and the Low Countries are known to be armorial from seals of the 1160s perhaps following on from the adoption of arms by the counts of Flanders.


19. Anselm de Candavène count of St Pol

bore the  garb of oats on his shield and horse caparison on his seal of 1162, whereas his elder brother, Enguerrand, as Count of St Pol bore garbs but only in the field of his seal. [111] The area where they ruled was known to the romans  because of its principal crop as the terra avenae (Tervana)  or land of oats.  The family surname from an early period was an allusion to this.  Campus avenae, field of oats, in French is champ d’avoine  or later Candavène. Enguerrand is shown as a knight riding over a field of oats, clearly intended to spell out his surname to the illiterate. Their father count Hugh III Candavène (1126-41) and perhaps his predecessor showed a sprig of oats on his coins. [112] The family was closely associated with the counts of Flanders: count Hugh II ( d. 1118/19) went on the First Crusade in 1096 with Robert count of Flanders, and his eldest son, an earlier Enguerrand, died on that expedition. Hugh III in 1128 married Margaret of Clermont, the widow of Charles Count of Flanders,  daughter of Adelaide of Vermandois, and half sister of Ralph of Vermandois. Anselm de Candavène was thus another nephew of Ralph of Vermandois.  


20. Florence III count of Holland

sealed with arms in 1162.[113]  He was the son of Dirk VI count of Holland ( d. 1157) who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1138. [114] Florence’s  mother,  Sophie von Rheinech,  herself went to Jerusalem as a widow in 1173 and was buried there in 1176 in the church of the Teutonic Knights. In 1162 Florence married Ada of Scotland, sister of King Malcolm IV, who created Florence earl of Ross. After the death of Malcolm IV in 1165 the kingdom of Scotland went to his brother William I  ‘the Lion’ who is assumed to have adopted the king of beasts as his royal emblem. [115] His son, Alexander II, certainly used the lion, although as yet without  the border. These were presumably the same arms or a lion rampant gules which were being used by the Counts of Holland. The double tressure was added by Alexander III (1249-1286), perhaps in deference to the fact that his cousins the Counts of Holland had been the first to adopt the arms. Florence III joined the Third Crusade in 1189 and was buried in Antioch in 1190. As to the stimulus that prompted Florence III to take arms, he was the great nephew of Thierry of Alsace count of Flanders

( no. 14).


For a schematic representation of the origins of heraldry see  figure 5.

To summarise, all the early armigers were bound together by both ties of blood and by a shared mind set.  Early heraldry was so well circumscribed that its spread from a single point of origin is highly probable. It was taken up and developed by a clearly defined group in response to a new idea from one or more members of that group. The overwhelming early popularity of the lion in heraldry with its epicenter in Flanders strongly support the theory that the spark which ignited heraldry was the lion shield of Geoffrey of Anjou, an idea passed on to his brother-in-law the count of Flanders. Ralph of Vermandois must have been an early and prominent exponent of the hereditary shield device within his extended family group.  Of the remaining families who, on good grounds, were armigerous in the first few decades of heraldry, nine are linked directly to Vermandois, including four nephews and a step-brother of count Ralph.  At much the same time prominent interrelated families in Burgundy and the Iberian Peninsula were also drawn in.

      Furthermore, every one of the early bearers of arms had a close family connection with the Crusading movement ( figure 6). This is significant  because involvement in the Crusades was very much to do with the family ethos and many great families were not involved. [116] Some shared set of ideals made this particular social network receptive both to  Crusading and  to the notion of adopting personal heraldry. They were understandably fond of utilising designs which reminded them of things that were seen in the East. [117] These included the lion, the eagle and the griffin.[118]  To the families concerned heraldry must have been much more significant than a simple means of identification because it set them apart from other men as members of a very exclusive club. Their shields were therefore objects of pride and this gives an explanation as to why from the inception of heraldry the key aspect of heredity was present.  

         An important reason for the adoption of arms by the Crusading families was probably a perceived connection with the Holy Land. It can surely be no coincidence that as well as promulgating heraldry,  the courts of Henry Plantagenet in Normandy, Maine and Anjou, and of his kinsman Philip of Alsace in Flanders, were the places where the system of chivalry was developed. [119]   It was presumably following the inspiration of the Crusading families that in 1147  the Templars adopted the distinctive red cross on the white background of their habit on the suggestion of St Bernard.  Bernard knew many of these families and may have had a role to play in the promulgation of heraldry. The date when the Hospitallers took the reverse colour scheme on their flag is unclear, but it was most likely quite soon after the Templars, and perhaps even the same year.

        The wearing of  the cross  goes back to the First Crusade, but it must have been a little later than this that the arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem were devised. What makes it so likely that it existed first as a proto-heraldic device is the very basic nature of the shield  argent a cross or. This would have required only a very minor modification of the standard shield of the First Crusade, the polished metal with the polished brass boss seen by Anna Comnena.  It is hard to imagine that the Crusaders would not quite soon have come up with the idea of  adding a brass cross to the shield  as a variant of the ‘escarbuncle” radiate shield attested from the 1120s. It is distinctly plausible  that  argent a cross or was in use by the knights of  the kingdom of Jerusalem during the reign of Fulk V ( 1131-43), although the possibility cannot be ruled out that this usage began earlier still. This could have been a further stimulus to heraldry for those who attended the Second Crusade. One participant of that Crusade, the later Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, is shown with exactly such a shield in a manuscript of c. 1188.[120]  An origin of the arms of Jerusalem of argent a cross or  before heraldry developed and was codified  would provide one explanation for why it  broke the later heraldic disinclination  ( and Bruno Heim has shown that prohibition is too strong a word) to place metal on metal.[121


        An acceptance that family networks were crucial for the early dissemination of heraldry could offer new insights into the likely point of origin of  the arms of some of the leading families in Europe. One such family is the royal house of France. It has long been contended that Louis VII (  1137-80) was the first armorial king of France, but the first definitive evidence comes from the reign of his son Philip Augustus. Philip’s first seal dating to the year 1180 has a counter-seal which depicts a single fleur de lis. [122]  The same monarch is also recorded as having used the banner semy of lis. [123 ] In the context of this debate two key facts are apparent: firstly, Ralph of Vermandois was appointed as the tutor of young Louis in 1135, and secondly, the arms of France might be interpreted as the arms of Vermandois with the gold checks replaced by gold fleurs de lis. While Louis VI may well have remained aloof when it came to heraldry, the influence which Ralph of Vermandois exerted over his son may well have persuaded Louis VII to adopt the fleur de lis as his own heraldic device. It is interesting to note that the fleur de lis became a popular motif in Palestine immediately following the Second Crusade. An excellent example of this is carved in the mihrab of the madrasah built in Damascus by  Nur ad-din Zangi between 1154 and 1173.[124]   


           Another interesting case is the counts of Blois-Champagne who were strongly antipathetic both to Ralph of Vermandois and to the Angevins. The shields on their seals remained of the rayonny or escarbuncle type until the end of the twelfth century.[125] This does not conclusively prove they were not armigerous, but if the propagation of heraldry was connected with Count Ralph’s personal prestige, it is easy to see why the counts of Blois would have resisted the idea. The great nineteenth century sigillographer G Demay illustrated a seal of Theobald of Blois from 1138 with the rays terminating in fleurs de lis.[126]  This is not true heraldry because  numerous others were using  a similar design, but it might represent a rival system of shield decoration which persisted as the heraldic escarbuncle. Intriguingly  the coins of Theobald’s brother King Stephen of England carried similar rayonny fleur de lis designs which were dropped by Henry II on his accession.

      There is no question that heraldry was primarily a Western European phenomenon and that all the key developments took place there, but the contention of this paper is that  the Crusades were crucial to its spread and popularity.  The particular appeal of heraldry to its first adherents may well have been tied up with their passion to secure  the Holy Land for Christendom. The Second Crusade led to the adoption of the later distinctive heraldry of the military orders, and brought together a significant assemblage of armigers. From the 1170s armory began to have an appeal outside the priviledged circle which first espoused it, perhaps because of the lore which was starting to grow up around it,  and partly because of its inclusion in the epics and romances of the poets  in the courts of Anjou, Flanders and elsewhere. Once it became an indispensible accoutrement of the ruling aristocracy its dissemination amongst the aspirational knighthood was inevitable.  Later Crusades took place when heraldry was already widespread, but like  tournaments they must have been a driver towards its international popularity and codification.[127 ]


[1] Mark Anthony Lower, Curiosities of Heraldry, London 1845, pg 20. Lower stated on p 22  “The Crusades are admitted by all modern writers to have given shape to heraldry”

2   James Robinson Planché, The Pursuivant of Arms, London 1851, p 30.

3 Michel  Pastoureau. Aux origines des armoires, in L’Art Héraldique au Moyen Âge, Paris 2009 pp 19-28 ( hereafter Pastoureau 2009), and Heraldry,its origins and meaning, London 1997 (hereafter Pastoureau 1997), p16. 

4 Anna Comnena, The Alexiad translated by Elizabeth A Dawes, London 1928 ( hereafter Alexiad) p 341.

5 K.R.Potter (Ed) Gesta Stephani, London 1955 p24.

6 Anthony Wagner, Heralds & Heraldry in the Middle Ages, 2nd Ed Oxford 1956 ( hereafter Wagner) p 12.

7 Adrian Ailes, The knight, heraldry and armour: the role of recognition and the origins of heraldry in Harper-Bill (Ed) Medieval Knighthood IV, Papers from the Fifth Strawberry Hill Conference 1990, Woodbridge 1992 ( hereafter Ailes 1990).

8 Adrian Ailes, Heraldry in Twelfth Century England: the evidence, in D Williams (Ed) Proceedings of the 1988 Harlaxton Symposium, Woodbridge 1990 ( hereafter Ailes 1988)  p 10 and 13. A later reference to these connaissances being removed by knights who wished to remain anonymous suggests these are most likely to have been pennants attached to lances.

9 D.L.Galbreath and  Léon Jéquier, Manuel du Blason, 2nd Ed, Lausanne 1977 ( hereafter Galbreath & Jéquier)

10 Pastoureau. 1997, op cit, p 18.

11 For the most part these have been assembled by Wagner, op cit  pp 12-17; and by D.L.Galbreath and  Léon Jéquier, Manuel du Blason, 2nd Ed, Lausanne 1977 ( hereafter Galbreath & Jéquier)  pp 22-40. Some of their examples have been discounted, while others not mentioned by either  have been added.

12 Jonathan Riley-Smith. The First Crusaders 1095-1131, Cambridge 1997 ( hereafter Riley-Smith); Jonathan Phillips. The Second Crusade, extending the frontiers of Christendom, New Haven 2007 ( hereafter Phillips).

13 Pastoureau  1997, op cit p 18 so stated, but he has more recently revised this opinion, see  Pastoureau  2009 op cit p 27.  Amongst other recent authors  Jim Bradbury, Geoffrey V of Anjou, Count and Knight in Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey ( Eds) The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood III, Papers from the Fourth Strawberry Hill Conference 1988, Woodbridge 1990 ( hereafter Bradbury) pp 21-38, and Ailes 1988 op cit pp 14-15 are both confident of the account of Geoffrey’s early heraldry. The section of the History of Geoffrey le Bel describing his knighting has  characteristic which would support it having been based  on an epic poem. Bradbury informs us that one of John of Marmoutier’s sources was Thomas de Loches who served a chaplain under both Geffrey le Bel and his father before him,and would certainly have been involved in the knighting.

14 Geoffrey H White. The Plantagenet enamel at Le Mans, in GEC vol 11 appendix G.

15 A relatively recent discussion  of the plaque can be found in Enamels of Limoges 1100-1350,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, no 15 pp 98-100 “the effigy of Geoffrey Plantagenet”. This article dates the plaque stylistically to the early 1150s.  It  maintains the established view that it was somehow part of the tomb, but makes two interesting observations, firstly  that  Geoffrey’s documented  marble tomb would not have been well suited to the insertion of a central enamel plaque; secondly, that  the plaque “ is not really a funeral effigy but a figure in life attending the tomb” .

16 Roger Harmignies. The arms of Geoffrey Plantagenet. Family History vol 14 no. 110, Jan 1987, pp 69-79.

17 Michel Pastoureau. Quel est le roi des animaux?  Actes des Congrès de la Sociéte de Historiens Médiévistes de l’enseignement supérieur public 15e Congrès. Toulouse 1984 ( hereafter Pastoureau 1984) pp 133-42.

18 Heather J Tanner. Families, friends and allies, Boulogne and politics in Northern France and England c. 879-1160, Brill 2004 pp 251,261.

19 Arthur Engel & Raymond Serrure. Traité Numismatique du Moyen Age, vol 2, Paris 1894 ( hereafter Engel & Serrure) pp 498-9.

20 Robert the Monk. Historia Iherosolimitana trans by Carol Sweetenham, Ashgate 2003 p 84.

21 Riley-Smith op cit p 39.

22 Riley-Smith op cit p 155.

23 Willene B Clark. A medieval book of beasts, Woodbridge 2006 p 18.

24 John Goodall. The Assyrian lion hunt in medieval England. Minerva Sept-Oct 2001 vol 12 pp 44-5 ( herafter Goodall).

25 Goodall, op cit

26 Steven Ashley. Lions charged with a cross potent. CoA no 217, Spring 2009 pp1-6, plates 1+2.

27 Goodall, op cit

28 David  Crouch dismisses the supposed use of the lion by Henry I and shares the belief of this author that the lion of England came from Anjou, see The Image of Aristocracy in Britain 1000-1300, London 1992 pp 223-4.

29 Riley-Smith op cit p 162

30 Jane Martindale, Secular propaganda and aristocratic values, in David Bates, Julia C Crick and Sarah Hamilton ( Eds) Writing  Medieval Biography 750-1250: Essays in honour of Professor Frank Barlow, pg 145-7

31 Riley-Smith op cit pp 181-2.

32 BL Egerton 1139. The book has been dated 1131-43, and was later donated  to the Abbey of La Grande Chartreuse.

33 Adrian Ailes. The origins of the royal arms of England, Reading 1982 p 37. The church required that those who had taken the cross continue to wear it until they fulfilled their pledge.

34 Riley-Smith op cit pp 27-8.

35 Riley-Smith op cit pp 54,88.

36 Bradbury op cit p 33

37 Pastoureau 1984 op cit.

38 Rodney Dennys. Heraldry and the heralds, London 1982 p 94-5

39 William Stubbs (Ed). Chronicles and memorials of the reign of Richard I, vol 1, 1864. Rolls Series p 418.

40 Michel Pastoureau Traité d’Héraldique 5th edition, Paris 2008, p 31 ( hereafter Pastoureau 2008) has illustrations of both of his seals, that from 1135 with a chequy flag has the  shield reversed.

41 Simonde de Sismondi, Histoire des Francais vol 5, Paris 1823 ( hereafter Sismondi) p 135.

42 Bradbury op cit pp 32-3.

43 Pastoureau  2008 op cit p 89  and 2009 op cit  pp 37-9.

44 Alexiad op cit p 253. This rather disproves the notion that Ralph’s father carried a chequy flag on the Crusade.

45 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 22 illustrates his seal which has chequy on his surcoat, flag, shield and saddle.

46 David Crouch. The Beaumont Twins, the careers of Waleran Count of Meulan and Robert Earl of Leicester, Cambridge 1986 ( hereafter Crouch) p 42.

47 The ecclesiastical history of England and Normandy by Orderic Vitalis, trans by Thomas Forester vol 4, London 1856 p 199 has details on the fighting in 1138.

48 Phillips op cit p 98. De Warenne died on the Second Crusade in Asia Minor. His descendants adopted the arms of Vermandois.

49 Crouch op cit: Count Waleran and the origins of heraldry pp 211-2. Crouch here states: “ it is unlikely that Waleran invented heraldry- we must reserve him a place as one of its propagators”.

50 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 23 and note 36. A photograph of the  seal is illustrated in  Coulon, Inventaire des sceaux de Bourgogne, Paris 1912, no 111. The shield is badly eroded but clearly once bore a charge. Louis Bouly de Lesdain  thought it to be an eagle,  but it could not definitively rule out the possibility of a lion. There probably is a vestigial wing on the dexter side of the shield see Louis Bouly de Lesdain, Sigillographie,Paris 1913 pp 2-3.

51 Phillips op cit pp 99-100, 117.

52 Wagner op cit p15

53 GEC vol x p 348 and footnote b, p 351 note h.

54 Wagner  op cit p 15; and  J.H.Round. The introduction of armorial bearings into England, Archaeological  Journal vol 51, 1894 pp 43-8.

55 William Smith Ellis. The antiquities of heraldry, London 1869 ( hereafter Ellis), pg 176, discussed by Ailes 1988 op cit p 5.

56 Ailes 1988 op cit p 5 footnote 16. The use by both men would appear to be the proof that this was true heraldry as opposed to “proto-heraldry”.

57 GEC vol x pp 785-7 and pedigree.

58 GEC vol ix p 370.

59 GEC vol x p 786 note d

60 Bradbury op cit p 33.

61 Lewis C Loyd & Doris M Stenton (Eds). Sir Christopher Hatton’s book of seals, Oxford 1950, no 297.

62 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 23; BM Seals no 13048.

63 GEC vol 7 pp 672-3.

64 Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex ( d. 1144) has not been here included because Round’s thesis that he bore the arms quarterly or and gules, while probably correct, is based on the adoption of these arms, or variants of them, by various collateral relations which might also be explained in terms of  a kinship group adopting similar arms, see J.H Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, London 1893 ( hereafter Round) pp 392-6. The dangers of using related families who bore the same arms as proof that their common ancestor must have been armigerous are exemplified by Calvin Kephart’s  Origin of heraldry in Europe, 2nd ed, Washington,D.C 1953. Observing that two families who shared a common ancestor circa 1100 bore the same arms centuries later, he concluded that heraldry must have begun before the First Crusade. Kephart’s manifest error underscores the need to tread cautiously in such cases. Returning to Geoffrey de Mandeville, it is certainly plausible that he could have been an armiger on the basis of his family connections which were markedly Crusader: his aunt Beatrix was married to a son of Eustace II of Boulogne; his wife Rohese de Vere was the daughter of Adelisa de Clare, and his son’s widow married Anselm de Candavene Count of St Pol. He himself was clearly much loved by the Templars, who admitted him to their Order on his deathbed, and kept his excommunicate body for many years until it could be interred in the Temple in London, see Round op cit pp 224-6.

65 Sismondi op cit vol 5 p 176.

66  Pierre-Francois Chifflet, Lettre touchant Beatrix Comtesse de Chalon, Dijon 1656, pg 178-9. Wagner op cit  discusses these arms pp 16-17.

67 Chifflet’s original notes on this now lost charter from the Abbey of Saint-Benigne at Dijon are in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms Baluze 143, f 203. The drawing of the seal which he attached to the page was later removed, perhaps by Chifflet himself.

68 A seal of Odo III dating 1193 has the bendy arms on his shield, see Douët d’Arcq, Collection de sceaux. Archives de l’Empire. Inventaires et documents, Paris 1863. ( hereafter Douët d’Arcq ) no 466.

69 Wagner op cit pp 16-17.

70 Riley-Smith op cit p 96.

71 Riley-Smith op cit pp 94-5

72 Ernest Petit. Histoire des Ducs Bourgogne de la race Capétienne, Paris 1888, vol 2 ( hereafter Petit) p 40. Alfonso in making a gift to the Templars in 1129 described himself as ‘ a brother of your fratenity ’. Alfonso Henriques himself  is a likely early armiger, his arms being  based on multiples of his blue shield studded with silver roundels, arranged in the form of a cross, see Roger F Pye. Descent of the arms of Portugal, fact and legend. COA no 38, April 1955 p 187-191. From his signa he definitely used these arms by 1183, which is close to the end of his life, and  it is quite likely that he adopted arms as a younger man.

73 Petit op cit vol 2 p 6.

74 Riley-Smith op cit pp 43-4.

75 It is thought that his lion coinage having the lions with human heads dates to a time before his became emperor, see Engel & Serrure, op cit vol 2 pp 816-8.

76 Ricardo Prieto, La Bandera Medieval de la Corona de Leon, Sociedad Española de Vexilología, Banderas, no. 98.

77 Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués. Le debut des emblèmes héraldiques en Espagne. Armas e Troféus, 5th series vol 3-4  1982-83 pp 7-48.

78 Phillips op cit p 43.

79 Louis Blancard, Iconographie des Sceaux et Bulles conservés des Archives Départamentales des Bouches-du-Rhône, Marseilles 1860, pg 6 and plate 2 no 1. Some have questioned whether the shield on the seal is indeed paly, it being badly eroded, but the sequence of seal evidence over the decades shown on plates 2 and 3 is extremely convincing when put together.

80 Riley-Smith op cit pp 163, 167.

81 Phillips op cit p 253.

82 Phillips op cit p 42.

83 Riley-Smith op cit p 266.

84 MedLands ( hereafter FMG database): Counts of Flanders.

85 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 24; Oliver Vredi, Sigilla Comitum Flandriae, Bruges 1639, pg 18-19; and J-Th Raadt, Sceaux armoires des Pays-Bas et des Pays Avoisinants, Bruxelles 1898, vol 1 p 454.

86 Alex Malloy, Irene Preston and Arthur Seltman, Coins of the Crusader States 2nd ed, Fairfield 2004, p. 243-5.

87 Alexandre Hermand, Histoire Monetaire de la Province d’Artois, St Omer 1843, pg 151-157 and plate III nos 24-30. Some of the Flemish deniers carried what Hermand described as a gyronny shield. He believed this corresponded with  the ‘gyronny’  shield on the tomb  William Clito who was Count of Flanders briefly in 1127-8 ( figure 1).  There are two problems with attributing this shield and these coins to William Clito: firstly  the shield on both tomb and  coins is not gyronny at all, but simply has the ‘escarbuncle’ of decorative supports which was typical of the period, and which is found on a great many seals. Secondly, one the coins of this variety was minted in Bruges, which was completely opposed to William Clito during his brief reign.

88  Pastoureau 1984, op cit. The figure is reproduced in Pastoureau’s 2008, op cit,  p 256

89 Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit ( Catalogue of the1995 Exhibition in Brunwick) München 1995,  vol 1 ( hereafter, Heinrich der Löwe)  pp 154-7;  the seal can also be seen at, and is illustrated in Wagner’s chapter on heraldry in A.L.Poole ( Ed) Medieval England, London 1958, vol 1 ( hereafter Poole) p 342.

90 Phillips op cit p 94.

91 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 23 and fig 8, with ref to G Demay, Inventaire des sceaux de la Picardie, Paris 1875 ( herafter Demay Picardie) no. 369.

92 Abbé Pécheur. Histoire de la Ville de Guise vol 1, Vervins 1851, pg 47-106.

93 André du Chesne, Histoire Genealogique de la Maison de Montmorency et de Laval, Paris 1624 p 55. The first direct evidence for the arms in on the seal of Matthew’s son Bouchard dating 1177, see Du Chesne, Montmorency Preuves p 40-62 ; Douet d’Arcq no 2930.

94 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 23 and fig 7, Wagner op cit p 15. For the pledge of Humbert II see Riley-Smith op cit p 95. It should be stated that having a cross on the penant was not unusual at this time, but in this case an heraldic usage is supported by the improbability of the House of Savoy adopting what were essentially the Hospitaller flag after about 1147-8.

95 D.L Galbreath, Sigilla Aguanensia, Lausanne 1927, pp 9-11, nos 11+12.

96  Samuel Guichenon. Histoire genealogique de la royal maison de Savoye, vol 1, Lyons 1660, p 121.

97 Riley-Smith op cit pp 49-50

98 Marcel Pacaut, Louis VII et son Royaume, Paris 1964, pp 39-40

99 Phillips op cit p 97.

100 For more on the Hospitaller arms see below. John Goodall, in The origin of the arms and badge of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. COA vol 4, no 33, Jan 1958, pp 372-8, attempted to demonstrate that the Hospitaller arms date to 1130 on the basis of a statement made over 450 years after the event, but the earliest verifiable date for their use is 1185. The statutes of the Order, in use by 1160, mention the wearing of a cross on the habit. The Second Crusade is presumed by many to have been the time when the cross was adopted.

101 Douët d’Arcq no 1325. ;  Pellieux, Essais historiques sur la ville et le canton de Beaugency, Paris 1856 pt 1 p. 111. It was once thought that  Ralph I de Baugency had an heraldic seal, see Ellis op cit p 179, but this was a misattributed seal of his descendant Ralph II from the thirteenth century. The source of the confusion was a statement made in 1682 when Bernier in his  Histoire de Blois, Paris 1682 p 258, described a seal on which was a shield chequy a fesse, to the right of the shield a lis between two towers, to the left a tower between two lis, and a legend identifying Ralph Lord of Baugency. What he was in fact describing almost exactly was the counter-seal of Ralph II de Baugency of circa 1256, see Douet d’Arcq op cit no. 1324.

102 Riley-Smith op cit p 33.

103 Riley-Smith op cit p 99.

104 Phillips op cit p. 94.

105 Phillips op cit p. 120

106 Ferdinand Gull, Ein siegel Herzog Welfs VI vom jahre 1152, Archives Héraldiques Suisses 1916 pp 57-9, identifies the charge as a lion, an attribution made, with a better photograph, in Heinrich der Löwe, op cit,  pp 94-5. 

107Alfred von Siegenfeld. Das Landeswappen der Steiern, Gradec 1900 pg 130-48. Also illustrated in Poole, op cit p 344.

108 Galbraith & Jéquier op cit p 23 and  Karl von Sava, Die Siegel der Ősterreichischen Regenten, Vienna 1871, pp 77-78.

109 For his genealogy see Austria by C Cawley on the FMG database, op cit.

110 Phillips op cit p. 216.

111 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit pp 30-31 and figs 16-19. The 1162 seal is in Demay Picardie, op cit, no 209 and that of Enguerrand in G Demay, Inventaire des sceaux de L’Artois et de la Picardie, Paris 1877 p 11 no 69 and G Demay, Inventaire des sceaux de la Flandre, vol 1, Paris 1873 no 285. Enguerrand’s seal is undated  but he acceded by 1145 and was still living in 1153.

112 Faustin Poey d’Avant, Monnaies féodales de France, vol 3, Paris 1862 pg 413-4 and plate CLX

113 Galbreath & Jéquier op cit p 24; Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, Corpus Sigillorum Neerlandicorum. S-Gravenhade 3 vols 1937-40, nos 500-503. The seal attached to the 1162 charter is in fact too badly eroded to show any heraldry, but a better impression survives from 1167 ( no 501) on which a lion can be seen on the shield. A better example still is on the seal of his son Dirk VII dating to 1198 ( no. 503).

114 FMG database, op cit: Holland.

115 Bruce McAndrew. Scotland’s Historic Heraldry, Woodbridge 2006, pg 23-29.

116 Riley-Smith op cit  pp 93-97.

117 Michel Pastoureau, La genèse des armoires: emblématique féodale ou emblématique familiale? in Cahiers d’Heraldique IV, Paris 1983 pp 85-96. Pastoureau acknowledges this debt to the East but contends that it is due to artistic influences rather than personal experience.

118 Pastoureau 2008, op cit p 87.

119 William Henry Jackson, Knighthood and the Hohenstaufen Imperial Court, in Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth Harvey ( Eds) The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood III, Papers from the Fourth Strawberry Hill Conference 1988, Woodbridge 1990 pp 102-5.

120 Ms Vat Lat 2001 f 1r, illustrated in colour in Heinrich de Lowe, op cit, vol 2 p 43.  This is a copy made for Barbarossa of Robert of Rheims’ History of the First Crusade.

121 Bruno Bernard Heim. Or and argent, Gerards Cross 1994.

122 Lecoy de la Marche, Les Sceaux, Paris 1889, p 122.

123 Gerard Brault. Early Blazon, 2nd Ed, Woodbridge 1997 , pp 209-10.

124 L.A.Mayer. Saracenic heraldry, Oxford 1933, p22 and plate XIX i. Nur ad-Din’s father took Edessa in 1144, while he himself triumphed over Louis VII in the Second Crusade. William of Tyre described him as ‘a just prince, valiant and wise’.

125 Jean-Luc Chassel ( Ed) Sceaux et usages de sceaux : images de la Champagne médiévale, Paris 2003 pp 40-1 ; Henry d’Arbois de Jubainville, Essai sur les sceaux des Comtes et des Comtesses de Champagne, Paris 1856 p 41.

126  G Demay, Le Costume au Moyen Age d’après les sceaux, Paris 1880 pp 112, 140-1 and fig 60. This is not the place to discuss the origins of the fleur de lis, but it should be noted that the Crusaders popularised it among the Arabs, who began to use it in quasi heraldic fashion from 1154-73, see L.A.Mayer. Saracenic Heraldry, Oxford 1933, pp 22-3, plate xix.

127 The author would like to thank Dr Adrian Ailes and Prof Jonathan Riley-Smith for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper and for suggesting further source material; also Steven Ashley for sharing his insights on medieval lions.

The Heraldry Society

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