Rus Articles Journal

What is heraldry? Part 3 - Heralds.


Heralds systematized knowledge of the coats of arms, developed the general principles and rules of their drawing up and recognition and eventually created science heraldy or heraldry .

There are two options of an origin of the terms heraldry and herald : from late Latin heraldica (from heraldus - the herald), or from the German Herald - the spoiled Heeralt - the veteran as called in Germany in the Middle Ages of the people who had reputation of brave soldiers. They had to keep customs of knights, develop rules of tournaments and monitor their observance.

Representatives of several related professions were predecessors of heralds: heralds, the court and wandering minstrels, and also veterans mentioned above.

Heralds or truce envoys were used in ancient armies for negotiations with the opponent, for announcement of decrees and any announcements.

Minstrels (fr. menestrel) are called medieval singers and poets. In any case, such sense acquired this term in France and England at the end of the Middle Ages.

It is not excluded that representatives of all three professions were called at a certain historical moment one general term - heralds. Anyway, but distribution of knightly tournaments promoted appearance of special officials who had to proclaim tournament opening, develop and observe ceremonial of its carrying out, and also to declare all duels and names of their participants.

It demanded special knowledge - the herald had to know well genealogy of noble families whose representatives took part in fights and to be able to distinguish the coats of arms of knights. So gradually the profession of heralds gains especially heraldic character, and on tournaments the heraldry is born actually.

The French name of heraldry - blason - comes from German blasen - to blow the horn also is explained by the fact that when the knight drove up to the barrier protecting a tournament venue, he blew the horn to announce the arrival. Then there was a herald and upon the demand of judges of tournament aloud described the knight`s coat of arms as proof of his right to take part in tournament. From the word blasen and Russian word to blazonirovat - that is to describe the coat of arms.

Heralds created for the description of the coats of arms the special slang based on Old French and medieval Latin as knights, as well as a lot of things with it connected - the knightly code, weapon developments, tournaments and, at last, heraldry - originates from France, to be exact from Charles the Great (747 - 814) empire inhabited free - the German tribes.

The most part of heraldic terminology is designated by the quasifrench, obsolete words. In the Middle Ages French was used by ruling classes in the majority of countries of Western Europe so rules of heraldry had to be made in this language. However, some heraldic terms are so florid that seem purposely developed to puzzle profane persons.

So, the coats of arms gain the increasing value in countries of Western Europe. The rank of the herald becomes honourable, in it build only after any fight, tournament or a ceremony. For this purpose the sovereign vozlivat on the head of the wine devoted a cup (sometimes waters) and named it the cities or fortresses connected with a ceremony of dedication which the herald kept before receiving the following highest degree - a rank of the weapon king (fr. roi d`armes it is mute. Wappenkoenig ) .

Duties of the herald were divided into three main groups: 1) declaration of war, conclusion of peace, the offer of delivery of fortress and so forth, and also the account of the killed and wounded was assigned to them during fight or tournament and an assessment of valor of knights; 2) they were obliged to be present at all ceremonies - on crowning or burial of the sovereign, at construction in knightly advantage, receptions etc.; 3) purely heraldic duties - drawing up the coats of arms and family trees were assigned to them.

Work of heralds was paid very well, there was a tradition not to release the sent herald without gift not to show disrespect for the sovereign who sent it.

Since the 18th century heralds lose the medieval value, but do not disappear completely, and are still used at ceremonies - crownings, weddings, etc.