Aux armes …

More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys …

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

William Shakespeare (c. 1595). A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Figure: Marginalia


One of the minor glories of High Medieval art, heraldry has long since degenerated to a genre replete with ostentatious affectation. Even so, some vestiges of the strange beauty of a vanished world linger in its time-tattered traditions.

Whether or not any such trace can be found here, for many these well-meaning airy nothings and unruly digressions will offer little of interest — particularly for family historians, given the absence of genealogical detail. Yet tastes vary and others may find an odd morsel further on, although none should confuse often solemn but otherwise flippant commonplaces with scholarship: this is plainly not a treatise on heraldry.* If that is your object, the effort would be better rewarded elsewhere. In which case the following could be helpful:

Otherwise this is seldom more than an illustrated ramble through the scanty [antique fables] heraldic panoply of an obscure and undistinguished British commoner.

The Arms and Crest of Alan Geal1



Azure semy of Mullets of six points conjoined Argent.


On … a Wreath Argent and Azure within a Circlet of Chain fracted Argent an Eagle wings expanded Or grasping in the talons the Chain.


Azure doubled Argent.

This arcane vocabulary is explained in a glossary.


Below the Arms:

Be bright: be daring: be joyful.

Above the Crest:

Seek the truth.


On a Circlet of Chain sans the base link Argent an Eagle wings expanded Or grasping in the talons a link fracted also Argent.3

Figure: the 'Seven Stars' badge

A Mullet of six points within a Circlet of six of the same all conjoined Argent.

Figure: alternative form of the 'Seven Stars' badge

Except, whenever placed on a white surface, the second badge also takes another form:

A Mullet of six points within a Circlet of six of the same all conjoined Argent each entoured by six regular Hexagons conjoined Azure.


* As the sole author I ought to make it clear that nothing here is grounded in an expertise in the practices and history of heraldry nor, in a minor recurring theme, in etymology. Although I have endeavoured to treat these subjects diligently, what follows is not authoritative and even if my written style is ponderous enough for the task, that too is not necessarily a sign of scholarship.

Commoner: an ordinary person where subject to monarchal prerogative, one without aristocratic rank or ecclesiastic privilege. Once a forthrightly condescending term, time has erased the insolence and mocks its pretensions.4 Considering the reflected glory from the achievements of commoners — including the legacy of countless forgotten lives and unknown deeds whose only memorial is the survival of civilisation itself — it has long been an agreeable title, despite the sometimes contrary diversity it must encompass.

Copyright © 2006 Alan Geal