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 medieval art, heraldry has long since degenerated to a genre replete with pomposity and affectation: moreover, its natal association with overweening power and dominance has persisted. Despite this, there is much that remains evocative of its apocryphal enchantments, often with lingering traces of the strange beauty of a distant world.

Whether or not any such trace can be found here, to many these well-meaning airy nothings and unruly digressions will offer little of interest — particularly for family history hunters, given the paucity of genealogical detail. Yet tastes vary and some venturing further may find a morsel here and there. Even so, no one should confuse sometimes flippant but otherwise solemn commonplaces with scholarship — this clearly is not a treatise on heraldry. If that is your object then these could be helpful:

In comparison, what follows is little more than a self-indulgent ramble through the antique fables heraldic symbology of an obscure English 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 each with an orle of six regular Hexagons conjoined Azure.

* Commoner: an ordinary person where subject to monarchal prerogative and privilege, one without aristocratic or ecclesiastical rank. Once a forthrightly condescending term, time has erased its insolence. Considering the reflected glory of commonalty's myriad admirable individuals and their achievements — including the countless forgotten lives and unknown deeds whose only memorial is the survival of civilisation — commoner is to be taken as an honourable appellation, despite the occasionally contrary diversity it must encompass.

Opinionis enim commenta delet dies, naturae iudicia confirmat.

For time erases the pretences of opinion, whereas it strengthens the judgments of nature.

Cicero. De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods). Book 2.5.

Copyright © 2006 Alan Geal