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Osprey Trade Editions : Medieval Heraldry

Coats of arms were at first used only by kings and princes, then by their great nobles, but by the mid-13th century arms were being used extensively by the lesser nobility, knights and those who later came to be styled gentlemen. In some countries the use of arms spread even to merchants, townspeople and the peasantry. The shapes of the shields used during these centuries made it necessary for the heralds and painters to adapt the natural forms used as insignia to fit irregular spaces, leading to the insignia assuming a symbolic, rather than naturalistic appearance. These factors of course resulted in the fascinating multitude of coats-of-arms, many of which are still in use today. From the mundane to the fantastic, from simple geometric patterns to elaborate mythological beasts, this work by Terence Wise explores the origins and appearance of medieval heraldic devices in an engagingly readable style accompanied by numerous illustrations including eight full page colour plates by Richard Hook.

 

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