The Book Project

The workshop shall not lead to the usual kind of conference proceedings. The idea is rather to write some kind of a “Companion to the history of heralds” together.

While there are already two good collections of papers on heralds[1], there has not been a structured overall assessment of the history of heralds so far, an overview on the history of heralds that could bring together the different results of research into a common structure.

The planned publication should thus work as an introduction into the history of heralds, presenting the actual state of the art, and demonstrating at the same time the very promising perspectives of this topic for future research, including all the openings it offers for other fields of research, in history but also beyond.

It would be ideal if the book combined larger introductive texts with a good number of small case studies (on persons, sources, events, etc.) which would exemplify the statements made in the general text passage in the most illustrative way.

How could this book be organised? As a base for the joint discussion, I would propose the following plan:

  1. General historical development of the office (from 12th to 18th c., its spread over Europe, the inner hierarchy of the office, social backgrounds, etc.);
  2. Particularities of the office and its history (the oath, the habit, the office names, its immunity, privileges, etc.);
  3. Functions, duties and missions (different fields of function, competences and knowledge, the link between heralds and heraldry, etc.);
  4. The writings of heralds (chronicles, reports, treatises, armorials, poems, etc.);
  5. The perception of the office of arms by the heralds themselves and by others (legends of origins, satirical poems, etc.).

But – importantly – this is just a proposition, open to be discussed by all the participants of the workshop and those who are interested in the subject.

Or, to rephrase the question: What do you think should be part of such an introduction into the History of Heralds? What is important to know dealing with heralds? What are the great guiding lines and perspectives of this subject? Which misunderstandings should be cleared up? What links should be established, which main lines of the topic should be revealed?

Please feel free to comment, specify, discuss, …


[1] Bertrand Schnerb (ed.), Le héraut, figure européenne (XIVe-XVIe siècle), Lille 2006 (= Revue du Nord 366-367) ; Katie Stevenson (ed.), The Herald in Late Medieval Europe, Woodbridge 2009.


Torsten Hiltmann

Torsten Hiltmann is Juniorprofessor for the High and Late Middle Ages and Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Münster. He is interested in new approaches to late medieval and early modern heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities. On hypotheses.org, he is maintaining, among others, the blog “Heraldica Nova”.

1 Response

  1. Some suggestions for the book project:

    1) Which (miscellaneous) manuscripts do we know that have been compiled by heralds? Were these manuscripts made on a particular moment in time or during a longer period? Which texts and images do these manuscripts contain? Are the texts and images new or are they copies? Is it possible to link the (making of) manuscripts (in various phases)to the historical and cultural context in which they originated and functioned?

    2) It would be great to have a database with the images of heralds from all over Europe, covering the whole periode of the book project. In that case we could answer the question about the (historical development of the) iconography of heralds, their clothing etc.

    3) The (historical development of the) relation between heralds, chivalry and nobility.

    4) Do not forget heralds in the service of cities.

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