Chapter 3: Particularities of the Office and its History

In all diversity, there are also common points and continuities in the history of the office of arms. There are especially those particularities which define that office and contribute a great deal to its uniqueness. Those particularities are an absolute prerequisite to understand the functions and duties of the office of arms in all its variety. And perhaps, it is only by them that their long history may once be understood in all its diversity. When writing them down, all these particularities must be described in a historical, dynamic perspective, looking at their origins and asking for their perseverance in different countries and in different times, raising questions of continuity and change which have to be explained.

Topics that could be discussed in this chapter

  • the office names
  • their meaning (battlecries, titles of their masters, devises, etc.)
    • their use for political claims
    • their mix-up with civil names by becoming the civil name of some officers or their relatives
  • the habit and the insignia of the office (tabard, email, staff, crown, sword/dagger)
  • the oath, baptism and immunity (& dangers), the neutrality of heralds, and thus the herald as an impersonal “personne publique” and its obligation to speak the truth
  • privileges of heralds
  • travelling, internationality, international networks
  • how to become a herald (required skills, training)
  • iconography of heralds (12th-18th c.)
  • important case studies:
    • regional comparisons (e.g. oath) and
    • comparisons in the longue durée (e.g. habit)


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Torsten Hiltmann (April 17, 2014). Chapter 3: Particularities of the Office and its History. History of Heralds. Retrieved July 23, 2024 from

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 medieval and early modern visual communication and heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search