Chapter 4: Functions, Missions, Responsibilities, Expertise

As chapter 3 has portrayed the conditions of the doings of the office, chapter 4 shall deal with their duties as such, with their different functions and every-day business, but also with their expertise and their responsibilities, if there are some. In doing so, the introductory text of this chapter will not only display the great variety of those duties, functions and expertise in their differences and mutations over the centuries and different regions. It will also look for the common patterns in those different duties and knowledge of heralds and propose a simplified categorisation of the heralds actions such as observing, presenting, speaking. In doing so, it will also question some wrong ideas about heralds, for example their often assumed heraldic authority as well as supposed function as organisers of ceremonies, for each of them has to be put in its context.


Topics that could be discussed in this chapter:

  • the different doings of heralds (observing, speaking, performing, writing)
  • particular gestures of heralds, for instance at funerals, etc. (?)
  • the different areas of life they intervened with: tournaments, messages and diplomacy, warfare, courtly ceremonies, coronations, baptisms, funerals, distribution of information
  • expertise and responsibilities of heralds, or being expected from heralds (keeping an eye on the different contexts and historical dynamics): a mind for persons, heraldry, genealogy, ceremonies, law of arms, honour
  • the libraries of heralds
  • improper doings of heralds: espionage, forgery
  • relationship and rivalry to other offices and professions: minstrels, trumpeters, criers, messengers, ushers, painters, lawyers, juges d’armes etc.

Cite this blog post
Torsten Hiltmann (2014, April 17). Chapter 4: Functions, Missions, Responsibilities, Expertise. History of Heralds. Retrieved April 22, 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.

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