NOT very chivalrous..._I_ve just....

Posted to: The Google+ Heraldry Community

Posted by: Karl Wilcox

Created on: January 8 2013 at 22:26

NOT very chivalrous...

I've just started to properly read A.C. Fox-Davies The Art of Heraldry of 1904 and almost immediately came across this rather delightful piece of rudeness:

Dame Juliana Bemers wrote the "Boke of St. Albans," into which she managed to compress an unconscionable amount of rubbish (1)

Given that Dame Berners had been dead 500 years, and may not actually have written the book anyway, Fox-Davies seems fairly safe from retaliation; and his introductory rant continues for several more paragraphs.

So is such harsh criticism justified?

To start with, the book is not actually about St. Alban, nor indeed about the English Town of the same name, but is so called because it was printed there in 1486 by a man known only as the SCHOOLMASTER-PRINTER . It is in fact a set of three treatises on Hawking, Hunting and Coat Armour . The introduction to the Heraldry section is reproduced below. (2).

Copyright law (and copyright lawyers) not being quite so prevalent in the 15th Century, the heraldry section seems to be derived, in great part, from a work on the same subject written, in 1441, by Nicholas Upton , and, the books on hawking and hunting are derived from the Venerie de Twety, a work composed early in the fourteenth century (3)

Fox-Davies ire seems to have been aroused, as any one seeking to judge the armory of the present day by the standards and ethics adopted by that writer, would find himself making mistake after mistake, and led  hopelessly astray (1), although he does at least admit that such works put forward the opinions which were then accepted concerning the past history of the science (1)

I am seeking a modern translation of the Boke of St. Alban from (of which site, more anon), and will report back my own views at a later date!

(1) The Art of Heraldry at

(2) *Boke of St. Albans*  at

(3) The Cambridge History of English and American Literature at

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