A Complete Guide to Heraldry/Chapter 24

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[ 383 ]



The mantling is the ornamental design which in a representation of an armorial achievement depends from the helmet, falling away on either side of the escutcheon. Many authorities have considered it to have been no more than a fantastic series of flourishes, devised by artistic minds for the purpose of assisting ornamentation and affording an artistic opportunity of filling up unoccupied spaces in a heraldic design. There is no doubt that its readily apparent advantages in that character have greatly led to the importance now attached to the mantling in heraldic art. But equally is it certain that its real origin is to be traced elsewhere.

The development of the heraldry of to-day was in the East during the period of the Crusades, and the burning heat of the Eastern sun upon the metal helmet led to the introduction and adoption of a textile covering, which would act in some way as a barrier between the two. It was simply in fact and effect a primeval prototype of the "puggaree" of Margate and Hindustan. It is plain from all early representations that originally it was short, simply hanging from the apex of the helmet to the level of the shoulders, overlapping the textile tunic or "coat of arms," but probably enveloping a greater part of the helmet, neck, and shoulders than we are at present (judging from pictorial representations) inclined to believe.

Adopted first as a protection against the heat, and perhaps also the rust which would follow damp, the lambrequin soon made evident another of its advantages, an advantage to which we doubtless owe its perpetuation outside Eastern warfare in the more temperate climates of Northern Europe and England. Textile fabrics are peculiarly and remarkably deadening to a sword-cut, to which fact must be added the facility with which such a weapon would become entangled in the hanging folds of cloth. The hacking and hewing of battle would show itself plainly upon the lambrequin of one accustomed to a prominent position in the forefront of a fight, and the honourable record implied by a ragged and slashed lambrequin accounts for the fact that we find at an early period after their introduction into heraldic art, that mantlings [ 384 ] are depicted cut and "torn to ribbons." This opportunity was quickly seized by the heraldic artist, who has always, from those very earliest times of absolute armorial freedom down to the point of greatest and most regularised control, been allowed an entire and absolute discretion in the design to be adopted for the mantling. Hence it is that we find so much importance is given to it by heraldic artists, for it is in the design of the mantling, and almost entirely in that opportunity, that the personal character and abilities of the artist have their greatest scope. Some authorities have, however, derived the mantling from the robe of estate, and there certainly has been a period in British armory when most lambrequins found in heraldic art are represented by an unmutilated cloth, suspended from and displayed behind the armorial bearings and tied at the upper corners. In all probability the robes of estate of the higher nobility, no less than the then existing and peremptorily enforced sumptuary laws, may have led to the desire and to the attempt, at a period when the actual lambrequin was fast disappearing from general knowledge, to display arms upon something which should represent either the parliamentary robes of estate of a peer, or the garments of rich fabric which the sumptuary laws forbade to those of humble degree. To this period undoubtedly belongs the term "mantling," which is so much more frequently employed than the word lambrequin, which is really—from the armorial point of view—the older term.

The heraldic mantling was, of course, originally the representation of the actual "capeline" or textile covering worn upon the helmet, but many early heraldic representations are of mantlings which are of skin, fur, or feathers, being in such cases invariably a continuation of the crest drawn out and represented as the lambrequin. When the crest was a part of the human figure, the habit in which that figure was arrayed is almost invariably found to have been so employed. The Garter plate of Sir Ralph Bassett, one of the Founder Knights, shows the crest as a black boar's head, the skin being continued as the sable mantling.

Some Sclavonic families have mantlings of fur only, that of the Hungarian family of Chorinski is a bear skin, and countless other instances can be found of the use by German families of a continuation of the crest for a mantling. This practice affords instances of many curious mantlings, this in one case in the Zurich Wappenrolle being the scaly skin of a salmon. The mane of the lion, the crest of Mertz, and the hair and beard of the crests of Bohn and Landschaden, are similarly continued to do duty for the mantling. This practice has never found great favour in England, the cases amongst the early Garter plates where it has been followed standing almost alone. In a [ 385 ] manuscript (M. 3, 67b) of the reign of Henry VII., now in the College of Arms, probably dating from about 1506, an instance of this character can be found, however. It is a representation of the crest of Stourton (Fig. 664) as it was borne at that date, and was a black Benedictine demi-monk proper holding erect in his dexter hand a scourge. Here the proper black Benedictine habit (it has of later years been corrupted into the russet habit of a friar) is continued to form the mantling.

Fig. 664.-The Crest of Stourton.

Fig. 664.-The Crest of Stourton.

By what rules the colours of the mantlings were decided in early times it is impossible to say. No rules have been handed down to us—the old heraldic books are silent on the point—and it seems equally hopeless to attempt to deduce any from ancient armorial examples. The one fact that can be stated with certainty is that the rules of early days, if there were any, are not the rules presently observed. Some hold that the colours of the mantling were decided by the colours of the actual livery in use as distinct from the "livery colours" of the arms. It is difficult to check this rule, because our knowledge of the liveries in use in early days is so meagre and limited; but in the few instances of which we now have knowledge we look in vain for a repetition of the colours worn by the retainers as liveries in the mantlings used. The fact that the livery colours are represented in the background of some of the early Garter plates, and that in such instances in no single case do they agree with the colours of the mantling, must certainly dissipate once and for all any such supposition as far as it relates to that period.

A careful study and analysis of early heraldic emblazonment, however, reveals one point as a dominating characteristic. That is, that where the crest, by its nature, lent itself to a continuation into the mantling it generally was so continued. This practice, which was almost universal upon the Continent, and is particularly to be met with [ 386 ] in German heraldry, though seldom adopted in England, certainly had some weight in English heraldry. In the recently published reproductions of the Plantagenet Garter plates eighty-seven armorial achievements are included. Of these, in ten instances the mantlings are plainly continuations of the crests, being "feathered" or in unison. Fifteen of the mantlings have both the outside and the inside of the principal colour and of the principal metal of the arms they accompany, though in a few cases, contrary to the present practice, the metal is outside, the lining being of the colour. Nineteen more of the mantlings are of the principal colour of the arms, the majority (eighteen) of these being lined with ermine. No less than forty-nine are of some colour lined with ermine, but thirty-four of these are of gules lined ermine, and in the large majority of cases in these thirty-four instances neither the gules nor the ermine are in conformity with the principal colour and metal (what we now term the "livery colours") of the arms. In some cases the colours of the mantling agree with the colours of the crest, a rule which will usually be found to hold good in German heraldry. The constant occurrence of gules and ermine incline one much to believe that the colours of the mantling were not decided by haphazard fancy, but that there was some law—possibly in some way connected with the sumptuary laws of the period—which governed the matter, or, at any rate, which greatly limited the range of selection. Of the eighty-seven mantlings, excluding those which are gules lined ermine, there are four only the colours of which apparently bear no relation whatever to the colours of the arms or the crests appearing upon the same Stall plate. In some number of the plates the colours certainly are taken from a quartering other than the first one, and in one at least of the four exceptions the mantling (one of the most curious examples) is plainly derived from a quartering inherited by the knight in question though not shown upon the Stall plate. Probably a closer examination of the remaining three instances would reveal a similar reason in each case. That any law concerning the colours of their mantlings was enforced upon those concerned would be an unwarrantable deduction not justified by the instances under examination, but one is clearly justified in drawing from these cases some deductions as to the practice pursued. It is evident that unless one was authorised by the rule or reason governing the matter—whatever such rule or reason may have been—in using a mantling of gules and ermine, the dominating colour (not as a rule the metal) of the coat of arms (or of one of the quarterings), or sometimes of the crest if the tinctures of arms and crest were not in unison, decided the colour of the mantling. That there was some meaning behind the mantlings of gules lined with ermine there can be little doubt, for it is noticeable that in a case in [ 387 ] which the colours of the arms themselves are gules and ermine, the mantling is of gules and argent, as by the way in this particular case is the chapeau upon which the crest is placed. But probably the reason which governed these mantlings of gules lined with ermine, as also the ermine linings of other mantlings, must be sought outside the strict limits of armory. That the colours of mantlings are repeated in different generations, and in the plates of members of the same family, clearly demonstrates that selection was not haphazard.

Certain of these early Garter plates exhibit interesting curiosities in the mantlings:—

1. Sir William Latimer, Lord Latimer, K.G., c. 1361-1381. Arms: gules a cross patonce or. Crest: a plume of feathers sable, the tips or. Mantling gules with silver vertical stripes, lined with ermine.

2. Sir Bermond Arnaud de Presac, Soudan de la Tran, K.G., 1380-post 1384. Arms: or, a lion rampant double-queued gules. Crest: a Midas' head argent. Mantling sable, lined gules, the latter veined or.

3. Sir Simon Felbrigge, K.G., 1397-1442. Arms: or, a lion rampant gules. Crest: out of a coronet gules, a plume of feathers ermine. Mantling ermine, lined gules (evidently a continuation of the crest).

4. Sir Reginald Cobham, Lord Cobham, K.G., 1352-1361. Arms: gules, on a chevron or, three estoiles sable. Crest: a soldan's head sable, the brow encircled by a torse or. Mantling sable (evidently a continuation of the crest), lined gules.

5. Sir Edward Cherleton, Lord Cherleton of Powis, K.G., 1406-7 to 1420-1. Arms: or, a lion rampant gules. Crest: on a wreath gules and sable, two lions' gambs also gules, each adorned on the exterior side with three demi-fleurs-de-lis issuing argent, the centres thereof or. Mantling: on the dexter side, sable; on the sinister side, gules; both lined ermine.

6. Sir Hertong von Clux, K.G., 1421-1445 or 6. Arms: argent, a vine branch couped at either end in bend sable. Crest: out of a coronet or, a plume of feathers sable and argent. Mantling: on the dexter side, azure; on the sinister, gules; both lined ermine.

7. Sir Miles Stapleton, K.G. (Founder Knight, died 1364). Arms: argent, a lion rampant sable. Crest: a soldan's head sable, around the temples a torse azure, tied in a knot, the ends flowing. Mantling sable (probably a continuation of the crest), lined gules.

8. Sir Walter Hungerford, Lord Hungerford and Heytesbury, K.G., 1421-1449. Arms: sable, two bars argent, and in chief three plates. Crest: out of a coronet azure a garb or, enclosed by two sickles argent. Mantling (within and without): dexter, barry of six [ 388 ] ermine and gules; sinister, barry of six gules and ermine. (The reason of this is plain. The mother of Lord Hungerford was a daughter and coheir of Hussey. The arms of Hussey are variously given: "Barry of six ermine and gules," or "Ermine, three bars gules.")

9. Sir Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford, 1429-1460. Arms: or, a chevron gules. Crest: out of a coronet gules, a swan's head and neck proper, beaked gules, between two wings also proper. Mantling: the dexter side, sable; the sinister side, gules; both lined ermine. Black and gules, it may be noted, were the livery colours of Buckingham, an earldom which had devolved upon the Earls of Stafford.

10. Sir John Grey of Ruthin, K.G., 1436-1439. Arms: quarterly, 1 and 4, barry of six argent and azure, in chief three torteaux; 2 and 3, quarterly i. and iiii., or, a maunch gules; ii. and iii., barry of eight argent and azure, an orle of ten martlets gules; over all a label of three points argent. Crest: on a chapeau gules, turned up ermine, a wyvern or, gorged with a label argent. Mantling or, lined ermine.

11. Sir Richard Nevill, Earl of Salisbury, K.G., 1436-1460. Arms: quarterly, 1 and 4, quarterly i. and iiii., argent, three lozenges conjoined in fess gules; ii. and iii., or, an eagle displayed vert; 2 and 3, gules, a saltire argent, a label of three points compony argent and azure. Crest: on a coronet, a griffin sejant, with wings displayed or. Mantling: dexter side, gules; the sinister, sable; both lined ermine.

12. Sir Gaston de Foix, Count de Longueville, &c., K.G., 1438-1458. Arms: quarterly, 1 and 4, or, three pallets gules; 2 and 3, or, two cows passant in pale gules, over all a label of three points, each point or, on a cross sable five escallops argent. Crest: on a wreath or and gules, a blackamoor's bust with ass's ears sable, vested paly or and gules, all between two wings, each of the arms as in the first quarter. Mantling paly of or and gules, lined vert.

13. Sir Walter Blount, Lord Mountjoye, K.G., 1472-1474. Arms: quarterly, 1. argent, two wolves passant in pale sable, on a bordure also argent eight saltires couped gules (for Ayala); 2. or, a tower (? gules) (for Mountjoy); 3. barry nebuly or and sable (for Blount); 4. vairé argent and gules (for Gresley). Crest: out of a coronet two ibex horns or. Mantling sable, lined on the dexter side with argent, and on the sinister with or.

14. Frederick, Duke of Urbino. Mantling or, lined ermine.

In Continental heraldry it is by no means uncommon to find the device of the arms repeated either wholly or in part upon the mantling. In reference to this the "Tournament Rules" of René, Duke of Anjou, [ 389 ] throw some light on the point. These it may be of interest to quote:—

"Vous tous Princes, Seigneurs, Barons, Cheualiers, et Escuyers, qui auez intention de tournoyer, vous estes tenus vous rendre és heberges le quartrième jour deuan le jour du Tournoy, pour faire de vos Blasons fenestres, sur payne de non estre receus audit Tournoy. Les armes seront celles-cy. Le tymbre doit estre sur vne piece de cuir boüilly, la quelle doit estre bien faultrée d'vn doigt d'espez, ou plus, par le dedans: et doit contenir la dite piece de cuir tout le sommet du heaulme, et sera couuerte la dite piece du lambrequin armoyé des armes de celuy qui le portera, et sur le dit lambrequin au plus haut du sommet, sera assis le dit Tymbre, et autour d'iceluy aura vn tortil des couleurs que voudra le Tournoyeur.
"Item, et quand tous les heaulmes seront ainsi mis et ordonnez pour les departir, viendront toutes Dames et Damoiselles et tout Seigneurs, Cheualiers, et Escuyers, en les visitant d'vn bout à autre, la present les Juges, qui meneront trois ou quatre tours les Dames pour bien voir et visiter les Tymbres, et y aura vu Heraut ou poursuivant, qui dira aux Dames selon l'endroit où elles seront, le nom de ceux à qui sont les Tymbres, afin que s'il en a qui ait des Dames médit, et elles touchent son Tymbre, qu'il soit le lendemain pour recommandé." (Menêtrier, L'Origine des Armoiries, pp. 79-81.)

Whilst one can call to mind no instance of importance of ancient date where this practice has been followed in this country, there are one or two instances in the Garter plates which approximate closely to it. The mantling of John, Lord Beaumont, is azure, semé-de-lis (as the field of his arms), lined ermine. Those of Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners, and of Sir Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex, are of gules, billetté or, evidently derived from the quartering for Louvaine upon the arms, this quartering being: "Gules, billetté and a fess or."

According to a MS. of Vincent, in the College of Arms, the Warrens used a mantling chequy of azure and or with their arms.

A somewhat similar result is obtained by the mantling, "Gules, semé of lozenges or," upon the small plate of Sir Sanchet Dabrichecourt. The mantling of Sir Lewis Robessart, Lord Bourchier, is: "Azure, bezanté, lined argent."

"The azure mantling on the Garter Plate of Henry V., as Prince of Wales, is 'semé of the French golden fleurs-de-lis.'... The Daubeny mantling is 'semé of mullets.' On the brass of Sir John Wylcote, at Tew, the lambrequins are chequy.... On the seals of Sir John Bussy, in 1391 and 1407, the mantlings are barry, the coat being 'argent, three bars sable.'"

There are a few cases amongst the Garter plates in which badges are plainly and unmistakably depicted upon the mantlings. Thus, on the lining of the mantling on the plate of Sir Henry Bourchier (elected 1452) will be found water-bougets, which are repeated on a fillet round the head of the crest. The Stall plate of Sir John Bourchier, Lord [ 390 ] Berners, above referred to (elected 1459), is lined with silver on the dexter side, semé in the upper part with water-bougets, and in the lower part with Bourchier knots. On the opposite side of the mantling the knots are in the upper part, and the water-bougets below. That these badges upon the mantling are not haphazard artistic decoration is proved by a reference to the monumental effigy of the Earl of Essex, in Little Easton Church, Essex. The differing shapes of the helmet, and of the coronet and the mantling, and the different representation of the crest, show that, although depicted in his Garter robes, upon his effigy the helmet, crest, and mantling upon which the earl's head there rests, and the representations of the same upon the Garter plate, are not slavish copies of the same original model. Nevertheless upon the effigy, as on the Garter plate, we find the outside of the mantling "semé of billets," and the inside "semé of water-bougets." Another instance amongst the Garter plates will be found in the case of Viscount Lovell, whose mantling is strewn with gold padlocks.

Nearly all the mantlings on the Garter Stall plates are more or less heavily "veined" with gold, and many are heavily diapered and decorated with floral devices. So prominent is some of this floral diapering that one is inclined to think that in a few cases it may possibly be a diapering with floral badges. In other cases it is equally evidently no more than a mere accessory of design, though between these two classes of diapering it would be by no means easy to draw a line of distinction. The veining and "heightening" of a mantling with gold is at the present day nearly always to be seen in elaborate heraldic painting.

From the Garter plates of the fourteenth century it has been shown that the colours of a large proportion of the mantlings approximated in early days to the colours of the arms. The popularity of gules, however, was then fast encroaching upon the frequency of appearance which other colours should have enjoyed; and in the sixteenth century, in grants and other paintings of arms, the use of a mantling of gules had become practically universal. In most cases the mantling of "gules, doubled argent" forms an integral part of the terms of the grant itself, as sometimes do the "gold tassels" which are so frequently found terminating the mantlings of that and an earlier period. This custom continued through the Stuart period, and though dropped officially in England during the eighteenth century (when the mantling reverted to the livery colours of the arms, and became in this form a matter of course and so understood, not being expressed in the wording of the patent), it continued in force in Lyon Office in Scotland until the year 1890, when the present Lyon King of Arms (Sir James Balfour Paul) altered the practice, and, as had earlier been done in England, [ 391 ] ordered that all future Scottish mantlings should be depicted in the livery colours of the arms, but in Scotland the mantlings, though now following the livery colours, are still included in the terms of the grant, and thereby stereotyped. In England, in an official "exemplification" at the present day of an ancient coat of arms (e.g. in an exemplification following the assumption of name and arms by Royal License), the mantling is painted in the livery colours, irrespective of any ancient patent in which "gules and argent" may have been granted as the colour of the mantling. Though probably most people will agree as to the expediency of such a practice, it is at any rate open to criticism on the score of propriety, unless the new mantling is expressed in terms in the new patent. This would of course amount to a grant overriding the earlier one, and would do all that was necessary; but failing this, there appears to be a distinct hiatus in the continuity of authority.

Ermine linings to the mantling were soon denied to the undistinguished commoner, and with the exception of the early Garter plates, it would be difficult to point to an instance of their use. The mantlings of peers, however, continued to be lined with ermine, and English instances under official sanction can be found in the Visitation Books and in the Garter plates until a comparatively recent period. In fact the relegation of peers to the ordinary livery colours for their mantlings is, in England, quite a modern practice. In Scotland, however, the mantlings of peers have always been lined with ermine, and the present Lyon continues this whilst usually making the colours of the outside of the mantlings agree with the principal colour of the arms. This, as regards the outer colour of the mantling, is not a fixed or stereotyped rule, and in some cases Lyon has preferred to adopt a mantling of gules lined with ermine as more comformable to a peer's Parliamentary Robe of Estate.

In the Deputy Earl-Marshal's warrant referred to on page 375 are some interesting points as to the mantling. It is recited that "some persons under ye degree of ye Nobilitie of this Realme doe cause Ermins to be Depicted upon ye Lineings of those Mantles which are used with their Armes, and also that there are some that have lately caused the Mantles of their Armes to be painted like Ostrich feathers as tho' they were of some peculiar and superior degree of Honor," and the warrant commands that these points are to be rectified.

The Royal mantling is of cloth of gold. In the case of the sovereign and the Prince of Wales it is lined with ermine, and for other members of the Royal Family it is lined with argent. Queen Elizabeth was the first sovereign to adopt the golden mantling, the Royal tinctures before that date (for the mantling) being gules lined ermine. The mantling of or and ermine has, of course, since that date been rigidly denied to [ 392 ] all outside the Royal Family. Two instances, however, occur amongst the early Garter plates, viz. Sir John Grey de Ruthyn and Frederick, Duke of Urbino. It is sometimes stated that a mantling of or and ermine is a sign of sovereignty, but the mantling of our own sovereign is really the only case in which it is presently so used.

In Sweden, as in Scotland, the colours of the mantling are specified in the patent, and, unlike our own, are often curiously varied.

The present rules for the colour of a mantling are as follows in England and Ireland:—

1. That with ancient arms of which the grant specified the colour, where this has not been altered by a subsequent exemplification, the colours must be as stated in the grant, i.e. usually gules, lined argent.
2. That the mantling of the sovereign and Prince of Wales is of cloth of gold, lined with ermine.
3. That the mantling of other members of the Royal Family is of cloth of gold lined with argent.
4. That the mantlings of all other people shall be of the livery colours.

The rules in Scotland are now as follows:

1. That in the cases of peers whose arms were matriculated before 1890 the mantling is of gules lined with ermine (the Scottish term for "lined" is "doubled").
2. That the mantlings of all other arms matriculated before 1890 shall be of gules and argent.
3. That the mantlings of peers whose arms have been matriculated since 1890 shall be either of the principal colour of the arms, lined with ermine, or of gules lined ermine (conformably to the Parliamentary Robe of Estate of a peer) as may happen to have been matriculated.
4. That the mantlings of all other persons whose arms have been matriculated since 1890 shall be of the livery colours, unless other colours are, as is occasionally the case, specified in the patent of matriculation.

Whether in Scotland a person is entitled to assume of his own motion an ermine lining to his mantling upon his elevation to the peerage, without a rematriculation in cases where the arms and mantling have been otherwise matriculated at an earlier date, or whether in England any peer may still line his mantling with ermine, are points on which one hesitates to express an opinion.

When the mantling is of the livery colours the following rules must be observed. The outside must be of some colour and the lining of some metal. The colour must be the principal colour of the arms, [ 393 ] i.e. the colour of the field if it be of colour, or if it is of metal, then the colour of the principal ordinary or charge upon the shield. The metal will be as the field, if the field is of metal, or if not, it will be as the metal of the principal ordinary or charge. In other words, it should be the same tinctures as the wreath.

If the field is party of colour and metal (i.e. per pale barry, quarterly, &c.), then that colour and that metal are "the livery colours." If the field is party of two colours the principal colour (i.e. the one first mentioned in the blazon) is taken as the colour and the other is ignored. The mantling is not made party to agree with the field in British heraldry, as would be the case in Germany. If the field is of a fur, then the dominant metal or colour of the fur is taken as one component part of the "livery colours," the other metal or colour required being taken from the next most important tincture of the field. For example, "ermine, a fess gules" has a mantling of gules and argent, whilst "or, a chevron ermines" would need a mantling of sable and or. The mantling for "azure, a lion rampant erminois" would be azure and or. But in a coat showing fur, metal, and colour, sometimes the fur is ignored. A field of vair has a mantling argent and azure, but if the charge be vair the field will supply the one, i.e. either colour or metal, whilst the vair supplies whichever is lacking. Except in the cases of Scotsmen who are peers and of the Sovereign and Prince of Wales, no fur is ever used nowadays in Great Britain for a mantling.

In cases where the principal charge is "proper," a certain discretion must be used. Usually the heraldic colour to which the charge approximates is used. For example, "argent, issuing from a mount in base a tree proper," &c., would have a mantling vert and argent. The arms "or, three Cornish choughs proper," or "argent, three negroes' heads couped proper," would have mantlings respectively sable and or and sable and argent. Occasionally one comes across a coat which supplies an "impossible" mantling, or which does not supply one at all. Such a coat would be "per bend sinister ermine and erminois, a lion rampant counterchanged." Here there is no colour at all, so the mantling would be gules and argent. "Argent, three stags trippant proper" would have a mantling gules and argent. A coat of arms with a landscape field would also probably be supplied (in default of a chief, e.g. supplying other colours and tinctures) with a mantling gules and argent. It is quite permissible to "vein" a mantling with gold lines, this being always done in official paintings.

In English official heraldry, where, no matter how great the number of crests, one helmet only is painted, it naturally follows that one mantling only can be depicted. This is always taken from the livery colours of the chief (i.e. the first) quartering or sub-quartering. [ 394 ] In Scottish patents at the present day in which a helmet is painted for each crest the mantlings frequently vary, being in each case in accordance with the livery colours of the quartering to which the crest belongs. Consequently this must be accepted as the rule in cases where more than one helmet is shown.

In considering the fashionings of mantlings it must be remembered that styles and fashions much overlap, and there has always been the tendency in armory to repeat earlier styles. Whilst one willingly concedes the immense gain in beauty by the present reversion in heraldic art to older and better, and certainly more artistic types, there is distinctly another side to the question which is strangely overlooked by those who would have the present-day heraldic art slavishly copied in all minutiæ of detail, and even (according to some) in all the crudity of draughtmanship from examples of the earliest periods.

Hitherto each period of heraldic art has had its own peculiar style and type, each within limits readily recognisable. Whether that style and type can be considered when judged by the canons of art to be good or bad, there can be no doubt that each style in its turn has approximated to, and has been in keeping with, the concurrent decorative art outside and beyond heraldry, though it has always exhibited a tendency to rather lag behind. When all has been said and done that can be, heraldry, in spite of its symbolism and its many other meanings, remains but a form of decorative art; and therefore it is natural that it should be influenced by other artistic ideas and other manifestations of art and accepted forms of design current at the period to which it belongs. For, from the artistic point of view, the part played in art by heraldry is so limited in extent compared with the part occupied by other forms of decoration, that one would naturally expect heraldry to show the influence of outside decorative art to a greater extent than decorative art as a whole would be likely to show the influence of heraldry. In our present revulsion of mind in favour of older heraldic types, we are apt to speak of "good" or "bad" heraldic art. But art itself cannot so be divided, for after all allowances have been made for crude workmanship, and when bad or imperfect examples have been eliminated from consideration (and given always necessarily the essential basis of the relation of line to curve and such technical details of art), who on earth is to judge, or who is competent to say, whether any particular style of art is good or bad? No one from preference executes speculative art which he knows whilst executing it to be bad. Most manifestations of art, and peculiarly of decorative art, are commercial matters executed with the frank idea of subsequent sale, and consequently with the subconscious idea, true though but seldom acknowledged, of pleasing that public which will [ 395 ] have to buy. Consequently the ultimate appeal is to the taste of the public, for art, if it be not the desire to give pleasure by the representation of beauty, is nothing. Beauty, of course, must not necessarily be confounded with prettiness; it may be beauty of character. The result is, therefore, that the decorative art of any period is an indication of that which gives pleasure at the moment, and an absolute reflex of the artistic wishes, desires, and tastes of the cultivated classes to whom executive art must appeal. At every period it has been found that this taste is constantly changing, and as a consequence the examples of decorative art of any period are a reflex only of the artistic ideas current at the time the work was done.

At all periods, therefore, even during the early Victorian period, which we are now taught and believe to be the most ghastly period through which English art has passed, the art in vogue has been what the public have admired, and have been ready to pay for, and most emphatically what they have been taught and brought up to consider good art. In early Victorian days there was no lack of educated people, and because they liked the particular form of decoration associated with their period, who is justified in saying that, because that peculiar style of decoration is not acceptable now to ourselves, their art was bad, and worse than our own? If throughout the ages there had been one dominating style of decoration equally accepted at all periods and by all authorities as the highest type of decorative art, then we should have some standard to judge by. Such is not the case, and we have no such standard, and any attempt to arbitrarily create and control ideas between given parallel lines of arbitrary thought, when the ideas are constantly changing, is impossible and undesirable. Who dreams of questioning the art of Benvenuto Cellini, or of describing his craftsmanship as other than one of the most vivid examples of his period, and yet what had it in keeping with the art of the Louis XVI. period, or the later art of William Morris and his followers? Widely divergent as are these types, they are nevertheless all accepted as the highest expressions of three separate types of decorative art. Any one attempting to compare them, or to rank these schools of artistic thought in order of superiority, would simply be laying themselves open to ridicule unspeakable, for they would be ranked by the highest authorities of different periods in different orders, and it is as impossible to create a permanent standard of art as it is impossible to ensure a permanence of any particular public taste. The fact that taste changes, and as a consequence that artistic styles and types vary, is simply due to the everlasting desire on the part of the public for some new thing, and their equally permanent appreciation of novelty of idea or sensation. That master-minds have arisen to teach, and [ 396 ] that they have taught with some success their own particular brand of art to the public, would seem rather to argue against the foregoing ideas were it not that, when the master-mind and the dominating influence are gone, the public, desiring as always change and novelty, are ready to fly to any new teacher and master who can again afford them artistic pleasure. The influence of William Morris in household decoration is possibly the most far-reaching modern example of the influence of a single man upon the art of his period; but master-mind as was his, and master-craftsman as he was, it has needed but a few years since his death to start the undoing of much that he taught. After the movement initiated by Morris and carried further by the Arts and Crafts Society, which made for simplicity in structural design as well as in the decoration of furniture, we have now fallen back upon the flowery patterns of the early Victorian period, and there is hardly a drawing-room in fashionable London where the chairs and settees are not covered with early Victorian chintzes.

Artistic authorities may shout themselves hoarse, but the fashion having been set in Mayfair will be inevitably followed in Suburbia, and we are doubtless again at the beginning of the cycle of that curious manifestation of domestic decorative art which was current in the early part of the nineteenth century. It is, therefore, evident that it is futile to describe varying types of art of varying periods as good or bad, or to differentiate between them, unless some such permanent basis of comparison or standard of excellence be conceded. The differing types must be accepted as no more than the expression of the artistic period to which they belong. That being so, one cannot help thinking that the abuse which has been heaped of late (by unthinking votaries of Plantagenet and Tudor heraldry) upon heraldic art in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries has very greatly overstepped the true proportion of the matter. Much that has been said is true, but what has been said too often lacks proportion. There is consequently much to be said in favour of allowing each period to create its own style and type of heraldic design, in conformity with the ideas concerning decorative art which are current outside heraldic thought. This is precisely what is not happening at the present time, even with all our boasted revival of armory and armorial art. The tendency at the present time is to slavishly copy examples of other periods. There is another point which is usually overlooked by the most blatant followers of this school of thought. What are the ancient models which remain to us? The early Rolls of Arms of which we hear so much are not, and were never intended to be, examples of artistic execution. They are merely memoranda of fact. It is absurd to suppose that an actual shield was painted with the crudity to be met [ 397 ] with in the Rolls of Arms. It is equally absurd to accept as unimpeachable models, Garter plates, seals, or architectural examples unless the purpose and medium—wax, enamel, or stone—in which they are executed is borne in mind, and the knowledge used with due discrimination. Mr. Eve, without slavishly copying, originally appears to have modelled his work upon the admirable designs and ideas of the "little masters" of German art in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He has since progressed therefrom to a distinctive and very excellent style of his own. Mr. Graham Johnson models his work upon Plantagenet and Tudor examples. The work of Père Anselm, and of Pugin, the first start towards the present ideas of heraldic art, embodying as it did so much of the beauty of the older work whilst possessing a character of its own, and developing ancient ideals by increased beauty of execution, has placed their reputation far above that of others, who, following in their footsteps, have not possessed their abilities. But with regard to most of the heraldic design of the present day as a whole it is very evident that we are simply picking and choosing tit-bits from the work of bygone craftsmen, and copying, more or less slavishly, examples of other periods. This makes for no advance in design either, in its character or execution, nor will it result in any peculiarity of style which it will be possible in the future to identify with the present period. Our heraldry, like our architecture, though it may be dated in the twentieth century, will be a heterogeneous collection of isolated specimens of Gothic, Tudor, or Queen Anne style and type, which surely is as anachronistic as we consider to be those Dutch paintings which represent Christ and the Apostles in modern clothes.

Roughly the periods into which the types of mantlings can be divided, when considered from the standpoint of their fashioning, are somewhat as follows. There is the earliest period of all, when the mantling depicted approximated closely if it was not an actual representation of the capelote really worn in battle. Examples of this will be found in the Armorial de Gelre and the Zurich Wappenrolle. As the mantling worn lengthened and evolved itself into the lambrequin, the mantling depicted in heraldic art was similarly increased in size, terminating in the long mantle drawn in profile but tasselled and with the scalloped edges, a type which is found surviving in some of the early Garter plates. This is the transition stage. The next definite period is when we find the mantling depicted on both sides of the helmet and the scalloped edges developed, in accordance with the romantic ideas of the period, into the slashes and cuts of the bold and artistic mantlings of Plantagenet armorial art.

Slowly decreasing in strength, but at the same time increasing in elaboration, this mantling and type continued until it had reached its [ 398 ] highest pitch of exuberant elaboration in Stuart and early Georgian times. Side by side with this over-elaboration came the revulsion to a Puritan simplicity of taste which is to be found in other manifestations of art at the same time, and which made itself evident in heraldic decoration by the use as mantling of the plain uncut cloth suspended behind the shield. Originating in Elizabethan days, this plain cloth was much made use of, but towards the end of the Stuart period came that curious evolution of British heraldry which is peculiar to these countries alone. That is the entire omission of both helmet and mantling. How it originated it is difficult to understand, unless it be due to the fact that a large number, in fact a large proportion, of English families possessed a shield only and neither claimed nor used a crest, and that consequently a large number of heraldic representations give the shield only. It is rare indeed to find a shield surmounted by helmet and mantling when the former is not required to support a crest. At the same time we find, among the official records of the period, that the documents of chief importance were the Visitation Books. In these, probably from motives of economy or to save needless draughtsmanship, the trouble of depicting the helmet and mantling was dispensed with, and the crest is almost universally found depicted on the wreath, which is made to rest upon the shield, the helmet being omitted. That being an accepted official way of representing an achievement, small wonder that the public followed, and we find as a consequence that a large proportion of the bookplates during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had no helmet or mantling at all, the elaboration of the edges of the shield, together with the addition of decorative and needless accessories bearing no relation to the arms, fulfilling all purposes of decorative design. It should also be remembered that from towards the close of the Stuart period onward, England was taking her art and decoration almost entirely from Continental sources, chiefly French and Italian. In both the countries the use of crests was very limited indeed in extent, and the elimination of the helmet and mantling, and the elaboration in their stead of the edges of the shield, we probably owe to the effort to assimilate French and Italian forms of decoration to English arms. So obsolete had become the use of helmet and mantling that it is difficult to come across examples that one can put forward as mantlings typical of the period.

Helmets and mantlings were of course painted upon grants and upon the Stall plates of the knights of the various orders, but whilst the helmets became weak, of a pattern impossible to wear, and small in size, the mantling became of a stereotyped pattern, and of a design poor and wooden according to our present ideas.

Fig. 665.—Carriage Panel of Georgiana, Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

Fig. 665.—Carriage Panel of Georgiana, Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

Unofficial heraldry had sunk to an even lower style of art, and [ 399 ] the regulation heraldic stationer's types of shield, mantling, and helmet are awe-inspiring in their ugliness.

The term "mantle" is sometimes employed, but it would seem hardly quite correctly, to the parliamentary robe of estate upon which the arms of a peer of the realm were so frequently depicted at the end of the eighteenth and in the early part of the nineteenth centuries. Its popularity is an indication of the ever-constant predilection for something which is denied to others and the possession of which is a matter of privilege. Woodward, in his "Treatise on Heraldry," treats of and dismisses the matter in one short sentence: "In England the suggestion that the arms of peers should be mantled with their Parliament robes was never generally adopted." In this statement he is quite incorrect, for as the accepted type in one particular opportunity of armorial display its use was absolutely universal. The opportunity in question was the emblazonment of arms upon carriage panels. In the early part of the nineteenth and at the end of the eighteenth centuries armorial bearings were painted of some size upon carriages, and there were few such paintings executed for the carriages, chariots, and state coaches of peers that did not appear upon a background of the robe of estate. With the modern craze for ostentatious unostentation (the result, there can be little doubt, in this respect of the wholesale appropriation of arms by those without a right to bear these ornaments), the decoration of a peer's carriage nowadays seldom shows more than a simple coronet, or a coroneted crest, initial, or monogram; but the State chariots of those who still possess them almost all, without exception, show the arms emblazoned upon the robe of estate. The Royal and many other State chariots made or refurbished for the recent coronation ceremonies show that, when an opportunity of the fullest display properly arises, the robe of estate is not yet a thing of the past. Fig. 665 is from a photograph of a carriage panel, and shows the arms of a former Marchioness of Cholmondeley displayed in this manner. Incidentally it also shows a practice frequently resorted to, but quite unauthorised, of taking one supporter from the husband's shield and the other (when the wife was an heiress) from the arms of her family. The arms are those of Georgiana Charlotte, widow of George James, first Marquess of Cholmondeley, and younger daughter and coheir of Peregrine, third Duke of Ancaster. She became a widow in 1827 and died in 1838, so the panel must have been painted between those dates. The arms shown are: "Quarterly, 1 and 4, gules, in chief two esquires' helmets proper, and in base a garb or (for Cholmondeley); 2. gules, a chevron between three eagles' heads erased argent; 3. or, on a fesse between two chevrons sable, three cross crosslets or (for Walpole), and on an [ 400 ] escutcheon of pretence the arms of Bertie, namely: argent, three battering-rams fesswise in pale proper, headed and garnished azure." The supporters shown are: "Dexter, a griffin sable, armed, winged, and membered or (from the Cholmondeley achievement); sinister, a friar vested in russet with staff and rosary or" (one of the supporters belonging to the Barony of Willoughby D'Eresby, to which the Marchioness of Cholmondeley in her own right was a coheir until the abeyance in the Barony was determined in favour of her elder sister).

"In later times the arms of sovereigns—the German Electors, &c.—were mantled, usually with crimson velvet fringed with gold, lined with ermine, and crowned; but the mantling armoyé was one of the marks of dignity used by the Pairs de France, and by Cardinals resident in France; it was also employed by some great nobles in other countries. The mantling of the Princes and Dukes of Mirandola was chequy argent and azure, lined with ermine. In France the mantling of the Chancelier was of cloth of gold; that of Présidents, of scarlet, lined with alternate strips of ermine and petit gris. In France, Napoleon I., who used a mantling of purple semé of golden bees, decreed that the princes and grand dignitaries should use an azure mantling thus semé; those of Dukes were to be plain, and lined with vair instead of ermine. In 1817 a mantling of azure, fringed with gold and lined with ermine, was appropriated to the dignity of Pair de France."

The pavilion is a feature of heraldic art which is quite unknown to British heraldry, and one can call to mind no single instance of its use in this country; but as its use is very prominent in Germany and other countries, it cannot be overlooked. It is confined to the arms of sovereigns, and the pavilion is the tent-like erection within which the heraldic achievement is displayed. The pavilion seems to have originated in France, where it can be traced back upon the Great Seals of the kings to its earliest form and appearance upon the seal of Louis XI. In the case of the Kings of France, it was of azure semé-de-lis or. The pavilion used with the arms of the German Emperor is of gold semé alternately of Imperial crowns and eagles displayed sable, and is lined with ermine. The motto is carried on a crimson band, and it is surmounted by the Imperial crown, and a banner of the German colours gules, argent, and sable. The pavilion used by the German Emperor as King of Prussia is of crimson, semé of black eagles and gold crowns, and the band which carries the motto is blue. The pavilions of the King of Bavaria and the Duke of Baden, the King of Saxony, the Duke of Hesse, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the Duke of [ 401 ] SaxeMeiningen-Hildburghausen, the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, and the Duke of Anhalt are all of crimson.

In German heraldry a rather more noticeable distinction is drawn than with ourselves between the lambrequin (Helmdecke) and the mantle (Helmmantel). This more closely approximates to the robe of estate, though the helmmantel has not in Germany the rigid significance of peerage degree that the robe of estate has in this country. The German helmmantel with few exceptions is always of purple lined with ermine, and whilst the mantel always falls directly from the coronet or cap, the pavilion is arranged in a dome-like form which bears the crown upon its summit. The pavilion is supposed to be the invention of the Frenchman Philip Moreau (1680), and found its way from France to Germany, where both in the Greater and Lesser Courts it was enthusiastically adopted. Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Spain, Portugal, and Würtemberg are the only Royal Arms in which the pavilion does not figure.