NO, that's NOT the HALE coat of arms above. That's the Coat of Arms of Llewellyn the Great.
Why haven't we put the HALE coat of arms there instead?
Simply because THERE ISN'T ONE. We've written that in capital letters because sometimes people won't believe us unless we say it loudly enough.
It comes as a great disappontment to many of those who send us requests, but they usually perk up when we go on to say that there isn't a HALE coat of arms - because there are LOTS of them.
How can there be lots of HALE Coats of Arms? (CoAs from now on)
To understand why, we'll take a look at exactly what CoAs are and how they began.
During the Middle Ages, armour became increasingly sophisticated and the medieval warrior found himself encased in iron from head to foot, with a closed helmet which rendered him anonymous.
In the heat of battle it would be impossible to know who was your friend and who was your
foe without a ready means of identification.
(If you need any convincing think of so-called "friendly fire" in the twenty
The most common means of defence was a shield, the flat face of which lent itself ideally to showing a symbol or pattern, which was called a charge.
At first these were a single object such as an arrow, a wheatsheaf, a fleur de lys or a lion etc.,
During the Crusades (1071 - 1291) knights of each Christian Order could be indentified by the shape and colour of the cross they displayed.
The use of what began as a single, simple, shield symbol soon spread (alliteration!) and was then to be found on the surcoat, a garment that covered the armour.
Next came the horse caparison (a cloth which covered the horse)
quickly followed by ornaments, banners, flags and personal seals, all of which showed the owner's charge.
Personal seals were particularly useful as most people couldn't read and seals were used to " sign" documents.
As the use of personal insignia became more widespread it was necessary for someone to document, regulate and control the use of colours, charges, and so on.
And so heraldry was born. The first heralds were probably wandering minstrels whose skill at remembering folk tales and songs made them well suited to identifying the arms and banners of opposing forces.
By the late fourteenth century heralds had become established within the royal courts and households of the nobility. It was their task to compile armorial records, run tournaments, and devise and design arms for their employer.
As each generation of the family succeeded the previous one designs became more and more elaborate, but always followed strict heraldic rules. The most important of these was that arms held by one family could not be used by any other. Each design was entirely original, and protected in the same way that a copyright work of art is today.
If there were two families called , for instance, Fitzherbert they would each have their own CoA.
Are you beginning to see why there may be lots of HALE CoAs?
We've already said that CoAs become more elaborate with each suceeding generation.
That's because when the eldest son inherits the title from his father he is allowed to subtly
alter the family crest by adding an item of his own personal interest. Or a promotion in rank may
entitle him to add supporters - which may only be used by peers of the realm or senior knights.
In the example on the left we can see from the helm, (or helmet) above the shield and the red dragon supporters that this CoA belongs to a Welsh peer (lord).
The Royal Arms used by Queen Elizabeth II have evolved in this way over nine centuries. King Edward II, for instance, added the Ancient Royal Arms of France in 1340 to symbolise his claim to the French throne. James I then added the arms of Scotland and the harp of Ireland. The Hanovarians added references to their German possessions. By the time Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 the design was so over complicated that she decided to simplify it to the design that is still used today.
Now to the HALE CoAs. (You'll have to go to the NEXT PAGE to read about those.)
SIR MATTHEW HALE
ORIGIN OF THE NAME