Friday, January 29, 2010

The Hadden Coat of Arms?

A family Coat of Arms or a family crest are sometimes closely linked to family history. Pictured to the left is the "Hadden Coat of Arms." A shield with distinctive quadrants and a crescent moon covering the intersection of quadrants. It looks impressive but I can lay no claim to it because coats of arms were not given to families!

Coats of arms became necessary at a time when, predominantly the noble and gentry began wearing suits of armour for protection when going into battle. Without colourful, distinctive markings, it was hard to tell who was on your side as everyone could, well, look the same. I think it would be a bit like watching your favourite sports team playing their arch rivals while both teams wore the same uniform. Or imagine attending a jousting tournament in more peaceful medieval times, how would you know who your favourite knight was and therefore who to cheer on if there were no distinctive markings.

I'm not certain of the meaning of the symbols and diagrams in each of the quadrants but from what I understand the red colour is suppose to symbolize warrior and military strength and the gold symbolizes generosity while black represents constancy and grief. And the red roses? Maybe romantic warrior? I doubt it but there could a great new apocryphal family story to get started.

It's not that I can't find any number of vendors who will sell me "my family coat of arms" adorning mugs, T-shirts, framed lithographs and plaques. No, it's because the coat of arms was given to individuals for their exclusive use. The coat of arms was passed down as an inheritance but only from father to first born son.

Even though I am the first born son of a first born son, my grandfather was a third born son - so I only get back a couple of generations before I run into a problem. My grandfather's father was a first born son but his father was a fourth born son so again I can't get through to making a claim on the coat of arms.

All is not lost though, a nicely mounted heraldic plaque with the "family coat of arms" looks great on the living room wall.

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