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Re: [SCA-Archery] Banners

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  • James of the Lake
    My take on this is that commoners, including archers, were offered a route to increased social status in England by virtue of fighting with the King at
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 8 11:35 AM
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      My take on this is that commoners, including archers, were offered a route to increased social status in England by virtue of fighting with the King at Agincourt; however, it was not automatic.  

      As a practical matter an individual would have had to seek out a herald to press his case for bearing arms and have the funds (probably the hardest part for most) to "register" his design.  This was at a time when the english College of Arms was getting increasing royal support for organizing into a permanent body and around 80 years or so before the heralds' library (and record repository) began to be consolidated.  (Each King of Arms had his library, but they continued to have their turf battles well into the 16thC, particularly between Clarenceux and Garter -- this was important because it involved who received fees and how large a share he could keep.  (Richard III gave them a house, but Henry Tudor took it away.)  

      However, Henry V's writ illustrates the change from simply assuming arms to having them endorsed, if not awarded, by a prince and the increasing recognition of the right to bear arms as a mark of nobility.

      So, as with most things involving the movement of individuals to higher social status in England, there were routes, but it required the proper contacts and, especially, money.


      On Nov 8, 2011, at 8:53 AM, John Edgerton wrote:


      Thank you for the information.  Most interesting. 

      On Nov 7, 2011, at 4:54 PM, James of the Lake wrote:

      Sir Jon,

      Woodcock and Robinson, _The Oxford Guide to Heraldry_, ISBN 0-19-211658-4, p. 34: "In the early fifteenth century the Crown moved against self-assumed arms that did not date from time immemorial, and in writs of 1417 to the Sheriffs of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Sussex, and Dorset, Henry V ordered them to proclaim that no one should use arms on the forthcoming expedition to France unless entitled to them in right of his ancestors or by a grant from a competent authority.  The writ commences by admitting that divers men had assumed unto themselves arms on previous expeditions, and forbade the use of arms except by right of ancestors or valid grant, and also 'exceptis illis qui nobiscum apud bellum de Agincourt arma portabant' a clause that has been variously interpreted, but which might perhaps be most reasonably considered to mean that those who self-assumed arms at Agincourt might keep them."

      Wagner, _Heralds of England_ ISBN 0900455-41-1, p. 36:  "A different view of these assumptions [i.e., from that of Upton who assumed that those who assumed arms had first, by their acts or virtues, ennobled themselves - jotl ] is conveyed by a letter, dated at Salisbury on the 2nd of June 1417, addressed by Henry V to the Sheriffs of Hampshire. Wiltshire, Sussex and Dorset.  The King commands them that, whereas in recent expeditions abroad many persons had taken to themselves arms and tunics of arms called 'Cotearmures', when neither they nor their ancestors had used such in times past, proclamation was to be made that no man, of whatever station, rank or condition he might be, should take to himself arms or tunics of arms, unless he should possess the same by ancestral right or by the grant of some person having authority sufficient thereunto; that all, except those who had borne arms with the King at Agincourt, should on a certain day declare their arms and by whose grant they had them, to persons named for the purpose, on pain of exclusion f! rom the expedition then to start, loss of their wages and defacement of their said arms and tunics called 'Cotearmures'.  This Agincourt exception is referred to in the King's speech before the battle in Shakespeare's 'Henry the Fifth'.

      "For he today that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile/ This day shall gentle his condition.

           "The story is told in the contemporary chronicle of Juvenal des Ursins, who says that the King promised to ennoble all those of his company at Agincourt who were not already noble and, that their nobility might to known, gave them leave to wear the collar of his order powdered with letters S." [ _Histoire de Charles VI Roy de France, par Jean Juvenal des Ursins, Archeveque de Rheims: Nouvelle collection des memoires pour servir a l'histoire de France_, ed. Michaud et Poujoulat, 1850, tome 2, p. 521. ]

      Henry V also created the Agincourt King of Arms in 1415 -- possibly to keep track of those claiming arms derived from those supposedly borne at Agincourt, but I'll need to research this further.


      On Nov 7, 2011, at 3:05 PM, John Edgerton wrote:

      Can you give me a source for that.  I would like to add it to my files. 

      Thank you


      On Nov 7, 2011, at 2:59 PM, James of the Lake wrote:

      misc deleted

       I have yet to find an example for archers, but (along with the rest of the rank and file troops) archers were made armigers by Henry V after Agincourt.

      James Furison


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