Brainstorming Armorial Design From Period Sources

Sometimes submitters know that they want a device that looks authentically like the period arms of a particular time and place, but aren’t sure where to start.

My general advice for this situation is to spend an hour flipping through a couple of armorials from that culture to get a feel for the range of arms typical in that environment.

You can find armorials on this site, grouped by region and sorted by century:
https://caerlaverockroll.com/period-armorials-online/

Pick a few sources from your region and jump in, flipping through pages and getting a high-level impression of the arms that you see. Look at a few dozen pages of one source, and then bail out and choose another to flip through to see what’s similar and what’s different.

As you page through, take screenshots of your favorite elements — charges, arrangements, color schemes, etc.

After you’ve collected a dozen or so items that appeal to you, you can combine and remix them to produce something that’s uniquely yours.

Resist the temptation to shoehorn everything in, creating a monster with a dozen types of charge and all of the possible tinctures — your new design should have a complexity that’s comparable to the examples you are working from.

The result of this process is likely to be something that looks historically plausible, reflects the aesthetics of your chosen culture, and that meets the Society’s requirements for submissions, or is at least close enough that it serves as a good starting point.

However, while browsing period armorials for inspiration, there are a couple of caveats to be aware of:

  • Firstly, many armorials start with a pages of notable figures, which can include royalty of other kingdoms, or attributed arms of historical/mythical figures; you can usually just skip past the first quarter or so of the armorial to reach arms that are more representative of the populace at large.
  • Secondly, you’ll often find marshaled arms (especially in those opening sections of royalty) in which two or more arms are combined into quarters; when viewing those, treat each quarter as an independent device.

 

A Parochial New Yorker’s Map of the Current Middle Ages

This illustration is a play on SCA geography shown as a medieval T-and-O map crossed with the classic New Yorker cover.

Manhattan is in the center of the world (rightly so), with the West at the top, Long Island in the bottom left, and New England in bottom right.

(Hat tip to Þorfinn for the original idea, Angelica for the New Yorker tie-in, Brían for a great first round of Latin corrections, and Maral for a Canadian vocabulary suggestion.)

Also available in a provincial version that highlights all four modern cantons.

A guide to the labels and placenames, written in Vulgar Latin:

  • Nova Terra Vetus: The New Ancient World.
  • Occidens, Meridies, Oriens, Septentrio: Cardinal directions, with West at the top (medieval maps frequently had East at the top).
  • Mare Oceanum Procellarum: Ocean of Storms.
  • Atlantia: The Kingdom of Atlantia occupies the southeast of the US.
  • Caidis: The Kingdom of Caid lies in southern California
  • Nebulae: San Francisco and the Bay Area are the Principality of the Mists.
  • Scoutum Boreale: The Kingdom of Northshield covers central Canada and the upper Midwest.
  • Dracones mediorum: A dragon is the badge of The Middle Kingdom.
  • AEthelmearcus: The Kingdom of Æthelmearc is located due west of our kingdom.
  • Salamandrae: A salamander is the badge of the Barony of Bhakail, located around Philadelphia.
  • Incolae paludis: These “swamp dwellers” are inhabitants of the Barony of Settmour Swamp.
  • Concordia: The Barony of Concordia of the Snows is located in the Capitol Region of New York, around Albany.
  • Magnum Portum: New York’s “great harbor” connects the city to the ocean.
  • Hudsonicum: The Hudson river leads north from the city, and thanks to the Champlain canal, connects to the ocean via the St. Lawrence seaway.
  • Foramen: The Long Island Sound is the third “opening” connecting the city to the world’s oceans.
  • Insula Pomorum: The “island of apples” is Manhattan, the Big Apple.
  • Pontem fractum: The Canton of Brokenbridge is located in Brooklyn.
  • Leonis finem: The Canton of Lions End fills Nassau County.
  • Abyssi: The “people of the abyss” reside in the Barony An Dubhaigeainn, “of the dark ones” or perhaps “of the dark abyss,” a description of the waters of the Sound.
  • Aquilonis silvis: The “northern forests” of Østgarðr.
  • Draconavis: The Barony of Dragonship Haven lies across the Sound in southern Connecticut.
  • Carolingea: The Barony of Carolingia is located in and around Boston.
  • Tir Mara: The Crown Principality of Tir Mara is the Canadian portion of the East Kingdom, the “land of the sea.”