Saturday, February 4, 2012

Interesting Coat of Arms

If you spend enough time doing genealogical research, sooner or later you will find a family shield. It is important for the genealogist to understand the Heraldry principles because the old family shields can help in many cases to understand family alliances and marriages, and can give information about ancestors that are not fully documented.
That is why sometime in the future we will discuss more about Heraldry, but today I want to share a beautiful example of heraldic design (XVII century).  

The Spanish state currently under the authority of the happily reigning Juan Carlos I is composed by what used to be independent kingdoms such as, Leon, Castile, Aragon, Navarra, Granada, Galicia, Valencia, etc. The shield presented here is an uncommon representation of the arms Kingdoms of Castile and Leon. We see a shield partitioned per pale. First of Castile that is gules (red) a castle or (gold), that has azure (blue) doors and windows and three or (gold) towers.  Second is of Leon, argent (silver) a purple rampant lion, with crowned armed and langued or (gold). Castile and Leon shield is mounted on a two-headed eagle with bull’s legs and eyes all over its body. The eagle has been associated with the empire since Roman times and starting in 1508 was used by the Habsburg imperial family. The shield is crowned and encircled by the Chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Juan de Caramuel y Lobkowitz (Madrid, 1606 - Vigevano, 1682) was an intellectual of the Spanish Golden Age and the author of this beautiful design. His father was an engineer from Luxemburg that settled down in Madrid. Juan followed his religious vocation and got to be bishop in Naples (Italy). He studied different sciences ranging from philosophy to mathematics and published more than 70 books. This coat of arms was presented in his book “Mystic Declaration of the Arms of Spain”, published in Brussels in 1636. Victor Minguez (Jaume I University) has done a comprehensive study on this book and its author, and can should be reviewed if you are interested in getting additional information about them.
Heraldry is an art and science that after splendor age in the XIII and XVI century started a slow and steady decline and now is struggling to survive. Those interested in Genealogy and Nobility should study Heraldry with responsibility to ensure all this knowledge is not lost in the XXI century.