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14th century flags in England?

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:22 pm
by Melons de Cantilupe
If I want to make a "flag" (or flags) for an English baron of 1340, an accomplished knight of Edward III's army, what dimensions and shape would I use? Does being a baron imply banneret, or could he just as easily be a batchelor?
How would the flag fly/hang? Would there be a cross bar to hang the flag, as commonly seen amongst re-enactment camps?
What about little flags that go on lances, or on the top of a pavilion mast? Are there different flags for marking, for instance, a tournament pavilion, as opposed to a battlefield flag that would be used to identify troops and a rally point?

I'm deliberately using the word "flag" instead of banner, bannerette, standard, pennant, pennon etc, hoping that people can give me the appropriate terms for each.

Pictures or diagrams would be most helpful.



Re: 14th century flags in England?

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:48 am
by Shadowcat
When I had to make a banner for a Ricardian knight, I contacted the College of Arms, who recommended a very helpful book which I found in my local library, written by one of the Heralds. As this was a very long time ago, I no longer have the reference, but you could try looking at the website, and getting in touch.


Re: 14th century flags in England?

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:50 pm
by Colin Middleton
I'm no expert, but the impressions that I have include:

A Baron has a banner, it's just the knights batchelor who don't.

Banners for foot, certainly in the 15th C, tended to be square (ish) and hung on a pole with a cross bar. Horses and ships may fly the long pointy one (gonfalon?), but not on foot.

The little triangular ones are pennants and will match the arms on the big ones.

Are you having heraldic or liveried banners?

Re: 14th century flags in England?

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:51 pm
by Shadowcat
I remember that each level of the hierarchy, for want of a word I can't recall, had a different size of banner, and there were records of the sizes, colours and everything necessary. Admitted the College of arms was set up by Richard lll in the 1480's, but the information seemed to be good for earlier too. As I said -I did the research a long time ago.


Re: 14th century flags in England?

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:32 pm
by Brother Ranulf
I have a book published by the British Library with input from the College of Arms which includes details of "flags". It emphasises that these things gradually evolved over time, so what is true for the 15th century may not be so in the 13th.

Pennons were about 3 feet long and either triangular or rectangular/square and swallow-tailed. They indicated someone below a banneret. If promoted, the swallow tails would be cut off to produce a banneret.

Pennoncelles were smaller pennons not more than 18 inches long and again triangular or swallow-tailed. Fixed to a lance - 11th/12th century versions often three-tailed. These are seen from 1066 onwards and are often incorrectly termed "pennons".

Banners were square or oblong with arms displayed as on the shield. They were personal and indicated the owner's presence - the loss of such a flag was a very serious matter. Size not given, but often quite large. A standard-bearer of Henry II lost the king's banner during a clash with Welsh troops in 1157 and was accused of treason, resulting in trial by combat. [Royal Standards as described below had not yet evolved, so the "standard-bearer" carried a banner].

Bannerets, carried by knights banneret, were small versions of banners. Banneroles, stiffened along the top edge, were used at funerals to show the arms of those associated with the deceased.

Standards (also called Ancients) may have evolved quite late and they are very long tapering flags - a Royal Standard could (and still can) be 33 feet long. Formed a muster point on the field or at tourneys. Often not displaying arms but livery colours, crests, mottoes, badges and so on. Could be blunt-ended or swallow-tailed, fringed in the same livery colours.

Guidons were small standards with the red cross on white next the pole, then the livery colours and badge.

Gonfannons were personal flags, supported only across the top, with an individual's, guild's or company's coat of arms. Not generally used in England.

Hope this helps.

Re: 14th century flags in England?

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:01 pm
by Colin Middleton
Certainly helps me. Thank you Brother.