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The nobility, possessing nearly the same privileges upon their vast estates as their Sovereigns did on their demesnes, had each his comptroller, chamberlain, treasurer, auditor, &c. &c. who held their places by the letters patent of their lord; they had even their council, consisting of the higher gentry their retainers, and they used in their writings the same kind of stile. Their families, even their ladies, retainers, and dependents, paid them in speech, writing, and attendance, nearly the same homage as they, in their turn, were obliged to render the Sovereign when at his court. A favored privilege was having officers at arms. Dukes, marquisses, and earls, were allowed an herald and pursuivant: viscounts and barons, and others not ennobled, even knights bannerets, might retain one of the latter. Anstis, Garter, has left in manuscript, very much relative to the officers at arms belonging to the nobility of England, to prove what no one denies, that they had the privilege of retaining them. The practice gradually ceased: there were none so late as Elizabeth's reign.
The person of the officer at arms was inviolate, being the messenger of peace and war. He summoned besieged places to surrender, and in capitulations preceded the vanquished governor, to secure him against every violence. He published victories, numbered the slain, and notified the success of foreign courts. He was essential at coronations, royal marriages, baptisms, and funerals, at the interviews of sovereigns and princes, displaying banners in the field, public banquets, and processions, during the royal progresses, and at the annual festivals of the church. He assisted at justs, tilts, tournaments and combats, and in every thing else in which the English monarchs were personally concerned, upon whom he constantly attended, whether he was in the court or in the camp, in Britain or upon the Continent. Assisting at enthronization of prelates they were amply rewarded. He proclaimed the titles of the royal visitants, princes and nobility, illustrious ladies, great officers of state, who dined in the courts of the sovereign, which at stated times all such were accustomed to do; cach of whom, according to his rank and office, gave a fee or reward; but the quantity was optional, being regulated chiefly by the wealth or liberality of the giver. These several sums were registered, as a guide and incitement to others. To him belonged the ordering of every thing relative to the genealogies
and armorial bearings of the nobility and gentry, being impowered to oblige all to produce every thing necessary for their making the most proper decision in all doubtful cases. They presided at, and marshalled the solemn and magnificent funerals, which were so general in the fif teenth and sixteenth centuries, and to such an extreme, that they materially injured the families whose honors they were supposed to promote. The exact form of these obsequies were prescribed in the reign of Edward IV. Noblemen's funerals were attended by their own herald, in a tabard of his arms reversed. The royal officers at arms also were there, not in tabards bearing the Sovereign's, but the deceased's arms. The ceremonial was so long, so pompous, that there was ample employment for the many of the heraldic body who assisted. So preposterously fond of funeral rites were our ancestors, that the obsequies of princes were observed by such sovereigns as were in alliance with them, and in the same state as if the royal corpse had been conveyed from one christian kingdom to another. Individuals had their obsequies kept in various places, where they had particular connections from residence.
The stated fees of the officers of arms were considerable, as settled at the siege of Caen in Normandy, by Henry IV., September 3, 1408. They were allowed at a coronation of a King of England £100, and their robes of scarlet; at a Queen's 100 marcs, with their liveries. At displaying the royal banner in the camp or field, 100 marcs to the attending officers at knighting a prince, 40 marcs: for displaying a duke's banner, £20; a marquis, 20 marcs; and earl's £10; a baron's £5. When a knight was created a baron, 5 marcs. At the marriage of the Sovereign £50, with the uppermost robe of the royal groom and bride: these were generally compounded for. At a duke's marriage the robes, and a largess proportionable to the riches of the peer. At the birth of the King's eldest son, 100 marcs; at those of the other children, £20. When the Sovereign was at a siege, and wore his crown, £5. At the creation of a prince, duke, marquis, or earl, Garter claimed his uppermost robe, after he had received his new dignity, as also that of a knight of the Garter, when he sat in his stall or chair of state: these were redeemed. At the great festivals of the church they had also fees. On Christmas-day the king's largess was £5: New Year's day, £6; the Queen's 6 marcs; the prince £3; the other sons of the Sovereign £2. 13s. 4d. A duke's the same;
other noblemen according to their places. On Twelfth-day, at Easter, St. George's day, Pentecost, and Allhallow's day, the royal largess was £5. The yearly salaries were, Garter £40; Clarenceux and Norroy, and probably other provincial kings, £20 each. Every herald 20 marcs, and each pursuivant £10. When upon foreign service, Garter had eight shillings per diem; other kings at arms seven shillings; an herald four shillings; and a pursuivant two shillings, besides their ordinary expenses. When in, or following the camp, Garter had two shillings, other kings 1s. 10d. an herald one shilling, and a pursuivant nine-pence. When the army engaged, four shillings to Garter per diem; the same to the other kings at arms each herald had two shillings, a pursuivant one shilling, with ordinary expenses. When a man of arms was made knight in the field, he paid for fees to the officers £1: a baron, when knighted, 2; a duke £10; the King's younger sons 20 marcs; the King's eldest son £40. These sums were very considerable, at a time when the precious metals were so scarce in Europe, but very inferior to the perquisites they had in all matters of public ceremonial, or at the funerals of princes, nobility, or gentry. Much less were they to the valuable presents they received when sent in embassies to foreign princes, or to invest them with the order of the Garter; money, golden chains, medals, costly robes, and the richest materials for them, were invariably given. The penurious Lewis XI. gave Garter 300 crowns to strengthen his arguments to obtain a peace between England and France, promising 1000 more, if he would prevail upon his master, Edward IV., to conclude one: at his departure the King gave him also a piece of crimson velvet, thirty ells in length.
They were placed very honorably at court. Garter, in the royal presence, went next after the sword-royal, none going between cept the constable and marshal in his hand he carried a white rod, gilt at the end, and at the top a small banner of St. George's arms, impaling his sovereign's, changed now for a scepter. All the officers at arms wore the tabard, or sleeveless coat. Vestigan calls it a short gown, reaching no farther than the "mid leg :" it still, he says, retains its name for a gown in Germany and the Netherlands. To us it has a peculiar appearance, yet it is both grand and pleasing: it has no sleeves, is whole before, and open on the sides, with a square collar, and is winged at the shoulders.
It is often seen on ancient seals, and is what sovereigns, princes, nobles, gentry, all intitled to armorial bearings, wore over the other parts of their dress. When they went to the hostile field, the arms of the wearer were embroidered upon it. The heraldic corps have those whom they served depicted upon theirs; the materials were prescribed. The dress of a king at arms was extremely rich: he wore a long gown of sad, or murrey color, reaching to the feet, furred round the neck, on each side. before, extending to the bottom, and at the opening for the arms; the tunic or cassock was of the same color: over all came the tabard; the wardrobe allowance for which was
£. S. d.
Three yards and an half of blue sattin, at 16s. per yard,
2 2 6
A yard and an half of yellow sattin, at 16s.
Four ounces of Venice gold lace, with plate, at 9s. 6d. the
A pound of colored silk,
Eight ounces of pearl and spangles for the coat, at 8s.
at 15s. the yard,
2 0 0
0 16 0
3 4 0
2 8 9
26 13 4
£71 11 7
Amounting, in the whole, to
The tabards of the heralds were less costly; those of the pursuivants still inferior to theirs. These dresses, as far as the tabard, are still retained by all the officers at arms. The kings wear crowns, carry scepters, and have round their necks chains and medals, all of gold, and have seals, peculiar to their office, impaled with their own. Heralds have silver collars of SS. The great wardrobe has always supplied all the insignia of their office.
Anciently the kings put neither their baptismal nor surname, but only that of their office, in their grants or public instruments, and like sovereigns used the plural we, concluding their patents, "we the saidH
king at arms, to these present letters have put our seal of arms and sign manual." In Edward IV's reign, the names, as well as office, are mentioned, and the singular was adopted: in that of Henry VIII. they substituted, instead of the above conclusion, " my seal of office, and the seal of my arms." It is owing to the omission of the christian and family name, that we have so defective an account of the ancient kings at arms and their succession: then their seal of arms was thought so sufficiently indicative of the person as to fully identify him.
Their consequence was great in the court, in the camp, and still more than either, in the council; as negotiators they had great influence; they were conspicuous for judgment, experience, learning, and elegance; they gained honor wherever they were employed. Foreign potentates lavished their bounty upon them: their own sovereign rewarded their skill and fidelity with ample manors and estates. Brugge, Garter, did not think it presumption to invite, and he had wealth sufficient to magnificently entertain, the emperor Sigismund, at his seat in Kentish-town: an honor almost as great as a subject could receive, or a monarch pay.