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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 8:34 am    Post subject: A Distinctively German Shield Pattern?         Reply with quote

I have noticed there is a type of shield design, found during the 12th century, that seems to be distinctly German. If one was to use heraldic terms, one might best describe this design as barry, although this is not necessarily the right term for all of the examples. Rather, the style seems to often involve a number of bars with a variety of colours and patterns on them.

I should note that the majority of the shields shown in German manuscripts lack this particular pattern. I do not want to give the impression that this design is a common one because it does not seem to be. Nevertheless, there are several examples that can be found. Of interest is the fact that all of the examples I am aware of date from a relatively narrow time-frame, from circa 1160-1190 AD.

One can see examples of this style as follows:









What I am wondering is: are there examples of this kind of shield design (particularly the complex colours and patterns that do not really fit the barry description) found outside of the Empire, or is this indeed a German style?
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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Posts: 600

PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am not particularly versed in Germanic heraldic practice in this period but it might have something to do with how they handled heraldic code versus the Anglo-French practice of division. (per pale, quartering, et cetera)

I don't think they were physically constructing shields by a different method, if the surviving examples across Europe from the following century can be considered.

Certainly an interesting question!
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 6:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree that how the shields were constructed would have been identical, Kel. Actually, I struggled with creating the title of the thread because of this. Initially, I had selected the title "A Distinctively German Shield Design?" but ultimately rejected it, on the grounds that it was too easy to confuse "Design" as "a method of construction", when I meant "design" in the sense of "visual aesthetics". I considered "Heraldic Design" for the title but this too seemed wrong, as it was unclear that the shields in the artwork constituted a coat of arms. I eventually settled on "Pattern", with the understanding that the word still might be construed as "construction". It seemed better than "Design", although still imperfect.
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