King of Arms

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Banners of the arms of office of the three current English Kings of Arms. Visible are the banners of Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms, and Garter Principal King of Arms. King of Arms Banners.JPG
Banners of the arms of office of the three current English Kings of Arms. Visible are the banners of Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms, and Garter Principal King of Arms.
King during the Solemn funeral of Albert VI of Austria Pompa funebris Albert Ardux - Roy Armes.jpg
King during the Solemn funeral of Albert VI of Austria
Louis d'Ursel was the King of Arms of Flanders Coat duLovis dUrsel king Arms Flanders.jpg
Louis d'Ursel was the King of Arms of Flanders

King of Arms is the senior rank of an officer of arms. In many heraldic traditions, only a king of arms has the authority to grant armorial bearings and sometimes certify genealogies and noble titles. In other traditions, the power has been delegated to other officers of similar rank.


Heraldic duties

Crown of an English King of Arms Crown of a British King of Arms.svg
Crown of an English King of Arms

In England, the authority to grant a coat of arms is subject to the formal approval of the Earl Marshal in the form of a warrant. In jurisdictions such as the Republic of Ireland the authority to grant armorial bearings has been delegated to a chief herald that serves the same purpose as the traditional king of arms. Canada also has a chief herald, though this officer grants arms on the authority of the Governor General as the Queen's representative through the Herald Chancellor's direct remit. Scotland's only king of arms, the Lord Lyon, exercises the royal prerogative by direct delegation from the Crown and like the Chief Herald of Ireland and the old Ulster King of Arms needs no warrant from any other office bearer.

In the Kingdom of Spain, the power to certify coats of arms has been given to the Cronistas de Armas (Chroniclers of Arms).

The English and Scottish kings of arms are the only officers of arms to have a distinctive crown of office, used for ceremonial purposes such as at coronations (as opposed to peers, who instead wear a coronet). At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the kings of arms used a crown trimmed with sixteen acanthus leaves alternating in height, and inscribed with the words Miserere mei Deus secundum magnam misericordiam tuam (Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; Psalm 51). When this crown is shown in pictorial representations, nine leaves and the first three words are shown. Recently, a new crown has been made for the Lord Lyon, modelled on the Scottish Royal crown among the Honours of Scotland. This crown has removable arches (like one of the late Queen Mother's crowns) which will be removed at coronations to avoid any hint of lèse majesté.[ citation needed ]

Kings of arms and heraldic authorities of the United Kingdom

Thomas Hawley, Clarenceux King of Arms, wearing a tabard bearing the royal arms of England and holding a white staff of office Thomas Hawley Clarenceux King of Arms.jpg
Thomas Hawley, Clarenceux King of Arms, wearing a tabard bearing the royal arms of England and holding a white staff of office

Kings of arms of England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scottish King of Arms

Orders of chivalry

Garter King of Arms is the herald of the Order of the Garter as is in Scotland Lord Lyon King of Arms the herald of the Order of the Thistle. The Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is the herald of the (now dormant) Order of St Patrick. Other British orders of chivalry have their own kings of arms:

Chief or state heralds of Ireland and the Commonwealth

State Herald of Sweden

Cronistas de Armas of Spain

Kings of Arms appear in a painting where Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada in 1492 asks the Catholic Monarchs to issue the edict for expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Expulsion de los judios.jpg
Kings of Arms appear in a painting where Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada in 1492 asks the Catholic Monarchs to issue the edict for expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

Former kings of arms of Portugal

King of Arms of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coat of arms</span> Heraldic design on a shield, surcoat or tabard

A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement, which in its whole consists of a shield, supporters, a crest, and a motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization, school or corporation. The term itself of 'coat of arms' describing in modern times just the heraldic design, originates from the description of the entire medieval chainmail 'surcoat' garment used in combat or preparation for the latter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lord Lyon King of Arms</span> Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heraldry

The Right Honourable the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court, is the most junior of the Great Officers of State in Scotland and is the Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heraldry in that country, issuing new grants of arms, and serving as the judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the oldest heraldic court in the world that is still in daily operation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">College of Arms</span> Corporation responsible for heraldry in England and Wales

The College of Arms, or Heralds' College, is a royal corporation consisting of professional officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth realms. The heralds are appointed by the British Sovereign and are delegated authority to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry, the granting of new coats of arms, genealogical research and the recording of pedigrees. The College is also the official body responsible for matters relating to the flying of flags on land, and it maintains the official registers of flags and other national symbols. Though a part of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom, the College is self-financed, unsupported by any public funds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Officer of arms</span> State officer for heraldic, armorial or ceremonial duties

An officer of arms is a person appointed by a sovereign or state with authority to perform one or more of the following functions:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Canadian Heraldic Authority</span> Part of the Canadian honours system

The Canadian Heraldic Authority is part of the Canadian honours system under the Canadian monarch, whose authority is exercised by the Governor General of Canada. The authority is responsible for the creation and granting of new coats of arms, flags, and badges for Canadian citizens, government agencies, municipal, civic and other corporate bodies. The authority also registers existing armorial bearings granted by other recognized heraldic authorities, approves military badges, flags, and other insignia of the Canadian Forces, and provides information on heraldic practices. It is well known for its innovative designs, many incorporating First Nations symbolism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Law of heraldic arms</span>

The law of heraldic arms governs the "bearing of arms", that is, the possession, use or display of arms, also called coats of arms, coat armour or armorial bearings. Although it is believed that the original function of coats of arms was to enable knights to identify each other on the battlefield, they soon acquired wider, more decorative uses. They are still widely used today by countries, public and private institutions and by individuals. The earliest writer on the law of arms was Bartolus de Saxoferrato. The officials who administer these matters are called pursuivants, heralds, or kings of arms. The law of arms is part of the law in countries which regulate heraldry, although not part of common law in England and in countries whose laws derive from English law.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norroy and Ulster King of Arms</span>

Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is the Provincial King of Arms at the College of Heralds with jurisdiction over England north of the Trent and Northern Ireland. The two offices of Norroy and Ulster were formerly separate. Norroy King of Arms is the older office, there being a reference as early as 1276 to a "King of Heralds beyond the Trent in the North". The name Norroy is derived from the French nort roi meaning 'north king'. The office of Ulster Principal King of Arms for All-Ireland was established in 1552 by King Edward VI to replace the older post of Ireland King of Arms, which had lapsed in 1487.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scottish heraldry</span>

Heraldry in Scotland, while broadly similar to that practised in England and elsewhere in western Europe, has its own distinctive features. Its heraldic executive is separate from that of the rest of the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Brooke-Little</span> British heraldic writer (1927–2006); Clarenceux King of Arms

John Philip Brooke Brooke-Little was an English writer on heraldic subjects, and a long-serving herald at the College of Arms in London. In 1947, while still a student, Brooke-Little founded the Society of Heraldic Antiquaries, now known as the Heraldry Society and recognised as one of the leading learned societies in its field. He served as the society's chairman for 50 years and then as its president from 1997 until his death in 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society</span>

The Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society was formed as the result of the merger in 1957 of a previous Heraldic Society with the Cambridge University Society of Genealogists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish heraldry</span> Tradition and art of heraldry of Spain

The tradition and art of heraldry first appeared in Spain at about the beginning of the eleventh century AD and its origin was similar to other European countries: the need for knights and nobles to distinguish themselves from one another on the battlefield, in jousts and in tournaments. Knights wore armor from head to toe and were often in leadership positions, so it was essential to be able to identify them on the battlefield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cross moline</span> Heraldic cross with bifurcated curved tips

The cross moline is a Christian cross, constituting a kind of heraldic cross.

Ireland King of Arms was the title of an officer of arms to the King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1392 until the accession of Henry VII as King of England in 1485. A king of arms is the highest of the three levels of officers of arms, and usually enjoys heraldic jurisdiction over a geographical area. Despite the name Ireland King of Arms did not appear to exercise heraldic authority in Ireland, and indeed the connection with Ireland seems rather tenuous. The office may have been created preparatory to a subsequently aborted military expedition to Ireland. The last holder of the office, Walter Bellinger, did exercise the heraldic prerogative of a king of arms to grant armorial bearings, however two of his grants were annulled or regranted by other kings of arms as they felt he encroached on their provinces. In 1552, 70 years after the last Ireland King of Arms, the office of Ulster King of Arms was created. The holders of this office exercised control over the heraldic affairs of Ireland until the death of its last incumbent, Major Sir Neville Wilkinson, in 1941. Thereafter, heraldic affairs within what later became the Republic of Ireland were transferred to the Government of Ireland while the jurisdiction of Norroy King of Arms expanded to include Northern Ireland when the present office of Norroy and Ulster King of Arms was established in the College of Arms.

Irish heraldry is the forms of heraldry, such as coats of arms, in Ireland. Since 1 April 1943 it is regulated in the Republic of Ireland by the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland and in Northern Ireland by Norroy and Ulster King of Arms. Prior to that heraldry on the whole island of Ireland was a function of the Ulster King of Arms, a crown office dating from 1552. Despite its name the Ulster King of Arms was based in Dublin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila</span>

Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila is a Spanish aristocrat, who holds the title of Marqués de la Floresta & Viscount of Ayala in the Kingdom of Spain and Duke of Ostuni of the former Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies (Italy).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cronista Rey de Armas</span>

The Cronista Rey de Armas in the Kingdoms of Spain was a civil servant who had the authority to grant armorial bearings. Currently this is no more an office in Spain. There is no Chronicler King of Arms in Spain. The office of the King of Arms in Spain originated from those of the heralds (heraldos). In the early days of heraldry, anyone could bear arms, which led to disputes between individuals and families. These disputes were originally settled by the king, in the case of a dispute between nobles, or by a lower ranked official when the dispute involved non-nobles. Eventually, the task of settling these disputes was passed on to officials called heralds who were originally responsible for setting up tournaments and carrying messages between nobles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English heraldry</span> English form of heraldic bearings and insignia

English heraldry is the form of coats of arms and other heraldic bearings and insignia used in England. It lies within the so-called Gallo-British tradition. Coats of arms in England are regulated and granted to individuals by the English kings of arms of the College of Arms. An individual's arms may also be borne ‘by courtesy' by members of the holder's nuclear family, subject to a system of cadency marks, to differentiate those displays from the arms of the original holder. The English heraldic style is exemplified in the arms of British royalty, and is reflected in the civic arms of cities and towns, as well as the noble arms of individuals in England. Royal orders in England, such as the Order of the Garter, also maintain notable heraldic bearings.

A heraldic authority is defined as an office or institution which has been established by a reigning monarch or a government to deal with heraldry in the country concerned. It does not include private societies or enterprises which design and/or register coats of arms. Over the centuries, many countries have established heraldic authorities, and several still flourish today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Court of the Lord Lyon</span> Court which regulates heraldry in Scotland

The Court of the Lord Lyon is a standing court of law, based in New Register House in Edinburgh, which regulates heraldry in Scotland. The Lyon Court maintains the register of grants of arms, known as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, as well as records of genealogies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Armorial Register</span> English specialist publisher

TheArmorial Register is a publisher of heraldic and associated science topics, founded in 2006. It produces the "International Register of Arms", a private armorial where people from all over the world can register their granted, inherited or assumed arms. However it has no jurisdiction over heraldic or genealogical matters. Its coat of arms is displayed on the website. From time to time, its "Roll of Arms" is edited into book format, of which there have been three volumes so far.


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