Monday, June 4, 2018

HERALDRY | Vivent les Différences!

Arms of Meghan Markley, now Duchess
of Sussex.
June 4, 2018–The latest recorded initiation of a royal coat of arms was a gift to Meghan Markley of California upon her accession to the title of Duchess of Sussex, after her  marriage to Prince Harry.

The blue background of the sinister side of the dimidiated shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The two golden rays across the shield symbolize the sunshine of The Duchess’s home state that she has sacrificed for the chance to spend some time in Windsor Castle and other royal residences.

The three quills represent communication, which the Duchess of Sussex is good at (she was an actress). Beneath the shield on the grass are flowers, including golden poppies, California’s state flower. The sinister supporter is a songbird with open mouth, indicating again the beauty and power of words.

The earliest recorded initiation of a royal coat of arms was on June 10, 1128, when Geoffrey Plantagenet was presented by his father-in-law, King Henry I of England in Rouen, France with a blue shield bearing six gold lions.

Arms of Geoffrey of Anjou.
The occasion was of international significance. Geoffrey was French. He was knighted by King Henry I, the English father of his bride Matilda. Their son became Henry II of England.

Matilda was the daughter of Edith of Scotland and the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. Thus three royal lines were united with England – Scotland, France and the Holy Roman Empire.

This is the oldest record of an initiation of international royal arms, although coats of arms are recorded in the Bayeux tapestry after the invasion of William I of England, and royal arms are attributed posthumously to Edward the Confessor and even retroactively to King Alfred.

Geoffrey of Anjou is considered the first person known to have been given arms in an armigerous royal family. For this reason, June 10 is registered on the International Day Calendar by Kathy McClurg as International Heraldry Day. She is a member of the IAAH, the International Association of Amateur Heralds.

My friend Paul Walton has just sent me a family tree of the French Capet-Valois-Bourbon royal succession (Anjou became a cadet branch.) The tree shows how difficult it can get to differentiate royals when they have a big family. Some of the differences are discretely ingenious, some seem to obliterate the shield. The Duchess of Sussex has a more meaningfully designed coat of arms.

Heraldic Differencing of the French Royal Family in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

BRANDING | The Master Goes Back to His Roots

My photo of Paul Walton on one of his frequent visits
to New York. He resides in Oxford.
June 3, 2018 – Paul Walton has an international following as a branding expert. He matriculated at Brasenose, Oxford in 1974, 12 years after I went up at Trinity. (In a tribute to Trinity, he named one of the craft beers at his Shotover Brewery after the college.) He read History, and then went into advertising, and did well at it.

He understands the thread of Identity Display (ID), from the ancient symbols on the battlefield by which friends and foes identified one another, to the exotic heraldic emblems by which jousting knights played at warfare before their fans, a kind of voluntary Gladiators tournament.

The closest modern equivalent to jousting, other than reenacted jousting tournaments themselves in places like Canada and New Zealand (don't watch this YouTube clip if you are squeamish), would be one-on-one contact sports like boxing. But the knights had a regional following the way football teams do so the collective spirit around the lists might be more akin to an international football game.

Paul has recently gone back to his roots to write a book last year about the school he attended, St Mary's in Wales. It is called Marians on the Mawddach, Marians being the name for students at his school, and the Mawddach being the nearby river, oops, estuary. The History faculty at Oxford recently posted an interview with Paul here: A worthy tribute to a scholarly gentleman who hit some home runs in the branding business.

Monday, May 21, 2018

HERALDRY | Martlets

Under Worcester, that should be Crookes.
Consider a little footless bird on the arms of three colleges and one permanent private hall – three of them at Oxford and one at Cambridge.

The bird is the Martlet, which is important in heraldry. One reason is that it is a brisure, mark of cadency on a coat of arms indicating that it is being carried by a fourth son of the owner of the arms.

University College's shield shows four (on its website) or often five golden martlets around a cross on a blue (azure) field. The St Benet's shield includes an almost identical coat of arms on its top right (the sinister side in chief). The difference between the two crosses (Univ's is a cross patonce, while St Benet's is a cross fleury) is not significant, as both crosses have been used interchangeably in the posthumously attributed arms of Edward the Confessor. Edward was of course the last of the great Anglo-Saxon kings, whose death in 1066 precipitated a nine-month succession battle that culminated in the death of Harold Godwinson and victory of William, Duke of Normandy at Hastings. With the accession of William I, Norman nobles arrived with their knights and heraldry. Univ has claimed the arms attributed to Edward the Confessor, although the founding in 1249 was by William of Durham, long after Edward the Confessor. As the Univ website explains, "a legend grew up in the 1380s that we were actually founded even earlier, by King Alfred in 872, and, understandably enough, this became widely accepted as the truth." (The Univ martlets are a possible origin of the four martlets in the St Peter's College coat of arms.)

St Benet’s Hall seems to have more claim to the arms of Edward the Confessor than Univ because the Hall is a foundation of Ampleforth College [full disclosure: I was a pupil there in 1952-55], which was created by the same English Benedictines who occupied Westminster Abbey at its inception. When Edward the Confessor built the original Benedictine Abbey and Church, he decided that English monarchs should be crowned there [all but two subsequent monarchs have been]. The other half of the top of the shield (the chief) shows the imputed coat of arms of St Peter, to whom Westminster Abbey is dedicated; the bottom of the shield is from the original Abbey. Henry III built the Gothic Abbey Church in honor of Edward, who by then had been canonized.

Worcester College, represented by the other Oxford shield, has two chevrons and six martlets, which are blazoned as black (sable) or sometimes red (gules). The coat of arms is that of Sir Thomas Cookes [someone at the Oxford-Cambridge Club said it should be Crookes, but it seems he was being funny],   a Worcestershire baronet, whose bequest of £10,000 back in 1698, when a pound sterling was really worth something, founded the college. The Worcester College shield is almost always shown, as here, with black (sablemartlets, but the blazon often calls for red (gules) as in the Pembroke arms. [Sir Thomas also founded Bromsgrove School, which uses the arms with red (gules) martlets, corresponding to its blazon.]

All of the martlets in the Oxford coats of arms look the same, i.e., like swallows without feet. But Pembroke College, Cambridge has martlets that look different. They are streamlined. But they are meant to be the same bird, in that they have no feet. Pembroke was founded by Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, a man of importance in the reigns of Edwards I and II. The left side (dexter to the bearer) of the shield is half of his arms, which are split (impaled or dimidiated) with his wife Mary de St Pol, who came from Brittany. 

MEANING: So what does the martlet signify? All sources I have consulted agree that the lack of feet means that they can't land, so they are always aloft. This suggests that the martlets are always searching and is a good symbol for the search for knowledge. A lovely idea – although when you think about it, it makes the intellectual life sound tiring. (Tiring, but surely not as discouraging as the fates of Sisyphus or Tantalus.)

Another interpretation is that the martlet is a symbol of the self-made man, someone without foundation. But to impute such arms to a King like Edward the Confessor would hardly be appropriate with that interpretation, unless one was imputing modesty.

Link to the first use of this post:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

HERALDRY | All Souls (May 20, 2018)

All Souls College.
Blazon Or a chevron between three pierced cinquefoils gules.  Gold field, red chevron (upside-down V) separating three red five-petaled flowers, two above and one below.

Authority Granted or ancient arms [to specify]. 
~Burkes. 1884, 13.
~Brooke-Little. 1951.

Founded 1438. The College of All Souls of the Faithful Departed is the ninth-oldest college at Oxford. It was planned in 1436 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury In 1438 King Henry VI was added as co-founder. The foundation-stone was laid on St Scholastica's Day (10 February) 1438. In 1443, its first buildings were effectively complete and it received its final statutes, modelled on those of New College, of which Chichele had once been a Fellow.

Nominee The arms are those of the founder, Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414.

Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury
Meaning The chevron, a device used in the arms of 13 Oxford colleges, represents a rafter joining the top of the roof, symbolizing protection and shelter. The three cinquefoils (five-leaf flowers) are from the arms of Chichele and signify hope and joy. The cinquefoils should be pierced.[]

Where Arms Posted The arms may be seen on the wrought-iron gates of the college on Catte Street opposite the Radcliffe Camera, and in the front of the college on the High Street next to Catte Street.

Warden Sir John Vickers, elected 2008.

Special Features Uniquely at Oxford, all members of the College are Fellows. On St Hilary's Day (14 January) 2001, a once-in-a-hundred-year ceremony took place. After a commemorative feast, the Fellows of All Souls paraded around the College with flaming torches, singing the Mallard Song (also sung at Gaudies), led by a "Lord Mallard" carried in a chair. The Fellows ceremonially seek a mallard that by legend flew out of the foundations of the college when first built. The Lord Mallard is preceded by a man bearing a pole to which a mallard is tied – originally a live bird, then a dead one (1901), and most recently a wooden mallard totem (2001). Warden Richard Astley (regnat 1618-36), referred to the ceremony (in 1601?) as leading to "barbarously unbeseeming conduct" involving doors or gates. The ceremony occurred also on schedule in 1701 and 1801.

[Where Other Arms in the College Are Visible Through the college gates may be seen the arms of various donors to the college other than the founder, i.e., General William Steuart, 1st Viscount Simon, Henry Godolphin, and Marshall Bridges. Next to the college arms on the High Street are those of Henry VI, who was king at the time of the college’s foundation. The arms on the gateway next door are believed to be those of ? Kemp.]

HERALDRY | Wolfson (May 21, 2018)

Wolfson College Arms.
Blazon Per pale Gules and Or on a chevron between three roses two pears all counterchanged the roses barbed and seeded proper. 

[From college website: ARMS: Per pale Gules and Or on a chevron between three roses two pears all counterchanged the roses barbed and seeded proper. CREST (in full achievement, not shown): On a wreath of the colours in front of a representation of an arch in Iffley Church two rods of Aesculapius in saltire proper surmounted by a torch or inflamed proper. MOTTO: Humani nil alienum.] [Aesculapius has one snake; Mercury has two.]

Authority College granted? Wolfson personal arms granted?

Nominee The college is named after Sir Isaac Wolfson and the college arms are similar to those of his personal arms, which he adopted upon being named a Baronet in 1962. In his obituary in the Daily Telegraph, he is cited as the first man since Jesus to have colleges named after him at both Oxford and Cambridge.

Meaning Sir Isaac was the son of an immigrant to Glasgow from Bialystock, the town made famous by Fiddler on the Roof. He built up Great Universal Stores to be the largest mail order company in Europe. He was made Baronet in 1962 and founded the graduate college in 1965. The pears are also in his personal arms, blazoned: Per pale dovetailed Vert and Or on a Chevron counterchanged between two Roses also Or and Gules respectively and in base an Ancient Hand Bell proper two Pears Sable and Or. Pears in heraldry commonly indicate the fruits of labor and peace; one source suggests it is for gratitude for the ending of World War II. (There are pears also in the Nuffield arms, but they are both black and are for the City of Worcester, birthplace of Lord Nuffield.) In the full achievement of arms, above the shield is a knightly helmet, and the crest above its red and yellow banded wreath symbolises the College’s origins and aspirations. The Norman arch of the west door of Iffley Church stands for Iffley College which Wolfson College took over. The crossed staffs with serpent represent the Greco-Roman god of healing for Sir Isaac’s gifts to medical research, and a yellow torch with natural-coloured flame represents the pursuit of knowledge. The Latin motto expresses the College’s ideal of intellectual curiosity, from the Roman playwright Terence: Homo sum; humani nil alienum a me puto.

Founded 1965 as Iffley College, Oxford. Sir Isaiah Berlin was invited to be the College's first President. Graduate students were first admitted in 1968. The buildings were opened in 1974. The College received its Royal Charter in 1981.

President Tim Hitchens, former Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit. Previously Director-General, Economic and Consular at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is a Cambridge graduate.

First President Sir Isaiah Berlin OM (1909–1997) was a learned man who tried never to used his wit as a hostile weapon. (When I was up, he told me once that he was “not a replier” meaning that he did not rise to the bait of a hostile published note.) He raised the large sums needed to build the College and to provide its endowment. He knew what kind of institution he wanted: Open and democratic; multicultural and multidisciplinary; and free of unnecessary hierarchy.  Born in Riga, he lived for part of his childhood in Russia, where he witnessed the 1917 Revolutions in Petrograd. He came to England in 1921 and referred to himself as a "Russian Jew". Famed as thinker, essayist and lecturer, he is also remembered as an inspiring tutor. He made significant contributions to the history of ideas, including nineteenth-century Russian thinkers to whom one of his books is devoted. His biography of Karl Marx is still read, and his 1958 lecture on “Two Concepts of Liberty” is required reading for many courses.

History In 1965, the University of Oxford founded Iffley College. Later the same year Sir Isaiah Berlin was invited to be the College's first President. Through his efforts, generous benefactions were received from the Wolfson Foundation and the Ford Foundation, which enabled the College to include graduate students. The first of these were admitted in October 1968. The College's buildings, designed by architects Powell and Moya, were ready for occupation in 1974 and the College received its Royal Charter in 1981.

Special Features Wolfson is the largest graduate college in the University of Oxford, with over 600 students and thriving research clusters. It is a diverse and engaged scholarly community. The College provides academic and pastoral support for 650 graduate students, recognised internationally as being of the highest standard. Students develop academically, advance their leadership qualities and communication skills and prepare to play full and effective roles in society. Early career support for developing academics is also provided.

Wolfson College has a dedicated archive with a variety of photographs, documents and other materials relating to the history of the College.

John Penney and Roger Tomlin, Wolfson College Oxford – The First Fifty Years

Other references (online)
Isaiah Berlin Bio . Robbins Report
Iffley College founded . Creation of College: Ford £4.5m, Berlin President
First Junior Research Fellow elected . Laying of the Foundation Stone
First Summer VIIIs . First Wolfson lecture series . Royal Charter
First women's Summer VIIIs . Sir Henry Fisher becomes second President
Sir Raymond Hoffenberg becomes third President . Annual Berlin lecture created
Twenty-fifth anniversary of College . Sir David Smith becomes fourth President
Wolfson men win Christ Church Novice regatta . Sir Gareth Roberts fifth President

Professor Hermione Lee sixth President . Centenary of Sir Isaiah Berlin's birth

THE GREAT GATSBY | What His Days at Trinity Would Have Been Like

Ian Flintoff on what Gatsby would have found in 1919
 at Trinity College, Oxford – Gatsby's alleged alma mater.
The face is that of Princetonian F. Scott Fitzgerald. 
Ian Flintoff, Trinity Oxon. '57,  has written a sort-of Prequel to Jay Gatsby's putative time at Oxford in his recently published book Gatsby at Trinity.

The 120-page book takes you through Gatsby's time in France in the Great War and then his years at Oxford, arriving at Trinity College when the notorious Herbert Blakiston was President.

The book uses clues left by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, to reconstruct the time when Jay Gatsby would have been at Trinity.

We are introduced to the people Gatsby would have met at Oxford in about 1919. Flintoff consulted with Trinity's famed archivist, Clare Hopkins, to get the details just right.

The style is in Nick Carraway's voice. When I looked up the reviews, the Kindle version had five stars. Amazon also offers a peek at the book – the opening chapter. The Kindle version can be downloaded immediately and costs $3.99. You can order through Amazon or from the College or directly from the publisher. Instructions for ordering the printed book direct are at the end of this post.

About 50 years ago I spoke to a fellow alumnus of Trinity who was up in the post-Great War era when Blakiston headed the college. He said that when he came in for his beginning-of-term interview, Blakiston looked up from his notes and said: "I see you are an Amedican. ... Ek-chewalleh, I prefer South Africans."

My alumnus friend told me that he was flustered by the comment. What happened next is that Blakiston made clear that the beginning-of-term "interview" was over. This was voicelessly communicated, but the mode of dismissal reminds me of another famous Oxonian, who said to his students: "It is time for my tea. You will be wanting to leave." Fair enough.

Here is the review by Ian Senior, Trinity Oxon. '58, reposted by permission. The links don't work because I used a screenshot to capture the newsletter. I have retyped the link at the very end.

Here is the link retyped:

HERALDRY | St John's College. (May 21, 2018)

St John's Arms. Note
correct estoiles
and canton.
Blazon Gules on a Bordure Sable, eight Estoiles Or on a Canton Ermine, a Lion Rampant of the second in chief an Annulet of the third.  Brooke-Little.

Authority Granted to Sir Thomas White. Assumed by St John's.

Meaning Sir Thomas White had served as Lord Mayor of London. His arms as blazoned in The General Armory (Burkes) are exactly as used by St John's, although incorrect forms of the arms abound.

Issues Canton sometimes shown argent instead of ermine. Estoiles sometimes shown with straight arms. Annulet shown sometimes as a mark of cadency at the top of the shield below the bordure, and sometimes as a charge in the center of the shield. Bordure sometimes shown incorrectly.

Founded On 1 May 1555, Sir Thomas White obtained a Royal Patent of Foundation to create a charitable institution for the education of students within the University of Oxford.

Nominee The nominee of St John's College is St John the Baptist. He was selected because the founder was a Merchant Tailor and St John came to be the patron saint of tailors because he made his own garments. His garb is described in the Bible as that of the prophets, a rough camel's-hair outer garment, secured at the waist with a leather belt (Matt 3:4, Mark 1:6).

Example of poor heraldry.
No ermine in the canton.
Estoiles not wavy. Not
a bordure.
Founder Sir Thomas was a Roman Catholic. He intended that St John's would provide a source of educated Roman Catholic clerics to support the Counter-Reformation under Queen Mary. Edmund Campion, the Roman Catholic martyr, studied at St John's.

White was born in Reading, Berkshire, in 1492, son of a clothier. He was brought up in London and apprenticed, in 1504, to Hugh Acton, a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company. Acton left him £100 upon his death, enabling  Thomas to begin business for himself in 1523. He became master of the Merchant Taylor's Company c. 1535.

Within a decade he became Alderman of the City of London and contributed £300 to King Henry VIII for his war against Scotland. By 1547 he was Sheriff of London and sat on the commission for the trial of the Nine Day Queen, Lady Jane Grey, and her adherents. White’s loyalties lay with the Roman (Marian) side. His effective actions on behalf of Queen Mary I were repaid by his election as the Lord Mayor of London on 29 October, less than a month after being knighted by the Queen.

In 1555, inspired by the example of his friend and fellow Roman Catholic Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford, he obtained a royal license to found St. John's College, Oxford, which he endowed with £3,000 at his death. The College is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Merchant Tailors, and was established in the buildings of the dissolved Cistercian College of St Bernard. In 1559 he purchased Gloucester Hall, Oxford, which he opened a year later as a hall of residence for a hundred scholars.

In 1562 he suffered greatly from a recession in the cloth trade, but the provisions of his will were astutely managed by his executor, the Master of the Rolls, Sir William Cordell. The legacy was invested in land. He died on 12 February 1567 a poor man. He is buried in St. John's College chapel, and although twice married to Avicia (died 1558) and Joan he left no issue.

Several portraits of Sir Thomas White are in existence, but none was painted from life. The one in St. John's College is said to be similar to those belonging to the Merchant Taylors' Company, to Leicester and to nearly all the towns to which he left benefactions.

History Initially St John's College had a small endowment. White acquired buildings that had belonged to the former College of St Bernard, a dissolved Cistercian monastery and house of study. They were on the east side of St Giles’, north of Balliol and Trinity Colleges.

During the reign of Elizabeth I the fellows lectured narrowly in dialectic, Greek and rhetoric, and not directly in theology. During the twenty years after its foundation, additional gifts were made and St John's became well endowed with properties. In the second half of the nineteenth century it benefited from the development of the city of Oxford. The St John’s endowment today is said to be the largest of the Oxford colleges. For example, it owns the Oxford Playhouse building and the Millwall Football Club training ground.

The boathouse shared by St John's (R) and Corpus Christi (L) Boat Clubs.
As Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, White established a number of educational foundations that facilitated the flow of students from favored  schools to the College, in the same way that Winchester School was a feeder school for New College. Closed scholarships for students from the Merchant Taylors' School persisted until the late 20th century, and scholarships were also in place for students from five other schools.
With the failure of the Counter-Reformation, St John's became primarily a  producer of Anglican clergymen in the earlier period of its history. The College also gained a reputation for degrees in law, medicine and PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

Female students were first admitted in 1979, after more than four centuries of the college as an institution for men only. Elizabeth Fallaize was appointed as the first female fellow in 1990.

References (more to come)