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Kings of Jerusalem: Crosslets (3/5)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 12.10.12
Kings of Jerusalem

The homophonic pair Sion (fra. Zion) ~ Cions (fra. offspring) is among the best parophonies found within the Arms of Jerusalem. It is a bit disturbing to find that such an evident connection to the Kingdom, translating into equally obvious visual components, has never raised the attention of heraldists in order to declare these as canting arms. Maybe we're not being fair and somewhere somebody wrote on this association.


We didn't know if the referent's metonymy Sion, contiguous to the King of Jerusalem, was referring to Zion, that is the city of Jerusalem, or to the Mount Zion at the south of the citadel. There was some confusion on the true location of the Mount and its relation with the royal palace of the crusaders and this reflected in the research of the meaning for the word used to develop the components of the blazon.


Once the answer was found, we had to increase the number of semantic levels from ten to twelve, by adding the royal residence, being now clear for us that the denominant Sion stands for the city of Jerusalem. Coming back to our previous denominant Jérusalem, which we also ignored if it was linked to the Kingdom or to the city, now we know for certain that this was a referent's metonymy of the territorial type.


A Greek cross was a better organizer for symmetry and the simplest possible shape within that class of figures. The crosslets share the formal aspect with the main figuration but in a smaller scale, almost like a fractal pattern. It would allow a fit of its copies in all four quarters indifferently. Contrastingly, a Latin cross would fit perfectly well its clones in the longer lower quarters but not in the square upper quarters, or the other way round, depending on their relative size.


The diagonals of each quarter help to centre the placement of the crosslets, but such complementary aspect of heraldry isn't the main motive behind the disposition, it will be thoroughly justified with the next article. Regarding the same question we stress the fundamental fact that a Greek (G) crosslet remains the same at each rotation of 90º around its centre or reflected through each limbs direction or through the bisecting diagonal axes, leaving the set of points invariant and defining a group of eight symmetries in a plane. A Latin (L) crosslet remains the same for the identity permutation and for a reflection through the vertical limbs. The consequence is that only the first charge is able to ensure a harmonious symmetric arrangement of several elements, as we will realize in the next post.


G L - rotation of 0º clockwise (identity)

G - rotation of 90º clockwise

G - rotation of 180º clockwise

G - rotation of 270º clockwise

G - reflection through the horizontal limbs

G L - reflection through the vertical limbs

G - reflection through the axis at 45º

G - reflection through the axis at 315º


However, any type of cross is still admissible in this scheme as long as they all share the same shape and keep radial symmetry. Like in any replication, we must be prepared to accept that a few surviving depictions were different to the primitive intentions and didn't follow the parophonic guidance established at first. Furthermore, we aren't aware if the bearer always or ever knew these parophonic rules. Issuing coins and seals based on a written description like “argent a cross potent between four crosslets or” could have lead to unfortunate misinterpretations, discreetly ruining crucial parts of meaning.


There is a similar and curious heraldic example where coincidence of shape is involved but in the opposite direction, a meaning that appears from forms in a blazon as a pragmatic development. For the arms of Jerusalem we deduced similarity departing from parophony. In the case of the third quarter of the modern arms of Aragon, depicting four Moor heads, we believe that the similarity of these figurations were the main reason for describing the naturals of Aragon as maños (ara. brothers). Other examples of territorial symbols being used for nicknames are available in our dissertation at Pragmatics and Justifications.


Considering the plural form cions, will indicate more than one element, whereas its translation as “offspring” won't. That's another kind of problem we must face. Intended meaning is certainly unique, but not the method used to convey it. Moreover, we know that even for the same language the passage of years provided most words with different lexical forms or significations. When researchers apply an entirely distinct language to mimic the initial conditions it's not always feasible to maintain all the subtleties of the semantics involved.


Note that the designant cions doesn't specify where to put the crosslets. We just know they are more than one, due to the suffix, and all alike, but smaller than the central cross. Nothing more specific is said about their quantity and where they should be placed, regarding the main figuration and the field. Despite all arguments, a proper interpretation could well be two crosslets on top of the cross, at least as things are now. Of course, if nothing more existed in parophony to help us compose the figurations, other heraldic complementary rules would assist us to provide a proper result, maybe including the representation we see at the top of this page.


Finally, the word Cion is a noun but it doesn't assert anything concrete that could materialize over the shield we have before us, due to the symbolic character of its larger emulator. The usual meaning that survived today in French, scion, has the semantic idea of a thin shoot or twig whereas the genealogical denotation of “scion” as an heir or descendent in English, although late, preserves best the roots of its meaning.


We may deduce two metonymizations from all that was said. Quantities are not decisively involved at this point, as we may justify two scarce crosslets. It looks strange as “offspring” contains the idea of multiplication but we must stick to the original word scions. This is not a case of imitation, which is a trace complement without a parophonic correspondence upstream; a good example of this phenomenon is the fitchy cross that appears in the attributed arms for Jerusalem of the Zürcher Wappenrolle.


An opposition defined by “big × small” may be considered but with no consequence in the heraldic traces, which derive their relative size from the designant. All we can define at this level is how the small crosses appear as shape and size, emerging from cions through a pair of simple metonymies:


offspring > children > brothers > alike

offspring > children > small


The link with the “obsequies” seems to have vanished now, but the next levels will show that the crosslets are incorporated into a wider meaning, which will conclude with the feasibility of the complete scene intended for the arms. There is a passage in the Gospel that could help to support an earlier role of the crosslets as a component of the plot:


1 Corinthians 12:12,27 - For as the body is one and has many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body: So also is Christ ... Now you are the body of Christ and members of member


They don't introduce anything radically new as a shape but to consider the crosslets as extensions of the body of Christ, already represented by the main charge. Probably they convey such a meaning by touching the personification of Christ as a cross with the terminations of each small figuration. In any event we don't consider this a compelling arrangement; other acceptable and consistent representations for Jerusalem include isolated croslets.


We must not conclude that the crosslets belong to the epitaph carved in the stone together with the cross. They aren't only different in size, number and position but also are another kind of artefact and material. Cross and crosslets don't have their tinctures yet, they will appear just at the last level regarding Jerusalem. The difference is that a proper embodiment for the former is already made, the cross works as an epitaph on a tombstone, whereas the crosslets will reach their full material meaning at the sixth level. For the moment they are plain symbolic crosses that repeat the second level with no obvious visible connection with the whole exequial plot. 



Kings of Jerusalem - Crosslets
Domanial R Kings of Jerusalem
Capital M Jerusalem
Language of Conquest V French
Denominant A Sion
Graphemization A  S  |  I  |  O  |  N 
Phonemization A  s  |  j  |  Õ 
Pairing A  s  |  j  |  Õ 
A  s  |  j  |  Õ 
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Addends A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Discretion index A k = 0.0
Phonemization A  s  |  j  |  Õ 
Graphemization A C | I | | O | N | S
Designant A Cions
Human E offspring
Simple monosemy S crosslets
S cions
Tincture H Argent
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H potent
Placement H between
Number H four
Simple metonymy S offspring > children > brothers > alike
Simple metonymy S offspring > children > small
Figuration H offspring crosslets
Symmetry C radial
Orientation C immanence
Tincture H or


(next article in this series is IV/XII)

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Published at 16:41

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