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Kings of Jerusalem: Cross Potent (5/5)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 05.11.12
Kings of Jerusalem

Besides the denomination given for residence itself, parophony uses demonyms or gentilics - naming residents as such - a common way to change the referent into another word, transformable into images. The Kings of Jerusalem lived in their capital and were thus considered Hierosolymitans: it would be reasonable to verify its inclusion in the corresponding coat of arms in the capacity of a referent's metonymy. Remember that we've already exemplified this parophonic behaviour before, the demonyms Aquincenses (lat. Budans), identifying the capital of Hungary, and J'Wincestrin (ano. I Wintonian), in association with the former capital of England.

After these considerations we arrived at the following parophony: Hierosolimitains (fra. Hierosolymitans) ~ Hirauts sols limitants (fra. Heralds sole bounds). Quite an extensive denominant, which generates a consequent long designant, but despite that it was possible to arrive at a feasible discretion index k = 0.41. The combination of words is hardly replicable by any other assumptions and suggests that either the solution is acceptable or no substitute exists considering the same basic premises.

Hirauts (fra. heralds) is rich in meaning, defining a simple polysemy able to produce no less than four different heraldic traces. In representation of the Evangelists it's responsible for the books of John, Luke, Mark and Matthew, therefore defining the number four. From these we derive the rectangular shape, opportunistically understood as squares to fit the cantons of the main cross already in place. Written documents used parchment those days and tincture argent was a proper coloration for the squares admitting the simplest cover possible. Finally, Gospels were often adorned with crosses and the crosslets at the centre of the squares suit perfectly their condition: a simplistic illumination of the sacred writings.

The usual monosemic behaviour reappears for the remaining components of the designant. Sols (fra. sole) denotes quantity and say that no more crosslets are allowed than those belonging to the symbology of the four Gospels. Limitants (fra. bounds) declares that the four books obey the instructions given before by entur (fra. around) and are displayed surrounding the cross, pronounced by “between”, gone for a while in the present semantic level. Probably the other versions of the arms including many crosslets were envisaged at this statement, as they encircle the main charge too. An alternative version sols imitants (fra. sole imitators), a redundancy of imitants × cions, could be used. But then the parophony would lose some strength; the end of the first word merges with the beginning of the second and sounds like [z] instead of being silent.

It could also happen that the books and their crosslets may have taken closer parts in the exequial plot, and carved the stone aside the cross. That interpretation integrates both levels into only one subject, the epitaph, or simply transforms them into a new artefact, perhaps a seal, if we follow the suggestion of Matthew 27: 66 “So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard”.

Following the thread of our plot, it may appear that the importance of the deceased would enforce a link with the heralds. Who were the heralds of Jesus?  Necessarily they represented an echo of his teachings; he wasn't available to be heard anymore. It seems useful to divide the initial contiguities into two distinct paths. Although the Gospel isn't at the very end of the main initial path, this word will help to define everything else. For the sake of space we don't always mention other most discernible transformations. The first and major metonymization goes from herald to message, converging into a different one that departs from Jesus towards His message, because “Evangel” or “Gospel” could be translated as an “announcement of good news”:

herald > messenger > message

Jesus > preacher > Gospel > message


Quantities derive independently from two simple metonymies, acknowledging the agreed variety of four Gospels and using “sole” like a restrainer of additional crosslets:


Gospel > Evangelists > four

sole > four or less


Shape follows from the elementary geometrical properties of the object in consideration:


Gospel > book > rectangular > square


The already existing crosslets will assume the character of illuminated symbolic drawings:


Gospel > preacher > Jesus > cross(lets)


Colour will depend on the material used for the book cover; we could conjecture either a bare or rich binding, although only the first remains:


Gospel > book > parchment > whitish

Gospel > book > ivory > whitish

Gospel > book > silver > silvery


The books were placed overlapping the Greek cross so that a cross potent appears before the eyes of the observer. The reason why the arms authors have chosen this partial obstruction seems clear: an effort to put the Gospels in evidence despite the chromatic camouflage. The final disposition allows the visibility of all four edges of every square. They are white, the colour of the Gospels, over white, mimicking the stone of the Sepulchre, if conjoined at the cantons of a Greek cross those would simply vanish. In spite of such clever arrangement, maybe due to the cultural influence of the Jerusalem cross, it's still difficult for most observers to detect the squares at once.


We may compare the said disposition and the Portuguese lineage of Evangelho (por. Evangel) bearing the following: azure a cross or cantoned by four plates charged with an eagle, an angel, an ox and a lion. It's ignored if they took any inspiration from the heraldic representation of Jerusalem but at least it shows that the idea was perfectly natural, combining the four books of Gospel and the four limbs (and cantons) of a cross.


Helping the application of our parophonies to the final visual effect, we had to alter the initial description of the blazon (a). Emblazonments are intended to ease the reproduction of arms using only text but they didn't always preserve the original ideas. To be fair, a Greek cross should appear instead of a cross potent, but this would complicate matters even further, so we just adapted the end of the phrase and replaced “between” with other adequate words that reflect better correspondence at the semantic genesis of all heraldic traces (b).


(a) Argent a cross potent between four crosslets or.


(b) Argent a cross potent or, conjoined at the cantons with four squares of the first, each charged with a crosslet of the second.


The disposition differs a bit from what was seen in the last semantic level, described as: 1 + 1 & 1 + 1. Now the four squares are conjoined with the cross, meaning that they touch their edges at the cantons. There is no simple available abbreviation so we also devised a codification that would be declared as: 1 | (1) | 1 & 1 | (1) | 1, reading: “one joins oner joins one and one joins oner joins one”.  The bars “|” designate each conjoinment of individual pieces “1” (each square) with a different piece inside a parenthesis “(1)” indicating that this is the same instance of the piece (the main cross) whenever it shows repeatedly for convenience. Although useless in medieval heraldry, we intend the approach to be applied in other visual occurrences that share the same fundamental ideas, already functioning many hundreds of years ago.


Naturally, leather, metal, wood or any suitable materials could bind the book covers but we just considered those justifying a white or silvery colour. The metallic solution seems to us less feasible for it implies a golden cross, which would contradict the results presented in the next semantic level. The set of choices seems large and anyone may be curious on the motivation to avoid contrastingly tinctures and spreading the books atop the cross. Was the camouflage intentional? It's hard to tell.


The arms of the Kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem, at the second part of this study, will be explained within the last six semantic levels. As both representations are just the same it could happen that one version “accommodated” to fit the other and the coloration of the Gospels is precisely one of the few heraldic traces that allow some freedom of choice in these armories. It's obvious, we don't know when the two versions were created and advancing the proposition of a simultaneous birth would seem at least premature. However, in what respects the coat of arms of Jerusalem, the concluding chromatic considerations will be treated in the next article that analyses the possible reasons for the infringement of the “rule of tinctures”.



Kings of Jerusalem - Gospel
Domanial R Kings of Jerusalem
Demonym M Hierosolymitans
Language of Conquest V French
Denominant A Hierosolimitains
Graphemization A H|I|E|R|O|S|O|L|I|M|I|T|A|I|N|S
Phonemization A je | R\ | o | z | o | l | i | m | i | t | Ẽ
Pairing A je | R\ | o | z | o | l | i | m | i | t | Ẽ
A i | R\ | o | s | o | l | i | m | i | t | Ã
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0
Coefficient of character A 1.0|0.0|0.0|0.5|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.5
Coefficient of position A 1.5|0.0|0.0|1.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.5
Addends A 1.5|0.0|0.0|0.5|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.0|0.3
Discretion index A k = 0.41
Phonemization A i | R\ | o | s | o | l | i | m | i | t | Ã
Graphemization A H|I|R|A|U|T|S| |S|O|L|S| |L|I|M|I|T|A|N|T|S
Designant A Hirauts sols limitants
Notoriety E heralds
Converging metonymy S herald > messenger > message
S Jesus > preacher > Gospel > message
Numeral E sole
Geometry E bounds
Simple polysemy S four + squares + argent + crosslets
S hirauts
Compound monosemy S four | (between)
S sols | limitants
Tincture H Argent
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H potent
Tincture H or
Disposition H 1 | (1) | 1 & 1 | (1) | 1 conjoined
Placement H to define a cross potent at the cantons
Connective H squares + cross with
Number H John, Luke, Mark, Matthew four
Simple metonymy S Gospel > Evangelists > four
Simple metonymy S sole > four or less
Figuration H rectangular squares
Immanence C book
Overlapping C Greek cross
Orientation C immanence of book
Simple metonymy S Gospel > book > rectangular > square
Tincture H whitish of the first
Immanence C parchment
Contrast C or, argent
Simple metonymy S Gospel > book > parchment > white
Number H 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 each
Placement H Gospel charged
Centrality C square diagonals
Connective H squares + crosslets with
Number H 1 a
Simple metonymy S Gospel > preacher > Jesus > cross(let)
Figuration H crosslet
Tincture H of the second

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Published at 11:06

St Edward the Confessor: Five Martlets (3/6)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 16.08.12
Edward the Confessor - Attributed Arms

This is a very brief and simple post. Our third semantic level deals with the change from four doves in the coin of King Edward to five martlets in his attributed arms. For the second time in all our analyses, like in the first semantic level, C(e) roi ~ Crois, the referent's metonymizes Edward with his status; then as a king, now as a saint. Maybe these examples were just another method to build the metonymy of the referent but the fact is that we were able to identify only a few. The overwhelming majority use geographical metonymizations.   


It's also the first time during this analysis that we (slightly) changed the verbalizing agent, Old French, to the language of conquest then still used in England, Anglo-Norman. Even despite almost three hundred years of coexistence since William the Conqueror crossed the Channel.


Hence, the parophony is achieved with Seint (ano. saint) ~ Cinc (ano. five); its discretion index is k = 0. Don't let the writing mislead you, the sounds are effectively [sẼ] ~ [sẼ]. Observe that cinc alone is pronounced [sẼk], but it has the sound of [sẼ] if placed before merlés (ano. martlets) or any other substantive plural starting with a consonantal sound in modern French.


Now we are able to understand that, as the coins were minted in the lifetime of the king, there was still no reason for describing his status as a saint. The doves, however, previously performed the parophony Edouard ~ Et due harde, as appears in his silver penny. Their number was then just an adaptation of the idea of a flock to the available “slots” around the cross.


But now we have a straightforward specification: five birds must be seen. The arrangement used for this purpose was an extra space at the base of the shield, unavailable at the coin, in order to place the fifth martlet. There is nothing more to be said. The idea of “five” follows the emergence of the designant until its accomplishment as five birds. There is no room for misinterpretations on the way.



 Edward the Confessor - Flock
Attributed Arms R Edward the Confessor
Status M Saint
Language of Conquest V Anglo-Norman
Denominant A Seint
Graphemization A  S |  E  |  I  |  N  |  T 
Phonemization A s  |  Ẽ 
Pairing A s  |  Ẽ 
A s  |  Ẽ 
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 0.0 
Addends A 0.0 | 0.0 
Discretion index A k = 0.0
Phonemization A s | Ẽ
Graphemization A C | I | N | C
Designant A cinc
Quantity E five
Simple monosemy S five
S five
Tincture H Azure
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H flory
Placement H cantoned with
Number H 4 four
Figuration H martlets
Connective H four + another and
Number H 1 another
Placement H in base
Tincture H or


(next article in this series is IV/VI)

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Published at 12:43

Portingale: Dice & Dots

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 07.03.12


Appears first in the Herald's Roll, an English armorial from the end of the 13th century, showing some interesting aspects for the parophonic methodology used with heraldic semiotics. These attributed arms represented the respective sovereigns only in fantasy and there was some relaxation of the usual rules, rather using more convenient or easier solutions. One of these simplifications is the adoption of a local language for parophony. Our method works usually with a recurring sequence (↓) that transforms words into images: Referent (R), Referent's Metonym (M), Verbalization (V), Accommodation (A), Sematization (S), Specification (E), Heraldic Trace (H) and Complementation (C), as shown in the table that follows.


The starting point for the visual symbology in each attribution is simplified through a metonymy, almost always associated with the territory's denomination, nevertheless keeping the heraldic practice regarding the referent. Portingal or Portingale, is the denominant, a word used since the 12th century to describe Portugal by influence of languages akin to French, namely Anglo-Norman. We used the X-SAMPA code for the phonetic correspondences between denominant and designant, so as to enforce legibility without compromising accuracy. Both sets of phonemes to compare are the same - Portingale ~ porte ingal - resulting in a null discretion index. Therefore, we may classify these arms as perfectly canting.


The designant porte ingal is sematicized with the idea of carry equal, that is, show the same quantities. A simple metonymy transforms the comprehensive concept, quantities, into a restrict exemplification: the value of the spots in the three visible faces. Moreover, equal doesn't typify explicitly a qualification, although understandable as such; the change into a numeric specification is surely meaningful in heraldry. Two or more units of the same will be implicit, and appear later in blazoning: each with. Another solution using aleae (Lat. dice) seems unreasonable and in any case Latin is rarely used with parophonies of attributed arms. It would also create additional difficulties, seemingly insurmountable, in order to explain the first half of the designant.


The tacit action in carry may be interpreted as the vocation of the shield to display figurations inside its borders, a mere redundancy, with no discernible effect in the heraldic trace. As a second reading the figurations themselves, the dice, carry others, the spots.  Finally, this last meaning carry articulates with equal in a compound metonymy, as the corresponding representation of the same faces and spots reinforce their imagetic meaning when together.


But the data do not transmit the sole idea expressed by the designant. The white tincture, the presence, disposition and colour of the spots, all are immanent elements we can guess, deriving from the nature of the object. The reason to use three of them maybe was linked with the effort to guarantee a simpler drawing occupying the whole available area. However, we cannot underestimate the eventual role played by a popular game or the aesthetic and conventional preferences of the author of the manuscript, as for the King of Castile.


Blazoning normally regulates heraldic traces, except when the practice of the art or the nature of things agrees upon those characteristics understood by omission. In such a way, it is acceptable to align the faces of the dice by the upper border of the shield, even if this wasn't expressly referred. Alternatively exposing only one face of the die implied the description of the contents - each with five dots - without mentioning the other faces. The Llibre dels Privilegis de Mallorca from the beginning of the 14th century shows five dice 2-1-2, in synchrony with the five Portuguese escutcheons, or so it seems. But the Grimaldi's Roll, contemporary to the latter, shows the field in azure with six, five and four spots on the three visible faces of each cube. If we refuse a possible corruption of older attributed arms it may lead us to consider the similarity of this shield and the blue escutcheons of Portugal.


Choosing the number of dots could be associated with the efficient use of space. Six is the admissible maximum for one die and, besides, this armorial was made well before the adoption of the five plates in saltire within the national shield of Portugal. The older disposition alternating the eleven plates in quincunx still recalls their simplest form, the quina. If ever influenced by the Portuguese coat of arms, they would satisfy simultaneously their own logic along with the logic of the artefact.


Another question is to know why the true arms of the King of Portugal weren't used. Could the Portuguese arms be unknown to the author? We can't guarantee but the answer seems affirmative, at least regarding the knowledge of their precise details. Other examples of absolute divergence may be found in the Roll: the kings of Denmark and Norway. Besides, for the King of Castile we may find three castles instead of one. Incidentally there was no state of war that would arise the suspicion of a purported distortion.


The red field helps to organize and complement the composition. A gambling table in wood could be a suitable background for the scene knowing that the three dice are seen from the top. Several examples in our corpus represent this material in yellow or red tones, not too far from nature, the brown colour being uncommon in blazoning. Excluding the first tincture due to the poor contrast with white, the second remains.


Complementation, the last phenomenon in this arrangement, arises in many ways. They fill the blanks left by semantic heraldic traces and blazoning but, ordinarily, hides under an implicit form. We may find contrast, imitation, props, immanence, symmetry, filling, centrality, simplification and redundancy. The last is not even referred in blazoning, for unnecessary. See about this subject:


ANOH - The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub - Visited 13th of December 2011 available in: <>.


TIMMS, B. - Heraldry - 2011 : Visited 13th of December 2011 available in: <>.



Attributed Arms R King of Portugal
Territorial M Portugal
Imaginary language V Portingale (Anglo-Norman)
Denominant A Portingale
Graphemization A P O R T I N G A L E  
Phonemization A p O R t G a l  
Pairing A p O R t G a l      
A p O R t G a l      
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0      
Coefficient of character A 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0      
Coefficient of position A 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.5      
Addends A 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0      
Discretion index A 0.0      
Phonemization A p O R t G a l
Graphemization A P O R T E _ I N G A L
Designant A porte   ingal
Simple monosemy S carry   equal
S show the same quantities
Action + Quantity E show + equal
Redundancy C carry = emblazon
Tincture H reddish Gules
Contrast C argent
Prop C gambling table
Number H 3 three
Figuration H die dice
Simplification C = result's face
Tincture H whitish argent
Immanence C die
Orientation H horizontal (straight)
Simplification C = top edge
Disposition H 2, 1 (two and one)
Filling C shield's area
Symmetry C shield's axis
Centrality C fess point
Compound metonymy 1/2 S carries > area > face > die
Placement H dots at the faces each with
Compound metonymy 2/2 S equal > faces > dots
Number H 5 five
Simple metonymy S quantity > points > die > dots
Figuration H dot dots
Immanence C die
Tincture H dark (sable)
Contrast C argent
Immanence C die
Disposition H 2, 1, 2 (in saltire)
Filling C (quincunx)
Imitation C (roundels)
Immanence C die


(next analysis in this blog is here)

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Published at 18:12

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