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Kings of Jerusalem: Tincture Argent (1/5)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 24.09.12
Kings of Jerusalem

After leaving five analyses of attributed heraldry behind us, we start now a new chapter introducing these domanial arms of the medieval Kingdom of Jerusalem. By domanial arms we understand any heraldic arms that represent a personal transmissible domain of a secular territory, accommodating lordships, counties, duchies, kingdoms and empires among others of the same kind.


We've found the surprising number of twelve semantic levels, which seem to act differently according to each primitive appreciation of the arms. More than quantity, what astounds us is geometrical simplicity, able to produce such an opulent semantic result. Besides that, not only the traces may be explained in more than one manner, but also they suggest that the levels were present in disparate amounts along time, if we trust the sources. This large number of organized meanings will be difficult to surpass in the future for single primitive coats of arms.


Although incorporating two dissimilar references - one for Jerusalem and another for Cyprus - we preferred to aknowledge them as a unique representation and keep the conventional title, mentioning the arms only as those of the Kings of Jerusalem. Apparently the change was smooth and conserved most of the initial semantic values.


They appear earlier by mid 13th century in Matthew Paris' Historia Anglorum, where an ordinary white cross is seen against a yellow background remembering the death in 1237 of John of Brienne, Consort King of Jerusalem[1]. His wife Queen Maria died in 1212 and John left the crown for their infant daughter Isabella, in order to reign at the Latin Empire. This author also admits for John the said cross and colours but cantoned by four, four, three and three crosslets[2][3]. The chromatic inconsistence of the thin brown crosslets may be explained by the need of making them small, using the writing pen that delineated shields and other shapes. Moreover the use of white for the castle of Castile in the same page arises the suspicion of some negligence for the tinctures employed.


Other armorials present variations on the main theme, the number of crosslets varies and the central cross, with different shapes, may even exchange tinctures with the field. To simplify the organization of this article we will adopt the traditional coat of arms of the Kings of Jerusalem: argent a cross potent between four crosslets or. It seems to be the interpretation that gives better use for most semantic levels in discussion. Other designs may be regarded as partial versions, dealt in the body of the text whenever opportune.


May we suppose these as the true arms of the Kingdom and credit the sources entirely, even as secondary or tertiary? This is not our task; we only propose solutions for the parophonic inception of shapes and colours seen in blazons. Nevertheless it will be seen that the simplified compositions mentioned above might accommodate comfortably in the heraldic plot recognized by us.


Numismatics could appear to be more illustrative as we know coins of some previous kings of Jerusalem with the advantage of a contemporary identification. Unfortunately those pictorial habits seem to be distinct from those used in heraldry. On the other hand it won't imply that parophony is absent, being attested as early as in the first pieces ever produced by man. We realize this wasn't a systematic practice, it coexisted with inscriptions, monograms, effigies, images of buildings and other symbols. Referents and metonymies probably vary and these matters will need a thorough verification for proper understanding.


Regarding our subject, the Tower of David and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre appear at the reverse of coins whereas a cross, maybe with a generic and undifferentiated use, is always seen at the other side[4]. The kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem used the lion of Lusignan or a cross potent. We will try to appreciate at due time how heraldry and numismatics may converge and assist our enquiry.


French would be an obvious choice for the verbalization step as a language of conquest. The crusaders were mainly francophones, and most rulers who established their power in the Holy Land belonged to the same linguistic sphere. Again, Latin could be hypothetically used as a general verbalizing instrument but no reasonable parophony was found in order to fit the present heraldic traces.


We start our work with an artificial hydronym made by a former king of Jerusalem, the Hezekiah's Tunnel. It transfers water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam, crossing the underground of the oldest part of the city, as there are no rivers there[5]. This produces the parophony Ézéchias (fra. Hezekiah) ~ Exequies (fra. obsequies) strangely linking a source of life, to the rituals of death.


Regarding the need of a hydronym for the metonymization of the referent, this wasn't a starting proposition from our work, but rather a bewildering evidence that arised after the inspection of many coats of arms. We already saw the Danube in the blazon of Sagremor and the river Itchen in the attributed shield of Edward the Confessor. Other representations may show more obvious hydronymic connections to the respective heraldic traces as the arms of the County of Werdenberg (river Tobel), the County of Burgundy (river Saône), the Duchy of Bavaria (river Regen) and the Viscounty of Rochechouart (river Vayres)[6]. We can't be sure about when and where this started but it seems to be a heraldic peculiarity, not yet seen in coins, early seals or anything that may have preceded coats of arms. Maybe in the future we will distinguish better why hydronyms emerged in heraldry.


The designant exequies needs to be transformed into colour or shape using the concept of obsequies, maybe too open to be drawn straightforward. We believe that this transformation wasn't decided alone, but together with other semantic levels considered as feasible by the creator of the arms. For this purpose a metonymization takes place and selects only the conclusive idea of obsequies, the entombment and its objective representation, a grave, then its stony material, zooming from the complete event to the detail of texture:


obsequies > tomb > stone > white


White and yellow may be considered as immanences of stone as seen in a great number of researched subjects. Grey, pink and brown could also be conjectured but we must abide by the chromatic codes of heraldry. Maybe yellow, instead of white was considered as an alternative choice for the tombstone we see now. Let us know first who the dead person was, for meaning will be better perceived in its full implementation.


The contribution of this level to the visual signification of the blazon isn't limited to tincture. In addition it helps to define the fundamental lines of the heraldic plot. A funeral is a rich visual concept, requesting a ceremony that ends in the tomb we see depicted in the arms. Being so it also demands the deceased person and a contingential epitaph, which will be the argument of our next semantic level. We still don't know the meaning of the remainder but the entire set of crosses could be regarded as belonging to the obsequies in a general sense.


In other restrained conditions it would be plain to derive the personality of Christ from the mentioned obsequies. For the crusaders there would be no doubt: the most meaningful funeral ever in Jerusalem was the one that buried Jesus. Still, the semantic possibilities of this coat of arms are so rich that the name of the deceased will be declared in another dedicated layer. And this is eventually the reason why we never see a plain white shield as an ultimate simplification of the arms of Jerusalem: a cross is always present.


Our methodological perception of [ch] as a [k] in Ézéchias repeats the homographic heterophony found in Itchen ~ I chenne. It's equally possible that the dialects of northern France influenced the linguistic uses or that the Latin accent prevailed, avoiding palatalization since the beginning. It's unknown to us the precise spelling and pronounce of French in Jerusalem at that time but all we need to do is to be fair enough and decide if our parophonies may be admitted or not[7].


The discretion index is much bigger than we've been accustomed before as k = 0.6, yet if we listen naively to the sound of Ézéchias ~ Exequies, the impression is of an acceptable similarity. This helps to explain why we had to appreciate our scale of parophonies more as an admissibility index than as a gradual qualification. The size of the comparable sounds, five phonetic units, surely doesn't help to decrease the estimate, and even if we apply the correction for small extensions as done in Itchen ~ I chenne, it will only give us a slightly lower value: k = 0.56.


These irregularities in the evaluation of discretion indexes are a fact we must admit with the adoption of a heuristic modelling. Just a physical model based on the correspondence of acoustic characteristics could produce a better result. However, we must remember that a great deal of our parophonies is connected with writing, partially weakening this attempt of improvement.


Whoever the dead person was, his condition will be maintained within the arms. In the special case of Christ no other alternative than resurrection after the third day was possible in a Christian environment. We must then consider the heraldic plot to take place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It shouldn't necessarily compel us to include figurations as wounds in our interpretation. The only primitive sources of inspiration considered were parophonies that resulted from referent's metonymies. Everything else seen in all heraldic traces, even the most obvious complements, shouldn't contradict them.


It's also worth to mention the importance attributed to the Holy Sepulchre in medieval times, one of the main motives for the conquest of Jerusalem. Godfrey of Bouillon, the first ruler of the crusaders, was declared Protector of the Holy Sepulchre and buried at its church that saw crownings and other royal events after that. May we link Jesus with the obsequies stated by the white tincture? We will see it next.


[1] DE VRIES, Hubert - Jerusalem - De Rode Leeuw  - 2011 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[2] PARISIENSIS, Matthaei; MADDEN, Frederic (ed.) - Historia Anglorum - London: Longman, 1866-1869 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[3] PARISIENSIS, Matthaei - Historia Anglorum - (manuscript), 1250-1259 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[4] WIELAND, Simon; RUTTEN, Lars; BEYELER, Markus - Medieval and Modern Coin Search Engine - - 2012 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[5] CITY OF DAVID - Hezekiah’s Tunnel(video), s. d. : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[6] DA FONTE, Carlos - Semântica Primitiva das Armas Nacionais e alguns dos seus Aspectos Sintácticos e Pragmáticos - Porto: FEUP, 2009 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.


[7] BETTENS, Olivier - Chantez-vous Français? - 1996-2012 : Accessed 23 September 2012, available here.



Kings of Jerusalem - Argent
Domanial R Kings of Jerusalem
Hydronym M Hezekiah's Tunnel
Language of Conquest V French
Denominant A Ézéchias
Graphemization A  É  |  Z  |  É  |  C  |  H  |  I  |  A  |  S 
Phonemization A  e  |  z  |  e  |  k  |  iA 
Pairing A  e  |  z  |  e  |  k  |  iA 
A  E  | gz |  e  |  k  |  i 
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of character A 0.5 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 
Coefficient of position A 1.5 | 1.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 
Addends A 0.8 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.3 
Discretion index A k = 0.60
Homographic heterophony A (Ézé)ch(ias) > [(eze)S(iA)]
A (Ézé)ch(ias) > [(eze)k(iA)]
Phonemization A  E  |  gz  |  e  |  k  |  i 
Graphemization A E | X | E | Q | U | I | E | S
Designant A exequies
Other nouns E obsequies
Simple monosemy S argent
S exequies
Simple metonymy S obsequies > tomb > stone > white
Tincture H whitish Argent
Immanence C stone
Contrast C or
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H potent
Placement H between
Number H four
Figuration H crosslets
Tincture H or


(next article in this series is II/XII)

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Published at 12:09

St Edward the Confessor: Shield's Redundancy (6/6)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 11.09.12
Edward the Confessor - Attributed Arms

This sixth and last semantic level was so inconspicuous that we've just found it at the very end of our analysis. One of the reasons was that it doesn't categorically affect any heraldic traces as colours or shapes and works as a redundancy for everything already treated. For this level we used the epithet of Edward  - the Confessor - which we may classify as an anthroponymic form of the corresponding referent's metonymy. It is interesting to observe that compared to the other descriptions we've used: King, Saint, Edward and Wintonian, this last is the most characteristic. The other four only make sense when together but “the Confessor” may evoke much faster our referent Edward when alone, for many kings, saints, Edwards and Wintonians existed.


As there was no heraldic effect resulting from this level we should doubt the adequacy of considering it in the analysis. A good advantage is to screen any incompatibilities among other levels. This, of course, would be much more favourable if detected during the initial analytical stages. The most difficult part of our studies is to achieve proper parophonies that fit well one to another inside a heraldic plot. In the beginning of every investigation, when we know nothing about the plot used, once a tendency is found, all the semantic levels must obey it.


Another benefit is to ascertain if such behaviour reproduces consistently in our corpus and eventually to discover other associations that will only be apparent by observing all occurrences as a whole. That's how we were able to identify most of the structures implicit in parophonies and later this helped us to develop several typologies in order to assist the establishment of relationships within distinct coats of arms.


The motivational scheme is quite peculiar in this example of St Edward's arms as the plot seems to have two different authors, set apart by hundreds of years. The early part, connected with the numismatic representation, refers Edward as a king; the late part depicts his glorification as a saint. If we didn't know the existence of the coins things would be much more difficult. The semantic examination may have diverted to other, presumably worse, solutions or simply stall because, for example, the most frequent Anglo-Norman word for king is rei and not roi.


The parophony we've found is Confessur (ano. Confessor) ~ Qu'hom fait sur (ano. that we make on). The modern form in French, qu'on, hides the origin of the word, linked with the impersonal hom (ano. man), acting as “someone” or “we”. The phrase is incomplete and we must look after the word that would accomplish a possible meaning. In the present context we may only find the substrate of the blazon as such a word. After deciding on the figurations and tinctures to be used all we need to do is draw and paint them on top of the shield. That's the subject that qu'om fait sur justifies.


The discretion index totals k = 0.14 and the average of the six levels is k = 0.08, an extremely low result, apparently indicating that most if not all proposed solutions cannot be improved regarding parophony. Note that this methodology doesn't supply proofs for any specific parophonic hypotheses we make. Only the whole proposition with its semantic levels, may be eventually regarded as coherent, therefore almost statistically impossible to result from chance. But even then we cannot guarantee that one or two of these levels aren't wrong. Finding other arms that repeat the same kind of association and visual behaviour is important for a sound justification, however the best would be to use plain historical evidence as documents and artefacts. This is not always easy and virtually impossible for attributed arms, as these we've finished studying now.


Note that we took the phonemes [Om] paired together with [Õ] which may look strange. In fact [O] and [m] are two different phonemes but they have necessarily to compare with a nasalized [Õ], which is a simple sound. If we followed the methodology blindly and used the formal pairing [Õ][_] ~ [O][m] the penalties used in the calculation would be excessively high and their numerical effect in the discretion index the same as, say,  [Õ][_] ~ [O][k], which is unacceptable. Note that this same criterion was applied before with [tS] and [S] for the parophony Itchen ~ I chenne.


We finished thus this analysis, one of the hardest we ever made with a record number of six semantic levels. That's the same number found in the primitive coat of arms of the kings of Portugal, which took most of our effort and time. Is it all true? We don't know, but remembering that all discretion indexes are quite low and that semantic levels interact coherently the answer will tend to be positive.


Let's introduce some ideas on a probabilistic proof. Take the parophony Seint  ~ Cinq as an example, and try to find other puns with Cinq or equivalents as V, B, quintet, etc. and pair them with other Old French words related in some consistent way with St Edward. To be comparable with our analysis the discretion index couldn't be higher than 0.2. For simplicity we're using a plain parophony with just one word. I guarantee that you won't find that many but suppose by exaggeration that you are able to discover ten viable parophonies. Then you must divide ten by the number of different words that existed in Old French which were able to be employed by an average speaker, let's say five thousand.


Then, also in a simplified manner, the probability that such a parophonic solution could result from luck is about 10/5,000 = 0.002 or 0.2% (with hypothetical equiprobable outcomes) .  If you extend this result to six different and independent semantic levels the odds for a simultaneous coincidence would be 0.002 × 0.002 × 0.002 × 0.002 × 0.002 × 0.002 = 0,000000000000000064 = 0,0000000000000064 %. Of course if you take composite parophonies, using more than one word, you must take into account all the combinations possible, two by two, three by three, etc. The result would be even smaller because the divisor is much bigger. Naturally, this is just an abridged approach that takes ideal and less complicated elements. But it's easy to understand and gives a reasonable picture on the orders of magnitude involved.



 Edward the Confessor - All
Attributed Arms R Edward the Confessor
Anthroponym M Confessor
Language of Conquest V Anglo-Norman
Denominant A Confessur
Graphemization A  C  |  O  |  N  |  F  |  E  |  S  |  S  |  U  |  R 
Phonemization A k  |  Õ  |  f  |  E  |  s  |  y  |  R\
Pairing A k  |  Õ  |  f  |  E  |  s  |  y  |  R\
A k  |Om|  f  |  E  |  s  |  y  |  R\
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 1.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Addends A 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Discretion index A k = 0.14
Phonemization A k | Om | f | E | s | y | R\
Graphemization A Q| U' | H | O | M | | F | A | I | T | | S | U | R
Designant A qu'hom fait sur
Comprehensive E qu'hom fait sur
Simple monosemy, Redundancy S that we make on (the shield)
S qu'hom fait sur
Tincture H Azure
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H flory
Placement H cantoned with
Number H four
Figuration H martlets
Connective H and
Number H another
Placement H in base
Tincture H or


(next analysis in this blog is here)

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Published at 17:38

St Edward the Confessor: Tincture Azure (5/6)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 05.09.12
Edward the Confessor - Attributed Arms

The fifth semantic level present in the arms of St Edward the Confessor repeats the geographic inspiration of the previous referent's metonymy: Wincestrin. Besides the direct allusion to Winchester we may see now the verbal depiction of its river Itchen. Similarly, in an older analysis, we had applied the river Danube as a contiguity to Sagremor and Buda. It was impossible to find an Anglo-Norman name for this hydronym, therefore we used the English equivalent as a denominant. We don't even know if a specific Anglo-Norman word existed but seemingly it wouldn't be much more different than Itchen.


However, the second part of our parophony, the designant, keeps using Anglo-Norman and this type of language mix is usually called linguistic hybridization. In parophonies it results frequently from the ignorance on how to express both components adopting just one language, as it was the case here. But it may also appear with local words surviving in the vocabulary of a lingua franca. In Portuguese, for example, Gothic and Arabic terms arise simultaneously with Latin in order to build designants.


This parophony is built with Itchen ~ I chenne (ano. one pitcher), but the last component needs to be adjusted before we could compare all its phonemes with those appearing in the denominant. A first metonymy diverges from a common writing symbol “I”, easy to be acknowledged and sustained by other occurrences in our researching work. It's responsible for the transformation of “I” from a letter “i into a Roman numeral that stands for one.


I(chenne) < I (letter i) < I

I (chenne) < I (number 1) < I


Moreover, we observe the use of a pair of graphemes “ch with two possible sounds, conveniently adapted to assist the parophony. The first instance when Itchen must be compared with the similar sound of chenne, where “ch sounds as [S]. The second instance occurs when meaning is built and we need the word that signifies “one pitcher, that is, chenne, and “ch now sounds as [k], like other known forms - cane and canne - very near or equal to the modern pronunciation in French. A similar example takes place in the arms of the first kings of Portugal for their capital Coimbra. To denote that the same group of letters shape different sounds we baptized this recurring phenomenon a homographic heterophony.


ch(enne) > [k(@n)]

ch(enne) < [S(@n)]


After the conclusion of accommodation and pairing we calculate a discretion index, k = 0.19. The procedure had to apply a longer formula, used to compensate the scarce number of phonemes and consequent unbalance (see Formula 3.1 at p. 51 in the thesis). To obtain it we additionally considered the total number of transformations (j = 1) divided by the square of the maximum value between the denominant and designant, max (D, d)2 = max (4, 4)2 = (4)2 = 16. Therefore we subtracted 1/16 = 0.0625 from our main formula to produce 0.250 - 0.0625 and the value of k = 0.19.


A second metonymy will justify the blue in the heraldic plot of St Edward's arms. We had already mentioned that the application of the said tincture wasn't compatible with a sky, in this blazon at least. It's a fact that crosses and birds would fit perfectly in such a background but it's again a fact that the martlets aren't flying in the shield of St Edward. Blue is doubtlessly used for water in heraldry; however, five martlets floating around a sinking cross seem an appalling concept. What then?


The designant chenne (ano. pitcher) was also understood as a measure of capacity for liquids, a meaning reinforced by the Roman numeral I that precedes it. A measure largely employed with water and wine and with bulk solids likewise. The next transformation uses whatever could be inside the pitcher as a defining idea, instead of the pitcher itself. In a similar but reversed manner we say: “I've drank a glass of milk and not “I've drank the contents of a glass of milk. But the contents we're talking about are effectively water for a few good reasons.


The most obvious motivation should be that azure is the colour of water in heraldry, whereas purpure would be proper for wine, argent for milk and so on. Secondly, the relatively small quantity of a pitcher was just enough to “wet the field, allowing the birds and the cross to be supported by the ground. Thirdly, although being represented by blue, water is transparent and if used on top of everything no staining would be perceived. Fourthly, we could say that, to begin with, it also represents a river, no need to mention what is it made of. Finally, we must answer the question - What kind of liquid would be respectable enough to match the five birds representing the sanctity of Edward and the symbol of Christ Himself? It shouldn't spoil, foul or in any way desecrate the plot already organized.


The answer could only be holy water, a perfect match for the sanctified flock of birds and for the cross. Incidentally it's commonly spread by aspersion, meaning that maybe it rests on top of all charges, still considering the aforesaid transparency. Note that the expression in Anglo-Norman is euwe benette, but it may be easily admitted for the end of the 14th century that English could affect the metonymy. But it wouldn't even be needed in its strictest form, due to the extended religious environment of the blazon. Without a doubt the whole is influenced by the status of Edward as a saint. Formally, we have another converging metonymization:


Edward > St Edward > saint > holy

one pitcher > contents > holy water > holy


Furthermore we need to justify the blue convention for water. The perception of this colour in shallow extensions is normally seen as caused by reflection and scattering of sky light, but it doesn't suit well a generalization. Supplementary the sea is intrinsically blue even during a thunderstorm when the sky has tones of grey. This blue is faintly seen in snow and ice, all resulting from the same physical phenomenon. Those were probably the shades of blue inspiring heraldry and also many other representations of water too. Still, as oceans are its most powerful, large and majestic expression, the mechanism of sublimation emerged to paint any form or amount of water blue; a triple converging metonymy:


sea > bluish

seawater > bluish

any water > bluish


That should end our comments on the arms of St Edward the Confessor, but we just happened to find a sixth semantic level, so this series isn't finishing now as stated before. Luckily enough it won't harm the sequence of presentation within the prior levels; instead it's more like a complement enclosing everything we've already said.



 Edward the Confessor - Azul
Attributed Arms R Edward the Confessor
Hydronym M River Itchen
Linguistic Hybridization V English ~ Anglo-Norman
Denominant A Itchen
Graphemization A  I  |  T  |  C  |  H  |  E  |  N 
Phonemization A i  |  tS  |  @  |  n
Pairing A i  |  tS  |  @  |  n
A i  |  S  |  @  |  n
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 1.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Addends A 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Discretion index A k = 0.19
Homographic heterophony A ch(enne) > [k(@n)]
A ch(enne) < [S(@n)]
Phonemization A i | S | @ | n
Graphemization A I | | C | H | E | N | N | E
Designant A I chenne
Other nouns E une chenne
Diverging metonymy S I(chenne) < I (letter i) < I
S I (chenne) < I (number 1) < I
Simple monosemy S azure
S I chenne
Converging metonymy S Edward > St Edward > saint > holy
S 1 pitcher > contents > holy water > holy
Tincture H bluish Azure
Immanence C water
Contrast C or
Converging metonymy, Sublimation S sea > bluish
S seawater > bluish
S any water > bluish
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H flory
Placement H cantoned with
Number H four
Figuration H martlets
Connective H and
Number H another
Placement H in base
Tincture H or


(next article in this series is VI/VI)

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Published at 00:24

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