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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: Martlets (2/6)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 10.08.12
Edward the Confessor - Attributed Arms

This second part of our analysis will try to justify the existence of birds in the shield of St Edward the Confessor. As with the cross, the drawing has been influenced by the previous numismatic representation, which included only four birds looking like doves. There should be some reason for adding an extra figuration to the shield.


Despite the heraldic arrangement with an implied space under the cross, able to explain the five birds, this could be easily changed by the extension of the lower limb, keeping the original quantity. According to the analysis made in St Edward the Confessor: C(e) roi ~ Crois, only a plain cross is needed, whether it would be Greek, adequate to the circular symmetry of a coin, or Latin, fit to the triangular shape of the shield. Something happened meanwhile, which forced the growth in number. The motivation, however, will only be completely understood with the following article.


Edward, our referent, almost certainly would be metonymized through his own name. All the examples we observed in medieval coins used this resource as a parophonic tool, conjectured to be an unsuspicious source of inspiration for the development of the heraldic language, along with seals. By inheriting this semantic feature the arms also inherited the corresponding language of verbalization, Old French, in particular the French spoken in Normandy. We see therefore the King-Saint shaped by the parophony Edouard (fra. Edward) ~ Et due harde (fra. and corresponding flock). The denominant, at the first part, has no particular difficulty but the designant, at the second, deserves a few comments.


We've already spotted a first parophony so it wouldn't be unreasonable to get both together in a phrasal sequence: Crois et due harde, or even to mix the denominant with the designant: Ce roi et due harde. The function of et (fra. and) is merely additive, connecting the pair of parophonies and justifying its existence. Although the word due, (fra. corresponding) doesn't keep its meaning in modern French but quite specifically, could indeed be interpreted in the past as: “due”, “respective” or “corresponding”. Therefore, a link is made between the cross (or the king) and harde (fra. flock). This last word also has lost some of its older meaning; still, we are only interested in medieval times where, without any hesitation thanks to many examples, it had the meaning of a flock of birds.


In conclusion, the phrase “cross and corresponding flock of birds” appears to be perfectly consistent with the images seen in the coins of Edward the Confessor. It doesn't mean that we don't need to investigate the consistency in the opposite direction, among other things, nor that other alternatives or maybe better solutions couldn't exist, which we very much doubt. We still refer the impossibility of developments like ait un harde or et du harde because harde was a feminine substantive in French.


The semantic convergence of a generic flock of animals into a particular flock of birds is achieved by a metonymization, emulating the designer's choice. A flock of sheep could have been preferred instead but the reason for the drawing choice would be due to the relative size of the four animals to the cross. A flock of quadrupeds, even smaller than sheep, would demand a huge cross, excluding any conventional artefacts, whereas a flock of birds would imply an acceptable dimension, as for a processional cross. Then, a second metonymization transforms the birds into martlets by request of the designant “flock”, which doesn't specify any particular species but recurrent in heraldry:


flock of animals > flock of birds

birds > martlets


What would be the reason for the birds to be doves initially, or equivalent, and later being transformed into martlets? The answer is given by the time gap between the representations. Whereas the coin took indifferently a common gregarious bird, the arms abode by the heraldic rules already in force, adopting a figuration that would represent birds generally: the martlet.


Thus we may see the second modification of the original design, after the introduction of flory endings at the cross limbs. These recalled the royal condition of Edward.  Would it be possible to attach a specific meaning for the martlets? We think otherwise; they would be only due to the need of consistency in the armorial language. It's also unfeasible to ascribe any connection with the sanctity of the king, subsequent to the coining, or with his royalty, already stressed by the cross flory. Furthermore, as the dove symbolizes the Holy Ghost, it is quite likely that the sole presence of a cross would be enough to inspire the resort to that figuration, but the presence of four birds dissuades taking them with such semantic specifity.


A point deserving our attention is the attitude of the birds. Even though we didn't reach the stage of chromatic analysis, it's patent that the field where the birds rest is blue. It would be comfortable to assume a sky as an appropriate background either for the martlets or the cross. There is a detail that undermines this reasoning: the birds fold their wings in the coin and in the shield, indicating that they couldn't be flying, at least in a strict interpretation.


Another possibility is to assign blue to water, where the five little birds would drift. But it's obvious that they aren't any water birds and that the cross, eventually considered in wood and allowed to float, already has the metallic elements of the Crown of St Edward, so that the remainder is also assumed in the same material. It would then be expected that the cross was in gold and that the condition of our referent as a saint would require a more glorifying plot, including the escorting figurations. Once again we must postpone the answer to our inquiries, this time in what refers the analysis of the blue tincture, provided with a semantic level of its own and conditioned by a particular referent's metonymy.


The syntactical arrangements were conditioned by the presence of the cross, allowing the necessary space for the introduction of four birds. It's not easy to tell which of the two numismatic parophonies was conceived first. Edward, through the martlets, is more obvious as a determinative linguistic expression. As to the cross, generated by his royal capacity, adjusts better to the visual practices usually reproduced in coins. Anyway, the gathering of the two ideas could only be consistently exhibited as it is. The introduction of a supplementary martlet, implied to maintain the Greek cross, as already seen, fitting the fifth figuration in the space between the lower limb of the cross and the end of the shield. A virtual square outline is defined by the cross, very well adapted to the sides and top edge of the shield, leaving the base as only possible region to place the said martlet.


Agreeing that there is in fact an association of the number of martlets with the cross, it is quite obvious that the quantity is determined upstream, not by the four slots of the cross but by the specification provided by “flock”. If hypothetically the parophony described the designant as two or three it would only be needed to make the corresponding adjustments. Nevertheless, by stating a flock, we couldn't imagine only two or even three birds. Maybe four is a feasible quantity, if we remember “cuadrilla”, a similar idea, embodying this number in its etymology. It constitutes what we may call a third metonymization, simple as the others - flock > four (five) birds - assisting the change from a nebulous numerical concept into a precise specification, in spite of two distinct versions of four and five units, by the additional influence of distinct semantic levels.


Centralities are harder to define. The drawing of each martlet is entirely asymmetrical preventing the homogeneity of the residual spaces, even with the eventual correct location of the geometrical centres. On top of this the five birds are turned to the dexter of the shield, impairing the axial symmetries regarding the cross and the shield, despite a strict compliance to the implicit rules demanded by the emblazonment. We must look after a balance among the shapes of all figurations and the corresponding spaces in-between; this will vary from one interpreter to another, ourselves included. Besides, this will contribute little or nothing to the semantic subjects that interest us primarily.


 Edward the Confessor - Flock
Attributed Arms R Edward the Confessor
Anthroponym M Edward
Language of Influence V French
Denominant A Edouard
Graphemization A  E |  D  |  O  |  U  |  A  |  R  |  D 
Phonemization A e  |  d  |  u  |  a  |  R  |  d 
Pairing A e  |  d  |  u  |  a  |  R  |  d 
A e  |  d  |  y  |  a  |  R  |  d 
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Addends A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
Discretion index A k = 0.17
Phonemization A e | d | y | a | R | d
Graphemization A E | T | | D | U | E | | H | A | R | D | E
Designant A et due harde
Zoology E and corresponding flock
Simple monosemy S flock
S martlets
Tincture H Azure
Number H a
Figuration H cross
Aspect H flory
Placement H at the quarters cantoned with
Number H 4 four
Simple metonymy S flock of animals > flock of birds
Simple metonymy S birds > martlets
Figuration H flock martlets
Orientation C turned to the dexter
Disposition C 2 and 2
Centrality C shape balance
Connective H martlets + martlet and
Simple metonymy S flock > 5 (4) birds
Number H 1 another
Placement H under the lower limb of the cross in base
Orientation C turned to the dexter
Symmetry C halfway the martlets at each side
Centrality C halfway the placement
Tincture H or


(next article in this series is III/VI)

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Published at 17:50

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