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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: 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

Sagremor: Quarter Argent (2/3)

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 09.07.12
Sagremor - Attributed Arms

We will proceed with the characterization of Sagremor's arms at this third semantic level. After establishing the Hungarian coordinates of the referent's metonymy, it would be natural to follow the same principles, obeying the restrict typology defined in the almost two thousand heraldic traces already studied. For Sagremor we've found the metonymization of its referent into a territory at the first semantic level, into a gentilic at the second and finally into a hydronym hereunder.


Continuing with the Latin verbalization, this time we are before the majestic river of Budapest, our denominant is now Danubius (lat. Danube). It provides a rather favourable discretion index: k = 0.14, parophonic to the designant da (lat. tell) nubis (lat. cloud). The iu in Danubius is taken as a diphthong for the i is short, both appearing in a single cell paired with another i of nubis. Note that the maximum quantity of phonemes will count eight instead of seven for this reason. Still, the verb do (lat. give) has a number of meanings, some of which could be used in this situation. We think, however, that the imperative form of the second person is the most suitable, meaning “Tell!” or “Explain!”.


Danubius ~ Da nubis, generates a simple monosemy: it is responsible for the silvery quarter. It's quite true that the alteration of the tincture from gold into sable at the corresponding star will also be its responsibility, but only as a secondary outcome in the pre-defined constitution of the heraldic traces. A redundant metonymy occurs just like in the preceding level. This time tell isn't associated with any heraldic trace but with the actual parophonic function of the shield using the association: tell > cant > canting arms, which in fact they are. The second component: nubis, leaves no place for doubt, either through its meaning or through its complementarity with the other elements. Nothing more appropriate than this meteorological phenomenon after defining a stellar subject, thus achieving an attractive heraldic composition.


The cloud is conveniently white and hides the light by “passing” before one of the stars, transforming its golden tincture; a sematization where light opposes obscurity. Furthermore, the separate star will be placed precisely at the centre of the quarter, conditioning the location of the other two, as referred. The demand for an iterative process during the generation of these medieval emblazonings is clearly felt. It would be impossible to define this arrangement of cloud and stars with two hermetic and independent structures. The emblazonment also establishes that the mullet must lay on top of the quarter, contrarily to the semantic context. This let us understand that not always the formal expressive description will be an adequate guide to grasp the content behind it. I believe this will be the main hindrance to free the heraldic science from those conventionalised interpretations influenced by relatively late regulations.


It seems that the drawing embodies another immanent characteristics of clouds: movement; maybe simultaneously with other complementary phenomena that appear along the heraldic traces. The nebulosity must not occupy the whole field: it would loose much of its expressive strength. So we peremptorily exclude the obstruction of all three stars. Only the opposition yellow × black allow us to perceive the visual plot clearly. By seizing only a piece of the field, a cloud tatter hurries to hide only one star at the first quarter, a typical distribution. This positioning will promote an optical unbalance perceived through the asymmetry of the chromatic extensions. The unbalance translates into movement and will contribute to the semantics of the arms through another metonymy: cloud > movement > unbalance > asymmetry. The alternative of using an implicitly stable white base, for example, would be pointless.



Attributed Arms R Sagremor
Hydronym M Danube
Imaginary Language V Danubius (Latin)
Denominant A Danubius
Graphemization A D | A | N | U | B | I | U | S
Phonemization A d | a | n | u | b | iu | s
Pairing A d | a | n | u | b | iu | s
A d | a | n | u | b | i | s
Coefficient of transposition A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0
Coefficient of character A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0
Coefficient of position A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 0.0
Addends A 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.5 | 0.0
Discretion index A k = 0.14
Phonemization A d | a | | n | u | b | i | s
Graphemization A D | A | | N | U | B | I | S
Designant A da | nubis
Action + Meteorology E tell + cloud
Redundancy, simple metonymy S tell › cant › canting arms
S tell
Simple monosemy S quarter
S cloud
Tincture H Gules
Number H two
Figuration H mullets (of five points)
Tincture H or
Connective H mullets + mullet and
Placement H under the cloud on
Number H 1 a
Separation H tatter quarter
Immanence C cloud
Placement C first quarter
Symmetry C asymmetric
Simple metonymy S cloud › mobile › unbalance › asymmetry
Tincture H whitish argent
Immanence C cloud
Contrast C gules, sable
Number H 1 a
Figuration H 5 pointsmullet
Filling C quarters' area
Symmetry C quarter's vertical axis
Centrality C quarter's diagonals
Tincture H obstruction sable
Immanence C cloud
Contrast C argent
Opposition S light × darkness
Number H (the three mullets)
Disposition H (set two and one)


(next article in this series is III/III)

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Published at 19:05

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