Saturday, August 10, 2013

Flags and Rank in 16th Century England


 An Emperor's Banner shulde be five foote longe, and of the same breadth. A Kinges Banner of five foote.
A Princes and a Dukes Banner four foot.
A Marquess, an Erles, a Viscounts, a Barons, and a Bannerets Banner shulde be but three foote square, and so is the old forme. Some hold that the Banner of a Banneret shulde be but two feet square, and so was the old forme. But nowe because their worshipp and power is increased, they have it of three foote. The usual Banner for the estates last above-named is elle longe and yard broade.

A Banner serveth for a Knight of the Garter, a Bannerett, a Baron, a Viscount, an Earle, a Marquisse, a Duke, a Prince. Place under a Banner an hundred men.

Standards.—The great standard to be sette before the Kings pavilion or tent, not to be borne in battel, to be of the length of two yards. (sic., but 11 was probably intended)
The Kings Standard to be borne, to be of the length of eight or nine yardes.
The Dukes Standard to be borne, to be slitte at the ende and seven yardes longe.
The Erles Standard six yards longe.
The Barons Standard five yards longe.
The Bannerets Standard four yards and a halfe longe.
The Knightes Standarde four yardes longe.

And every Standard and Guydhome to have in the chiefe the Crosse of St. George, to be slitte at the ende, and to conteyne the crest or supporter, with the poesy, worde, and devise of the owner. Place under the Standard an hundred men.

Pennon A pennon must be two and a halfe yardes longe.made rounde at the ende, and conteyneth the armes of the owner, and serveth for the conduct of an hundred men. Every knight may have his pennon, if he be chiefe captaine, and in itt sett his armes; and if he be made a Banneret by the King or the Lieutenant, shall make a slitte in the end of the pennon, and the heraldes shall raze it owte; and when a Knight is made a Bannerett, the heraldes shall bringe him to his tente, and receive for their fees three pounds, eleven shillings, and fourpence, for every bachelor knight, and the trumpettes twenty shillings.

Note that an Esquire shall not have his arms displayed in the field, but hee may weare his cote.

GUYDON.—A Guydhome must be two yards and a halfe, or three yardes longe, and therin shall no armes be putt, but only the mans crest cognizance and devyce, and from that, from his standard and streamer a man may flee, but not from his banner or pennon bearinge his armes. Place under the Guydhome fifty men, by the conduct of an esquire or a gentleman.

Pencells.—Pencills or Flagges for horsemen must be a yarde and a halfe longe with the crosse of St George, the creast, or worde.

Streamer.—A streamer shall stand in the toppe of a shippe, or in the forecastle, and therein be putt no armes, but a mans conceit or device, and may be of the lengthe of twenty, thirty, forty, or sixty yardes, and it is slitte as well as a guydhome or standarde, and that may a gentleman or any other have or beare.

It is used to make the breadth of a banner less than the length; but there is no rule that holdeth therewith'.

 Harleian MS 2358


The Standard to be sett before the Kings pavillion or tente, and not to be borne in battayle, to be in lengthe eleven yards.
The Kinges Standard to be borne, in lengthe eight or nine yards.
A Dukes Standard to be borne, and to be in lengthe seven yards di'.
A Marquesse Standard to be in length six yards di'.
An Earles Standard to be in lengthe six yards.
A Viscounts Standard to be in length five yards di'.
A Barons Standard to be in length five yards.
A Banneretts Standard to be in lengthe four yards di'.
A Knights Standard to be in length four yards.

Everie Standard and Guydon to have in the cheife the crosse of St. George, the beast or crest with his devyse and word, and to be slitt at the end.

A Guidon to be in lengthe two yards and a half, or three.

A Pennon of Armes round att the end, and to be in length two yardes.

The Kinges Banner to be in lengthe two yards di', and in bredthe two yards.
A Banner of a Knight of the Garter to be sett up at Wyndeser, two yardes, slete two yards, and one yard and three quarters broade.

 A Banneroll to be in length one ell, in breath one yard.

 Lansdowne MS 255, f. 431.

These both appear to be 16th century, judging by the square banner proportions. Earlier practice was less systematic and restrictive. For example, the squires that served as judges in King René's tournament book displayed banners; perhaps the office of tournament judge was considered of such dignity that you were entitled to display a banner while you held it. Surviving 15th century Burgundian standards did not consistently display the national badge next to the pole.

Also, from reading the above you might well assume that knights bachelor formed the bottom edge of the Tudor standard owning class. You would be wrong. This Tudor record of standards and other armory shows that a substantial number of standards pertained to men below knightly rank: courtiers, politicians, poets, soldiers, wealthy landowners and squires that married well. But I repeat myself.

The book contains about three times as many standards as banners.

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