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Shields For Wall Display


Richard Lionheart Painted Shield
Richard S

Jerusalem shield
Shield of Jerusalem

Black Prince


St. George Shield
El-Cid quarant painted shield
Shield Quadrant
wooden Hospitaller

Templar Knights Shield

El Cid Shield

El Cid Natural polished
Shield of El Cid

Templar knights hanging metal shield

Richard Lionheart polished metal shield
Richard Lionheart
Carlos / Charles V Polished Shield
Charles V Shield
Charlemagne Polished Shield
Charles V black crackle metal display shield

Shield Displays - A Touch of Old

In a land far away, in an age long past, knights battled over land and kingdoms while blacksmiths slaved over hot fires to produce the protection that these brave souls needed and the weapons to help them conquer their enemies.

The shield was needed for defensive moves to protect from arrows and to deflect the punch of a maul or a thrust from a sword. However, in a battle, where there is no uniform appearance to your own soldiers-in-arms and the enemies, how did you tell foe from friend? Many of the disputes were between neighboring towns or close lands that shared most of the same styles and customs. It was easy to tell against wars with other cultures who was who, but how to tell if your enemy shared your language, your clothing, your lands?

Shield identifications probably started off for individuals who were the stronger fighters and leaders, who eventually obtained followers who began to wear that leader’s identification rather than their own, or perhaps a slightly individualized version with the individual putting a part of himself on his own shield. These identifications were at first very simple. Simply various colors and lines, eventually chevrons and then someone began to tell the tale of the leader on their shields. What symbol did his House use for their name? Did they fight like a wolf and somewhere in antiquity take on that symbol for their household? Were they good in land battles or were they seaman? Did they raise animals that needed protection or lands with landmarks that stood out? Were they royal or a servant of another liege? Did they come from a certain castle?

All of these images began to be applied to the shield for identification. Part of a good squire’s job was to reapply these images to the shield as these would wear off over time and wear and tear of battle. Simpler designs were used in battle while a more complex pattern may have ended up on the walls of the castle or woven into banners and eventually, developed into the coat of arms for the individual knights.

Soon these simpler designs gave way to more multifaceted ones and probably the squires groaned inwardly at seeing the complexities of the designs. But each shield told a story and those schooled in the language of heraldry could read these symbols to tell the story of the man who they represented, down to the last dot which in itself has meaning; since most people could not read or write, even the commoner could read a shield well enough to know who it belonged to and to act accordingly. A soldier whose job required him to know who was who in a battle was probably only aware of colors and styles as he was busy with such small details as kill or be killed.

The shield with standard colors and design was begun in the medieval period around 1100 AD with the Norman conquerors but flourished all over Europe by the Renaissance era. With the sparked interest in art and design of that age, the shields became works of art, still retaining the ability to tell the stories of its owner but more grandiose and more stylized in its story. These were awarded by a liege to his best warriors or those in high places who wished to acknowledge someone for their deeds. Even the clergy had this system of reward and certain stations carried its own shield requirement, even in the Church.

Today, a revived interest in family crests and creating one’s own family crest has renewed interest in these patterns from old. Sadly, too many now ignore the language of the herald, simply picking and choosing symbols for their style or beauty or personal meaning, yet this does not differ too much from the beginnings of the shield when symbols were picked for their significance to that person. The language of heraldry, fast becoming a lost art, has come full circle in our time and is beginning all over again with a new language; whether it will stabilize and once again be a language to read or if the shields will simply be something appealing to appreciate is still to be seen.

Shield displays are still admired by many and like any work of art, inspire and tantalize the mind with their stories. Like paintings, they tell a story to the viewer. This particular form of art tells the history of battles and war that still echo in the halls of imagination. They speak of glory and dust and blood and bravery. They speak of the valor and persistence of men now long dead that live still in the hearts of their descendants. But most of all, they tell us the stories of a time long past that we hunger to know for these are the symbols of those descended from the mighty conquerors of Western Europe, who turned chaos into the mightiest civilizations in history during a time known as the Medieval Ages.

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