complete dictionary of heraldry conceived to enable the
reader find, within one volume, all there is to know about
heraldry, made easily accessible without the need to search
elsewhere. Each term will be found in alphabetical order,
fully defined and illustrated with, in most cases, an
adjoining image. The rules of heraldry are also explained so
that arms, and the manner in which they are constructed, may
be understood and, when found verbally described rather than
painted, correctly interpreted.
Review by Adrian
Strickland in the Sunday Times of Malta, 13 February 2011:
Modern books on heraldry are
very often recycled versions of previous publications, or
even the same publication in a new jacket So with an
inquisitive mind I opened Heraldria Illustrata,
looking into another dictionary of this esoteric subject.
Ubiquitous, but not generally known and much less
Privately printed, and
therefore at some inconsiderable personal commitment, John
Cilia La Corte sets out almost 300 pages of text, peppered
with mainly full colour illustrations of shields of arms,
and amply illustrates the meanings of the terms used in
lt is thought that heraldry
appeared in Germany at the end of the 11th century. This
outstandingly flexible art form developed into a science,
with its own conventions and rules, in the capable hands of
the heralds, whose task it was to act as messengers between
leaders of warring armies, to prepare the muster rolls
recording those knights and noblemen present on special
occasions, and of course, to record the casualties left on
the field of battle.
To do the latter, like good
civil servants, they devised a language that only they and
perhaps a few noblemen understood, this is called blazon,
from the noise of a trumpet, which was usually blown prior
to an announcement, as when a knight rode into the
tournament lists, and had his pedigree announced and his
This language, derived front
Norman French, in daily use today in the 21st century still
uses words like fitchy, barry and fleurett�,
which one can at least guess the meaning of.
Cilia La Corte's book includes
all these usual terms one encounters in blazon. so one can
relatively easily understand what is being described.
However, this dictionary is a
magnum opus of about 20,000, (mostly colour) illustrations
in its pages. Each of them graphically explains what a
particular word in blazon means. These are coupled with
verbal explanations, more in the style of earlier heraldic
dictionaries, produced at a time when every illustration had
to be hand drawn. and engraved on a copper or steel plate,
and even then could only he produced in monochrome, like
earlier editions of the classic Boutell's Heraldry.
Appearing among these pages are
heraldic terms that in about 40 years of avid interest in
this esoteric science called heraldry, or more properly,
armoury, I have never come across. These terms nevertheless
facilitate blazoning of many unusual figures and shapes
found on shields of arms.
Terms like knobber,
hastilude, jelloped, manchet, nowye or a cross
gringol�, the last of which means a cross, the
extremities of which end in heads of serpents.
Many more of these gems grace
the pages of this unusual dictionary, making it a veritable
mine of information, not only for heraldists, but also other
enthusiasts like cross word lovers, and scrabble players.
The entries are often cross
referenced, so that a variation of something quite ordinary
with a different but unusual name may also be found, like
'icicle: see goutte reversed', which is a way of
indicating a drop-shaped charge is upside clown.
Armoury quickly captured the
hearts and souls of the nobility of Christendom. One of its
possible origins could have been the death of Harold, King
of the Saxons, who at the battle of Hastings lost his
kingdom after a fatal arrow in one eye.
This had led to the demise of
the open helm with noseguard, to the development of the pot
helm that concealed the face of the wearer, rendering him
unrecognisable and forcing upon the warrior class a method
of individual identification of combatants in battle and in
tournaments of the late Middle Ages.
Today, all states have arms,
most provinces, municipalities, guilds, banks, insurance
companies, schools and universities have arms, usually
granted by the fons honorem or heraldic authority of
The petitioning (or adoption)
of arms is usually intended to enhance the image and status,
and by association their trustworthiness. It is a shame
several sovereign states do not maintain a heraldic
authority, which would lend seriousness to this practice.
Anyone with an interest in
heraldry would find this book fascinating, every one with a
serious interest should have this book at his/her elbow for
many reasons, but especially for design, blazon, and
identification, and of course, amusement.
The compilation of this book is
the end product of years of research, and represents a
labour of love by the author Cilia La Corte, a heraldist and
an avid genealogist living in London.
The book can be ordered on line
from: Lulu Publications at