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The Boundaries of the Human in Medieval English Literature$
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Dorothy Yamamoto

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186748

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186748.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

The Heraldic Image

The Heraldic Image

(p.75) chapter four The Heraldic Image
The Boundaries of the Human in Medieval English Literature


Oxford University Press

In heraldry, ‘the names of the nobility were related totemically to the natural world, especially to animals’. Heraldry was vitally important in the late 14th-century English courtly world, as witnessed by Richard II's lavish distribution of his badge of the white hart. Yet the heraldic sign was never an innocent marker, but a counter in political debate — in Mum and the Sothsegger the king is accused of favouring the ‘harts’, his followers, at the expense of young, hungry deer. In fact, heraldic discourse was subject to various kinds of fracturing because of its engagement with physical form. Readings of heraldic texts (e.g. by John de Bado Aureo, Bartolo di Sassoferrato, and Nicholas Upton), of poems, of Froissart's tale of Math, the king's greyhound, and of passages from Chaucer and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight follow, as well as discussions of the Devonshire Tapestries and the Wilton Diptych.

Keywords:   heraldry, Richard II, Bartolo di Sassoferrato, Nicholas Upton, Jean Froissart, Devonshire Tapestries, Wilton Diptych, Geoffrey Chaucer

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