Heraldry abhors a vacuum

One hesitates to give such folderol wider distribution than it has already received; but the ignorance regarding matters heraldic displayed by one Alex Singleton, an obscure journalist who happens to have the disproportionately large platform that is the Daily Mail’s website, can only be stamped out through efforts to re-educate.


The level of knowledge displayed in this post is not much beyond what a schoolboy could hastily produce if suddenly asked to write an essay on some topic previously unexplored by him. That schoolboy level of reasoning is further underscored by Mr Singleton’s subsequent re-tweeting of someone else’s comment that he placed the existence of Lyon Court on the same level of ‘Uganda banning farts’. Subtle and perceptive indeed.

There’s probably no harm in continuing to let Mr Singleton wallow in his own ignorance, which should keep him busy for quite some time; but lest some other heraldic novice should come across his opinion and mistake it for an authoritative one, rather than the chaff that it is, one observation. Did he give so much as a moment’s thought to the chaotic situations that can develop in the absence of a proper regulatory framework for heraldry? Heraldry, like other human creations, is subject to abuse, misuse, exploitation and deceit. Some nations have venerable bodies whose authority is apparent even to the uninitiated, such as the Court of the Lord Lyon; others, such as some continental countries, at least have varying degrees of regulation governing the proper procedure for assuming a coat of arms, with registration and publication requirements analogous to those for commercial trademarks. Where there is no authority whatsoever, that is, in Mr Singleton’s Shangri-La, the stage is set for, at best, confusion; and at worst, sterile disputes over who can fill the vacuum, dodgy practitioners selling arms to the gullible – on the basis of dubious credentials – and a free-for-all proliferation of poorly designed arms or such obvious misuse of others’ arms as to constitute copyright infringement if it were to occur in trade. If, as the saying goes, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested, then a heraldic anarchist such as Mr Singleton must have little actual experience of the situations such a vacuum creates. Ignorance is bliss.