Some Arthurian Coats of Arms

by C.W. Scott-Giles, O.B.E. Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary Coat of Arms nos 64+65 October 1965-January 1966.

About the time that Sir Thomas Malory was writing the romances published by Caxton as Le Morte Darthur, a Frenchman, believed to have been Jacques d’Armagnac, Duc de Nemours, compiled a list of names and arms of 150 knights of the Round Table as an appendix to a treatise entitled, La forme quon tenoit des tournoys et assemblees au temps du roy uterpendragon et du roy artus. A number of copies of this armorial list have come down to us, some with additional names and arms, and some adding crests, supporters and mottoes. As Malory and the French author were to some extent drawing on common sources, the armorial gives the coats of many of the knights who figure in Malory’s tales. In view of enquiries received by the Heraldry Society about the traditional arms of King Arthur and his knights, some notes on the subject may be of general interest. I am indebted to Mr. Michael Maclagan, Slains Pursuivant to the Lord High Constable of Scotland, for information as to sources and the loan of his notes. I have also to thank Mr. John Brooke-Little, Bluemantle Pursuivant, for an opportunity of examining relevant manuscripts at the College of Arms.

Three copies of the list of knights and their arms (one at Harvard, one in the Morgan Library in New York, and one issued by Alphonse de Blangy at Caen, 1897) were collated in an article by Edouard Sandoz, published in Speculum (Mediaeval Academy of America) in October 1944, while additions and variants in Charles Ségoing’s Trésor Heraldique, 1657, appeared in a subsequent issue. Another copy in Vol. 173 of the Vincent Collection at the College of Arms largely corresponds with these, but has some variations and additional arms. There are a number of other copies elsewhere, but these notes are based mainly on the ones mentioned above.
While the lists purport to give the names and arms of the Knights of the Round Table, they contain some men who were hostile to Arthur, and others who figure in mediaeval lays and romances without any indication that they were actually of Arthur’s fellowship. A full list of approaching 200 names would contain many unknown to all but students of the more obscure romances. I am therefore limiting these notes to knights whose names are found in the pages of Malory — no doubt familiar to many readers of The Coat of Arms — though in some cases a character in Malory’s tales cannot be expressly identified with the person of the same name in the armorial lists.

Whoever invented these arms for Arthurian characters showed not only a good knowledge of heraldry, but also some ingenuity in producing coats which, while technically correct, are often slightly improbable, as though he were trying to avoid infringement of existing arms.

We find some unusual charges, or unusual treatment of common charges; a more frequent use of purpure and vert than might be expected; and instances of umbrated charges and fields (though some of these occur only in late copies). Nevertheless some coats — that of Launcelot, for example — are so simple as inevitably to duplicate actual arms. Perhaps the compiler felt that a family bearing Argent, three bendlets gules, would not object to the heraldic implication that they were kin to the famous Launcelot.

Kinsmen are generally given basically similar arms differenced in the manner of the fifteenth century. Launcelot and his father, King Ban, bear the three bendlets undifferenced, while Ban’s brother, King Bors, and his sons have the field ermine or semy of crescents or molets. In the case of Launcelot’s brother, Ector de Maris, the difference takes the form of a sun azure (or “ombre de soleil”) over all, and this greater degree of differencing may be due to the fact (not mentioned by Malory) that Ector was an illegitimate son of King Ban. King Lott and his eldest son Gawaine bear, Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, and Gawaine’s younger brothers difference with a bendlet, a fess, a bordure and a chief. King Pellinore has two coats, one semy of crosslets and the other consisting of a lion; of his sons, Percivale and Tor bear crosslets while Lamorak and Aglovale bear the lion on a crusily field. King Asclabor and his son Palamides bear checky, the tinctures differing, while another son, Safere, impales checky with vair. Other instances will be found below.

In the following list the names are given in the form in which they usually appear in Malory, followed in italics by the form they take in the armorial lists. Where there are variations in the arms, these are indicated in the text, but only one version is illustrated. The drawings are my own. Those wishing to refer to originals will find the rather crude sketches in the Harvard ms. reproduced in the Speculum article.

Versions of the arms of King Arthur

KING ARTHUR — Le Roy Arthus or Artus: Azure, thirteen (or ten) crowns or. A coat consisting of three gold crowns (2 and 1, or in pale), usually on azure but sometimes on gules, is also assigned to him. Nen¬nius states chat at one of his battles Arthur bore the image of the Virgin Mary, and in the Annales Cambriae he is said to have borne the Cross of Christ; hence the attribution to him of a shield: Vert, a cross argent, standing on its dexter arm the image of the Holy Virgin and Child also argent. In Harleian ms. 4632 Arthur is credited with a banner: Quarterly; 1 and 4, Quarterly or and vert, a cross argent; 2 and 3, Gules, three crowns in pale or. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and other writers, Arthur’s crest was a golden dragon (which Wace says had been borne by his father, Uther Pendragon), and the dragon also formed his standard.

AGLOVALE, son of King Pellinore — Agloval de Gales, Aglonal de Galles, Agruvall of Wales: Purpure semy of plain crosslets or, a lion passant gardant argent armed and langued gules — a combination of the two coats attributed to Pellinor (q.v.).

AGRAVAINE, second son of King Lott (q.v.) — Agravain l’Orguilleux, Gravain lorguiieux, Aggravayn the Prowde: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, beaked and membered gules, over all a fess vert. In one version, in place of the fess the eagle is charged with a bar vert (not over all).

AGUISANCE, ANGUISSANCE or ANGWYSH, King — Le Roy Aguìsan-t d’Escosse, Kinge Aguisantt of Scottland: Argent, a lion rampant gules armed and langued sable within a cordeliere (in the form of an orle) gules. In one version the cordeliere takes the form of a corded bordure. The arms are evidently a back formation from the Scottish Royal Arms. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, “Auguselus” was King of Scotland and brother of Lott and Uriens (q.v.). Malory in one place refers to Aguisance or Angwysh as King of Scotland, but usually applies the name to a King of Ireland.

ALISANDER LE ORPHELIN, son of Prince Bodwyne (King Mark’s brother) and cousin of Tristram (q.v.) — Alexandre l’Orphelin: Vert, a lion rampant argent. The arms differ from those of Tristram in the tincture of the lion.

ASCLABOR or ASTLABOR, pagan King, father of Palamides, Safere and Sagwarides (q.v.) — Esclabor le mesconneux or mescongnu: Checky or and gules.

BAGDEMAGUS, King of Gore, kinsman of King Uriens and father of Meliagant (q.v.) — Le Roy Bandemagu or Bendemagu-s de Gorre, King Baudemagnus of Gorre: Gules, three sinister gloves (or hawking gaunt- lets) fingers upward argent. In other versions, sinister gloves fingers downwards; dexter gloves fingers downwards; and dexter glove in dexter chief and sinister gloves in sinister chief and in base, all fingers downwards.

BALAN, brother of Balin — Baallan or Brallain: Argent, a boar passant sable armed and unguled gules.

BALIN LE SAVAGE, called “the Knight with the two swords”, brother of Balan — Baalin or Brallaìn dit le Chevalier aux Deux Espees: Argent, a boar passant sable armed and unguled gules between three molets (or estoiles) azure.

BAN, King of Benwick, son of King Launcelot, brother of King Bors and father of Launcelot du Lac and Ector de Maris (q.v.) — Le Roy Ban de Benoic: Argent, three bendlets gules. In the Vincent ms. the bendlets are marked “umbratid” and no tinctures are indicated.

BEDIVERE, brother of Lucan (q.v.) — Bedovyer, Bedoyer or Bedomer le conestable; Baudoir the Constable: Or, a gonfanon of three (or four) points gules. Malory makes Baudewyn of Bretayn the constable, and a separate character.

BERNARD OF ASTOLAT — Le Chevalier d’Escalot: Gules, a ship or, towered and rigged purpure (or sable).

BLAMOR DE GANYS, brother of Bleoberis, “come of King Ban’s blood” and “sister’s children to Launcelot” (q.v.) — Blanor de Gaunes, Blamor de Gannes: Argent, semy of crescents sable, three bendlets gules.

BLEOBERIS DE GANYS, brother of Blamor — Blioberis de Gaunes or Gannes: the same arms as Blamor.

BORS, King “of Gaule, that is Fraunce”, son of King Launcelot and brother of King Ban (q.v.) — Roy Bort de Gaunes, Kinge Boort of Gannes: Argent semy of molets of five points sable, three bendlets gules. Another version gives estoiles gules instead of molets.

BORS DE GANYS, son of King Bors — Bort de Gaunes, Boort de Gannes: Ermine, three bendlets gules.

BRANDILES or BRANDELES — Brandelis de Vaulxsur, Brandelix des vaulx sur, Brandeliz de Vaulseur: Gules three swords erect in fess argent hilted and pommelled azure.

BREUNOR of the Castle Pluere, father of Galahalt (q.v.), may be the person listed as Brunor or Brumor de la Fontaine: Quarterly or and sable, over all a fountain argent. The fountain is drawn in one case as water gushing downwards from a rectangular opening, and in another as a pedestal with water spouting from the top.

BREUNOR, BREWNOR or BREWNE le Noire, called “La Cote Male Tayle”, brother of Dinadan (q.v.) — Brunor le Noir: Argent, a lion rampant checky sable and gules, armed and langued purpure. In one ms. these arms are assigned to Chlr. sans paour, roy destragorre, father of Breunor and Dinadan.

BREUSE, BREUNYS or BRUNYS SAUNCE PITÉ, also called “the Brown Knyghte wythoute Pyte” — Brehus sans Pitié: Sable, a serpent volant argent (drawn as a wyvern).

BRIAN OF THE ISLES, BRYAN DE LES ILES — Bruyant des Ysles: Sable, a dog courant or, armed and langued gules.

CARADOS, King “of Scotland” in one reference by Malory, but of Strangore in other romances, and probably Caradawc Vriechvras of Welsh tradition — Le Roy Karados: Azure, a crown argent.

CHALEINS of Clarance, Duke — Le duc de Clarance or Clerance: Azure, a walled town or masoned sable (drawn issuant from the sinister in the Harvard ms.).

CLARIANCE or CLARIVAUS, King of Northumberland — Le Roy de Clare, Roy Clares, Kinge Clares of Northumberland: Or, a cross potent gules.

CLAUDAS, King, at war with Ban and Bors — Le Roy Claudas: Azure, a pine tree or.

COLGREVANCE — Calogrenan-t de vin de sores or le Vindesores: Gules, a serpent or — in one instance crowned. In the Vincent ms. he is called Guallogravantt of Wyndesor and given as arms: Gules, two bars or, with the note “baruletts” against the sketch.

DANAME, nephew of Darras, perhaps Danayn le Roux, seigneur de Malohault: Gules (or sable), a porcupine or unguled azure.

DINADAN, brother of Breunor le Noire (q.v.) and son of le roy destragorre — Dinadan or Dinadem d’Estrangorre, Dynadam of Stran¬gorre: Argent, a lion rampant sable armed and langued vert.

DODINAS le Savage — Dodinel le Savage: Argent, an eagle displayed azure beaked and membered or.

ECTOR DE MARIS, son of King Ban and brother of Launcelot (q.v.) over all a sun azure. In the Harvard ms., this is described as “ombre de soleil”, and the field is semy of crescents sable

FARAMON, King of France — Le Roy Pharamon-d de Gaulle: Sable, three toads or.

FERGUS, Earl, a knight of Cornwall, perhaps the person listed as Fergus du Blanclieu: Per fess argent and gules, two palets counter-changed. Another version: Paly of six argent and gules per fess counter-changed.

GAHERIS, third son of King Lott (q.v.) — Gueherres or Gueheriet dorcanie, Gucherìes d’Ortame: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, beaked and membered argent, within a bordure argent goutté gules In other versions the bordure is engrailed gules, or compony purpure and gules.

GALAHAD, son of (Galahad) Launcelot (q.v.) — Galaad, Messire Galaad le meillieu chevalier du monde: Argent, a cross gules. One ms. adds: “Combien que vray blason on doit dire de gueules a iiii coings d’argent. Toutesfoix il se doit blasonner comme dessus”. According to Malory, Galahad rode “withouten shylde” until he came to a white abbey where he obtained a shield “as whyght as ony snowe, but in the myddys was a rede crosse”, destined by the son of Joseph of Arimathy to be borne by the last of his lineage.

GALAHALT, called the Haut Prince, King of the Isle of Longtainse and Lord of Surluse; in Malory, son of Breunor of Castle Pluere (q.v.) Argent semy of estoiles (or molets of five points) azure, a lion rampant gules armed vert.

GALLERON of Galowey is Malory’s form of Chrétien’s Galerantis li Galois (i.e. the Welshman) who appears in the armorial lists as Galle¬gantin, Galegantn or Galentin le Galloys or Galoys, and Gualeguantin of Wales: Per pale or and sable, a lion rampant vert armed and langued gules. In other romances, Galegantins, Galeguinant or Galys Gwynans (and other forms) is seneschal to Galahalt and brother of Ywain les Avoutres (q.v.).

GARETH, fourth son of King Lott (q.v.) — Gueheriet dorcanie, Gucheriet d’Orchame, Gaheryett: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, beaked and membered gules, over all a bendlet gules.

GAWAINE, eldest son of King Lott (q.v.) — Gauvain dorcanie, Gawyn dorcadie: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, beaked and membered azure. Also the following coats from other sources: Sable fretty or — Heralds’ Roll; Vert, three gryphons passant or, part wt. Gawayne, Sable fretty argent, a label (3) gules — Harl ms. 2169; Azure, three lions’ heads erased or — Harl ms. 2169.

GRIFLET, called by Malory “le Fyse de Dieu, Deu or Du”, and in one place “the son of God of Cardal”, appears in other romances as Giflet or Girflet le fils de Do de Carduel, and Jaufré son of Dovon — thistle-heads sable. In the Vincent ms. the charges are tricked and noted as “tazels”. May they not originally have been cloves — a shield giroflé allusive to the name?

HARRY le Fise Lake has only minor mention in Malory, but as Erec, the son of King Lac (q.v.), he is the chief character in a romance by Chretien de Troyes — Heret le fils de Lac: Or, three serpents’ heads gules langued vert (the heads drawn couped in the Vincent ms.).

HELIOR le Preuse or HELYNOR le Prewse: “A grene shylde and therein a whyght lyon” — Malory.

HELLAINE, HELYN or ELIAN le Blank, son of Bors de Ganys (q.v.) and the daughter of King Brandegore — Helyas le blanc: Argent, three bendlets gules, a label of three points sable.

HERVIS DE REVEL — Hervi, Herin or Henri de Rivel: Vert goutté d’or, a lion passant gardant argent, armed and langued gules.

IDRES, King of Cornwall — Le Roy Ydier: Gules, three lions’ heads couped or, langued sable.

KAY the Seneschal, foster-brother of King Arthur — Kaeux, Keux or Kuex le seneschal: Azure, two keys erect wards upwards and outwards argent. In the Vincent ms.: Azure, two bird’s wings inverted argent.

KAY DE STRANGES or d’ESTRAUNGES, or KAYNUS LE STRAUNGE — ms.: Or, three bendlets sinister sable.

KEHYDINS or KAYHYDYNS, son of Howell of Brittany, may be Kaedins or Kaherdins de la Valee: Gules, a scythe or, hafted sable.

LAKE, King (of the), father of Harry (q.v.) — Le Roy Lac, King Lake: Or, three dragons’ heads gules langued vert.

LAMBAILE, Earl of, perhaps Guivret or Guyvert de Lambale: Per fess dancetty argent and gules.

LAMBEGUS, a Knight of Sir Tristram — Lambegues le gauloys: Argent, three annulets gules.

LAMORAK DE GALIS, son of King Pellinore (q.v.) — Lamorat de Galles: Purpure semy of plain crosslets or, a lion passant gardant argent armed and langued gules. He is identical with Lamorat de Lystnois, entered separately in one ms. with the arms, “Pourpre et ung liopart dargent arme de guelles”.

LEODEGRANCE or LODEGREAUN-CE (and other forms), King of Camy¬larde, father of Gwenever — Leodgan, Leodegran: Sable, a lyopart or, armed and langued gules.

LIONEL, son of King Bors (q.v.) — Lyonnel de Gannes or Gaunes: Argent, semy of molets of six (or five) points sable, three bendlets gules.

LOTT, King of Lothian and of Orkney, father of Gawaine, Agra¬vaine, Gaheris and Gareth (q.v., see also Mordred) — Le Roy Loth d’Orcanie, Kinge Lothe of Orchades Iland: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, beaked and membered azure.

LAUNCELOT DE LAKE (named Galahad at baptism), son of King Ban, grandson of King Launcelot, and father of Galahad (q.v.) — Lancelot du lac: Argent, three bendlets gules (but one bend or two bendlets in other versions). In the Vincent ms., three bendlets without tinctures, and noted as “umbreatid”.

LUCAN, LUCAS or LUCANERE the Butler, son of Duke Corneus and brother of Bedivere (q.v.) — Lucan le bouteillier: Or, a cat (or wolf, or lynx) rampant gardant gules armed sable. In the Vincent ms., Or, a wolf passant per pale gules and sable.

MADOR DE LA PORTE, cousin of Patrise (q.v.) — Mador de la Porte: Sable, seven plates, 3, 3, 1, shaded gules on the sinister. In the Vincent ms. the plates are 3, 2, 2, and blazoned as “flourished gules”.

MARHAUS, MARHAUTE or MARHALT, brother to the Queen of Ireland but in one place described as the son of Marhalt, King of Ireland Argent, five bars azure, over all a lion rampant gules armed vert. In the Vincent ms.: five bars umbrated, over all a lion rampant gules.

MELIAGANT, MELLIAGAUNCE, MELIAGRANCE (and other forms), son of King Bagdemagns (q.v.) — Malignayne: Azure, three dexter gloves fingers downwards argent.

MELIODAS, King of Lyones, father of Tristram (q.v.) — Le Roy Meliadus: Vert.

MORDRED, in the early romances a son of King Lott (q.v.), and so treated in the armorial lists — Mordret dorcanie, Mordrec d’Orcanie, Mordred: Purpure, a two-headed eagle displayed or, a chief argent. Malory makes Mordred the son of King Arthur by his half-sister Morgawse, widow of King Lott, and says he bore “a shylde of sylver and blacke bendis”. In Harl. ms. 6163 Mordred is given: Argent, an eagle displayed sable membered gules.

NABON le Noire, described by Malory as “a grete myghty gyaunt”, lord of the Isle of Servage — Nabon le Felzoant or li felzonet (felgéant ?): Argent, three fusils in fess gules — drawn in the Harvard ms. as in my illustration, but in the Vincent ms. as spindles wound round with thread.

NORTHGALIS or NORTH WALES, King of; named Cradilmans or Cradilment in Malory’s first book; then Ryons (q.v.), who was captured by Balin and Balan and is not mentioned again. The unnamed King of Northgalis in the later books may be the one who appears in the armorial lists as Le Roy Gallegantins de Norgal, Gallegantines de Nor galles, or Kinge Gadganeis of Northwailes: Purpure, a lion argent armed and langued vert. This is similar to one of the coats attributed to King Pellinore (q.v.).

OSANNA or OZANA le Cure Hardy — Osenian, Osevan or Ozenen cuer hardi: Quarterly argent and gules — but in the Vincent ms. the tinctures are reversed.

PALAMIDES the Saracen, son of King Asclabor (q.v.) — Palamedes, Palamides le bayen: Checky argent and sable. Malory gives him on various occasions a shield “endented with whyght and blacke”, “a shylde of sylver and lyons hedys”, and “the questyng beste” in his shield and all his trapours.

PATRISE, cousin of Mador (q.v.), perhaps Patrides le Hardy, Patris the hardye: Argent fretty gules.

PELLINORE, King of the Isles and of Lystenois, father of Aglovale, Lamorak, Percivale and Tor (q.v.) — Pelinor, Kynge Pelynore: Two coats Gallegantins, see Northgalis). Or, semy of plain crosslets azure.

PERCIVALE DE GALIS, son of King Pellinore (q.v.) — Perceval de Galles, Perseval de Gales, Percevall of Wales: Purpure, semy of plain crosslets or. In other romances Percivale’s parentage varies, but the arms show that the compiler of the armorial, like Malory, regarded Pellinor as his father.

PERSIDES DE BLOYSE, son of Pellounes: a “grene shyld and therein a lyon of gooldys” — Malory; but the armorial lists attribute to Persides or Percides le gens: Argent semy of hurts.

PRIAMUS “bare in his shelde of golde glystrand three gryffons in sabyll and charbuckkle, the cheff of sylver” — Malory. He appears to have derived this coat from the fourteenth century Morte Arthure, according to which Priamus bore “gold, three sable greyhounds with silver plates and chains, and in the chief a carbuncle flashing in the light” (M. M. Banks’s edition). My illustration is based on the latter coat.

RYONS, RYENS or ROYNS, King “of Northe Walis, and Kynge he was of all Irelonde and of Iles” (Malory) — Le Roy Rions: Or, a lion passant gardant purpure armed and langued azure. Another version makes the lion rampant and not gardant, while the Vincent ms. erroneously assigns him the arms of Ydier or Idres (q.v.).

SADOK, brother of Edward of Orkney and cousin of Gawaine, perhaps Sadoch du Vaucon, Sadach du Vanton or Sadock of Vencon: Undy azure and argent; represented by natural waves in one version and by two bars wavy in another. The Vincent ms. gives: Argent, a fess wavy sable.

SAFERE or SAFFIR, son of King Asclabor (q.v.) — Saphar li mescon-neuz, Caphar le Mescongneu: Per pale vair and checky or and vert. In the Vincent ms. the sides are reversed.

SAGRAMORE le Desyrous (a misreading of desréé, by which he was called for his furious attacks on the Saxons) — Sagremor le desree, Sagramor le Derreez; Gules, three molets of five points or, over all on a canton argent a like molet sable. In the Vincent ms. the field is sable, the molets are pierced and the canton is to the sinister.

SAGWARIDES or SEGWARIDES, lord of the Isle of Servage after Nabon (q.v.), perhaps Seguradus, Segurades de Montgrant: Or, a rock sable (described as a “searock” in the Vincent ms.).

TAULAS is the name of a Cornish giant in Malory, who gives the name Caulas to the knight who figures in other romances as Taulas — Taulas or Taulaz de la Montaigne: Or, a monde sable banded and surmounted by a cross gules.

TOR, called “le Fyse Aries” or “le Fyse de Vayshoure”, son of King Pellinore (q.v.) by the wife of Aries the cowherd — Tor le filz Ares: Or, semy of plain crosslets sable.

TRISTRAM DE LYONES, son of King Meliodas and cousin of Alisander le Orphelin (q.v.) — Tristan de Leonoys, Loenois or Lyennoiz: Vert, a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules. In Harl. ms. 6163: Argent, a lion rampant sable.

URIENS or URAYNE, King of Gore, father of Uwaine (see next) — Le Roy Urien: Azure, a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules.

UWAINE or EWAINE, le Fyze de Roy Urayne (and som called hym le Blaunche Maynes” (Malory) — Yvain or Hyvain fils au Roy Hurien: the same arms as Uriens.

UWAINE LES AVOUTRES or AVENTURYS, son of King Urien by his seneschal’s wife (though this is not stated by Malory) — Yvain ly avoltres, Hyvain le Auoultres: Azure, a pale or. In the Vincent ms. he is given the arms attributed in other armorial lists to Yvain d’Ussenel (perhaps de Cinel — a liege-man of King Lott; not found in Malory): Or, diapered of conjoined annulets or fimbriated sable, therein alternately lions rampant and eagles displayed gules.