Lord Mowbray, Segrave and Stourton, Premier Baron of England, an authority on heraldry and genealogy, reviews Lines of Succession by Michael Maclagan and Jiri Louda (Orbis £12.50) and the revised and extended edition of Heraldry in the Catholic Church by Archbishop Bruno Heim (Van Duren, £22).
WHEN H.R.H. the Prince of Wales recently opened the 'Gonzaga' exhibition there were many "who could not quite place them". But the happy possessor of this book would find in Chapter 34 not only a table with the family tree laid out with their coats of arms most beautifully shown and coloured, but also an article explaining that by 1328 they had become Captains of Mantua: in 1433 made Marquesses of it by the Emperor Sigismund and finally in 1530 made Dukes of Mantua. Also, to remind us of their great patronage of the arts, we have a black and white reproduction of the splendid fresco by Mantegna of Louis Gonzaga (d. 1478) with his wife Barbara Hohenzollern, their children and courtiers.
This brief precis of the section on the Gonzagas of Mantua is just a microcosm of what is in this volume. Superbly produced, it similarly covers, albeit at greater length the royal dynasties and countries of Europe both past and present. These two distinguished scholars have put before us a gargantuan feast of genealogy and heraldry accompanied by the most erudite articles on the connected history.
Everything in this book from the quality of that paper to the choice of portraits is praiseworthy. And I would draw attention to the excellence of the maps in showing at a glance the changing boundaries through the ages.
We have some tables showing the descent all European monarchs share from William the Conqueror. Other tables show some 40 interesting monarchs' (including our own Queen) eight great grandparents with their arms and descent therefrom.
Everyone has their own fields of interest; for me the chapters on Burgundy and Austria covering as they do so much of the history of central Europe were especially absorbing. The well researched part on Russia and Poland's ruling families covers a field where for the most part our knowledge is usually abysmal.
We have of course the very exceptional misprint such as the Hanoverian Duke of Cumberland being married to his brother in law rather than his true wife Princess Thvra of Denmark. I wish the author might have mentioned that the head of the lenior Electoral branch of the Hesse family. Prince Maurice was in 1960 adopted by the last Grand-Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt as his son and is therefore the representative of the two main branches of the family.
Methinks I detect a whiff of male chauvinsim occasionally, as when dealing with 'the Dukes in Bavaria' branch of the Wittlesbach family not only are the Empress Elizabeth and her fascinating sisters omitted but also that telented musician Queen Elizabeth, wife of that most gallant King Albert I of the Belgians.
For an all embracing historical understanding of Europe this book will be a most valuable help and for the quality of the work cheap at the price. Whether we browse, or travel in Europe, it will help to put flesh and blood on the many wonderful memorials of the past.
A second and enlarged edition within three years is no small feat for a book of the calibre (and price) of Heraldry in the Catholic Church. A new chapter has been added, the first half called 'The year of the three Popes' and the latter half 'The arms of Pope John Paul II'.
To most of us in our insular fashion weaned on British heraldry. it is both interesting and instructive to have some peculiarities of Swiss and Polish heraldry explained with vivid clarity as the background to the Pope's arms.
This chapter will also be of great interest to philatelists as we are shown various stamps and postmarks of the Vatican used during 1978, the year of the three Popes.
Modern uses of Papal heraldry are shown, such as engraved glassware and painted china. not to mention heraldically embroidered copes.
The beautiful painting on His Holiness's arms by • the authorartist, who of course was also their designer, is reproduced in colour as the frontispiece of this volume.
The chapter about heraldry in the Church of England has had a section added on that of the Church of Scotland. In another part, the official arms of Garter King of Arms have now been joined by those of Lord Lyon King of Arms — the two officers to whom we must eventually look for hopeful recognition of our Raman Catholic Diocesan Arms. If it seems a curious anomaly that the arms of Cardinal Hume, as drawn and shown on page 72.
are not yet officially recognised while at State functions such as the recent Royal Wedding, he is officially recognised in the proceedings as Archbishop of Westminster.
Yet when he was Abbot of Ampleforth, the Abbey there had been legally granted arms in 1922 very similar to those of Westminster Abbey, in recognition that Ampleforth is the lineal descendant of Westminster It would be nice if in the year of the Pope's visit to Britain some progress could be made to overcome these legal obstacles: still nicer if we could get the double, and see our distinguished authorartist emerge as Papal Nuncio.
The early chapters of this book are a clear and concise explanation of heraldry in general. We are then led to its application to the Church.
Chapter and verse are given in a way which makes this work so valuable and instructive, because they, coupled with all the author's pungent remarks about the right and wrong ways of doing things make it unique.
The freedom of the artist is thus heavily governed by laws and it is only the skill of Archbishop Heim that makes it all appear so easy.
The whole of the book is copiously illustrated both in colour and black and white. The appeal of the Archbishop's drawings is enormous. One only has to look at his drawing of the tonsured barefoot abbot on page 61 to realise that the artist is a top cartoonist.
This work is and will I imagine remain the standard text book for all interested in the subject. If only all text books could have been as interesting and well illustrated. how much more fun our schooldays a ould have been.