Tenant vs. supporter

 
Wilfred Leblanc
 
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Wilfred Leblanc
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30 June 2008 16:44
 

Is there any meaningful difference between having a single tenant vs. having two supporters? In other words, is the former a neutral additament or does it connote some kind of claim to noble status? Do tenants occur most frequently in one a particular country’s heraldry, or in particular types of emblazonments (like statuary)? I feel as if I’ve only seen a tenant specified in a blazon once but perhaps I haven’t looked enough at the right armorials.

 
David Pritchard
 
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David Pritchard
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30 June 2008 18:00
 

To answer your question, a single supporter or tenant is normally a decorative element created by the artist rather than part of the blazon. This is not to say that rare examples of single tenants or supporters do not exist on the European continent.

Now I would like to address the issue of the correct heraldic meaning of the terms tenant and supporter. In the English language blazon a supporter can refer to any heraldic figure that holds or supports the shield but the word tenant refers only to human figures supporting the shield.

 

In Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French blazon as well as in a number of other languages, the term tenant refers to human figures only who hold the shield while the term supporter refers to non-human figures only.

 
Stephen R. Hickman
 
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Stephen R. Hickman
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30 June 2008 19:56
 

That leads to this question:  I know that supporters are only for royalty, nobility, and non-individuals, but is the same true of tenants?

 
David Pritchard
 
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David Pritchard
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30 June 2008 21:06
 

Stephen R. Hickman;60031 wrote:

That leads to this question:  I know that supporters are only for royalty, nobility, and non-individuals, but is the same true of tenants?


If you are defining nobility in the broader continental European meaning of the term rather than the narrower British meaning of the term (which leaves out Scottish Baronets with supporters) then yes.

 
Jeremy Keith Hammond
 
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Jeremy Keith Hammond
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30 June 2008 21:10
 

Does this imply that, within our guidelines, it would be acceptable if I (at times) emblazoned my arms with a single supporter? Not that I’m trying to find more acceptable accoutrements to appear more special, or anything. (>.>  shifty eyes)

 
Chuck Glass
 
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Chuck Glass
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30 June 2008 21:14
 

Canadian Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and Prime Ministers are more often than not granted supporters by The Canadian Heraldic Authority.

 
David Pritchard
 
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David Pritchard
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30 June 2008 22:24
 

Charles Glass;60039 wrote:

Canadian Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and Prime Ministers are more often than not granted supporters by The Canadian Heraldic Authority.


This is correct but they do not qualify as nobility under British standards as they are not Peers of the Realm, however as holders of certain upper grades of knightly orders they are entitled to supporters, a circumstance which is or was recognised as a qualification for supporters in many European countries.

 
Deer Sniper
 
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Deer Sniper
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30 June 2008 23:56
 

Is there any reason an American should not adopt supporters, if we as Americans, are as they say, equal to any "Prince or Potentate"? Without a peerage, I don’t see why not? Or should it be reserved for Presidents, Congressman, Senators, etc. And then would this not be creating a peerage, of sorts at least?

 
David Pritchard
 
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01 July 2008 00:16
 

Deer Sniper;60045 wrote:

Is there any reason an American should not adopt supporters, if we as Americans, are as they say, equal to any "Prince or Potentate"? Without a peerage, I don’t see why not? Or should it be reserved for Presidents, Congressman, Senators, etc. And then would this not be creating a peerage, of sorts at least?


I have long advocated the de-mystification of supporters through mass assumption. If everyone had them they would no longer be desirable to those who wished to set themselves apart heraldically.

 

This has however, become a great point of disagreement amongst the society and thus its discussion should be avoided. There are a number of very long and heated threads discussing this subject which you could read if you would only search the archives.

 
Wilfred Leblanc
 
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Wilfred Leblanc
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01 July 2008 01:21
 

David Pritchard;60026 wrote:

To answer your question, a single supporter or tenant is normally a decorative element created by the artist rather than part of the blazon. . . .

Now I would like to address the issue of the correct heraldic meaning of the terms tenant and supporter. . . . In Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French blazon as well as in a number of other languages, the term tenant refers to human figures only who hold the shield while the term supporter refers to non-human figures only.


Thanks, David. The first part of your reply squares with my sense of the matter. As for the semantic issue, Boutell—for instance—largely agrees with you, but see p. 253. Apparently, in 17th c. France, "tenant" referred to any single supporter of any description.

 

I take it the term "bearer" is roughly equivalent, but is a single bearer also normally a decorative element rather than part of the blazon?

 
Charles E. Drake
 
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Charles E. Drake
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01 July 2008 01:30
 

Deer Sniper;60045 wrote:

Is there any reason an American should not adopt supporters, if we as Americans, are as they say, equal to any "Prince or Potentate"? Without a peerage, I don’t see why not?


Equestrium mortuum refloggium wink

 

/Charles

 
emrys
 
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emrys
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01 July 2008 05:33
 

Single supporters are not that uncommon think of an eagle with a shield on its breast. Also in the province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands there is a tradition of a single lion holding the shield usually with a cord in its claw.

See :

http://www.ngw.nl/a/annapauw.htm

 

http://www.ngw.nl/water/landwier.htm

 

http://www.ngw.nl/water/hollkroo.htm

 

http://www.ngw.nl/water/zypehaze.htm

 

and this one with a single mermaid

 

http://www.ngw.nl/water/waterland.htm

 

and a more recent one

 

http://www.ngw.nl/water/holldelta.htm

 

also the use of supporters in dutch heraldry is unrestricted anyone can use them ( I used to have a pair myself but later dropped them because i like the purer form of a shield, helmet mantling better)

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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Joseph McMillan
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01 July 2008 06:56
 

Deer Sniper;60045 wrote:

Is there any reason an American should not adopt supporters, if we as Americans, are as they say, equal to any "Prince or Potentate"? Without a peerage, I don’t see why not? Or should it be reserved for Presidents, Congressman, Senators, etc. And then would this not be creating a peerage, of sorts at least?


I don’t agree with my friend David Pritchard on this, either that we should all adopt supporters or that we should not discuss the issue.

 

My answer is that our founding charters do not make us all titled nobles; they make none of us titled nobles.  Not quite everywhere, but almost everywhere that there is a heraldic tradition, any use of supporters with personal arms is associated with the titled nobility.  We are not titled nobles; why would we want to pretend to be?

 
Wilfred Leblanc
 
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Wilfred Leblanc
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01 July 2008 11:34
 

Joseph McMillan;60052 wrote:

My answer is that our founding charters do not make us all titled nobles; they make none of us titled nobles.  Not quite everywhere, but almost everywhere that there is a heraldic tradition, any use of supporters with personal arms is associated with the titled nobility.


Well, as is often noted, "nobility" is a problematic word, because in the British context, it does refer to an extremely small group of people—those members of the royal family with titles, peers of the realm (who until the reform of the House of Lords had very real political power as an automatic birthright), and no one else. Even some of the monarch’s grandchildren and all the children of living peers are commoners, regardless of any subsidiary or courtesy titles they might use. Contrariwise, on the Continent, "nobility" seems always to have been a much broader category corresponding more to the British notion of "gentry," and membership in it has been obtainable without acquisition of a title per se, if I understand correctly (e.g., through membership in certain orders of chivalry and other "ennoblements" that somehow involve no title). Surely, then, many Americans have a basis for considering themselves the social, etc. equals of the British gentry or the "minor" nobility of the Continent, even if they acknowledge the legitimacy of these distinctions.

 

As for our founding documents, it is—of course—the case that they make none of us, rather than all of us, titled nobles. Consequently, one might validly conclude that we are all, therefore, "outranked" by titled nobles, in which case none of us has the right to any additament associated with them. However, my perception is that our founding documents sought to communicate a rather different message, namely that there is no social rank with legal standing higher than citizen. Furthermore, our founding documents would appear to make a universalizing statement to the effect that no caste system has any validity anywhere (cf., "All men are created equal," vice something like, "All men in the United States are created equal, though we acknowledge the validity of legal inequalities between men elsewhere"). If this appearance is persuasive to one, he might logically conclude that to forego the use of additaments historically associated with the European nobility is a de facto embrace of a set of values his country has officially rejected from its inception.

 
Michael Swanson
 
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Michael Swanson
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01 July 2008 12:48
 

Fred White;60056 wrote:

Furthermore, our founding documents would appear to make a universalizing statement to the effect that no caste system has any validity anywhere (cf., "All men are created equal," vice something like, "All men in the United States are created equal, though we acknowledge the validity of legal inequalities between men elsewhere"). If this appearance is persuasive to one, he might logically conclude that to forego the use of additaments historically associated with the European nobility is a de facto embrace of a set of values his country has officially rejected from its inception.


We should thank George Washington this Independence Day weekend for not taking the title of "King."  He knew that the word "King" meant something to be rejected, and that using the title (with an ahistorical, personal meaning in mind) would only confuse.

 
David Pritchard
 
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David Pritchard
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01 July 2008 13:05
 

Joseph McMillan;60052 wrote:

I don’t agree with my friend David Pritchard on this, either that we should all adopt supporters or that we should not discuss the issue.


Dear Joseph,

 

Would you believe that more than one of this society’s members has mentioned to me that this forum lacks excitement when we are not arguing some point of heraldry? I am not however, going to start a ruckus about supporters purely for the amusement of others. I understand your point regarding the use of of supporters and recognise the valid legalistic basis for your position.

 

David