“Shields of Grace.” El Palacio. Winter 2016. pp. 56-65. Santa Fe, New Mexico. Download full article as a PDF. http://www.elpalacio.org/articles/winter16/shields.pdf
Heraldry, or the practice of communicating a family’s origins, is an ancient practice that perhaps began as early as the Egyptian pharaohs during the 31st century BCE—over 5,000 years ago. Coats of arms that depict armor shields with mythical creatures, imposing structures, and elaborate decorative elements, appeared during the European Middle Ages (600–1500 CE) as symbolic way of communicating a clan’s origin and lineage. The more ancient your family, the more noble. By the tenth century, European common culture held that blood relationships and parentage organized society, determined your identity, and prescribed your loyalties to family and friends. In essence, your family shield mattered because it determined your future and fate in the complicated realm of human relationships. In late medieval Spain and the early modern Americas, coats of arms took on a new and even more imperative role in culture as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim co-existence collapsed in 1492 [Read more.]