Heralds The World Over (#5: Spain)


A heraldic officer in tabard with the arms of Castile and Lèon and bearing a mace during a ceremony with HRH Laetizia, Princess of the Asturias.

4 thoughts on “Heralds The World Over (#5: Spain)

  1. Klave Centesca (@KlaveCentesca)

    Though he bears a heraldic shield embroidered on a tabard-like costume, he is not a heraldic officer but rather a mace-bearer. His office descends from that of the Ostiarius (called usher, bedel, virger, mace-bearer or a host of other names depending on the time and place) whose duty is to lead processions, usher people into a hall and chastise those who act unruly in the presence of the authority for which he works… maybe syncretized with the office of Lictors of Roman tradition that carried mace-like fasces as symbolic of the power of the authority they escorted.
    Essentially, he holds the mace. Most civic corporations and universities in Spain, in parallel with England perhaps, are privileged by the Crown to have mace-bearers; often a pair unlike the custom of merely one in the British Isles.
    These officers tend to wear antique costumes of velvet or some such noble material embroidered with the arms of the corporation and cap. In this case, he is an agent of the Cortes of Castille and Leon – hence why the shield only shows those 2 historical kingdoms represented in the oval escutcheon.
    As a frame of reference for his duties, one can look to the Usher of the Black Rod and the diverse mace-bearers of the Mayors and Lord Mayors, as well as those attached to the various Universities in England.

    1. guyselvester Post author

      Thank you for the information. I find it most helpful.

      I would point out, however, that heralds don’t just devise and catalogue coats of arms. rather, they often have ceremonial duties as well. There is no college of heraldic officers in Spain but this mace-bearer is functioning in one of the capacities of a herald. Perhaps it would have been better to call him a “herald-like” attendant. For example, the office you use an an example, Black Rod, is essentially a kind of herald and is often explained as such. The Kings of Arms for the Netherlands referred to elsewhere on this blog also performed only ceremonial functions marshaling the ceremonial at the new King’s Investiture.

      When one speaks generically of “heralds” it takes in not only those people who create coats of arms but also those who engage in the function of ceremonial officers as well.


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