Roll of arms

Hyghalmen Roll, German, c. 1485. An example of a late mediaeval roll of arms. College of Arms, London.

A roll of arms (or armorial) is a collection of coats of arms, usually consisting of rows of painted pictures of shields, each shield accompanied by the name of the person bearing the arms.

The oldest extant armorials date to the mid 13th century, and armorial manuscripts continued to be produced throughout the Early Modern period. Siebmachers Wappenbuch of 1605 was an early instance of a printed armorial. Medieval armorials usually include a few hundred coats of arms, in the late medieval period sometimes up to some 2,000. In the early modern period, the larger armorials develop into encyclopedic projects, with the Armorial général de France (1696), commissioned by Louis XIV of France, listing more than 125,000 coats of arms. In the modern period, the tradition develops into projects of heraldic dictionaries edited in multiple volumes, such as the Dictionary of British Arms in four volumes (19262009), or J. Siebmacher's großes Wappenbuch in seven volumes (18541967).

Armorials can be "occasional", relating to a specific event such as a tournament; "institutional", associated with foundations, such that of an order of chivalry, "regional", collecting the arms of the nobility of a given region, "illustrative", in the context of a specific narrative or chronicle, or "general", with the aim of an encyclopedic collection.[1] A roll of arms arranged systematically by design, with coats featuring the same principal elements (geometrical ordinaries and charges) grouped together as a tool to aid identification, is known as an ordinary of arms (or simply as an ordinary).

Notable examples


Dering Roll, c. 1270, Dover. Lists knights of Kent & Essex. British Library. Provenance: Sir Edward Dering (1598–1644), Lt. of Dover Castle
Segar's Roll, a 17th-century copy of a 13th-century roll.
Folio 259v. from Wernigerode Wappenbuch, Bavaria, c. 1486–1492



Holy Roman Empire


Early Modern



  1. A New Dictionary of Heraldry, 1987
  2. Planché, J.R. The Pursuivant of Arms; or Heraldry founded upon facts, London, 1873, p. 31
  3. Rolls of Arms Henry III: The Matthew Paris Shields (c. 1244–59); Glover's Roll (c.1253–58) and Walford's Roll (c.1273); Additions and Corrections to A Catalogue of English Mediaeval Rolls of Arms. Edited by Thomas Daniel Tremlett Edited by Hugh Stanford London. Rolls of Arms Henry III. Published in 1958 in series "Aspilogia" by Boydell Press
  4. The Dering Roll (
  5. Modern illustration of the Herald's Roll shields by R. S. Nourse (
  6. Planché, J.R. The Pursuivant of Arms; or Heraldry founded upon facts, London, 1873, pp.31
  7. Planché, J.R. The Pursuivant of Arms; or Heraldry founded upon facts, London, 1873, pp.32
  8. Nicholas Harris Nicolas, The siege of Carlaverock in the XXVIII Edward I. A.D. MCCC; with the arms of the earls, barons, and knights, who were present on the occasion; with a translation, a history of the castle, and memoirs of the personages commemorated by the poet (1828). see also: The Roll of Caerlaverock on Wikisource;Modern illustration of shields based on Scott-Giles, C.W., The Siege of Caerlaverock, Heraldry Society, 1960; Modern illustration (2001) of shields in period style by Michael Case "Maister Iago ab Adam"
  9. Wagner, Anthony Richard (1950). A catalogue of English Medieval rolls of arms. Society Of Antiquaries: Charles Batey. p. 42. ISBN 0854312129.. Modern illustration of the Parliamentary Roll shields by R. S. Nourse (on
  10. "First Calais Roll". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  11. "Powell's Roll". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  12. Payne, Ann 'The Salisbury Roll of Arms, c. 1463', published in England in the Fifteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by Daniel Williams (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1987), pp. 187-98
  13. Crane, Susan, Representations of Courtship and Marriage in the Salisbury Rolls, published in The Coat of Arms: Journal of the Heraldry Society, 3rd series, volume 6, part 1, 2010, pp.1-15
  15. "Stemmario Trivulziano". Edizioni Orsini de Marzo: Sankt Moritz Press. Retrieved 3013-07-15. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links

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