Paradoxical as it may seem: traditions, trends, symbols and vibrant values go hand in hand in modern heraldry as well as in modern society.
To explore this statement we need to delve back into the origins of coats of arms and heraldry.
We are starting our exploration over 800 years back to a time when the need for coats of arms developed on battle fields and later also at tournaments simply to be able to differentiate between friend and foe.
Symbols and signs were created to clearly distinguish knights and noble man from each other to prevent painful and often deadly mistakes due to the fact that the brave warriors could not be recognized under their armor.
Shield, helmet and armor, all used to protect their bearer, gave ample opportunity to depict symbols of distinction.
In particular the shield with its large surface gave space to a clear sign of its bearer. This is the reason why in heraldry up until today the shield is the main ‘speaking’ part of any armorial achievement in the western world.
Initially the symbols used were quite random, but over the years the art of heraldry developed: exact rules and regulations regarding design, blazoning and inheritability of coats of arms came in place. Heraldry was born.
Heralds combined in their trade art and science, a trade and tradition carried on and further developed up until today.
Adapting a coat of arms in noble families as well as in non-noble families came soon after the initial development of the first arms commonplace.
Also in modern days new coats of arms are being designed and registered (just think of the Middletons in the UK!) and used.
Coats of arms represent common values and pride
Families, companies and societies often want a coat of arms to represent their common values, their pride of the past and their trust in the future.
The modern logo, so omnipresent in the world around us, symbolizes the role heraldry has played throughout the centuries and still plays today. I am thinking of symbols like the big McDonalds M, the Starbucks logo and the Mercedes star for example.
Coats of arms developed by Fine Legacy & Pro Heraldica possess the same powerful message but combine this with a touch of romance, class and aesthetics.
The beauty of heraldry and of armorial bearings cannot easily be expressed in words; the only way really is the so-called blazoning of any particular coat of arms. Blazoning is a way to exactly depict a coat of arms in a written formula: poetry in a way, describing eternal beauty.
Coming from a family with roots going back to the 16th century (16 generations by now) I would like to give an example of the meaning of heraldry and coats of arms in my family whilst also giving my personal reasons for the development of a new heraldic achievement recently.
The nobilitation of Pierre Corneille d´Anville the Elder
In the year 1637 one of my ancestors, Pierre Corneille d’Anville the Elder, was knighted by King Louis XII in Paris. Reason for this nobilitation being that his son, the writer Pierre Corneille d’Anville, had published in that same year his famous ‘Le Cid’. By giving letters of nobility to Pierre Corneille the Elder, the son hence forward was regarded as born noble.
The title of Chevalier was carried by both Pierre and his brother Thomas Corneille de L’Isle a famed playwright in his day as well.
With the knighthood our family also received a coat of arms of the King:
A beautiful armorial achievement indeed, but in the present day there are about 800 families who (can) claim this coat of arms as theirs. Furthermore there is nobody in my close family who knows the meaning of the different symbols of this coat of arms, because there is no written evidence of this.
The age of this particular coat of arms is about 400 years now and none of my family members feel a particular ‘bond’ with it anymore, however proud we may be of our ancestors.
The creation of the new coat of arms
In the middle of 2012 my siblings and I decided, after a long discussion (our direct family including children and grand-children numbers 36 by now so there was a lot to be considered!) to create our own coat of arms dating back to- and honoring our parents, but hinting in it back to our ancestors by incorporating elements of the original coat of arms as depicted above.
To create and register a coat of arms (armorial bearings or armorial achievement is actually the proper term) is a rather complicated undertaking; heraldry is governed by many rules and regulations and in particular the blazoning is done in a language following rigid formulas. We therefore orientated us well on existing heraldic companies and quickly discovered Pro Heraldica in Stuttgart, a famed scientific organization with a great reputation worldwide.
We all agree that we made the right decision in choosing Pro Heraldica; we received very much personal attention, had numerous conversations with and visits of members of the organization, we even build up warm friendships with some of them before we were presented with the first design of what is now our new armorial achievement.
The results exceeded all our expectations and already with their first design Pro Heraldica hit the jackpot!
Not only does our new armorial achievement incorporate references to our old coat of arms, it also incorporates all the wishes we had for it: values, stories of the past and dreams of the future are conveyed by the different elements in the coat of arms. Our new heraldic achievement tells a story with deep meaning, a story depicted in a composition of almost unearthly beauty. We were touched and impressed by the involvement of the entire team of Pro Heraldica and we can honestly say that we are ‘eternally grateful’!
Here an image of our new coat of arms (notice the references to our original coat of arms being the red lion and the star) as well as the blazoning of our armorial bearings:
Blazoning of the heraldic achievement of the Cornielje family:
Shield:- Sable, between two wings Argent displayed a rose Argent, seeded Or, barbed Vert, between the primary feathers a coronet of twelve points (five and two halves visible) Or pearls proper and in base a star of six points Argent.
Crest:- a demi lion rampant Gules holding between the claws a lyre of five strings the outer being paint brushes and the central being a snake Argent the soundbox charged with five mullets Sable.
Mantling:- Sable doubled Argent and Gules doubled Or.
Right of bearing: Gerardus Wilhelmus Theodorus Cornielje, author, hipster * ‘s-Heerenberg/Niederlande 12.6.1962, his fiancée Rachel Naomi Ben-Dror, dolphin-trainer, officemanager, * Eilat/Israel 26.8.1981, his succession of both gender born in wedlock, as well as all descendants of his father Gerhard Everhard Cornielje (1926-2001), provided that they bear the last name Cornielje.
It is impossible to overstate the meaning of the new coat of arms for all of the members of my family.
Not only does it honor our past and our parents, it also carries in it our good wishes for future generations. We are using our armorial bearings constantly in every day life.
Some examples in my personal and business life: It will appear on the cover of my new book, it is the logo of my company Noble Events, it appears on my website and on my name cards. I wore a gold pin adorning our new coat of arms when I was knighted on the 18th of December 2012 and the documentation stating the creation and registration of our new armorial achievements is proudly hanging on the wall of my lounge.
Practically all members of my family use our coat of arms on their letters, name cards, key hangers etc. some even display it on Facebook!
My sons Max and Moritz are very proud of our armorial bearings and wear them on their polo shirts and other garments, they even placed copies of it on their bedroom walls.
Our coat of arms is very much alive and kicking; tradition and trend are going hand in hand as I mentioned before, vibrancy and class are happily married!
In September 2013, I became a father for the third time and we, my lovely wife Naomi and me, are very happy to pass on this beautiful coat of arms to our new addition Amelia Catharina Maria Cornielje!
Baron Gerard Cornielje von Saxen is a renowned musician/DJ/poet who has been playing the circuits for 35 years now. Born in ‘s-Heerenberg in The Netherlands, he started his career in the Joe Miller Big Band where he learned the trade and the score! Baron von Saxen since broadend his horizons and performed in over 60 countries worldwide, presenting his exciting and entertaining mix of DJing, sax playing, singing and blues-harp.