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The saga of how I eventually acquired The Complete Armory by Sir Bernard Burke….

sir-bernard-burke-dressed-as-ulster-king-of-arms

The above illustration is actually of Sir Bernard Burke dressed as Ulster King of Arms for a fancy dress ‘do’, but he really was Ulster King of Arms!

I recently posted about Anne Neville sharing a white boar badge with Richard, see this post , although hers was muzzled and chained. Or so is claimed in a tome entitled The General Armory by Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D. Ulster King at Arms. At the time I did not possess The General Armory, and came upon the reference in another work, but I was interested enough to acquire the Burke book. Eventually.

AbeBooks UK apparently had a number of copies for sale, but there was some disgruntlement among purchasers (among whom I numbered) that most of the offers proved to be one or other of three print-on-demand volumes, broken up into chunks of the alphabet. My copy turned out to be R-Z. Not one of the listings at AbeBooks made this clear, and customers had been bitten. But then I approached one of the sellers, Anybook Ltd, who seemed to ask more than the others, but it soon transpired that they really were offering  the complete Armory.

https://www.anybook.biz/how-it-works.php Anybooks Ltd is a clever idea. They acquire books that libraries no longer want, and sell them on to all the folk who do want them. Then a generous share of the profit goes back to the libraries. Everyone’s happy. I certainly was. And they were also very helpful and approachable, so I thoroughly recommend them to anyone interested in acquiring books.

Right, enough of that. The Armory is a very heavy work, originally published in 1884, and the author, Sir Bernard Burke,  is also of Burke’s Peerage, so I imagine he knows what he is talking about.  I say this because his statement about Anne Neville and the White Boar was challenged, many believing Boar had to be a ‘typo’ for Bear. Why? Because Burke states the White Boar , chained and muzzled in gold, was an ancient cognizance of the House of Warwick. I cannot find such a cognizance, except the Warwick Bear and Ragged Staff, which, always features a lopped tree trunk (the ragged staff) as tall as the bear. Maybe Anne chose the bear on its own and decided on white. But maybe that’s not so, and she went for a White Boar instead. I would not care to argue with Sir Bernard on a subject he clearly knew inside out. Anyway, suffice it that in The Armory, she definitely chose a muzzled, chained White BOAR.

The book (my copy of which is in excellent condition, except for the cover, which is a little shabby, as advised by Anybooks) is a vast enterprise that is a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the then present time (late nineteenth century). It explains heraldry, then lists all the monarchs, orders of knighthood, families and at the end supplies mottoes, and the names of those who possessed them. I have browsed through it (reading in detail would be a gigantic exercise requiring youthful eyes, gritty determination and the will to grapple with the weight) and found it fascinating. Choose any person from history, and there he or she will be, with details of arms, crests and so on.

Anyone interested in history would, I’m sure, find this work of great benefit. I recommend its acquisition…but beware the lurking trap of the three volumes of print-on-demand.

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