The coats of arms associated with European nobles were symbolic displays of power, lineage, and loyalty. 

Takamiya MS 13: Heraldic manuscript of the English kings and peers

Takamiya MS 13. Heraldic manuscript of the English kings and peers. England, c. 1620.

The brightly decorated Takamiya MS 13 lists the coats of arms of the kings of England. This page displays the crest of William, Duke of Normandy, later known as King William I. It includes two lions — symbolic of power, nobility, and kingship — which were frequently employed heraldic decorations. William’s biographical entry highlights his victory over Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. It also details his harsh treatment of the defeated Anglo-Saxon nobility.

Takamiya MS 127: Grant of a crest to Robert Revell of Shorlonglegge

Takamiya MS 127. Grant of a crest to Robert Revell of Shorlonglegge. London, 10 July 1546. 

By the sixteenth century, the power to grant coats of arms in England was formally vested in the various “kings of arms.” Takamiya MS 127 includes a lavish illumination of a new coat of arms granted by William Fellow, the Norroy king of arms, to Richard Revell of Shirland. The dagger-wielding hand above the crest is particularly striking. The grant, written on July 10,  1546, concludes with a post-Reformation snapshot of Henry VIII’s relationship with the Vatican. Among the king’s many honorifics is “defender of the faith,” a title he received from the pope, but another was “the supreme head” of the Church of England and Ireland, a title he granted himself.