Badges

   In the fifteenth century, badges were personal or familial emblems adopted by noblemen and distributed as part of the distinctive livery, or uniform, given to RETAINERS who were part of their Affinity of sworn followers. These badges proclaimed their wearer’s political allegiance and helped combatants distinguish friend from foe during battle. The red and white roses that came to symbolize, and later to describe, the English civil wars of the fifteenth century were among the family badges of the contending houses of LANCASTER and YORK.
   The royal family, and such important noble families as the Courtenays, Percies, and Nevilles, collected numerous badges reflecting the lineages and titles inherited from various ancestors (see Neville Family). For instance, HENRY VII employed the portcullis, a symbol inherited from his maternal relatives, the BEAUFORT FAMILY; the red dragon of Cadwallader, an emblem deriving from WALES and his paternal ancestors; and a dun cow, which represented his earldom of Richmond. Besides family emblems, individuals adopted badges and mottoes to symbolize their own particular ideals, claims, or associations. As visual PROPAGANDA to secure the house of TUDOR on the throne and to illustrate the union of Lancaster and York achieved by his marriage to ELIZABETH OF YORK, Henry VII devised the Tudor rose, a combination of the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York. In preparation for a visit to the city of York in 1486, Henry instructed the civic magistrates to construct displays that contained “a royal, rich, red rose conveyed by a vice, unto which rose shall appear another rich white rose” (Pollard, p. 7).
   Although the red rose was one Lancastrian (and perhaps Beaufort) emblem, HENRY VI’s personal badge was an antelope, while MARGARET OF ANJOU gave her retainers a swan badge, and the men recruited in the name of her son, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER, received the prince’s ostrich plume emblem. Although the white rose, which was inherited from the Mortimer earls of March,was a wellknown symbol of the house of York, and may have become the personal badge of Elizabeth of York, EDWARD IV favored the SUN IN SPLENDOR/SUNBURST BADGE as his personal emblem. Edward’s father, Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, used the falcon and fetter lock, while Edward’s brothers, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, and RICHARD III, chose, respectively, the black bull and the white boar.While duke of Gloucester, Richard distributed the white boar widely among his northern retainers (see Richard III, Northern Affinity of), many of whom had formerly worn the bear and ragged staff of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, an emblem long associated with the Warwick title. Gloucester also adopted a personal motto—loyaulté me lie (loyalty binds me)—which took on ironic overtones after the duke usurped the throne of his nephew EDWARDV in 1483.
   Further Reading: Bean, J. M.W., From Lord to Patron: Lordship in Late Medieval England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989); Bellamy, J.G., Bastard Feudalism and the Law (Portland, OR:Areopagitica Press, 1989); Hicks, Michael, Bastard Feudalism (London: Longman, 1995); Pollard, A. J., The Wars of the Roses (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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