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The regal armorie of Great Britain, from the…
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The regal armorie of Great Britain, from the time of the Ancient Britons… (1839)

by Alexander Brunet

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Recently added byHenriMoreaux
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Published in 1839 by Henry Kent Causton, Alexander Brunet's The Regal Armorie of Great Britain [...] is actually the oldest book in my library at the current point in time.

Physically the 1839 edition is quaint with very rough cut pages and imprinted text which is actually visibly depressed into the pages. Illustrations are sparing but tasteful and detailed when present, the title page illustration is a wonderful example of early book lithography.

Work wise, it's an rather unique book. The goal of the author was to provide a non fiction history of the Heraldic Arms of Britain from the beginning of history to 'present' (being 1839). In the introduction the author mentions his distress at earlier writers publishing "history" books which were embellished, improperly researched or contained fiction.

Ironically, this book contains its fair share of errors. The three major errors I noted were;
1. In the origin of emblematical insignia section amongst actual countries we find mention of Atlantis; "The Atlantes became the greatest navigators of the world, and the most wealthy nation, by practising the useful arts and commerce ... the Atlantide or country of the Atlantes was overflown by the accidental junction of the seas." In 1800s it was known that Atlantis was a myth... by most historians.... Ooops.
2. The Tower of London is quoted as being built by the Romans in 55BC and dedicated to Julius Caesar, unfortunately, it was actually built by William The Bastard (renamed William The Conqueror) in 1078AD. So the author has managed to get the civilisation wrong and miss by over 1,000 years.
3. The final error was something I found a little odd in light of the introduction regarding factual history. Throughout the novel none of the main points are footnoted with references and there is no bibliography to refer to for sources, however, several times some rather debatable historical "facts" are quoted and they have been footnoted with the source provided being the Bible.

In light of these historical mis-steps I would not be using this book as a source for research, it is however an interesting over view of the development of the coat of arms generally speaking and specifically to Great Britain. It briefly covers the major wars between Great Britain and other countries, as well as itself, during this period also. There's also a few interesting tidbits such as Albion tutelar God of Great Britain being rebranded with Christianity to become St George the patron saint of England as of 23-4-1350. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Oct 25, 2013 |
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