Aspects of armorial colours and their perception in medieval literature

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This article builds on work previously published (Huxtable 2006: 199–217) to explore three key aspects of the interpretation of armorial colours as written in texts of different genres from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. These key aspects are: (1) the use of a didactic theological discourse that had emerged in the late eleventh century and was concerned with the ‘spiritual’ nature of knighthood (viewing it as a military wing of the priesthood); (2) the use of ideas gleaned from the period’s natural philosophy, concerned with the nature of colour as material (that is, derived from the elemental qualities of bodies); and (3) the use of a creative mode in which complex symbolic and allegorical models of identity could be composed.


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