The Imperial College of Arms

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The Imperial College of Arms (officially: His Imperial Majesty's Collegiate of Heralds, Purveyors of Armorial Bearings) is an Imperial corporation consisting of professional heralds with jurisdiction over all territories and provinces within the Empire of Alexandria. The heralds are appointed by the Sovereign and are delegated to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry, genealogical research and mediation of claims. The College is also responsible for matters relating to flags and other national symbols, to regulate their usage and to ensure that violation of statutes governing Alexandrian heraldry are investigated. The College is independent of the government, is self-financed and receives no public funding.

Founded by Emperor Francis Joseph III in 1782, the College has been located in Port-Réal since 1804. The College also undertakes and consults on the planning of ceremonial occasions such as coronations and state funerals. The College is comprised of ten officers (the Heralds) and one Provost, who is usually the longest serving Herald and who approves all final designs or decisions issued by the College on behalf of the Emperor.

History[edit | edit source]

Grants of Arms[edit | edit source]

The College's main function is to design and issue declarations on new grants of armorial bearings to individuals who have met the requirements for such a grant. The conditions set by Emperor Francis Joseph III have changed very little since they were first introduced by Imperial Decree and stipulate that:-

  • Any good man of sound judgement and reasonable standing may enjoy, display and bear arms according to his rank and station if so entitled
  • Armorial bearings are granted to families and not to the individual, though an individual may be the only member of a family entitled to use those coats of arms
  • Any Alexandrian subject may petition to use the arms of their ancestors or forebears if they can prove their genealogical links to the last holder
  • Members of the Clergy may not be granted coats of arms until their retirement

The Process[edit | edit source]

The process for receiving a new grant of arms is relatively simple and the College tries to ensure that it works closely with the individual to agree a design which pleases the applicant but which meets the rules and standards the College sets.

1. Application

To apply for a Coat of Arms, an individual must provide proof that they are an Alexandrian subject (either by birth or naturalisation) and a record of any public offices they may have held (or continue to hold). The vast majority of grants are given to those Alexandrians who are public officials, though rarely grants are made to individuals who are not. At the application stage, the individual provides the location of their birth (so that the grant, if successful, can be recorded in the correct provincial register), the rank and occupation of their father, their own rank and occupation and details of any honours they have been granted by the Crown. In some cases, past offices entitle the bearer to certain design elements which represent their past service even though they have since moved on - for example, former Mayors are entitled to bear a Mortier if they aren't entitled to any other coronet. Applicants are also required to sign an affidavit in which they relinquish all rights to any other armorial bearings they may later find they are entitled to hold and pledging to uphold the dignity, respect and honour of the College. This pledge has a practical use in that it prohibits individuals from using any armorial bearings for financial gain or profit. An individual may only submit an application once a year and may not apply for anybody else. Applications, once submitted, are then voted upon by the Heralds and if in agreement, the grant is approved and goes onto the design stage.

2. Design

The design of a coat of arms depends entirely on the individual. Once an application is processed and is successful, a Herald will meet with the applicant and ask what sort of design they would prefer. In most cases, the College restricts the number of elements based on the rank of the individual. For example, those under the rank of Count may not enjoy quarterly arms, neither are those who have been ennobled without territorial designation regardless of rank. For example, a family raised to a Dukedom but with no territorial designation in the Letters Patent issued by the Emperor or by the College on his behalf, is only entitled to a singular or impaled bearing. Individuals may only display the highest order of chivalry they possess and they may not use the Alexandrian Eagle or ermine (which is reserved for members of the Imperial Family). But for the most part, the Heralds of the College do their best to try to fit with the vision the applicant has and are always willing to redesign grants which may be out of date - for example, following the grant of an honour or a peerage.

3. The Declaration of a Grant

Once a coat of arms has been designed and the applicant is agreeable, the design is endorsed by the Provost who will make the official declaration. Though the college has only been in place since the late 18th century, Declarations are still given according to 14th century protocols. The grant is drawn up by a Herald on two scrolls of parchment. The first is kept by the College and will be kept in perpetuity as a record of the grant. The second is given to the applicant. The design is carefully hand painted and the text of the declaration appears below, signed by the Provost with the seal of the Emperor affixed before the scroll is rolled up and tied with ribbon. It is then delivered to the Emperor personally, who unravels it, indicates his approval by signing the grant, and then the scroll is rolled again, tied and returned to the College. On a day selected by the college, the Provost gathers the Heralds to read out the text of the declaration and the scroll is then taken to the College archives. The applicant usually attends this latter ceremony and is given his own copy of the scroll by the Provost.

Mediation[edit | edit source]

The College has full legal responsibility to mediate claims, that is, where a peerage is considered to be extinct or where the use of a coat of arms is contested. The Heralds divide into the Court of the Plaintiff and the Court of the Defendant and then meet with the Provost to deliver their findings. The Provost makes the final decision which may not be challenged but a full report into the findings of the meditation process is always published. The College Courts undertake genealogical research in most cases but will consider outside research. Rarely, the College Courts will consider a retroactive case in which a branch of a family not entitled to a peerage or a coat of arms but which has made use of them may find a declaration made which awards the peerage or coat of arms instead to another branch. This process is protected by Alexandrian law and is considered to be a matter of civil law.

Roll of Armorial Bearings[edit | edit source]

Rejection & Removal[edit | edit source]