Friday, November 13, 2009

Heraldry Endures

I visited the Folger Shakespeare Library yesterday and noticed this emblem on the security police uniforms. The Library's security forces have has adopted Shakespeare's family arms as its emblem. In the 1590s, the Shakespeare family was granted permission to use these arms; note that the shield bears a spear (alluding to the name "Shakespeare") and the original arms bore a motto as well: "Non Sanz Droict" [French = not without right]. For more on these arms, see this PBS documentary website.

The use of the Bard's arms invites a number of questions: Is the police badge the modern descendant of the knight's shield? Since Shakespeare has no direct living descendants, are the Folger police force among his metaphorical heirs?

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