Folger Shakespeare Library
Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England
July 1–October 26, 2014
Folger Great Hall
Discover the colorful world of heralds and their rivals, all competing to profit from the craze for coats of arms that seized England during the reign of Elizabeth I. An ambitious world was full of newly wealthy and successful families, eager to display their success and status. Genealogy in its modern form also took off: ancestral research was vital to a rich heraldic display, and new ways were established for setting out family trees graphically.
In this show—the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever mounted—you will see books explaining heraldry’s complex rules, manuscripts illustrating actual coats of arms, and documents written by professional heralds seeking to regulate heraldic practise in a fast-changing society. Exceptional treasures include the original drafts of William Shakespeare’s own coat of arms.