The Feilbach Family Coat of Arms is a ancient heraldic design dating back to the mid 17th century bearing of our family which is depicted on an escutcheon with accompanying adjuncts (as a crest, motto, and supporters). A Coat of Arms is often a complex design which usually consists of a shield, crest and a motto (if one exists). The shield, or escutcheon, is the main element is the lower third of the shield. The motto may be in any language, but is typically conveyed in Latin, French or English. Other various parts of a coat of arms include: helm, coronet, blazonry, tinctures, metals, ordinaries, charges, arms, wreath, furs, and mantling.
Most importantly the Feilbach coat of arms is included in the Siebmachers Wappenbuch, which is a heraldic multivolume book series or armorial bearing (or coat of arms) of the nobility within the Holy Roman Empire which includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other counties. There are two versions of these books. The Old Siebmacher and the New Siebmacher.
The Alte Siebmacher was compiled 1605-1806. First two volumes were started by Johann Sibmacher, engraver from Nuremberg. His work was continued to six volumes with additional supplements. The Neuer Siebmacher, Siebmachers großes und allgemeines Wappenbuch was compiled 1854-1967 by Adolf Matthias Hildebrandt, Maximilian Gritzner, and Gustav A Seyler. The General-Index of the whole work has been edited by Hanns Jäger-Sunstenau. Later Ottfried Neubecker has published all burgher arms of the Siebmacher without the text as a sort of illustrated glossary according to the charges.
Because wars were almost a continual occurance during the Middle Ages, more and more armor was added to a knight’s battle uniform until the medieval warrior was finally protected from head to toe. The metal suit of armor always included a helmet to protect the head, thus it was virtually impossible to tell one knight from another. In order to prevent any mishaps on the battlefield, such as one friend injuring another, a means of identification was necessary. A colorful solution first came as knights painted patterns on their battle shields. These patterns were eventually woven into cloth surcoats which were worn over the suit of armor. In fact, many a horse was also seen prancing around in a fancy cloth surcoat with its master’s Coat of Arms ablaze on the side.
This colorful identification was certainly displayed with great pride. As more designs were created, it became necessary to register or copyright these designs, to prevent two knights from using the same insignia. Records were kept that gave each knight exclusive rights to his arms. In many cases, records were then compiled listing the family name and an exact description of its Coat of Arms. These are called “armorials” or “blazons”. The word “heraldry” is associated with Coats of Arms due to the role of the “herald” in recording the blazons, and comes from a common practice at a medival sporting event. Tournaments (or jousting contests) were popular during the days of knighthood, and as each soldier was presented at a tournament, a herald sounded the trupet and then announced the knight’s achiements and described his Arms. The heralds would then record the Arms as a way of ensuring that a family maintained its protective right to have and use its individual Arms.
The escutcheon (or shield) is the main part of the Coat of Arms. The right side of the shield (from the knight’s viewpoint) is called the dexter side, and the left is the sinister side. The shield divided in half vertically is called per pale. Beginning with the charge (animal), Ibex is the goat or an antelope located on the left side of the shield (dexter). This symbol of an Ibex is most prominently found on the cantonal flag of Graubunden in Switzerland. It is also depicted on the banner of Chur. An Ibex is the name for any of several wild goats living chiefly in high mountain areas of the Old World and having large recurved horns transversly rigid in front. The Ibex is in “rampant” position. The goat is an emblem of that martial man who won a victory by the employment of policy rather than valor. The heraldic ibex is indistinguishable from the heraldic antelope and may even be merely an alternative term. It is somewhat uncommon for the entire Ibex to appear, usually it is just the horns.
The Ibex is critical to our family’s Coat of Arms, so further discussion is necessary. The Ibex is also called a Steinbok, the Ibex is a wild goat that is said to be the stock of the tame goat. The Ibex is a creature that dwells in the mountains, has large knotty horns reclining on its back, is of a yellowish brown color, and has a black beard. It is mentioned in the Bible as one of the clean animals that the children of Israel were allowed to eat. The Arabs know the Ibex as the Beden; they live in small herds of eight or ten and are still found in Palestine. The extremely strong and often fabled horns of the Ibex were generally acknowledged, as a symbol of renewal and rejuvenation and the Ibex itself is a harbinger of spring and a unifier of nature. Because of the Ibex’s healing influence it soon faced extinction as unfailing powers were attributed to its antlers, blood and parts of his heart. Medieval pharmacies used the dried and pulverized blood as an ingredient in many medicines. In the late Middle Ages the number of Ibexes continued to decrease, calling for Emperor Maximilian to put them under protection to prevent possible extinction. Known as the ‘great stag’ to the Sumerians, the Ibex became known as not only symbol of healing but also of nobility as it was they (only) who were permitted to hunt them. The Ibex was hunted to extinction in the middle 16th Century.
The mount may be purely an artistic device, and are actually of unknown origin. Usually there are three hills, in this case there is only one. It represents a mound or hill, covered with grass, occupying the base of the shield. It is generally borne with a tree or trees on it. When depicted green it is blazoned as a mount vert. The mount is directly beneath the Ibex (i.e. the Ibex is standing on the mount).
Next, the sinister side of the escutcheon. The state and civil flag of Hesse(n) is half white, half red, which explains the white and red vertical (per pale) striped color on the right side of the Coat of Arms (sinister). These red and white stripes have been used in many other local and regional flags of Hesse, although more often in a horizontal fashion.
Directly above the escutcheon is the crown (or helmet). This crown depicts a ducal coronet (a crown worn by a Duke), which was used in the area of our origins in Germany. In this case the crown symbolizes royalty or seigniorial authority. The ordinarie is the piece of cloth draped directly below the coronet (crown) and above the escutcheon. Its colors are red and black. The organization of the ordinarie is such that this is categorized as an honorable ordinarie. The indented lines of the ordinarie represent fire.
The mantling contains the livery colors, (i.e. heraldic tinctures). The mantling consists of the two large fields of color and metal on the left and right sides. While these colors do not convey any symbolic meaning they are representative. There are seven heraldic tinctures, two “metals” and five “colors.” The metals are gold (or) and silver (argent) represented on flags, etc. by yellow and white. Gold (or yellow) denotes generosity; valor or perseverance. Silver (or white) represents serenity and nobility. The colors are red (gules), blue (azure), green (vert), black (sable) and purple (purple). On our Coat of Arms the colors used are Red and Black, while the metals used are Gold and Silver. These are in a semi-wreath configuration. Red represents fortitude and creative power. Black is for repentance or vengeance. it is important to note, metal is always displayed on color and color is always displayed on metal. The metals used in our Coat of Arms are Gold and Silver. The colors used are Red and Black. In our case, Gold (metal) is displayed on Black (color). Silver (metal) is displayed on Red (color). The mantling was originally used to protect the knight from the direct rays of the sun and to protect his helmet from rust and stains.
Arms: Per pale (or) and argent, in dexter an Ibex rampant sable, standing on a mount vert, in sinister, a pale gules. This means that per pale gold and silver, on the left an Ibex (anthelope) rampant black, standing on a mount green, on the right a pale red.
The Crest comes out of the top of the a ducal coronet or, a peacock’s tail proper. This means that the crest is out of a collar-crown gold, a peackock’s tail proper. The feathers are a sign of obedience and serenity. Peacock feathers specifically symbolize beauty, pride of carriage, and knowledge.
All text and images Copyright © Jason Feilbach 1997