Saturday, 5 October 2013

On Tinctures in Period - Part VII: Purpure

The seventh and final of the Tinctures found in period treatises and allowed in the SCA is Purple or Violet, known in Blazon as Purpure.

Dame Juliana Berners - Boke of Saint Albans (1486)
St Albans gives a "plumby" colour, which I have placed with Purpure because of Ferne's explanations given below.
Quartus lapis

And this stone is calde plumby in armys

The . iiii . stone is calde a Margarete a clowdy stone Plumby hit is calde in armys . The vertue ther of is . what gentilman that in his Cotearmure that stone berith grete govenawnce of chivalrie in his kyngys batayll he shall have . the wich stone is repued in the potestatis crowne that was chevalrius of govenaunce in his kyngys batayll of hevyn whan thay faught with Lucifer.

John Bossewell - Workes of Armorie (1572)
Violet, termed Purpure, is compared to Mercurie, and to the Amatiste.
The Amatiste his force or vertue avayleth agaynst dronkennesse, it keepeth a man wakyng, and dryveth awaye ill thoughtes, and sharpeneth the understanding also.
In the second table of tinctures, purpure is not included in the list of four colours, with the following note:
Purpure, may bee addedd to make the 5.coloure, but it is rare in use with us.

John Ferne - The Blazon of Gentrie (1586)
The last of the 7 tinctures detailed by Ferne.
The 7. cullor is composed of white, blew, & red, and is called purpre, it signifieth in

1 - Planets. - Mercury.
2 - Precious stones. - Amethist, Opall, and Hyacinth.
3 - Vertues. - Temperancie and prudence.
4 - Celestiall signes. - Sagittarius and Pisces.
5 - Months. - November and February.
6 - Days of the week. - Wednesday.
7 - Ages of Man. - The age of gray heares, called canasenectus.
8 - Flowres. - The Violet.
9 - Elements. - Water and earth.
10- Sesons of the yeer - Winter.
11 - Complexions. - Flegmatique with some choller.
12 - Numbers. - 7. 12.
13 - Mettailes. - Tinne.
Purpure is the only tincture to be given a complexion of a combination of two, rather than a single humour on its own.

In the angelic system given later in the book, Purple is given to Vertues, with the virtue Knightly of governement. In the leadup to the angelic system, Ferne gives the following:
It is even so, you shall know that Purple was called Plumby : Tawney was named Bruske : and Sanguine was blazonned by the name of Synamer.

Edmund Bolton - The Elements of Armories (1610)

The rankings of tinctures given by Bolton hold Purpure as one of the lowest, with Upton placing it fifth, after Gules, Leigh and Scohier relegating it to seventh and last, after Vert or Sable respectively, and Bolton's own throne of colours placing it last, sharing the fourth tier with Vert.

There may also be found this conversation on why purpure has sunk from honour in our estimation:
A. I affect not the maintenance of forced paradoxes in matter concerning them , neverthelesse before I entered farther I would gladly that purple were restored to the owne place.

E. Indeed I marvayle seeing the best , and most ancient Authors speake of purple,as of an Imperial, and most reserved colour , peculiar to the Ceasars , and other Soveraigne Princes, how it hath lost the præcedence ?

A. You may wel say it was peculiar indeed, when in the phrase of Iustinians Code , the shel-fish wherein it grew is called sacer murex , and the crime of using it in cloak, or other garment by an imperiall edict dated at Constantinople equalled to treason, and the appropriation thereof to them of the bloud only, is honored therin with no meaner, nor lesse holy a word as the Dedication, which yet is but according to the Analogie of the whole use, if the colour were sacred, nay; if I forget not greatly, the State therein grew so precise, that to use but guards, laces, or strings dipt with that die wascapitall, though the great and glorious Emperour Iustinian remitted the rigour of those Edicts made by his prædecessors.

The reason why it hath loswt præcedence is because he have lost the colour it-selfe, since (as som thing) he Turks have come into possession of the fishings at Tyre, and other places where the Welks or Shel-fish grew in which purple was found, or beacause though the fish bee not extinguished, yet the Art it selfe of drawing, and keeping it is utterly perisht: For it is not (God knowes) that bastard die which is in Grocers turnsol, a mixture of vermillion, and blew-byße, or cynaber, or the colour in violets, but a most pretious, bright and admirable; which (saith Pancerollus) is now to bee onely ghest at in the Italian ielliflower, & seemes not in some judgements to bee that of the Amethist, but that of the Rubie, Pyropus or Carbuncle, or (as saith Bartolus) of Elementall fire, or rather of the Empyræan heaven it selfe.

If the true, and Tyrian purple were not lost, I perceive you would not feare to advance it in dictitie above white and yellow, that is above the metals in Armories, goldand silver.

A. I durst certainly. But forsomuch as those colours are in the Court of honour exempt from the name, and nature of colours, beeing the vegetative soules of Armories, and so reputed, wee put them apart as agreed uppon for the purpose of Armorie.

John Guillim - Display of Heraldrie (1611)
Purpure is a Colour that consisteth of much Red, and of a small quantitie of Blacke [...] Cassaneus having formerly handled those former six Colours, viz. White, Blacke, Red, Yellow, Greene, and Blew, saith, that of them all (being compunded and mixed together according to proportion), this Purpure Colour is raised. This Colour usually hath no other name in Blazon.
In his table of the names used for the tinctures and their order, Guillim gives Purpure the seventh place, as Purpure. Amethyst. Mercury.

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