Medieval Glossary


In the widest sense, a standard is a flag or ensign under which men are united together for some common purpose. In the Middle Ages ensigns of the army were banderols, banners, guidons, pencels, and pennons. In strict language, the term 'standard' is applied exclusively to a particular kind of flag, long in proportion to its depth, tapering towards the fly, and, except when belonging to princes of the blood royal, slit at the end. Each baron, knight, or other commander in the feudal times had a recognized standard, which was distributed among his followers. There was never a complete coat of arms on the standard; it generally exhibited the crest or supporter with a device or badge of the owner. Standards were registered by the heralds, and the charges on them selected and authorized by an officer-of-arms. The length of the standard varied according to the rank of the bearer:

  • King: 8 to 9 yards in length
  • Duke: 7 yards
  • Marquis: 6 1/2 yards
  • Earl: 6 yards
  • Viscount: 5 1/2 yards
  • Baron: 5 yards
  • Banneret: 4 1/2 yards
  • Knight: 4 yards

Related term(s): Ensign; Banderol; Banner; Guidon; Pencel; Pennon
Category: Heraldry
Added: 10.08.05
Source information: Wilhelm, Thomas. A Military Dictionary and Gazetteer. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1881. 552.


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