In the 12th century Europe, knights and nobles began painting their shields to identify themselves while wearing full armor. These early coat of arms clearly showed the person’s family identity. Symbolism and choice of color was very important. Unique heritage, noble deeds, personal traits were placed on the family shields as a record for future generations. For many years the Martineau family coat of arms was ‘lost’ in past history. It has now been found.
Beginning in the summer of 1984, Rebecca Martineau McCarty and her husband, Paul J. McCarty, began the ambitious task of researching and locating the Martineau coat of arms and its related heraldry. Many hours of meticulous searching has proved successful. Records from the British Museum, as well as 12th century France, and related heraldic documents were thoroughly examined. Research into the interpretation of symbols of the Martineau coat of arms and relevant family history proved fruitful. Multiple heraldic dictionaries, glossaries, and databases of ancient documents were examined for accurate information. Our coat-of-arms has its origins within the royal lineage of France. The coat of arms itself can be described as a quarterly shield with the 1st and 4th quarters each containing a gold cross on a field of white. The 2nd and 3rd quarters contain bordure shields containing a holly leaf on a field of red, overlaid on a gold shield on a field of green. The center bordure shield contains three castles in a lozenge field. A crown with three plumes is set upon the helmet at the top of the master shield. The colors of three plumes are azure (blue), vert (green), and gules (red).
The large, beautifully embroidered Martineau Family Coat of Arms presently adorns the home of Ray G. Martineau, as a gift from his grandchildren. The master shield is divided into four parts or quarters. The 1st and 4th quarters contain a cross each. The two crosses are of strong Christian significance. They were awarded to families who engaged in the Crusades. The three castles or towers prominently set in the center of the master shield represent grandeur, society, and wealth. They can also represent towns or land tracts/kingdoms that may have been owned by the Martineau family. The 2nd and 3rd quarters are bordure shields or a shield superimposed upon another. According to the Glossary of Heraldic Terms (Kyl MacKay Glenrakon) a bordure shield represents honor. It is of strong significance the bordure shield is represented not twice but three times in the coat of arms. The two holly leaves represent ‘truth’ (Guide to Medieval Terms – Arkenberg). They are placed on a gules (red) field that represents ‘warriors in battle, martyrs, and strong military strength’. The outer gold or ‘Or’ field that the holly shield is placed is on a field of vert (green). The ‘Or’ field represents generosity. The green or vert represents fidelity.
The helmet is significant of royal birth. The visor and mouth slit form a Crusader cross outlined in gold on a silver face plate. The helmet carries the heraldic interpretation of wisdom and reliable defense. The gold crown on the helmet prominently displays three feathered plumes – blue, green, and red. The gold crown itself represents the regal or senior authority, also ‘heavenly reward’ (Heraldry Glossary, Parker – 1894).
The colors in coat of arms are of high significance. Colors can help tell the history of the family, qualities of character and personality, and personal accomplishments by family ancestors.