by: Daniel de Lincolia (Tim McDaniel), (c) 6 July 1998

The Bastards!

Some people seem think that the name element "fitz" was a mark of bastards. It wasn't. It was just a standard Norman way to say "son of", like Latin "filius", Welsh "ap", Scottish "mac", et cetera. Identifying people by their father's given name was a common practice in the earlier Middle Ages. Inherited surnames came in at various times in various places. (I don't think Iceland has them to this day.)

There was no usual armorial mark or abatement for the arms of bastards. The term "bar sinister" is nonsense. A bar is horizontal, so it can't be to sinister -- it'd shift off the edge of the shield. Any heraldic difference might be used, some more common than others in various times, cultures, or families: a baton, say, or a bordure. Or the bastard might just use one charge from his father's arms, or might have entirely independent arms.


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