Banner graphic for Studies in the history of science, technology & culture

**  A second window aside called by the Studies page, entitled
“The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American
Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment”

First Published:  22 January 2023
Revised (substantive):  2 February 2023

H T M L   T R A N S C R I P T   O F

Ancient Greek Laws
(6th century BCE)
disarming citizens


excerpted from the
2nd (revised & enlarged) edition
of Archæologia Græca, or,
the Antiquities of Greece

(London, 1706)

by  J O H N   P O T T E R
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury
     A high-churchman who was “committed to the authority of the ancient fathers and the example of the primitive church,” Potter opposed church reform.
     Potter was also a “committed whig.” The first volume of his Archæologia Græca was dedicated to Robert Harley, speaker of the House of Commons, but when Harley offered Potter Oxford’s regius chair of Greek in 1707, Potter was already more interested in divinity than in classics and declined the position.
     At a time when church & state intertwined, Potter tended more to the affairs of church than state (“fulfilled his spiritual duties diligently, while being committed to raising the pastoral quality of the clergy”). His preference for residing in his country diocese and distancing himself from secular matters and London politics, even after his elevation to the primacy in 1737, “led to criticism from his peers, particularly during the period of danger from French invasion in 1743 and during the Jacobite rising of 1745,” and Potter was faulted for lack of involvement and leadership in church matters as well (“for not taking action against the rise of Athanasianism”).

graphic showing the palm of the hand in a raised position (iconic gesture for "stop & attend to this")

N O T E :  The editio princeps of John Potter’s illustrated Archæologiæ Græcæ: or, The Antiquities of Greece was printed at Oxford (vol. 1, 1697; vol. 2, 1698; 2 vols., 1699).
   Potter continued revising this original issue for many years, resulting in multiple new and improved editions, such as that owned by former U.S. President and founding father, John Adams, Archæologia Græca: or, The Antiquities of Greece (2 vols.; 4th edn., London, 1722), incorporating “many Additions ... Amendments” by Potter (“The Booksellers to the Reader,” A2r–A2v).
   I quote below from the second “very much augmented and improved” edition (2 vols.; London, 1706), because Potter’s amendments to his discussion of the laws in question were first introduced here, and were not substantively altered with subsequent editions.

[  1  ]

Opening quotation markHe shall be fin’d, who is seen to walk the City-streets with a Sword by his side, or having about him other Armour, unless in case of Exigency. One of Solon’s Laws. See Book III. Chap. IV.Closing quotation mark

SOURCE:  Vol. 1, Book 1, Ch. 26 (“Of the Athenian Laws”), p. 182 of the rev. and enl. 2nd edn. (London, 1706) of Archbishop John Potter’s two-volume classic: Archæologia Græca, or, The antiquities of Greece. The second edition very much augmented and improved. By John Potter, D.D. chaplain to his grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Volume the first. Containing, I. The civil government of Athens. II. The religion of Greece. London: Printed for S. and J. Sprint, at the Bell, and John Nicholson, at the King’s-Arms, in Little Britain; and for Timothy Child, at the White Hart in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCCVI [1706].
     New with this “very much augmented and improved” second edition is the contextual information, “One of Solon’s Laws. See Book III. Chap. IV.” These two final sentences are not in the editio princeps of Archæologiæ Græcæ: or, The Antiquities of Greece (vol. 1, Oxford, 1697; vol. 2, Oxford, 1698; 2 vols., Oxford, 1699).

[  2  ]

Opening quotation markIn like manner the Persians, having given themselves over to Softness and Pleasure, engag’d with the rough Grecians, richly adorn’d with Gold and Jewels, and became an easie Prey unto them. The Grecian Heroes, though not so unpolisht, as to debar themselves the Use of these Ornaments, yet were not so excessively profuse of them, nor applied them to the same Ends and Purposes: Achilles’s Shield, so curiously engrav’d by Vulcan, is a Lecture of Philosophy, and contains a Description of almost all the Works of Nature. The Arms of other Valiant Princes are frequently adorn’d with Representations of their Noble Exploits, the History of the Actions of their Ancestors, or Blessings receiv’d from the Gods; or fill’d with terrible Images of Lions, or Dragons, and render’d bright and shining to strike Terrour and Amazement into their Enemies, according to that of Homer;

“           [2 lines of Greek poetry from Homer’s Iliad, Englished as]
“           Th’ amazing Lustre terrify’d the Sight.

“ So ’tis reported of our British Ancestors, that they painted themselves with divers Forms of Animals, thinking thereby to appear more terrible to their Enemies.

“ The Ancient Grecians were always armed, thinking it unsafe to adventure themselves abroad without a sufficient Defence against Aggressors. Hence Aristotle hath rationally inferred, That they were a barbarous and uncivilized Nation: For being educated in the deepest Ignorance, and having very little Sense of that Justice and Honesty, to which all Men are oblig’d by Nature’s eternal and immutable Sanctions, being also in a great Measure without the Restraint of Human Laws, all Persons thought they had a just Title to whatever they could by any Means take into Possession, which they had no other Method to secure, but that whereby they obtain’d it; and resigned their Claim whenever a more Potent Adversary exhibited his Pretensions. The Seas were filled with Pirates, the Land with Robbers, who made a prey of whatever came to their Hands, and frequently made Incursions into Countries, which they spoil’d and depopulated, and, if their Force was great enough, drove out the Inhabitants, and compelled them to seek new Seats. By Men of this Profession, Io, Europa, Ganymedes, and many others were stolen; which put Tyndarus in such a Fear for his Daughter Helen, that he caused all the young Princes, that made their Addresses to her, to bind themselves by a solemn Oath to recover her, if ever she should be conveyed away. The Sea, we are informed by Thucydides, was freed from Piracies by Minos King of Crete, who with a powerful Navy maintained for many Years the Sovereignty of it. But the Land was still infested; and therefore when Theseus designed to make his first Journey from Troezen to Athens, Plutarch tells us, That his Relations would have persuaded him to go by Sea; For (says he) it was at that Time very dangerous to travel by Land to Athens, no Place of the Country being free from Thieves and Murderers: For that Age produced a sort of Men, for Strength of Arms, Swiftness of Feet, and Vigour of Body excelling the ordinary Rate of Men, and in Labours and Exercises indefatigable; yet making Use of these Gifts of Nature to nothing good or profitable to Mankind; but rejoycing, and taking Pride in Insolence, and pleasing themselves in the Commission of barbarous and inhuman Cruelties, in seizing by Force whatever fell into their Hands, and practising upon Strangers all manner of Outrages; who imagined that Civility, and Justice, and Equity, and Humanity, (which they thought were commended by many, either for want of Courage to commit Injuries, or Fear of receiving them) nothing at all to concern those who were most daring and strong. Of these indeed Hercules and Theseus, and other generous and publick-spirited Princes in a great Measure freed the Country: But before that ’twas not to be wondered, if the Grecians always wore Arms, standing upon their Guard, especially since in those Days few of them were united into large Towns, but lived retiredly in Country-seats, or at the best in small and defenceless Hamlets. This Custom was first laid aside at Athens, the Occasion and Necessity thereof being first removed in that City: For Historians generally agree, that the Athenians entertained the decent Rules of Civility and Humanity, were modelled into a regular Form of Government, and enjoyed the Happiness of wholesom and useful Laws before the rest of the Grecians. Afterwards a Penalty was laid by Solon upon those who wore Arms in the City without Necessity; that having in former Times been the Occasion of frequent Murders, Robberies, and Duels. On the same Account was made the following Law of Zaleucus, [6 words of Greek, Englished as] That no Person should bear Arms in the Senate.Closing quotation mark

SOURCE:  Vol. 2, Book 3, Ch. 4 (“Of the Grecian Arms and Weapons, with their Military Apparel”), pp. 21–23 of the rev. and enl. 2nd edn. (London, 1706) of Archbishop John Potter’s two-volume classic: Archæologia Græca: or, The antiquities of Greece. The second edition very much augmented and improved. By John Potter, D.D. chaplain to his grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Volume the second. Containing, I. The military affairs of the Grecians. II. Some of their miscellany customs. London: Printed for S. and J. Sprint, at the Bell; and John Nicholson, at the King’s-Arms, in Little Britain; and for Timothy Child, at the White-Hart, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCCVI [1706].
     New with this “very much augmented and improved” second edition are details about the “wholesom and useful Laws” disarming Athenian persons (for the public good) upon which western civilization was built: “Afterwards a Penalty was laid by Solon upon those who wore Arms in the City without Necessity; that having in former Times been the Occasion of frequent Murders, Robberies, and Duels. On the same Account was made the following Law of Zaleucus, [...] That no Person should bear Arms in the Senate.” These two final sentences are not in the editio princeps of Archæologiæ Græcæ: or, The Antiquities of Greece (vol. 1, Oxford, 1697; vol. 2, Oxford, 1698; 2 vols., Oxford, 1699).

Our “British Ancestors” who “painted themselves with divers Forms of Animals, thinking thereby to appear more terrible to their Enemies”

Potter is here (Archæologia Græca, or, the Antiquities of Greece. The Second Edition Very Much Augmented and Improved, 2 vols., London, 1706, referring to that ancient people in northern Britain, of disputed origin and ethnological affinities, known as Picts, after Roman writings c.300 AD which described the hostile tribes occupying the area north of the Antonine Wall as Picti (“painted people”). According to chroniclers, the name of the Picts as a distinct people gradually disappeared after the Pictish kingdom was united with the Scottish under Kenneth I in 843.

Writing at the close of the 17th century (the editio princeps of vol. 2 was printed at Oxford in 1698), Potter’s association of “the primitive Greeks, and barbarous nations” with the ancient inhabitants of Britain — because such violent, pre-civilized peoples always wore arms — reflects

the increasing interest then shown in comparative ethnology, when races of the Old and New World and of the ancient historical past had become subjects of intense curiosity and speculation.

(Paul Hulton, America, 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White, 20)

A century earlier, the goldsmith and engraver Theodor de Bry (1528–1598) had popularized the Picts by juxtaposing fanciful renderings of their pictographic skin painting with detailed first-hand observations by the explorer-artist, John White (fl. 1577–1593), and the explorer-scientist, Thomas Hariot (c.1560–1621), of South-eastern Algonquian tattooing (“pouncing”) and scarification and body painting.

It is interesting to note that the tattoo marks upon the “foreheads, cheeks, chynne, armes, and leggs” of the “chief ladyes” of the Chesapeake [more accurately, “the towne of Secota” (aka Secoton), situated on the north back of Pamlico River in modern Beaufort county, North Carolina], as shown in John White’s illustrations of the Roanoke expedition, are identical with the figures upon the pottery now exhumed from our shell-heaps.

(William H. Holmes, “Pottery of the Potomac Tide-Water Region,” 250)

The intrepid explorer, Captain John Smith (1580–1631), “sometymes governour in those countryes [Virginia] & Admirall of New England,” as he styled himself on the title-page to his The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624), was the first to note similarities between the Carolina (Secotan) and Virginia (Powhatan) Algonquians, captioning his map of “Ould Virginia”:

The Countrey wee now call Virginia beginneth at Cape Henry distant from Roanoack 60 miles, where was Sr. Walter Raleigh’s plantation: and because the people differ very little from them of Powhatan in any thing, I have inserted those figures [from de Bry’s illustrated edn. (1590) of Hariot’s Virginia] in this place because of the conveniency.

(Captn. John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles, 1624, 6-panel plate with map at the start of Book 2)

Smith’s suggestion of equivalency between these two peoples is, as he admits, more a “convenience” (driven by best commercial practices at that time in the print trade, in line with controlling publication costs) than the reality. As Paul Hulton points out, these two indigenous peoples were not interchangeable:

White made his drawings at the most favourable moment when the English were in first contact with the Carolina Algonquians [aka the Secotan], as these tribes came to be called. They are portrayed as yet unaffected by European influences. Within two or three generations both their culture and distribution had changed to a marked degree. White’s images with Harriot’s descriptions, backed by later records and archaeological evidence, provide a surprising amount of information about these people, even if it is very far from being a complete picture. [...] They were distinct from the people encountered by the English farther north in the neighbourhood of the later Jamestown colony, the Powhatan, though closely related in language and culture.

(Paul Hulton,America, 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White, 27)

Smith’s borrowing of White’s well-known documentary drawings makes clear that de Bry’s lavishly illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590) had widespread influence.

Hulton argues that it was mostly the aboriginal women — not men — who were tattooed (or “pounced” as Hariot described it):

Most striking of all [among White’s original watercolors], providing bright colouring among the brown and greys of the skins, are the ornaments, body painting and tattooing. Tattooing was probably confined to women, while painting was used widely by both sexes. The best known and most elaborate example of this is White’s Indian in body paint, decorated for war or some ceremonial occasion. Necklaces of pearl, copper, bone or shell beads were worn widely by men and women and were sometimes simulated in paint.

(Paul Hulton, America, 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White, 28)

Other first-hand observers (George Percy, William Strachey) of native peoples encountered in the first years of settlement around Jamestown record that Powhatan women’s body art was quite elaborate:

The women kinde in this Countrey doth pounce [tattoo] and race [scarify] their bodies, legges, thighes, armes and faces with a sharpe Iron, which makes a stampe in curious knots, and drawes the proportion of Fowles, Fish, or Beasts, then with paintings of sundry lively colours, they rub it into the stampe which will never be taken away, because it is dried into the Flesh where it is sered.

(George Percy, “Observations gathered out of A discourse of the plantation of the southerne colonie in Virginia by the English, 1606,” in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, ed. Samuel Purchas, 4 vols., 1625,

And Percy describes painted Powhatan men as majestic, civilized and humane (rather than violent barbarians, armed with body art designed to make them “appear more terrible to their Enemies,” to quote Potter):

When wee landed [May 1607], the Werowance of Rapahanna came downe to the water side with all his traine, as goodly men as any I have seene of Savages or Christians: the Werowance comming before them playing on a Flute made of a Reed, with a Crown of Deares haire colloured red, in fashion of a Rose fastened about his knot of haire, and a great Plate of Copper on the other side of his head, with two long Feathers in fashion of a paire of Hornes placed in the midst of his Crowne. His body was painted all with Crimson, with a Chaine of Beads about his necke, his face painted blew, besprinkled with silver Ore as wee thought, his eares all behung with Braslets of Pearle, and in either eare a Birds Claw through it beset with fine Copper or Gold, he entertained us in so modest a proud fashion, as though he had beene a Prince of civill government, holding his countenance without laughter or any such ill behaviour; he caused his Mat to be spred on the ground, where hee sate downe with a great Majestie, taking a pipe of Tabacco: the rest of his company standing about him. After he had rested a while he rose, and made signes to us to come to his Towne: He went formost, and all the rest of his people and our selves followed him up a steepe Hill where his Palace was settled. Wee passed through the Woods in fine paths, having most pleasant Springs which issued from the Mountaines: Wee also went through the goodliest Corne fieldes that ever was seene in any Countrey. When wee came to Rapahannos Towne, hee entertained us in good humanitie.

(George Percy, “Observations gathered out of A discourse of the plantation of the southerne colonie in Virginia by the English, 1606,” in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, ed. Samuel Purchas, 4 vols., 1625,–1688)

In contrast to Percy, Strachey emphasized the Powhatans’ weaponization of body art:

They adorne themselves most with Copper beades and paynting, of the men there be some, who will paint their bodies black and some yellow, and being oyled over, they will stick therein the soft downe of sondry Coloured birdes, of blew birdes, white herneshews [herons], and the feathers of the Carnation byrd [cardinal?], which they call Ahshowcutteis, as if so many variety of laces were stitched to their skyns, which makes a wonderous shew, the men being angry and prepared to fight paint and Crosse their foreheades, cheekes, and the right syde of their heades diversly, either with terra-sigillata, or with their root Pochone [the Virginia pokeberry or pokeweed, which bears profusely of berries staining a purplish red].
     The women have their armes, breasts, thighes, showlders and faces, cunningly imbroydered with divers workes, for pouncing and searing their skyns with a kynd of Instrument heated in the fire, they figure therein flowers and fruicts of sondry lively kyndes, as also Snakes, Serpents, Efts [small lizards], etc., and this they doe by dropping upon the seared flesh, sondry Colours, which rub’d into the stampe will never be taken away agayne because yt will not only be dryed into the flesh, but grow therein.
     The men shave their hayre on the right syde very Close keeping a ridge commonly on the toppe or Crowne like a Cox-comb; for their women with twoo shells will grate away the haire into any fashion they please; on the leaft syde they weare their haire at full length with a lock of an ell long, which they annoynt often with walnut oyle, whereby yt is very sleeke, and shynes like a Ravens wing: sometymes they tye up their lock with an arteficiall and well laboured knott (in the same fashion, as I have seene the Carazzaies [girls] of Scio, and Pera:) stuck with many coloured Gewgawes, as the cast head or Browantle of a deare, the hand of their Enemy dryed, Croisetts of bright and shyning Copper, like the new Moone, many weare the whole skyn of a hawke stuffed, with the winges abroad, and Buzzardes or other fowles whole wings, and to the feathers they will fasten a little Rattle about the bignes of the Chape of a rapier, which they take from the taile of a Snake, and sometymes divers kyndes of shells hanginge loose by smale purfleets or threedes, that, being shaken as they move, they will make a Certayne murmering or whistling noyse by gathering wynd, in which they seeme to take great jollety, and hold yt a kynd of bravery.
     Their eares they boare with wyde holes commonly twoo or three, and in the same they doe hang chaynes of stayned perle, braceletts of white bone, or shredds of Copper, beaten thin and bright, and wound up hollow, and with a great pride certayne Fowles leggs, Eagles, Hawkes, Turkeys, etc., with Beasts Clawes, Beares, Arrahacounes [raccoon], Squirrells, etc. the clawes thrust through, they lett hang upon the Cheeke to the full view; and some of their men there be, who will weare in these holes, a smale greene and yellow couloured live Snake neere half a yard in length, which Crawling and lapping himself about his neck oftentymes familiarly he suffers to kisse his lipps, others weare a dead ratt tyed by the Taile, and such like Conundrums.

(William Strachey, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania, scribal publication written c.1609–1612, edited by L. B. Wright and V. Freund, 1953, 73–74)

Elsewhere Strachey draws a direct comparison between Algonquian women’s bodies “cunningly imbroydered with divers workes,” ancient Greek women’s face painting, the pictographic skin painting of ancient inhabitants of Britain, and the skin bleaching of “great Ladies” in contemporary Britain:

They are generally of a Coulour browne, or rather tawnye which the Mothers cast them into with a kynd of Arsenick-stone (like redd Patise, or Orpement,) or rather with redd tempered oyntementes of earth, and the juyce of certayne scrused rootes, so sone as they ar borne, and this they doe (keeping themselves still so smudged and besmeered) either for the Custome of the Country, or the better to defend them (synce they goe most what naked) from the stinging of Muskeetoes, (kyndes of Flyes, or byting Gnatts, such as the Greeks called Scynipes, as yet in great swarmes within the Arches,) and which heere breed aboundantly, amongst the marish whorts, and fenburies; and of the same hue are their women, howbeit yt is supposed neither of them naturally borne so discoulored, for Captayne Smith (living sometyme amongest them) affirmeth, how they are from the woumb indifferent white, but as the men so doe the women, dye and disguise themselves, into this tawny coulour, esteeming yt the best beauty, to be neerest such a kynd of Murrey, as a sodden Quince is of, (to lyken yt to the neerest coulour I can) for which they daylie annoynt both face and bodyes all over, with such a kynd of fucus or unguent, as can cast them into that stayne, as is sayd of the Greek-women, how they colloured their faces all over with certayne rootes called Brenthyna; and as the Britaynes [Picts] died themselves redd with woad [Strachey is incorrect here: woad was blue, not red]: howbeit he, or shee, that hath obteyned the perfectest art in the tempering of this Coulour with any better kynd of earth, hearb, or roote, preserves yt not yet so secrett, and pretious unto her self, as doe our great Ladies their oyle of Talchum, or other Paynting white and redd, but they freindly communicate the secrett, and teach yt one another: after their annoynting (which is dailye) they drie them in the Sun, and thereby make their skynnes (besyde the Coulour more black and spotted, which the Sun kissing oft, and hard, addes to their paynting) the more rough and rugged.
     Their heades and showlders they paynt oftennest, and those red, with the roote Pochone, brayed to poulder mixed with oyle of the walnut, or Beares grease, this they hold in Summer doth check the heat, and in winter armes them (in some measure) against the Cold, many other formes of payntings they use; but he is the most gallant who is the most monstrous and ugly to behold.

(William Strachey, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania, scribal publication written c.1609–1612, edited by L. B. Wright and V. Freund, 1953, 70–71)

The tattoo and body paint markings of South-eastern Algonquian women continued to elicit comparisons with early-modern Englishwomen for at least a century after Hariot/White/de Bry’s memorable portrayal in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590). In the conduct book entitled The Gentlewomans Companion (1673), author “Hannah Woolley” — an imposter trying to steal away market share from the actual best-selling author, Hannah Wolley, who dominated the lucrative publishing business of cookery and its appendant branches of science in Restoration England — compares Englishwomen’s cosmetics (face patches, in particular, which the fake “Woolley” deplores) to Native American body art.

Frown not on me, Ladies, that I seem to be thus severe in reproving the excess of Apparel; yet I [do] not deny, there is a kind of priviledg in youth for wearing fashionable Clothes, Jewels and Diamonds, which Nature (who doth nothing in vain) hath provided; and whatsoever some maliciously may whisper to the contrary; the use of Apparel is to dignifie the Wearer, and add more beauty to the Creature, provided the Apparel be not above the dignity of her that weareth it, nor doth exceed the Arithmetick of her Revenues.
     But whilst I seem to give you (young Gentlewomen) some allowance of liberty in your Clothing; for indeed it is impossible there should be youth without some vanity; yet I know not how to excuse the vain custom now so much in fashion, to deform the face with black Patches, under a pretence to make it appear more beautiful. It is a riddle to me, that a blemish should appear a grace, a deformity be esteemed a beauty: I am confident were any of them born with those half Moons, Stars, Coach and Horses, and such like trumpery, by which a Lady becomes a stranger to her self, as well as others, she would give more money to be freed from them, than a seven years costly expence, in following the fashion, would amount to. [...]
     I cannot imagine whence our Ladies borrowed that monstrous and prodigious custom of patching their faces; if they did borrow it from the French, they did ill to imitate such, who it may be made use of the fashion out of pure necessity, and not novelty; having French-pimples, they needed a French-plaister. Meer need taught us at first to build houses, and wear Clothes, which afterwards were used for ornament: Who then can tax their witty-pride (although justly we may the imitation of the English Gentry therein) which could so cunningly turn botches into beauty, and make ugliness handsome? I know not but that the fashion of wearing Farthingals of old, were politickly invented to hide the shame of great bellies unlawfully puft up; and of late the large-topt stockings with supporters to bear them up, were a good excuse for some hot gallants, in that they stradled so much when they walkt the streets; whereas, poor Gentlemen, they could do no otherwise.
     I have read, that the Indians did accustom themselves to print the volume of their bodies all over with Apes, Monkies, and other Beasts. I know not whether our Ladies have endeavoured to epitomize their Works, and abridg them into the narrow compass of the Title-page of their own faces. But sure I am, that they are much beholding to the ingenious Artist, whose skilful hand much exceeded his who writ the Ten Commandments and Pater-noster (to be legibly read) within the compass of a penny. Such a one is able to vie with Wonder it self, since he can pass a Camel through the eye of a Spanish Needle without a Miracle; and contract a Coach and Horses into the narrow dimension of four Gnats.
     By the impertinent pains of this curious Facespoiling-mender, the Exchanges (for now we have three great Arsenals of choice Vanities) are furnished with a daily supply and variety of Beautyspots (with many other things, whose names are only known to the Inventer and Buyer); and these Patches are cut out into little Moons, Suns, Stars, Castles, Birds, Beasts, and Fishes of all sorts; so that their Faces may be properly termed a Landskip of living Creatures. The vanity and pride of these Gentlewomen hath in a manner abstracted Noah’s Ark, and exprest a Compendium of the Creation in their Front and Cheeks. Add to this the gallantry of their garb, with all the ornamental appurtenances which rackt Invention can discover, and then you will say, there wanted nothing except it be that which a Roman Writer said was wanting to the accomplishments of Poppaea Sabina (Mistris to bloody Nero), That she was defective in nothing but a vertuous mind.

(“Hannah Woolley,” The Gentlewomans Companion; or, a Guide to the Female Sex Containing Directions of Behaviour, in All Places, Companies, Relations, and Conditions, from their Childhood Down to Old Age, 1673, 56–57 and 58–59)

Among the singular “Great Gentlewomen” of England — another target for the fake “Hannah Woolley,” who advised her female readers to “shun singularity,” which “will render you ridiculous,” and to cultivate instead “mediocrity” — who “patch or paint, curle and powder” themselves (Henry Woolnough, Fideles Aquæ: or Some Pious Tears Dropped upon the Hearse of the Incomparable Gentlewoman Mrs. Sarah Gilly ..., 1661, D2r) was the fashionista Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle. Pepys remarked on the duchess’s black beauty patches in his diary entry for 26 April 1667:

This done, Sir W. Batten and I back again to London; and in the way met my Lady Newcastle, going with her coaches and footmen all in velvet; herself (whom I never saw before) as I have heard her often described (for all the town-talk is nowadays of her extravagancies), with her velvet-cap, her hair about her ears, many black patches because of pimples about her mouth, naked necked, without anything about it, and a black juste-au-corps; she seemed to me a very comely woman — but I hope to see more of her on May-day [when Margaret would next be parading by carriage in Hyde Park]. My mind is mightily of late upon a coach. At home to the office....

(Samuel Pepys, Diary, ed. R. Latham and W. Matthews, 11 vols., 1970–1983, rpt. 2000, 8.186–187)

We can get a sense of Margaret’s “many black patches” from the figure given in one of the earliest texts in the semiotics of fashion, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented (London, 1650; woodcut illustrations added with the 1653 edition), by the medical practitioner and rhetorician, John Bulwer (bap. 1606, d. 1656). Bulwer delighted in drawing parallels between the supposedly bizarre practices of primitive societies and those practices taken for granted in contemporary England, and this interrogation of custom, coupled with Christian moralizing, frames his discussion of fashionable 17th-century women like Margaret Cavendish, “With visage full of foule black patches set.” (J. Bulwer, “A Through-Description of the Nationall Gallant: Being indeed an Anacepheloisis of the whole Book, intimated by the Frontispiece,” Anthropometamorphosis, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, A4v)

facsimile of page from book printed in 1653

^  Page 261, with woodcut depicting “Spotted Faces”i.e., a contemporary Englishwoman’s “visage full of foule black patches.” From Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, by John Bulwer (bap. 1606, d. 1656), rev. and enl. 2nd edn. (London, 1653).
     Bulwer’s accompanying text associates European women’s use of “phantasticall” black beauty patches — “A small piece of black material, typically silk or velvet, cut into a decorative shape and worn on the face, either for adornment or to conceal a blemish, esp. in the 17th and 18th centuries.” (Oxford English Dictionary) — with “Barbarous Nations” (mostly India and the Americas): “Our English Ladies, who seeme to have borrowed some of their Cosmeticall conceits from Barbarous Nations, are seldome known to be contented with a Face of Gods making; for they are either adding, detracting, or altering continually, having many Fucusses in readinesse for the same purpose. Sometimes they think they have too much colour, then they use Art to make them look pale and faire. Now they have too little colour, then Spanish paper, Red Leather, or other Cosmeticall Rubriques must be had. Yet for all this, it may be, the skins of their Faces do not please them; off they go with Mercury water, and so they remaine like peeld Ewes, untill their Faces have recovered a new Epidermis.  ¶   Our Ladies here have lately entertained a vaine Custome of spotting their Faces, out of an affectation of a Mole to set off their beauty, such as Venus had, and it is well if one black patch will serve to make their Faces remarkable; for some fill their Visages full of them, varied into all manner of shapes and figures.  ¶   This is as odious, and as senselesse an affectation as ever was used by any barbarous Nation in the World....” (John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., London, 1653, 260–261)
     Contending that the natural is morally superior to the artificial (as did Margaret Cavendish, when justifying her idiosyncratic approach to scientific inquiry), Bulwer inveighed against the modern female “visage full of foule black patches” (Anthropometamorphosis, A4v) as a “wicked” and unchristian artificial deformation of the human body — a “trespasse against Piety” when such alterations were practiced by women on their own bodies for their own reasons.
     Only physicians tasked with “correcting” a true “disease of Figure” for “honourable Ladies, and great Persons” should lawfully “alter and deforme the Humane Fabricke”: “it belongeth to the corrective part of Medicine to reduce a superficies that is preternaturall” in the right “kind of Divine Forme [...] worthy of preservation, and a faire restitution.”
     Only the physician can be trusted not to “exceed and go beyond Gods purpose” in restoring “the naturall state of perfection.” After all, “God would not have the Face mangled and torne, but then he would not have it varnished with forreine Complexions; it is ill when it is not our own bloud that appeares in our Cheeks; it may do some ill offices of bloud, it may tempt; but it gives over when it should do a good office of bloud, it cannot blush. God would not have us disfigure our Face with sad Countenances in fasting and other Disciplines, nor would have us go about to marre his worke, or to do his last work, which he hath reserved to himselfe in Heaven, here upon earth, that is, to glorifie our Bodies with such Additions here, as though we would need no Glorification there. But concerning this kind of transgression against the honesty and truth of Nature, or rather the sinfulnesse of it, Cajetan is of an opinion, that as a woman may conserve her naturall beauty without sin, so she may also preserve it by Art by adhibiting the vertues of Fucusses, Pigments, and other paintings, so it do not intend an evill end, it is a fiction and vanity somewhat excusable; Whereas it is concluded a mortall sin for any to sell such disguising trash to those they know will abuse it for an evill end. And in this regard some Divines will not allow so much as palliation of any deformity in the Face which hath proceeded from licentiousnesse and intemperance, or that they should be disguised by unnaturall helps, to the drawing in of others, and the continuation of their former sins. The sin it selfe was the Divels act in thee, but in the Deformity that follows upon the sin God hath a hand; and they that suppresse and smother these by paintings, and unnaturall helps to unlawfull ends, do not deliver themselves of the plague, but they do hide the markes and infect others, and wrastle against Gods notifications of their former sins. The invention of which Act of Palliation of an ascititious deformity against Gods indigitation of sin, is imagined one reason of the invention of black Patches, wherein the French shewed their witty pride, which could so cunningly turne Botches into Beauty, and make uglinesse handsome; yet in point of Phantasticalnesse we may excuse that Nation, as having taken up the fashion, rather for necessity than novelty, in as much as those French Pimples have need of a French Plaister.” (J. Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 270–273)
     Even more perturbing to Bulwer, as he wrote up his semiotic study in the 1650s, “this spotting vanity” had spread from fashionable women to men: “... the like prodigious affectation in the Faces of effeminate Gallants, a bare-headed Sect of amorous Idolaters, who of late have begun to vye [rival] patches and beauty-spots, nay, painting, with the most tender and phantasticall Ladies, and to returne by Art their queasie paine upon women, to the great reproach of Nature, and high dishonour and abasement of the glory of mans perfection. Painting is bad both in a foule and faire woman, but worst of all in a man....” (J. Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 263)

Bulwer attributed the new craze for antic facial patches to external sources (the “Barbarous Indians” to the east and west):

Painting and black-Patches are notoriously known to have been the primitive Invention of the barbarous Painter-stainers of India.

(John Bulwer, “An Appendix Exhibiting the Pedigree of the English Gallant,” in Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 534)

But Bulwer also rooted fantastical body art in the barbarous practices of primitive warriors closer to home:

This fashion did passe as far as to the North, and thereof is come the name given to the Picts, an ancient people of Scythia, who were called Picts, because of the painting they used upon their naked bodies, which (saith Herodian) they would not cover with any cloathing for feare to hide and darken the faire painting they had set upon it, where were set out Beasts of all sorts, and printed with Iron Instruments, in such sort that it was impossible to take them off: which they did (as Solin saith) even from their infancy: in manner as [the] Child did grow, so did grow those fixed figures, even as the markes that are graved upon young Pompions [pumpkins]. The Poet Claudian hath also given us many witnesses of this in his Panegyriques, as when he speaketh of the Emperour Honorius his Grand-father,
                    Ille leves Mauros, nec falso nomine Pictos
                    Edomuit ----------
And in the Gothick warre,
                    ---------- ferroque notatas,
                    Perlegit exanimes Picto moriente figuras.
     Some thinke that the Celtique Poiteveins, called by the Latines Pictones, though they be not descended of this race, yet had their name given them for the same occasion of that of the Picts. And as customes once brought in among a people are not lost but by the length of many Ages: So in Brunzwich they sometimes grease their faces with painting, and make their Vizage all black; from whence perchance that word Bronzer may be derived, which signifies in Picardy, to black. And generally it is beleeved that all those Northerly people did use painting when they would make themselves brave; for the Gelons & Agathyrses, Nations of Scythia, like the Picts, were of this Fraternity, & with Iron Instruments did colour their bodies. We English men likewise, then called Britons, by the saying of Tertullian, affected the same cruell bravery. The Goths (besides the Iron Instruments) did use Vermilion to make their faces and bodies red. Briefely, it was a sport in old time, to see so many Anticks men and women: for there are found yet old pictures which in the Virginia History [scil., De Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590)] you may find, cut in brasse, where the Picts of both Sexes are painted out with their faire incisions, as Herodian describeth them. So that you see this humour of painting hath been generall in these parts: There being no cause of mocking, if the Indians have done, and yet do the like. By which things above recited, we may know, that this hither world hath anciently been as much deformed and savage as any of the Indians, and may come about to the same point of cuticular bravery.

(John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 464–466)

Bulwer illustrated this passage establishing that “Painting with faire incisions [was] an old humour of our Auncestors” with two cuts of Picts (a man and a woman), the second of which (the woman) borrows from de Bry’s edition of Hariot’s Virginia.

facsimile of page from book printed in 1653

^  Page 466, with woodcut depicting a Pict Young Woman Warrior (on left), whose “painted bravery” (also “cuticular bravery”), by way of “faire incisions” and scarification, was legendary. From Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, by John Bulwer (bap. 1606, d. 1656), rev. and enl. 2nd edn. (London, 1653).
     This figure is a crude reproduction of Theodor de Bry’s copperplate engraving, “The Truue Picture of a Yonge Dowgter of the Pictes” (Part 5, Plate 3), in de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590).
     To Bulwer, the theatrical cloth patches favored by 17th-century European women were bad enough but, like most cosmetics and face & body painting, black beauty patches were temporary alterations to the human body.
     Artificial adornment wrought by way of scarification and tattooing, which permanently disfigured the body, was an entirely different matter. “The Brasileans and Florideans, for the most part, are painted over the body, the armes, and thighs, with faire branches, whose painting can never be taken away, because they are pricked with in the flesh, notwithstanding many Brasileans do paint only their bodies, (without incision) when they list; and this with the juice of a certaine fruit, which they call Genipat, which doth black so much, that though they wash themselves they cannot be clean in ten or twelve daies after.  ¶   The Brasil women, to make themselves gallant, paint their bodies with the juyce of a certaine fruit, wherewith they remaine black, making in their bodies many white stroakes, after the fashion of round hose, and other kind of garments; their children presently as soone as they are borne are painted with red and black colour.” (J. Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis, 459–460)
     Bulwer tells us that “The ancient English stained their Faces with Woad, which is of a blew or sky colour, that they might appeare more horrid to their enemies in fight.” (Anthropometamorphosis, 260)
     Yet, “Cruell and fantasticall Inventions of Men practised upon their Bodies in a supposed way of Bravery” was actually a form of internalized war. “[N]o outward Enemie is able to abuse their bodies, as [much as] their own phantasticalnesse.”
     Moreover, those who “discompose, wound, teare and brand their bodies, with such a phantasticall violence” “oppose the purpose of God, of dignifying the body of man.”
     “Now as for these bodily inscisions, such as anciently the Picts did make, and these [American] savages doe yet make at this day, they have been anciently very expressely forbidden in the Law of God given by Moses. For it is not lawfull for us, to disfigure the Image and the forme that God hath given unto us, by making so many idleholes to the solution of the naturall continuitie of the whole skin.” (John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 455 and 165–166)

This savage custom of weaponizing “painted bravery” is found across the contemporary Americas, according to Bulwer: from the South American “Barbarous Nations” in Patagonia “that Sir Francis Drake found in 47 degrees, and 30 minutes, whose Bay he called Seale Bay” who reinvented themselves (“so goodly a people, and lively creatures of God”) with a “diabolicall appearance”; to the barbarous nations of North America — “The Virginians (especially when they enter into Battle) are painted, some black, some red, some white, and some party coloured.” (John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 460–462 and 463)

Even though AmerIndians crafted body art which competed with anything European artists could create:

As for the Floridians, the sore-part of their bodies and armes be painted with pretty devised workes of Azure, Red, and Black, so well, and so properly, as the best Painter of Europe could not amend it; the women have their bodies painted with a certaine herb like unto Mosse, wherewith the Cedar trees, and all other Trees are covered.

(John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 463)

the implication is that such violent (Bulwer’s preferrred phrasing is “cruel”) “cuticular bravery” — no matter how functional it may be, in times of war and peace (e.g., as protection against bugs and the elements) — is “savage,” “primitive,” “barbarous,” and at odds with Christian civilization.

Bulwer’s juxtaposition of world-wide primitive cultural practices with equally barbarous English cutural practices called into question some commonplaces about the superiority of European civilization. This same topic was broached in an earlier text on comparative demographics, Giovanni Botero’s Relazioni Universali (4 vols., Rome, 1591–1598), Englished as Relations of the Most Famous Kingdomes and Common-Wealths thorowout the World ... Translated out of the best Italian Impression of Boterus ... Once Againe Inlarged according to Moderne Observation ... (1st edn., 1601; revised and enlarged editions issued in 1601, 1603, 1608, 1611, 1616, and 1630), by Robert Johnson (fl. 1586–1626), the author of two treatises on Virginia.

Johnson’s revised and enlarged English edition of Botero (how much of the new content in 1630 was taken from posthumous Italian editions of this bestselling book, and how much was independently added by Johnson and his English publishers, is not known to me) casts AmerIndian culture in terms of “the noble savage” locked in an existential battle with Spanish imperialism.

The Inhabitants are of a swarty complexion, fairer or fouler, according to their different situations. Not very well favoured, but of savage & brutish behaviours, excellent footmen and swimmers, cleanly in their bodies, naked, libidinous, and men-eaters. Some worship the Devill, some Idols, some the Sun, and some the Starres. Their armes are the Bow and Arrow, which in stead of Iron they head with the teeth of Fishes, and the bones of Beasts. Gold, Silver, and Stone they little regard, their chiefest delight is in Feathers and Plumes. Insomuch, that if these Countries had beene travelled into with unarmed search and peregrination; for what occasion of warre could justly bee applied unto those who neither held wealth in estimation, neither coveted Honour with ambitious emulation? No doubt but all Authors in discoursing of these Nations, could have informed you of nothing but Gold-yeelding-Rivers, miraculous temperature of Aire, strange shapes in Beasts and Birds; The Sea abounding with Pearle, and Land with Gems; And above all, Man here living and conversing in his rude and anticke simplicity, under the shield of genuine innocency, with irkesome hatred of our vile custome and wrangling conditions. But alas! Avarice under the maske of Religion, and Vainglory had no sooner set foot in these terrestriall places (as I may say) of Paradise, but depravation turned all things topsi-turvie. Since when, happinesse hath taken its flight into some other Climate; and as now nothing is thereof recorded, save undermining of Mountaines, disembowelling the Earth, exiling the Natives, unpeopling of Villages, and that by tyranny and slavery. For in one or two petty battels, whole Empires have beene subdued by an handfull of men; and a Kingdome conquered, in a manner, before it hath beene entred. And no wonder, for this simple and naked people had never seene Horse, nor ever heard the report of the Harquebush. Without the which, peradvanture the Spanish Nation had not galloped in so short a time to such miraculous victories: no though every petty Commander, imployed in that action, in these daies stand comparatively paraleld with the worthy Scipio, and the Great Alexander.
     To whom in truth the ancient exprobation of the Britons against the Romans, mentioned in Tacitus, cannot more feelingly be applied than unto these Indian Spaniards. They are the Robbers and Ravishers of the World. After the spoile of all Nations, through defect of strange Lands and new Conquests, they scowre the wide Ocean. The riches of the enemy breeds covetousnesse in them; the poverty, ambition: which neither the East nor West can terminate or containe. They onely alone covet the wealth and penury of all Nations with equall greedinesse and affectation. On Robbery, Murther, and Villany, they colourably impose the glorious title of Empery. Solitude and desolation they terme Peace and Tranquillitie.
     So that had not Charles the Emperour cast strict reines upon these licentious and injurious proceedings, Spaine had swarmed with slaves, and [West] India had quite beene bereaved of almost all her Native. Of foure hundred thousand Inhabitants living in New Spaine at the arrivall of these Spaniards, the Country at this day can scant shew you eight thousand. About the like number you shall finde in the Fonduras, remaining of foure hundred and ten thousand; when the Spaniards therein set first footing. If you reade their owne Histories you shall meet with no better accounts concerning the present Inhabitation of Hispaniola, Guatimala, Nicuragua, and the Ilands adjacent. The greatest number whereof were either slaine, led captives, or consumed in the Mines. Doubtlesse in divulging of the aforesaid Proclamation, the good Emperour could not chuse but remember that God (whose judgements are profound) did once by the cruelties of the Goths, the Huns, and Saracens, waste Italy, persecute France, and consume Spaine; and the consumers were againe consumed in fulnesse of time. So may it fall out with those, who following the steps of their Predecessors, take a glory to amaze the Sea with Ships, and the Land with Armies. Time may come, that Pride shall burne and be consumed with warre; and he that buildeth his house wrongfully upon the ruine of another, shall himselfe become a booty to Aliens and Strangers. The linage of the Moores is not quite extinguished. The race of the Indians is not utterly extirpated. That progeny as yet surviveth in Italy, which in times past and in one day, at one watchword, slue all the loose French Usurpers of other mens fortunes. And albeit that the fatall cowardize of these Nations dare not presume to arme themselves against their Oppressors yet there raigneth a just God in Heaven, who can raise footmen and horsemen from the utmost bounds of the North to asswage and correct the intemperate insolency of bloud-thirsty Tyrants.

(Robert Johnson, Relations of the most Famous Kingdomes and Common-Wealths thorowout the World: Discoursing of their Situations, Religions, Languages, Manners, Customes, Strengths, Greatnesse and Policies. Translated out of the best Italian Impression of Boterus ..., new edn., rev. and enl., 1630, 627–629)

Here, the warlike inhabitants associated — since the advent of western civilization in the 6th century BCE (when Attic law disarmed the citizenry of classical Athens) — with primitive societies are not Bulwer’s “Barbarous Nations” of the Americas (who “dare not presume to arme themselves against their Oppressors”), but the “bloud-thirsty Tyrants” of Europe, waging an unjust war in pursuit of yet more land and riches.

As Potter documents, ancient Greek law prohibited bearing arms in public, except “in case of Exigency.”

This law was a cornerstone of western-style civilization, trading off the violent liberties of savage individuals for the public order and stability provided by the rule of law.

The sensational engravings of Picts in Book 5 of de Bry’s influential illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590) were designed to provoke thought about how the ancient inhabitants of Britain were every bit as “savage” as the indigenous peoples recently encountered in Virginia.

The painter [John White] of whom I [Theodor de Bry] have had the first of the Inhabitants of Virginia, give my [me] allso thees 5. Figures fallowinge, fownd as hy [he] did assured my [me] in a oolld [old] English cronicle, the which I wold well sett to the ende of thees first Figures, for to showe how that the Inhabitants of the great Bretannie have bin in times past as savvage as those of Virginia.

(Theodor de Bry, “Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne,” in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by T. Hariot, new edn. issued and illustrated by T. de Bry, in 5 parts, 1590, 5.E1r)

What de Bry hoped to achieve, by so graphically emphasizing our shared humanity, will remain an enigma. It was left to later authors, such as John Bulwer and the fake “Hannah Woolley” and John Potter, to convert de Bry’s cross-cultural references into provocative lessons for contemporary readers.

Writing three decades after Potter, the encyclopedist Ephraim Chambers (1680?–1740) focused on a different legacy for that ancient warrior tribe known as “the barbarous Picts” (William Prynne, The Soveraigne Power of Parliaments and Kingdomes: Divided into Foure Parts, 1643, 3.20): the rise of the fee (feudal landholding and obligation) in Britain.

The Origin of Fees in England, Cambden attributes to Alexander Severus. That Prince having built a Wall in the North of England, to prevent the Incursions of the Picts; he some time after, began to neglect, the Defence thereof, and gave, as Lampridius assures us, the Lands conquer’d from the Enemy, to his Captains and Soldiers, whom that Author calls Limitarios Dulces, & Milites, i. e. Captains and Soldiers of the Frontiers; but it was on this Condition, that their Heirs should continue in the Service; and that the Lands should never descend to private Persons, i. e. to such as did not bear Arms. That Prince’s Reason was, that People, who in serving defended their own, would serve with a deal more Zeal, than others.
     Such was the Rise of Fees in our Nation, according to Cambden. Britan. p. 651.

(E. Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, at Fee, 1.18)

And Chambers discerned more familiar military uses (besides terrorizing the enemy) for the “cuticular bravery” (J. Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, 466) of ancient peoples, at the same time taking care to differentiate between ancient (unregulated) and modern (regulated by the state) armorial bearings:

Chorier observes, that among the antient Gauls, each Man bore a Mark on his Buckler, by the Sight whereof he might be known to his Fellows; and hence he refers the Original of the Arms of noble Families.—Camden has observ’d something like this of the antient Picts, and Britons, who going naked to the Wars, painted their Bodies with Blazons, and Figures of divers Colours, which he supposes to have been different in different Families, as they fought divided by Kindreds. Yet Spelman says, that the Saxons, Danes, and Normans, first brought Arms from the North into England; and thence into France.
     Upon the whole it is certain, that from Time immemorial, there have been symbolical Marks in use among Men, to distinguish them in Armies, and to serve as Ornaments of Shields and Ensigns; but these Marks were used arbitrarily as Devices, Emblems, Hieroglyphicks, &c. and were not regular Armories, like ours, which are hereditary Marks of the Nobility of a House, regulated according to the Rules of Heraldry, and authoriz’d by Princes. See DEVICE, EMBLEM, HIEROGLYPHIC, &c.

(E. Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, at Arms, 1.141)

But such emphatic differentiation obscures the significant amount of cross-over between the free-form heraldic arms invented by the ancients and indigenous peoples around the world and the formulaic armorial symbolism of armigerous families, as registered and recorded by heralds in “their books of Armory, and of blazons” — texts which controlled “the ordering of things belonging to Arms, and Warlike Discipline” on behalf of the consolidating nation-state.

Writing almost two decades before Potter, the heraldic painter and genealogist, Randle Holme (1627–1700) — influenced not just by de Bry’s illustrated edition of Hariot’s Virginia (1590), but also by Bulwer’s semiotic study, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented (1650, rev. 1653) — again juxtaposed the fantastic figures of ancient Picts with aboriginal Americans in his encyclopedic book of heraldry, The Academy of Armory, or, a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon (3 vols. in 1, Chester, 1688; written 1680, with publication delayed, and a 4th book left unprinted, due to problems with Holme’s subscription model).

In Chapter 5 of Book 3, Holme opens with a plate of 71 thumbnail illustrations, followed by accompanying verbal descriptions detailing how such exotic male and female figures, past and present, are correctly “Born in Coat Armor, either in whole, or in Part” by English families, institutions and organizations (trades, arts, crafts, sports):

     XXII [see thumbnail No. 22 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Sable, a Brasilian, or a Native of Brasil, according to the Climate of the Countrey in his usual Habiliments, viz. a Brasil Man, with a Crown of Feathers on his head, a cover of the same over his Belly, Chains of Gold about his Neck, and under his Knees (or gartering places) supporting a Club, the head reversed, in his right hand, and holding up the Leg of a Man couped at the Thigh and erazed in the Anckle in his left hand. This Countrey of Brasil is in the South part of America, which lieth under the Torrid Zone Southerly; therefore the People must be cruelly Sunburned, and of a Tawny Swarthy Complexion; such as we usually call Tawny Moors.
     Some of these Natives cover their Bodies with the Skins of Beasts; but most draw them thus, and so they are often made for Supporters for Noble Persons Coats.
     G. a demy Brasilian crowned with Feathers of variable colours, holding up his both hands, proper. Or a Brasilian in full Aspect, his hand elevated, is the Coat of Don Wien a Spaniard.
     There is in this South part of America, (being in it self a Peninsula) these great and vast Provinces, as Castella Aurea or Terra Firma, Granada, Peru, Chile, Paragney, Brasil, Guyana and Paria. They were of old Eaters of Mans Flesh, are Tall and of strong Bodies, spending most of their time in Songs and Dances. The Women of a more white and clear Complexion in Granada than any of their Neighbour Countreys, and more handsomly Habited, being Apparelled in Black and party coloured Mantles, girt about their Middles, their Hair tyed up and covered with Chaplets of Flowers, altogether ignorant of Letters; having no Houses but on the Tops of Trees, the Trees of Brasil being of that incredible bigness, that whole Families live on an Arm of one of them, every Tree being as populous as the most of our Villages.
     XXIII [see thumbnail No. 23 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Vert, a Virginian, or a Man of Virginia, also a Floridan or an American in the Garb of his Countrey, or in his Country Dress, in his right hand a Bow ready strung, in his left an Arrow held Bendways sinister over his Breast, all proper. The Natives or old Inhabitants of Virginia and Florida, were only cloathed with a kind of Apron before the Belly; the Principals adorning their Heads with Feathers, their Necks and Legs with Chains or Bracelets, all the rest of their Bodies are Naked; these parts of America lyeth under the 30 and 40 degrees of the North Pole, therefore as they are in the Temperate Zone, so they are White, as all the Europians are.
     In the Provinces of Jucutan [Yucatán] and New Spain with Mexico, the People or Natives of those Countreys go almost all Naked, and adorn themselves with Feathers, Beads, Chains, and such like trivial things.

(Randle Holme, The Academy of Armory, or, a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon, 3 vols., 1688, 3.5.236)

     XLI [see thumbnail No. 41 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Or, an Ancient Native Brittish Woman, in her Civilized Garment, with her hair pendant; supporting of an Half Pike, all proper. This is also termed a Civil Antient Woman of Brittain, a Civilized Brittish Woman, &c. whose Habit at the first, was only a loose Coat without any Sleeves; the Hair hanging down her Back.
     XLII [see thumbnail No. 42 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Vert, an American Woman with a Crown of Feathers on her head; the like about her Belly, of various colours, with a purple Mantle over her right shoulder falling backwards: holding up both hands each side her head, proper. After this manner of Garb or dress did our ancient Fathers set forth one of the four quarters of the World, termed America.

(Randle Holme, The Academy of Armory, or, a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon, 3 vols., 1688, 3.5.239)

     LVI [see thumbnail No. 56 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Or, an Indian Woman in full aspect, proper: supporting of a Joynted Cane, with a Dart head on the top of it (some term it an Indian Dart, which have not Feathers as ours have, but only an Iron head) with the right hand, holding up the left: on her Head a Crown of Feathers of diverse colours, a Linnen about her Belly, Wreathed or Rowled up on the higher part, Argent: Neck, Arms and Wrists, gartering places and Ankles of the Feet Adroned with Bracelets of the same. After this manner was one of the four parts of the habitable World depicted, or set forth in Emblems, called Africa.
     LVII [see thumbnail No. 57 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Azure, a Brasilian Woman or a Woman of Brasil, in the Garb of the Countrey, viz. the Body all Naked, of a black colour, or of a deep swarthy Sun burnt colour, with a Cloath before her Belly (or privy parts) Argent: a Bow held or supported in the left hand, and the right upon her side, at her shoulders a quiver of Arrows, hung by a Lace or Belt: and a Feather on the left side the head, all proper. Some of the Gallants of them dye their Thighs with a black colour, that seeing them afar off, they seem as if they were cloathed in Sacerdotal Breeches. But in most places they are Barbarous, going start [sic] naked, and on Festival Days (that is) when a company comes together to be merry, and rejoyce over a roasted fat Man, that they cut in collops, and Eat with great Greediness and much Delectation. The Guaymares disbowel Women with Children and Roast the Children: And that the Savage Nation of Camucuiara in Brasil have their Paps almost down to their Knees, which they tie about their Waste when they run, or go faster then ordinary.
     LVIII [see thumbnail No. 58 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Or, an Inhabitant of Seal Bay with his Body Interchangably coloured, Argent and Sable. The Inhabitants that Sir Francis Drake found in 47 degrees and 30 minutes Southwards, whose Bay he called Seal Bay, their whole Bravery and setting out themselves standeth in Painting their Bodies with diverse colours and such works as they can devise. Some Paint one Shoulder black, and another white, and their Body, Sides, Thighs and Legs, interchangably with the same colours, one still contrary to the other: in some the black part hath set upon it white Moones, and the white part black Suns, being the Marks and Characters of their Gods: they wear their Hair very long, but in their travels, they knit it up with Ostrich Feathers.
     The natural Inhabitants of Jucata [Yucatán], paint their Faces and Bodies black.
     LIX [see thumbnail No. 59 of plate, p. 210; Holme’s figure of a woman Pict is after Bulwer’s presentation on p. 466 of his Anthropometamorphosis]. He beareth Vert, an Old or Ancient Native of Brittaine, a Native Brittish Woman, (as of old they used to adorn themselves) viz. all naked, their Bodies painted upon with diverse shapes of Birds, Beasts, Flowers, &c. the Hair Flotant or Pendant Or: a Chain about her middle, supporting a long Staff, with her right Leg Crossed or Debrused of the left, all proper.
     Some think that the Celique Poiteveins called by the Latins Pictones; Picts of whom the Scots are descended had their Name given them from the same occasion of Painting themselves.
     LX [see thumbnail No. 60 of plate, p. 210]. He beareth Argent a Woman of Cumanan [Venezuela], holding of a long Staff in her left hand, and the right upon her side, all in their Native Mode; or Painted according to the Custom of the Countrey, viz. their Bodies all set with Feathers.
     It is observed that the Barbarous People which go naked generally used, either to cover their Bodies with Paints, or Feathers of Birds: for in an Island near the Isle called Pitan, the People are all Feathered, but the Face and the Palms of their Hands.
     The Chiribichensians annoint themselves with a certain slimy Matter, and putting Feathers thereon, they cover all their Bodies.
     In the Island called Ity, the Inhabitants who go naked, not only Paint their Bodies with diverse colours, but they adorn them with diverse Feathers of Birds.
     The Brasilians have many Hens like unto ours, from whence they pull the small white Feathers, which they strew upon their Bodies, being first annointed with strong Gums, or a tenacious Glue.

(Randle Holme, The Academy of Armory, or, a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon, 3 vols., 1688, 3.5.240)

Today, the most famous of these heraldic cultural appropriations is probably the coat of arms awarded by Elizabeth I to the slaver, Sir John Hawkins, after his second slaving voyage to the Americas in 1564–1565. Hawkins had profited greatly (the ROI reportedy being 60%) from selling African slaves to Spanish and Portuguese plantations in the West Indies (mostly Brazil and Venezuela). “In celebration the queen granted Hawkins a coat of arms: the crest, a demi-Moor proper bound in a cord, was a direct reference to his slaving activity.” (ODNB entry for “Hawkins, Sir John (1532–1595), merchant and naval commander” by Basil Morgan)

facsimile of Elizabethan-era coat of arms

^  Coat of arms for Sir John Hawkins (1532–1595), the founder of the English trade in slaves, as designed at the court of Queen Elizabeth, to celebrate Hawkins’s second slaving voyage to Spanish America in 1564–1565. Reproduced by John Fiske in Old Virginia and Her Neighbours, 2 vols., 1897, rpt. 1900, 1.18. After the reproduction in Hawkins’s Voyages, edited by Sir Clements Markham for the Hakluyt Society, 1878.
     Fiske’s late-19th-century gloss reads: “Americans have little reason to remember [Hawkins’s] name with pleasure, yet it would be a grave mistake to visit him with unmeasured condemnation. Few sturdier defenders of political freedom for white men have ever existed, and among the valiant sea kings who laid the foundations of England’s maritime empire he was one of the foremost. It is worthy of notice that Queen Elizabeth regarded the opening of the slave trade as an achievement worthy of honourable commemoration, for when she made Hawkins a knight she gave him for a crest the device of a negro’s head and bust with the arms tightly pinioned, or, in the language of heraldry, ‘a demi-Moor proper bound with a cord.’ Public opinion on the subject of slavery was neatly expressed by Captain Lok, who declared that the negroes were ‘a people of beastly living, without God, law, religion, or commonwealth,’ so that he deemed himself their benefactor in carrying them off to a Christian land where their bodies might be decently clothed and their souls made fit for heaven. Exactly three centuries after Captain Lok, in the decade preceding our Civil War, I used to hear the very same defence of slavery preached in a Connecticut pulpit; so that perhaps we are not entitled to frown too severely upon Elizabeth’s mariners. It takes men a weary while to learn the wickedness of anything that puts gold in their purses.” (John Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbours, 2 vols., 1897, rpt. 1900, 1.17–18)
     A somewhat different version of Hawkins’s crest (featuring a stereotypical enslaved black man) is pictured at Wikipedia.

The staying power of Elizabethan racist blazoning — as described above by the American historian and popularizer of evolutionary science, John Fiske (1842–1901), who heard the same Christian justifications for the profitable slave trade from a Connecticut minister “exactly three centuries” later, “in the decade preceding our Civil War” — should not be underestimated. I attribute this lasting influence, in great part, to the rhetoric of spiritual warfare at the heart of British heraldry. There are two mottos on the letterpress title-page of Holme’s The Academy of Armory, or, a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon (1688), the second of which reads:

Put on the whole Armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the Assaults of the Devil; above all take the Shield of Faith. Ephes. 6. 11. 16.

An emphasis on the moral mission of the Christian warrior emanated from the top ranks of the nation-state. England’s prime order of chivalry, the ceremonial Order of the Garter, was inextricably bound with the legend of a military saint, Saint George and the Dragon, on prominent display in the insignia of the Knights of the Garter, from the time of Henry VIII, who added “the George” to the Order’s regalia:

At the Middle of the Collar is fix’d the Image of St. George arm’d on Horseback encountring a Dragon. This is called the Great George of the Order. There is another called the Lesser George, hung to the blue Ribband, which is spread over the Left Shoulder, and brought under the Right Arm.

(A Supplement to Dr. Harris’s Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 1744, s.v. Garter, n. pag.)

The physician and naturalist, Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682), delved into the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, and while he believed “That such a person there was,” “the story depending hereon, we cannot make out the verity thereof, and conceive the literall acception a meere mistake of the symbolicall [expression]; apprehending that a veritable history, which was but an emblem or peece of Christian posie” (Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1646, 258). In his popular work attempting to sort out fact from fable, Browne interprets the Christian mystery encoded in “the George” worn by the Knights of the Garter as follows:

Now in the picture of this St. and Souldier was implyed the Christian Souldier and true Champion of Christ; A horseman armed Cap a pe, intimating the Panoplia or compleat armour of a Christian, combating with the Dragon, that is, with the Divell, in defence of the Kings daughter, that is the Church of God; and therefore although the history be not made out, it doth not disparage the Knights and noble order of St. George, whose cognisance is honourable in the emblem of the Souldier of Christ, and is a worthy memoriall to conforme unto its mystery; nor, were there no such person at all, had they more reason to be ashamed, then the noble order of Burgundy, and Knights of the golden Fleece, whose badge is a confessed fable.

(Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica: or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths, 1646, 259)

In this same text, Browne critiqued the fanciful representation of heraldic animals, even in the English royal arms. Such a fabulous portrayal of English power & glory was every bit as fantastic as the “cuticular bravery” of “barbarous” ancients and moderns. What really distinguished their bearing of arms was the English Christian warrior’s waging of spiritual warfare. Charles I, who would later war with English republicans over the divine right of kings, accentuated the blazoning of Christian militarism by selecting as his device “an Escotcheon of the Arms of St. George, that is to say, a Cross within a Garter, not enriched with Pearls or Stones,” and decreeing “on the 27. day of April, in the 2. year of his Reign of Great Britain” that this badge be worn by “the Knights and Companions of the Order, and the Prelate and Chancellor of the same” upon the left part of cloaks, coats and riding cassocks, in all public places and assemblies, whenever such “persons of the highest honor and greatest worth” were not wearing their official Garter robes. (royal decree; qtd. in E. Ashmole, 216) Thus, while the Garter mantle (robe) “was transferred and derived to us from the ancient Greeks and Romans” (E. Ashmole, 208), its “Ornamental Trimming” continued to be modernized with Christian symbolism associated with a succession of English kings (e.g., Edward IV and Charles I).

And it seems it was not long after e’re the Glory or Star (as it is usually called) having certain beams of Silver that spread in form of a Cross, was introduced and added thereunto [by Edward IV], in imitation (as is thought) of the French, who after that manner wore the chief Ensign of the Order of the Holy Ghost, being the resemblance of a Dove, irradiated with such like beams.
     And whereas some allow this Symbol of the Holy Ghost, to be properly enough surrounded with a Glory, like as are the representations of the Heads of our Saviour and his Apostles, by a general consent among Painters, yet censure it altogether improper for a Garter to be so adorned; let them consider that King Edward the Fourth, encompassed his White Rose with the like Glory (whereof both the Stone-work, and Wood-work of St. George’s Chappel in Windesor Castle afford divers instances) and then there will be found something of Precedent for it, long before the Institution of the Order of the Holy Ghost, as also of its application to other no less than sacred things. But this King [Edward IV] assumed this Devise, upon the Sun’s appearance like three Suns, which suddenly united together into one, immediately before his fortunate Victory at the Battel of Mortimer’s Cross: an occasion, which he thought himself much obliged to perpetuate.
     And they mistake, who take it to be the Garter, in this new Ornament [Charles I’s “Escotcheon of the Arms of St. George”], that is thus irradiated, but there is something else in it, which was then thought more worthy of the Glory, and from it, not the Garter, do the beams and rays spread; namely the Cross of the Order, esteemed glorious, since it shined so in Heaven, as its appearance to Constantine the Great; which that it may more evidently appear, a draught of the Medal stamped in memorial of adding this honorable Devise is here represented, whereby it is manifest, the Glory issues from the Cross, not Garter.
facsimile of Caroline medal cast in 1629

(Elias Ashmole, The Institution, Laws & Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, 1672, 216; the figure at the bottom of p. 216, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar, shows a medal cast in 1629 with portrait of Charles I on the front, and his device — an irradiated cross, or “Glory,” encircled by the Garter — on the reverse; what’s now known as the Garter Star is also pictured at Wikipedia)

The intent of bearing such arms was not to terrorize, but to strike awe in the viewer, by assimilating divinity to monarchy, and to the Christianizing mission that glorified British conquest. A mid-17th-century print of Queen Elizabeth as St. George, slaying the dragon of Spanish imperialism, exemplifies the genre.

Taking this spiritual warfare from the mother country to the colonies was inevitable. In the Christian enterprise known as Virginia, as sponsored from 1607–1625 by a joint-stock company, spiritual warfare intertwined so closely with colonial conquest that there can be no question Anglo-America was founded in 1607 as a Christian state:

Thus we should be sadly mistaken if we supposed, because the propagandists rationalized the Virginia Company in terms of Christian cosmology, demanding that they expend their lives and fortunes in an enterprise which might never repay them and find compensation in the contemplation of their own sanctity, that therefore the founders of Virginia were saints and martyrs. There is altogether too much evidence that they were not, to go no further than Captain John Smith. But the point is that a cynical unscrupulousness among the businessmen of London, or a mercenary spirit among the settlers, was not incompatible with their belief in the validity of the transcendent standard or in a cosmology by which their actions were sins. Sharp practices, schemes for quick returns, unethical business methods could flourish despite Christian morality. Businessmen and pioneers fell short of their profession, then as now; they acted in specific situations in opposition to their belief. Yet when they came to say what they did believe, to express not merely their formal morality but, more importantly, their conception of the world in which they were succeeding or failing as moral beings, they used the language of the Virginia pamphlets, and so acknowledged that all their activity turned in God’s direction, whether they would or no.
     Of one thing we may be certain, that if men who thus believed still fell short of perfection, they attributed it to sheer recalcitrancy, to sin and the fall of Adam. And sinners had no excuse. The greed of merchants or the laziness of settlers were defects which could not be extenuated by any philosophy of nature or of society. The London businessman had as yet no way of arguing, in the face of a sermon by Crashaw or Donne, that he had a natural right to invest his money where he could get the best rate of interest regardless of the kingdom of Christ. The settler had no idea that he might refuse to pray with his captain or deny that he was depraved, carnal, and corrupt; he could not assert that his religion was no business of the state’s, that he had a right to cultivate his own lands in his own way, to make money however he might, as long as he payed his taxes and got into no trouble with the police. The literature testifies not only to a cosmology and a philosophy of history, but to a social and political ethic. Just as religion and economics were fused into one conception in statements of the Company’s aim, so within the original Virginia — the first permanent English settlement in the New World — the government was formed by a conscious and powerful intention to merge the society with the purposes of God.

(Perry Miller, “The Religious Impulse in the Founding of Virginia: Religion and Society in the Early Literature,” 521–522)

Shortly before the demise of the Virginia Company, with which he was loosely associated, the Dorchester clergyman John White (1575–1648), similarly fused religious and political agendas when promoting yet more transatlantic models of the godly commonwealth. In England, a fire consumed White’s hometown in 1613. A reformed Dorchester then rose from the ashes, thanks to the activism of White, who was afterwards known as “the Patriarch of Dorchester.”

Following the disastrous fire of 1613, which destroyed more than 170 dwellings, White admonished his Dorchester parishioners to transform their ways, reject mere material success, and help the poor. Supported by the local corporation and consistent voluntary financial contributions from his flock he remodelled the town into a well-ordered, godly commonwealth. At the centre of his plans was the creation of a workhouse, a vocational institution which both educated and put the youth of the town to work producing cloth. From its profits the town created a public brewhouse, completed in 1622, which not only regulated the town’s drink trade, but also helped finance future reforms; a free school (of which White became a supervisor); the distribution of charity at Christmas; the repair of public streets; and in 1631 the creation of a town library. Indeed, the practical benefits of White’s reforms were particularly evident in 1623 when Dorchester suffered another fire, following which the homeless received speedy relief. On the whole a popular minister he regularly visited his parishioners in their homes, lectured three times a week, and on Fridays publicly worked his way methodically through the Bible. This took him six years, after which he started over again.

(Rory T. Cornish, ODNB entry for “White, John (1575–1648), Clergyman and Promoter of Colonization,” n. pag.)

In New England, the Patriarch of Dorchester “played an important role, without ever setting foot there, in the successful settlement of puritan Massachusetts.”

Between 1621 and 1623 the number of fishing ships leaving west country ports for New England increased fourfold and White’s scheme suggested planting a fishing station in America to both facilitate the trade as well as spread the Word to Native Americans. Consequently, in 1622, Richard Bushrod, a wealthy Dorchester merchant, obtained in his name and for his associates, a fishing licence from the Council for New England. In 1623 another White associate, Sir William Erle, a member of the Virginia Company, obtained a patent for a plantation and ships were sent over in 1624 and 1625. By 1626, however, it was clear that the Dorchester Company, like many similar ventures, was failing. Despite setbacks a permanent settlement was established at Cape Ann, and some colonists stayed on and eventually moved with their governor, Richard Conant, to Naumkeag, renamed Salem in 1629.
     Together with a few other members of the Dorchester Company, White kept the colonists supplied and looked to his puritan brethren in London for support. By the time of the creation of the New England Company in March 1628 he had become more interested in piety than profit, viewing a future, successful Massachusetts colony as a safe haven for the increasingly persecuted puritan clergy. When the Gorges family challenged the legality of the New England Company’s patent another John White (1590–1645), the London lawyer for the Winthrop family, undertook the complex legal business which transformed the New England Company into the Massachusetts Bay Company by royal charter on 4 March 1629. Continuing to play a conspicuous role in the success of Massachusetts, the Patriarch [of Dorchester] helped finance individual immigration and recruited the west country conforming puritans who left England in the Mary and John in March 1630. On the eve of the more famous Winthrop migration, in April 1630, White signed with other puritan leaders the humble request, a conciliatory document which proclaimed their loyalty to the mother church. It was published in May 1630 and incorporated by White in his model promotional tract The Planter’s Plea of the Grounds for Plantations Examined. During the famine of 1631 he managed to keep the fledgeling colony supplied with grain and if his role in this project has often been underrated his activities had not escaped the attention of Archbishop Laud.

(Rory T. Cornish, ODNB entry for “White, John (1575–1648), Clergyman and Promoter of Colonization,” n. pag.)

In his promotional tract of 1630, White assumed divine intervention in the “miraculous opening of the passage to these parts of the world,” again enlisting the trope of the barbarous Picts — akin to the “heathen and bruitish Nations” of the Americas — to put an evolutionary spin on Anglo-American manifest destiny.

Againe, what shall we conceive of that almost miraculous opening the passage unto, and discovery of these formerly unknowne nations, which must needs have proved impossible unto former ages for want of the knowledge of the use of the Loadstone, as wounderfully found out as these unknowne Countries by it. It were little lesse then impietie to conceive that GOD, (whose Will concurres with the lighting of a Sparrow upon the ground) had no hand in directing one of the most difficult and observeable workes of this age; and as great folly to imagine, that hee who made all things, and consequently orders and directs them to his owne glory, had no other scope but the satisfying of mens greedy appetites, that thirsted after the riches of that new found world, and to tender unto them the objects of such barbarous cruelties as the world never heard of. Wee cannot then probably conceive that GOD, in that strange discovery, aymed at any other thing but this, that, after hee had punished the Atheisme, and Idolatry of those heathen and bruitish Nations, by the Conquerors cruelty, and acquainted them, by mixture of some other people, with civility, to cause at length the glorious Gospell of Jesus Christ to shine out unto them, as it did to our forefathers, after those sharpe times of the bitter desolations of our Nation, betweene the Romanes and the Picts.

(John White, The Planters Plea ... Together with a Manifestation of the Causes Mooving Such as Have Lately Undertaken a Plantation in New-England: For the Satisfaction of Those that Question the Lawfulnesse of the Action, 1630, 14–15)

I reproduce below three of the earlier John White’s original watercolors — which he based on descriptions in old English chronicles — of Picts (two men, and one woman), juxtaposed with three of de Bry’s copperplate engravings (two women, one man), which reinterpret White’s watercolor originals, and are glossed by de Bry in his inimitable English, with its German-inflected idiosyncratic diction and spelling.

These are the iconic images which, for centuries, guided the debate over western civilization in Anglo-America.

It’s easy to see why they had such lasting effect.

facsimile of late-16th-century watercolor

^  Pict Man. Watercolor study, by John White (fl. 1577–1593), after an “oolld English cronicle.” Created in or after 1585.
     This artwork was engraved by Theodor de Bry as Plate I (“The Truue Picture of One Picte”) in Part 5 of de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590). See below.

facsimile of late-16th-century watercolor

^  Another Pict Man. Watercolor study, by John White (fl. 1577–1593), after an “oolld English cronicle.” Created in or after 1585.

facsimile of late-16th-century watercolor

^  Pict Woman. Watercolor study, by John White (fl. 1577–1593), after an “oolld English cronicle.” Created in or after 1585.
     This artwork was engraved by Theodor de Bry as Plate II (“The Truue Picture of a Women Picte”) in Part 5 of de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590). See below.

facsimile of late-16th-century engraving

^  Plate II (in Part 5), “The Truue Picture of a Women Picte.” Copper engraving by Theodor de Bry (1528–1598), after a watercolor drawing by John White (fl. 1577–1593). Printed in Part 5 (“Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne”) of de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590).
     De Bry added contextual detail to this and his other engravings of White’s originals.
     A detailed gloss on the facing page calls attention to the warrior woman’s loose “flying” hair, weapons, and antic body art (head-to-toe tattoos and cicatrixes). It reads in full: “The woemen of the pictes above said wear [were] noe worser for the warres then the men. And wear paynted after the manner followinge, havinge their heads bear, did lett their hairre flyinge. abowt their Showlders wear painted with griffon heades, the lowe parts and thighes with lion faces, or some other beaste as yt commeth best into their fansye, their brest hath a maner of a half moone, with a great stare, and fowre lesser in booth the sides, their pappes painted in maner of beames of the sonne, and amo[n]g all this a great litteninge starre uppon their brests. The saids of som pointes or beames, and the hoolle bellye as a sonne, the armes, thighes, and leggs well painted, of diverses Figures: The [they] dyd also carye abowt theyr necks an ayern [iron] Ringe, as the men did, and suche a girdle with the soorde hainginge, havinge a Picke or a lance in one hande, and twoe dardz in the other.” (Theodor de Bry, “Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne,” in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by T. Hariot, new edn. issued and illustrated by T. de Bry, in 5 parts, 1590, n. pag.)

facsimile of late-16th-century engraving

^  Plate III (in Part 5), “The Truue Picture of a Yonge Dowgter of the Pictes.” Copper engraving by Theodor de Bry (1528–1598), after a watercolor drawing by John White (fl. 1577–1593). Printed in Part 5 (“Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne”) of de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590).
     A detailed gloss on the facing page calls attention to the young woman’s loose “flying” hair and fantastic floral body art, rendering her “a thinge truuelly worthie of admiration.”
     De Bry’s gloss reads in full: “The yong dougters [daughters] of the pictes, did also lett their haire flyinge, and wear [were] also painted over all the body, so much that noe men could not faynde any different, yf the [they] hath not use of another fashion of paintinge, for the [they] did paint themselves of sondrye kinds of flours, and of the fairest that they cowld feynde. being fournished for the rest of such kinds of weappon as the woemen wear as you may see by this present picture a thinge truuelly worthie of admiration.” (Theodor de Bry, “Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne,” in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by T. Hariot, new edn. issued and illustrated by T. de Bry, in 5 parts, 1590, n. pag.)
     This marvelous specimen of Pict womanhood was crudely reproduced by John Bulwer in one of the earliest texts in the semiotics of fashion, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented (2nd edn., rev. and enl., 1653).

facsimile of late-16th-century engraving

^  Plate I (in Part 5), “The Truue Picture of One Picte.” Copper engraving by Theodor de Bry (1528–1598), after a watercolor drawing by John White (fl. 1577–1593). Printed in Part 5 (“Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne”) of de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590).
     De Bry added a landscape, and other embellishments concerning the Pict warrior’s violence and ferocity, to his engraving of White’s original.
     A detailed gloss on the facing page calls attention to the Pict’s savagery, exemplified by his antic body art (head-to-toe tattoos and cicatrixes), lethal weapons, and blood lust (keeping severed heads as war trophies). It reads in full: “In tymes past the Pictes, habitans of one part of great Bretainne, which is nowe nammed England, wear savvages, and did paint all their bodye after the maner followinge. the [they] did lett their haire growe as fare as their Shoulders, savinge those which hange uppon their forehead, the which the [they] did cutt. They shave all their berde except the mustaches, uppon their breast wear painted the head of som birde, ant [and] about the pappes as yt waere beames of the sune [sun], uppon the bellye sum feere full and monstreus face, spreedinge the beames verye fare uppon the thighes. Uppon the tow [two] knees som faces of lion, and uppon their leggs as yt hath been shelles of fish. Uppon their Shoulders griffones heades, and then they hath serpents abowt their armes: They caried abowt their necks one ayerne [iron] ringe, and another abowt the midds of their bodye, abowt the bellye, and the saids [sides] hange on a chaine, a cimeterre [scimitar] or turkie soorde, the [they] did carye in one arme a target made of wode [wood], and in the other hande a picke, of which the ayerne was after the manner of a Lick, whith tassels on, and the other ende with a Rounde boule. And when they hath overcomme some of their ennemis, they did never felle [fail] to carye awe [away] their heads with them.” (Theodor de Bry, “Som Picture, of the Pictes which in the Olde Tyme Dyd Habite One Part of the Great Bretainne,” in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by T. Hariot, new edn. issued and illustrated by T. de Bry, in 5 parts, 1590, n. pag.)


**  N O T E  **    For a more detailed comparison of White’s (extant) original watercolors with de Bry’s interpretative engravings in de Bry’s illustrated edition of Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590), see my discussion of early-modern representations of Secotan culture in Section 2 of the Editor’s Introduction for my digital reissue (2014) of Thomas Tryon’s The Planter’s Speech to his Neighbours & Country-Men of Pennsylvania, East & West-Jersey ... (1684), at She-philosopher.​com’s sister project known as Roses.
   Curiously, Bulwer — who remarked on the “wide Mouths” and “plain broad Noses” and “short Forehead” (this last achieved “by ... artifice”), as well as the “Virgin modesty,” of the Secotan women pictured in de Bry’s illustrated edition of Hariot’s Virginia (1590) — located Secota in Florida, not “Ould Virginia” (North Carolina), referring to “the Matrons of Secota in Florida” and “The most Noble Virgins of Secota in Florida” (John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the Artificiall Changling Historically Presented, rev. and enl. 2nd edn., 1653, pp. 168, 123, 74 and 315).
   I have more webessays concerning the influences of AmerIndian fashions and body art on European haute couturee.g., women’s caps and periwigs; “cutting or hallowing downe the neck of womens garments below their shoulders” to expose their breasts; the “slashing, pinking, and cutting of our Doublets”; earrings (especially for men) — in the works.
   While fascinating fashions such as the ophidian earrings of the intimidating Powhatan warriors observed by Strachey in 1610–11 (“some of their men there be, who will weare in these holes, a smale greene and yellow couloured live Snake neere half a yard in length, which Crawling and lapping himself about his neck oftentymes familiarly he suffers to kisse his lipps”) did not catch on, American hummingbird jewelry — a New England “Segamore with a Humbird in his Ear for a Pendant” was described by John Ogilby in his influential promotional tome, America: Being an Accurate Description of the New World ... (London, 1670–1, p. 152) — was all the rage during the 17th century. Adapting indigenous American fashions, European women wore dead hummingbirds as pendants, here serving not just as an exotic jewel, but also as a perfume: according to the cartographer and publisher, Richard Blome, “its Smell is so odoriferous, that it is like the finest Musk and Amber.” The imported American hummingbird quickly became a coveted and profitable consumer item. Durand, the Huguenot refugee who travelled through Virginia and Maryland in 1686–87, recorded that the jewel-like American hummingbird fetched “a price of eight pounds sterling apiece” in England.