William Bruges

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William Bruges (c. 1375 – 9 March 1450) was an English officer of arms. He is best remembered as the first person appointed to the post of Garter King of Arms, which is currently the highest heraldic office in England.

Origins

William Bruges was the son of Richard Bruges, Lancaster King of Arms, and his wife Katherine. The younger Bruges was appointed Chester Herald on 7 June 1398. He was later attached to the household of Henry of Monmouth, then Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, and Duke of Aquitaine.

It is believed that Bruges was promoted to Guyenne King of Arms on the accession of Henry V and was sent to France in that capacity in early 1414. In February of 1416, as Aquitaine King of Arms, Bruges was sent to emperor-elect, Sigismund, on royal business. At this time, the titles of Aquitaine and Guyenne were interchangeable.

Garter King of Arms

The position of King of Arms of the Order of the Garter, usually known as Garter King of Arms, was created sometime around 1415, and Bruges appointed to it. His father's will, dated July 1415, refers to William Bruges as both Guyenne and Garter King of Arms. After this, the next mention of Bruges in the position is 13 September 1417. It was the first time a king of arms had been specifically appointed for the service of an order of chivalry. By virtue of this office, he held permanent authority over the provincial kings of arms.

Bruges's appointment as the first Garter King of Arms coincided with a series of moves to...
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