Fantastic Crests of the Middle Ages :

The Human Head


One of the primitive purposes for the use of a crest on a knight’s helmet was to make him look taller and thus intimidate the enemy.  In these conditions, what is more frightening than the sight of a monstrous head coming at you.

Some knight’s heraldic crest used a men's head with a elephant’s tusk coming from it.  Others had a bill of a duck instead of a man’s normal mouth. In the case of Albret his crest showed a man’s head with large donkey ears.  Still other knights used the horns of a ‘Billy’ goat, etc!

The most frequent figure that was used were mythological "giants."  From the time of the crusades European knights associated the Saracen and the black African with a "faithless" or monotheistic race of men.

Jean Poton de Xaintrailles chose for his crest, the head of a Moor with gold hair and beard and a red bandanna wrapped around his head (coat-of-arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules a lion Argent armed and lampassed Sable, 2nd and 3rd Argent a cross Gules).