Its use is generally traced back to Edward, the Black Prince (1330–1376), eldest son and heir apparent of Edward III of England. Edward bore (as an alternative to his differenced royal arms) a shield of Sable, three ostrich feathers argent, described as his “shield for peace”, probably meaning the shield he used for jousting. These arms can be seen several times on his chest tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, alternating with his royal arms(the royal arms of King Edward III differenced by a label of three points argent). The prince also used badges of one or more ostrich feathers in a number of other contexts.
The feathers had first appeared at the marriage of Edward III to Philippa of Hainault, and it is therefore likely that the Black Prince inherited the badge from his mother. Philippa was descended from the Counts of Hainault, whose eldest son bore the title “Count of Ostrevent“, the ostrich (French: autruche, Old French spellings including ostruce) feathers being (perhaps) a heraldic pun on that name. Alternatively, the badge may have derived from the Counts of Luxembourg, from whom Philippa was also descended, and who had used the badge of an ostrich.
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