We read in the old romances, in Mallory’s “Morte d’Arthur” and elsewhere, of valiant knights who in battle or tournament wore the favour of some lady, or even the lady’s sleeve, upon their helmets. It always used to be a puzzle to me how the sleeve could have been worn around the helmet… He simply took the favour- the colours, a ribbon, or a handkerchief of the lady, as the case might be- and twisted it in and out or over and over the fillet which surmounted the joining-place of crest and helmet. To put her favour on his helmet was the work of a moment…

The dresses of ladies at that period were decorated with the arms of their families, so in each case would be of the “colours” of the lady, so that the sleeve and its colours would be quickly identified, as it was no doubt usually intended they would be. The accidental result of twining a favor in the fillet, in conjunction with the pattern obviously suggested by the turban of the East, produced the conventional torse or wreath. As the conventional slashings of the lambrequin hinted at past hard fighting in battle, so did the conventional torse hint at past service to and favour of ladies, love and war being the occupations of the perfect knight of romance.

A Complete Guide to Heraldry by A. C. Fox-Davies, p. 403


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