DEVOTEE OF THE VIRGIN MARY
It is mentioned in the poem that Sir Gawain had the Virgin Mary painted on the inside of his shield - And wherever this man found himself in battle, his earnest intent was on this, above all else: that he should get all his fortitude from the five joys that the gracious Queen of Heaven had in her Child. (For this reason the knight had her image fittingly painted on the inner side of his shield, so that when he glanced at it his courage never diminished.)
In a painting by Benjamin West Sir John Chandos is shown holding a shield with the Virgin Mary upon it.
The composition shows Edward, The Black Prince, receiving King John of France after the Battle of Poitiers. It was painted in 1788 for George III, to be hung in the Audience Chamber at Windsor Castle.
See this link: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?category=276&object=407522&row=1382&detail=magnify
Description of the detail shown above - The principal figures is the PRINCE OF WALES: upon his helmet a plume of Ostrich feathers in a coronet, which was worn by the King of Bohemia in the battle of Cressy. JOHN LORD CHANDOS: his crest on his helmet, which is a Saracen's head proper, in profile bended sable: his shield Azure; on it the Virgin Mary Or, encompassed with the rays of the sun Argent.
The description of Chandos in the painting can be found in: The Beauties of England and Wales, Vol I by John Britton and Edward Wedlake.
The Web Gallery of Art says: The paintings by West must be seen as part of a revival of interest in the Middle Ages that was being pioneered by antiquarians such as Joseph Struttz and Francis Grose, to whose works the artist clearly referred for details of the arms, armour, and dress. For the historical narrative the primary sources in English were an early translation of the Chronicles (1325-1400) of Jean Froissart and the History of England (1754-62) by David Hume.
Froissart - Virgin Mary Or and/or bleue Dame?
The Virgin Mary or bleue Dame is mentioned before the battle of Poitiers as being an armorial device used by Chandos. Various references from other sources, Rev. George Shand, Joshua Barnes, M. J. Huxtable, all describe the Virgin Mary as being used by Chandos as one of his armorial devices used either on his shield or on his surcoat.
Sir John Froissart's Chronicles, Thomas Johnes translation, 1806 edition
It chanced, on that day, that Sir John Chandos had rode out near one of the wings of the French army, and Lord John de Clermont, one of the [French] King’s marshals, had done the same, to view the English. As each knight was returning to his quarters, they met. They both had the same device upon the surcoats which they wore over their other clothes; it was a Virgin Mary, embroidered on a field azure, or, encompassed with the rays of the sun argent.
Johnes Translation differs from earlier translations of the 16th century, such as Lord Berner's, as the Virgin Mary is described as being Or (gold) on a azure (blue) background. Berners described the image as a blue Madonna.
Thomas Johnes translation was published at the beginning of the19th century, nearly twenty years after Benjamin West's painting, West could not have used Johnes translation as reference for Chandos' golden Virgin Mary. Where did West get his information? Johnes had many historical manuscripts stored at his Hafod estate. Perhaps one of these documents, destroyed in a fire at Hafod in 1807, contained the information that the device used by Chandos, was a gold Virgin Mary.
Bloodied banners: martial display on the medieval battlefield by Robert W. Jones, p.24 refers to this incident and also believes it is a depiction of the Virgin Mary.
SHAND - Some Notices of the surname of SHAND
It is a somewhat remarkable circumstance that in the records of the office of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, several coats of arms, in no respect resembling each other, are assigned to the name of Shand...................................The next coat of arms appropriated to the name Shand, in the registers of the Lyon office, is a very striking and beautiful escutcheon, viz., Azure in the Sun, the Virgin Mary with the Babe, all proper. To the entry is subjoined the following note, “see Randle Holmes Book, ii c 1, fig 45, for the manner of drawing.” It appears, as we shall see by and by, that in the times before the Reformation, there were several dignified ecclesiastics in the diocese of Aberdeen of the name Schand.
This fact, taken in connection with the peculiar nature of these armorial bearings themselves led us at one time to think that they might have been used by some of those individuals. But, on further enquiry, we are satisfied that this is really French heraldry, and that these bearings are the arms of the family of Chandos or Shandos, which, as is well known, produced several distinguished captains in the course of the long wars between the English and the French.
Golden Virgin Mary, symbol of the Garter Knights
The patrons of the order were:
first and chiefest elected, the Holy Trinity.
Secondly, the blessed Virgin Mary, accounted then the general mediatrix and protectress of all men.
King Edward IV (1461-70) was so strictly devoted, that he thought some additional ceremonies requisite to her farther honour, and thereupon ordained, that on her five solemnities the Knights Companions should annually (on the feast of St. George) wear the habit of the order as long as divine service was celebrating, bearing on the right shoulders of their robes a golden figure of the Virgin Mary.
This Virgin Mary, Or, as displayed a century earlier by Chandos may have had particular significance to the order.
Ken Polton, of Chanterye and The Lion Rampant (see refs) with an interest in the life of Sir John Chandos, believes that Chandos had the Virgin Mary painted on the lining of his shield. It would make sense that on occassion the virgin was depicted on his shield lining, as Chandos' main armourial device was a 'sharp pile gules on a field argent'.
Refs: Stephen Cooper, Sir John Chandos, The Perfect Knight - Brayley - Froissart - Of Device as Device: The Narrative Functioning of Armorial Displays in Froissart’s Chronicles by M. J. Huxtable, University of Durham - Rev George Shand, Norwich 1877, SHAND Some Notices of the surname of SHAND, particularly of the County of Aberdeen - Joshua Barnes, life of Edward III (1688) - http://www.lionrampant.uk.com/characters_chandos.htm