A personal device is closely related to the picture-text combinations called
emblems found in emblem books. Popular from late medieval times, the personal device typically consisted of a visual image and a short text or "motto", which when read in combination were intended to convey a sense of the aspirations or character of the bearer.
heraldry, where the coat of armswould often include a motto, the device spread far beyond the aristocracy during the Renaissanceas part of the craze for wittily enigmatic constructions in which combinations of pictures and texts were intended to be read together to generate a meaning that could not be derived from either part alone. The device, to all intents and purposes identical to the Italian "impresa", differs from the emblemin two principal ways. Structurally, the device normally consists of two parts while most emblems have three or more. As well, the device was highly personal, intimately attached to a single individual, while the emblem was constructed to convey a general moral lesson that any reader might apply in his or her own life.
with the motto "Nutrisco et extinguo" (right, at Chambord). These and many more were collected by Claude Paradin and published in his "Devises héroïques" of 1551 and 1557, which gives the motto of Louis XII as "Ultos avos Troiae".
* [http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/ French Emblems at Glasgow] - two editions of Paradin are available here
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