29950291911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 — HeraldryOswald Barron

HERALDRY. Although the word Heraldry properly belongs to all the business of the herald (q.v.), it has long attached itself to that which in earlier times was known as armory, the science of armorial bearings.

History of Armorial Bearings.—In all ages and in all quarters of the world distinguishing symbols have been adopted by tribes or nations, by families or by chieftains. Greek and Roman poets describe the devices borne on the shields of heroes, and many such painted shields are pictured on antique vases. Rabbinical writers have supported the fancy that the standards of the tribes set up in their camps bore figures devised from the prophecy of Jacob, the ravening wolf for Benjamin, the lion’s whelp for Judah and the ship of Zebulon. In the East we have such ancient symbols as the five-clawed dragon of the Chinese empire and the chrysanthemum of the emperor of Japan. In Japan, indeed, the systematized badges borne by the noble clans may be regarded as akin to the heraldry of the West, and the circle with the three asarum leaves of the Tokugawa shoguns has been made as familiar to us by Japanese lacquer and porcelain as the red pellets of the Medici by old Italian fabrics. Before the landing of the Spaniards in Mexico the Aztec chiefs carried shields and banners, some of whose devices showed after the fashion of a phonetic writing the names of their bearers; and the eagle on the new banner of Mexico may be traced to the eagle that was once carved over the palace of Montezuma. That mysterious business of totemism, which students of folk-lore have discovered among most primitive peoples, must be regarded as another of the forerunners of true heraldry, the totem of a tribe supplying a badge which was sometimes displayed on the body of the tribesman in paint, scars or tattooing. Totemism so far touches our heraldry that some would trace to its symbols the white horse of Westphalia, the bull’s head of the Mecklenburgers and many other ancient armories.

When true heraldry begins in Western Europe nothing is more remarkable than the suddenness of its development, once the idea of hereditary armorial symbols was taken by the nobles and knights. Its earliest examples are probably still to be discovered by research, but certain notes may be made which narrow the dates between which we must seek its origin. The older writers on heraldry, lacking exact archaeology, were wont to carry back the beginnings to the dark ages, even if they lacked the assurance of those who distributed blazons among the angelic host before the Creation. Even in our own times old misconceptions give ground slowly. Georg Ruexner’s Thurnier Buch of 1522 is still cited for its evidence of the tournament laws of Henry the Fowler, by which those who would contend in tournaments were forced to show four generations of arms-bearing ancestors. Yet modern criticism has shattered the elaborated fiction of Ruexner. In England many legends survive of arms borne by the Conqueror and his companions. But nothing is more certain than that neither armorial banners nor shields of arms were borne on either side at Hastings. The famous record of the Bayeux tapestry shows shields which in some cases suggest rudely devised armorial bearings, but in no case can a shield be identified as one which is recognized in the generations after the Conquest. So far is the idea of personal arms from the artist, that the same warrior, seen in different parts of the tapestry’s history, has his shield with differing devices. A generation later, Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine emperor, describing the shields of the French knights who came to Constantinople, tells us that their polished faces were plain.

Of all men, kings and princes might be the first to be found bearing arms. Yet the first English sovereign who appears on his great seal with arms on his shield is Richard I. His seal of 1189 shows his shield charged with a lion ramping towards the sinister side. Since one half only is seen of the rounded face of the shield, English antiquaries have perhaps too hastily suggested that the whole bearing was two lions face to face. But the mounted figure of Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders, on his seal of 1164 bears a like shield charged with a like lion, and in this case another shield on the counterseal makes it clear that this is the single lion of Flanders. Therefore we may take it that, in 1189, King Richard bore arms of a lion rampant, while, nine years later, another seal shows him with a shield of the familiar bearings which have been borne as the arms of England by each one of his successors.

That seal of Philip of Alsace is the earliest known example of the arms of the great counts of Flanders. The ancient arms of the kings of France, the blue shield powdered with golden fleurs-de-lys, appear even later. Louis le Jeune, on the crowning of his son Philip Augustus, ordered that the young prince should be clad in a blue dalmatic and blue shoes, sewn with golden fleurs-de-lys, a flower whose name, as “Fleur de Loys,” played upon that of his own, and possibly upon his epithet name of Florus. A seal of the same king has the device of a single lily. But the first French royal seal with the shield of the lilies is that of Louis VIII. (1223–1226). The eagle of the emperors may well be as ancient a bearing as any in Europe, seeing that Charlemagne is said, as the successor of the Caesars, to have used the eagle as his badge. The emperor Henry III. (1039–1056) has the sceptre on his seal surmounted by an eagle; in the 12th century the eagle was embroidered upon the imperial gloves. At Mölsen in 1080 the emperor’s banner is said by William of Tyre to have borne the eagle, and with the beginning of regular heraldry this imperial badge would soon be displayed on a shield. The double-headed eagle is not seen on an imperial seal until after 1414, when the bird with one neck becomes the recognized arms of the king of the Romans.

There are, however, earlier examples of shields of arms than any of these. A document of the first importance is the description by John of Marmoustier of the marriage of Geoffrey of Anjou with Maude the empress, daughter of Henry I., when the king is said to have hung round the neck of his son-in-law a shield with golden “lioncels.” Afterwards the monk speaks of Geoffrey in fight, “pictos leones preferens in clypeo.” Two notes may be added to this account. The first is that the enamelled plate now in the museum at Le Mans, which is said to have been placed over the tomb of Geoffrey after his death in 1151, shows him bearing a long shield of azure with six golden lioncels, thus confirming the monk’s story. The second is the well-known fact that Geoffrey’s bastard grandson, William with the Long Sword, undoubtedly bore these same arms of the six lions of gold in a blue field, even as they are still to be seen upon his tomb at Salisbury. Some ten years before Richard I. seals with the three leopards, his brother John, count of Mortain, is found using a seal upon which he bears two leopards, arms which later tradition assigns to the ancient dukes of Normandy and to their descendants the kings of England before Henry II., who is said to have added the third leopard in right of his wife, a legend of no value. Mr Round has pointed out that Gilbert of Clare, earl of Hertford, who died in 1152, bears on his seal to a document sealed after 1138 and not later than 1146, the three cheverons afterwards so well known in England as the bearings of his successors. An old drawing of the seal of his uncle Gilbert, earl of Pembroke (Lansdowne MS. 203), shows a cheveronny shield used between 1138 and 1148. At some date between 1144 and 1150, Waleran, count of Meulan, shows on his seal a pennon and saddle-cloth with a checkered pattern: the house of Warenne, sprung from his mother’s son, bore shields checky of gold and azure. If we may trust the inventory of Norman seals made by M. Demay, a careful antiquary, there is among the archives of the Manche a grant by Eudes, seigneur du Pont, sealed with a seal and counterseal of arms, to which M. Demay gives a date as early as 1128. The writer has not examined this seal, the earliest armorial evidence of which he has any knowledge, but it may be remarked that the arms are described as varying on the seal and counterseal, a significant touch of primitive armory. Another type of seal common in this 12th century shows the personal device which had not yet developed into an armorial charge. A good example is that of Enguerrand de Candavène, count of St Pol, where, although the shield of the horseman is uncharged, sheaves of oats, playing on his name, are strewn at the foot of the seal. Five of these sheaves were the arms of Candavène when the house came to display arms. In the same fashion three different members of the family of Armenteres in England show one, two or three swords upon their seals, but here the writer has no evidence of a coat of arms derived from these devices.

From the beginning of the 13th century arms upon shields increase in number. Soon the most of the great houses of the west display them with pride. Leaders in the field, whether of a royal army or of a dozen spears, saw the military advantage of a custom which made shield and banner things that might be recognized in the press. Although it is probable that armorial bearings have their first place upon the shield, the charges of the shield are found displayed on the knight’s long surcoat, his “coat of arms,” on his banner or pennon, on the trappers of his horse and even upon the peaks of his saddle. An attempt has been made to connect the rise of armory with the adoption of the barrel-shaped close helm; but even when wearing the earlier Norman helmet with its long nasal the knight’s face was not to be recognized. The Conqueror, as we know, had to bare his head before he could persuade his men at Hastings that he still lived. Armory satisfied a need which had long been felt. When fully armed, one galloping knight was like another; but friend and foe soon learned that the gold and blue checkers meant that Warenne was in the field and that the gold and red vair was for Ferrers. Earl Simon at Evesham sent up his barber to a spying place and, as the barber named in turn the banners which had come up against him, he knew that his last fight was at hand. In spite of these things the growth of the custom of sealing deeds and charters had at least as much influence in the development of armory as any military need. By this way, women and clerks, citizens and men of peace, corporations and colleges, came to share with the fighting man in the use of armorial bearings. Arms in stone, wood and brass decorated the tombs of the dead and the houses of the living; they were broidered in bed-curtains, coverlets and copes, painted on the sails of ships and enamelled upon all manner of goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ work. And, even by warriors, the full splendour of armory was at all times displayed more fully

Drawn by William Gibb for the ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.
in the fantastic magnificence of the tournament than in the

rougher business of war.

There can be little doubt that ancient armorial bearings were chosen at will by the man who bore them, many reasons guiding his choice. Crosses in plenty were taken. Old writers have asserted that these crosses commemorate the badge of the crusaders, yet the fact that the cross was the symbol of the faith was reason enough. No symbolism can be found in such charges as bends and fesses; they are on the shield because a broad band, aslant or athwart, is a charge easily recognized. Medieval wisdom gave every noble and magnanimous quality to the lion, and therefore this beast is chosen by hundreds of knights as their bearing. We have already seen how the arms of a Candavène play upon his name. Such an example was imitated on all sides. Salle of Bedfordshire has two salamanders saltirewise; Belet has his namesake the weasel. In ancient shields almost all beasts and birds other than the lion and the eagle play upon the bearer’s name. No object is so humble that it is unwelcome to the knight seeking a pun for his shield. Trivet has a three-legged trivet; Trumpington two trumps; and Montbocher three pots. The legends which assert that certain arms were “won in the Holy Land” or granted by ancient kings for heroic deeds in the field are for the most part worthless fancies.

Tenants or neighbours of the great feudal lords were wont to make their arms by differencing the lord’s shield or by bringing some charge of it into their own bearings. Thus a group of Kentish shields borrow lions from that of Leyborne, which is azure with six lions of silver. Shirland of Minster bore the same arms differenced with an ermine quarter. Detling had the silver lions in a sable field. Rokesle’s lions are azure in a golden field with a fesse of gules between them; while Wateringbury has six sable lions in a field of silver, and Tilmanstone six ermine lions in a field of azure. The Vipont ring or annelet is in several shields of Westmorland knights, and the cheverons of Clare, the cinquefoil badge of Beaumont and the sheaves of Chester can be traced in the coats of many of the followers of those houses. Sometimes the lord himself set forth such arms in a formal grant, as when the baron of Greystock grants to Adam of Blencowe a shield in which his own three chaplets are charges. The Whitgreave family of Staffordshire still show a shield granted to their ancestor in 1442 by the earl of Stafford, in which the Stafford red cheveron on a golden field is four times repeated.

Differences.—By the custom of the middle ages the “whole coat,” which is the undifferenced arms, belonged to one man only and was inherited whole only by his heirs. Younger branches differenced in many ways, following no rule. In modern armory the label is reckoned a difference proper only to an eldest son. But in older times, although the label was very commonly used by the son and heir apparent, he often chose another distinction during his father’s lifetime, while the label is sometimes found upon the shields of younger sons. Changing the colours or varying the number of charges, drawing a bend or baston over the shield or adding a border are common differences of cadet lines. Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, bore “Gules with a fesse and six crosslets gold.” His cousins are seen changing the crosslets for martlets or for billets. Bastards difference their father’s arms, as a rule, in no more striking manner than the legitimate cadets. Towards the end of the 14th century we have the beginning of the custom whereby certain bastards of princely houses differenced the paternal arms by charging them upon a bend, a fesse or a chief, a cheveron or a quarter. Before his legitimation the eldest son of John of Gaunt by Katharine Swinford is said to have borne a shield party silver and azure with the arms of Lancaster on a bend. After his legitimation in 1397 he changed his bearings to the royal arms of France and England within a border gobony of silver and azure. Warren of Poynton, descended from the last earl Warenne and his concubine, Maude of Neirford, bore the checkered shield of Warenne with a quarter charged with the ermine lion of Neirford. By the end of the middle ages the baston under continental influence tended to become a bastard’s difference in England and the jingle of the two words may have helped to support the custom. About the same time the border gobony began to acquire a like character. The “bar sinister” of the novelists is probably the baston sinister, with the ends couped, which has since the time of Charles II. been familiar on the arms of certain descendants of the royal house. But it has rarely been seen in England over other shields; and, although the border gobony surrounds the arms granted to a peer of Victorian creation, the modern heralds have fallen into the habit of assigning, in nineteen cases out of twenty, a wavy border as the standard difference for illegitimacy.

Shield from seal of Robert de Pinkeny, an early example of parted arms.

Although no general register of arms was maintained it is remarkable that there was little conflict between persons who had chanced to assume the same arms. The famous suit in which Scrope, Grosvenor and Carminow all claimed the blue shield with the golden bend is well known, and there are a few cases in the 14th century of like disputes which were never carried to the courts. But the men of the middle ages would seem to have had marvellous memories for blazonry; and we know that rolls of arms for reference, some of them the records of tournaments, existed in great numbers. A few examples of these remain to us, with painted shields or descriptions in French blazon, some of them containing many hundreds of names and arms.

Shield of Joan atte Pole, widow of Robert of Hemenhale, from her seal (1403), showing parted arms.

To women were assigned, as a rule, the undifferenced arms of their fathers. In the early days of armory married women—well-born spinsters of full age were all but unknown outside the walls of religious houses—have seals on which appear the shield of the husband or the father or both shields side by side. But we have some instances of the shield in which two coats of arms are parted or, to use the modern phrase, “impaled.” Early in the reign of King John, Robert de Pinkeny seals with a parted shield. On the right or dexter side—the right hand of a shield is at the right hand of the person covered by it—are two fusils of an indented fesse: on the left or sinister side are three waves. The arms of Pinkeny being an indented fesse, we may see in this shield the parted arms of husband and wife—the latter being probably a Basset. In many of the earliest examples, as in this, the dexter half of the husband’s shield was united with the sinister half of that of the wife, both coats being, as modern antiquaries have it, dimidiated. This “dimidiation,” however, had its inconvenience. With some coats it was impossible. If the wife bore arms with a quarter for the only charge, her half of the shield would be blank. Therefore the practice was early abandoned by the majority of bearers of parted shields although there is a survival of it in the fact that borders and tressures continue to be “dimidiated” in order that the charges within them shall not be cramped. Parted shields came into common use from the reign of Edward II., and the rule is established that the husband’s arms should take the dexter side. There are, however, several instances of the contrary practice. On the seal (1310) of Maude, wife of John Boutetort of Halstead, the engrailed saltire of the Boutetorts takes the sinister place. A twice-married woman would sometimes show a shield charged with her paternal arms between those of both of her husbands, as did Beatrice Stafford in 1404, while in 1412 Elizabeth, Lady of Clinton, seals with a shield paled with five coats—her arms of la Plaunche between those of four husbands. In most cases the parted shield is found on the wife’s seal alone. Even in our own time it is recognized that the wife’s arms should not appear upon the husband’s official seal, upon his banner or surcoat or upon his shield when it is surrounded by the collar of an order. Parted arms, it may be noted, do not always represent a husband and wife. Richard II. parted with his quartered arms of France and England those ascribed to Edward the Confessor, and parting is often used on the continent where quartering would serve in England. In 1497 the seal of Giles Daubeney and Reynold Bray, fellow justices in eyre, shows their arms parted in one shield. English bishops, by a custom begun late in the 14th century, part the see’s arms with their own. By modern English custom a husband and wife, where the wife is not an heir, use the parted coat on a shield, a widow bearing the same upon the lozenge on which, when a spinster, she displayed her father’s coat alone. When the wife is an heir, her arms are now borne in a little scocheon above those of her husband. If the husband’s arms be in an unquartered shield the central charge is often hidden away by this scocheon.

Shield of Beatrice Stafford from her seal (1404), showing her arms of Stafford between those of her husbands—Thomas, Lord Roos, and Sir Richard Burley. Shield of John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury (d. 1453), showing four coats quartered.

The practice of marshalling arms by quartering spread in England by reason of the example given by Eleanor, wife of Edward I., who displayed the castle of Castile quartered with the lion of Leon. Isabel of France, wife of Edward II., seals with a shield in whose four quarters are the arms of England, France, Navarre and Champagne. Early In the 14th century Simon de Montagu, an ancestor of the earls of Salisbury, quartered with his own arms a coat of azure with a golden griffon. In 1340 we have Laurence Hastings, earl of Pembroke, quartering with the Hastings arms the arms of Valence, as heir of his great-uncle Aymer, earl of Pembroke. In the preceding year the king had already asserted his claim to another kingdom by quartering France with England, and after this quartered shields became common in the great houses whose sons were carefully matched with heirs female. When the wife was an heir the husband would quarter her arms with his own, displaying, as a rule, the more important coat in the first quarter. Marshalling becomes more elaborate with shields showing both quarterings and partings, as in the seal (1368) of Sibil Arundel, where Arundel (Fitzalan) is quartered with Warenne and parted with the arms of Montagu. In all, save one, of these examples the quartering is in its simplest form, with one coat repeated in the first and fourth quarters of the shield and another in the second and third. But to a charter of 1434 Sir Henry Bromflete sets a seal upon which Bromflete quarters Vesci in the second quarter, Aton in the third and St John in the fourth, after the fashion of the much earlier seal of Edward II.’s queen. Another development is that of what armorists style the “grand quarter,” a quarter which is itself quartered, as in the shield of Reynold Grey of Ruthyn, which bears Grey in the first and fourth quarters and Hastings quartered with Valence in the third and fourth. Humphrey Bourchier, Lord Cromwell, in 1469, bears one grand quarter quartered with another, the first having Bourchier and Lovaine, the second Tatershall and Cromwell.

Shield of Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, from his garter stall-plate (after 1423). The arms are Beauchamp quartering Newburgh, with a scocheon of Clare quartering Despenser.

The last detail to be noted in medieval marshalling is the introduction into the shield of another surmounting shield called by old armorists the “innerscocheon” and by modern blazoners the “inescutcheon.” John the Fearless, count of Flanders, marshalled his arms in 1409 as a quartered shield of the new and old coats of Burgundy. Above these coats a little scocheon, borne over the crossing of the quartering lines, had the black lion of Flanders, the arms of his mother. Richard Beauchamp, the adventurous earl of Warwick, who had seen most European courts during his wanderings, may have had this shield in mind when, over his arms of Beauchamp quartering Newburgh, he set a scocheon of Clare quartering Despenser, the arms of his wife Isabel Despenser, co-heir of the earls of Gloucester. The seal of his son-in-law, the King-Maker, shows four quarters—Beauchamp quartering Clare, Montagu quartering Monthermer, Nevill alone, and Newburgh quartering Despenser. An interesting use of the scocheon en surtout is that made by Richard Wydvile, Lord Rivers, whose garter stall-plate has a grand quarter of Wydvile and Prouz quartering Beauchamp of Hache, the whole surmounted by a scocheon with the arms of Reviers or Rivers, the house from which he took the title of his barony. On the continent the common use of the scocheon is to bear the paternal arms of a sovereign or noble, surmounting the quarterings of his kingdoms, principalities, fiefs or seigniories. Our own prince of Wales bears the arms of Saxony above those of the United Kingdom differenced with his silver label. Marshalling takes its most elaborate form, the most removed from the graceful simplicity of the middle ages, in such shields as the “Great Arms” of the Austrian empire, wherein are nine grand quarters each marshalling in various fashions from three to eleven coats, six of the grand-quarters bearing scocheons en surtout, each scocheon ensigned with a different crown.

Crests.—The most important accessory of the arms is the crested helm. Like the arms it has its pre-heraldic history in the crests of the Greek helmets, the wings, the wild boar’s and bull’s heads of Viking headpieces. A little roundel of the arms of a Japanese house was often borne as a crest in the Japanese helmet, stepped in a socket above the middle of the brim. The 12th-century seal of Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders, shows a demi-lion painted or beaten on the side of the upper part of his helm, and on his seal of 1198 our own Richard Cœur de Lion’s barrel-helm has a leopard upon the semicircular comb-ridge, the edge of which is set off with feathers arranged as two wings. Crests, however, came slowly into use in England, although before 1250 Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester, is seen on his seal with a wyver upon his helm. Of the long roll of earls and barons sealing the famous letter to the pope in 1301 only five show true crests on their seals. Two of them are the earl of Lancaster and his brother, each with a wyver crest like that of Quincy. One, and the most remarkable, is John St John of Halnaker, whose crest is a leopard standing between two upright palm branches. Ralph de Monthermer has an eagle crest, while Walter de Moncy’s helm is surmounted by a fox-like beast. In three of these instances the crest is borne, as was often the case, by the horse as well as the rider. Others of these seals to the barons’ letter have the fan-shaped crest without any decoration upon it. But as the furniture of tournaments grew more magnificent the crest gave a new field for display, and many strange shapes appear in painted and gilded wood, metal, leather or parchment above the helms of the jousters. The Berkeleys, great patrons of abbeys, bore a mitre as their crest painted with their arms, like crests being sometimes seen on the continent where the wearer was advocatus of a bishopric or abbey. The whole or half figures or the heads and necks of beasts and birds were employed by other families. Saracens’ heads topped many helms, that of the great Chandos among them. Astley bore for his crest a silver harpy standing in marsh-sedge, a golden chain fastened to a crown about her neck. Dymoke played pleasantly on his name with a long-eared moke’s scalp. Stanley took the eagle’s nest in which the eagle is lighting down with a swaddled babe in his claws. Burnell had a burdock bush, la Vache a cow’s leg, and Lisle’s strange fancy was to perch a huge millstone on edge above his head. Many early helms, as that of Sir John Loterel, painted in the Loterel psalter, repeat the arms on the sides of a fan-crest. Howard bore for a crest his arms painted on a pair of wings, while simple “bushes” or feathers are seen in great plenty. The crest of a cadet is often differenced like the arms, and thus a wyver or a leopard will have a label about its neck. The Montagu griffon on the helm of John, marquess of Montagu, holds in its beak the gimel ring with which he differenced his father’s shield. His brother, the King-Maker, following a custom commoner abroad than at home, shows two crested helms on his seal, one for Montagu and one for Beauchamp—none for his father’s house of Nevill. It is often stated that a man, unless by some special grace or allowance, can have but one crest. This, however, is contrary to the spirit of medieval armory in which a man, inheriting the coat of arms of another house than his own, took with it all its belongings, crest, badge and the like. The heraldry books, with more reason, deny crests to women and to the clergy, but examples are not wanting of medieval seals in which even this rule is broken. It is perhaps unfair to cite the case of the bishops of Durham who ride in full harness on their palatinate seals; but Henry Despenser, bishop of Norwich, has a helm on which the winged griffon’s head of his house springs from a mitre, while Alexander Nevill, archbishop of York, seals with shield, supporters and crowned and crested helm like those of any lay magnate. Richard Holt, a Northamptonshire clerk in holy orders, bears on his seal in the reign of Henry V. a shield of arms and a mantled helm with the crest of a collared greyhound’s head. About the middle of the same century a seal cut for the wife of Thomas Chetwode, a Cheshire squire, has a shield of her husband’s arms parted with her own and surmounted by a crowned helm with the crest of a demi-lion; and this is not the only example of such bearings by a woman.

Ralph de Monthermer (1301), showing shield of arms, helm with crest and mantle, horse-crest and armorial trappers.
Shield and crested helm with hat and mantle of Thomas of Hengrave (1401).

Before passing from the crest let us note that in England the juncture of crest and helm was commonly covered, especially after the beginning of the 15th century, by a torse or “wreath” of silk, twisted with one, two or three colours. Coronets or crowns and “hats of estate” often take the place of the wreath as a base for the crest, and there are other curious variants. With the wreath may be considered the mantle, a hanging cloth which, in its earliest form, is seen as two strips of silk or sendal attached to the top of the helm below the crest and streaming like pennants as the rider bent his head and charged. Such strips are often displayed from the conical top of an uncrested helm, and some ancient examples have the air of the two ends of a stole or of the infulae of a bishop’s mitre. The general opinion of antiquaries has been that the mantle originated among the crusaders as a protection for the steel helm from the rays of an Eastern sun; but the fact that mantles take in England their fuller form after our crusading days were over seems against this theory. When the fashion for slittering the edges of clothing came in, the edges of the mantle were slittered like the edge of the sleeve or skirt, and, flourished out on either side of the helm, it became the delight of the painter of armories and the seal engraver. A worthless tale, repeated by popular manuals, makes the slittered edge represent the shearing work of the enemy’s sword, a fancy which takes no account of the like developments in civil dress. Modern heraldry in England paints the mantle with the principal colour of the shield, lining it with the principal metal. This in cases where no old grant of arms is cited as evidence of another usage. The mantles of the king and of the prince of Wales are, however, of gold lined with ermine and those of other members of the royal house of gold lined with silver. In ancient examples there is great variety and freedom. Where the crest is the head of a griffon or bird the feathering of the neck will be carried on to cover the mantle. Other mantles will be powdered with badges or with charges from the shield, others checkered, barred or paled. More than thirty of the mantles enamelled on the stall-plates of the medieval Garter-knights are of red with an ermine lining, tinctures which in most cases have no reference to the shields below them.

Supporters.—Shields of arms, especially upon seals, are sometimes figured as hung round the necks of eagles, lions, swans and griffons, as strapped between the horns of a hart or to the boughs of a tree. Badges may fill in the blank spaces at the sides between the shield and the inscription on the rim, but in the later 13th and early 14th centuries the commonest objects so serving are sprigs of plants, lions, leopards, or, still more frequently, lithe-necked wyvers. John of Segrave in 1301 flanks his shields with two of the sheaves of the older coat of Segrave: William Marshal of Hingham does the like with his two marshal’s staves. Henry of Lancaster at the same time shows on his seal a shield and a helm crested with a wyver, with two like wyvers ranged on either side of the shield as “supporters.” It is uncertain at what time in the 14th century these various fashions crystallize into the recognized use of beasts, birds, reptiles, men or inanimate objects, definitely chosen as “supporters” of the shield, and not to be taken as the ornaments suggested by the fancy of the seal engraver. That supporters originate in the decoration of the seal there can be little doubt. Some writers, the learned Menêtrier among them, will have it that they were first the fantastically clad fellows who supported and displayed the knight’s shield at the opening of the tournament. If the earliest supporters were wild men, angels or Saracens, this theory might be defended; but lions, boars and talbots, dogs and trees are guises into which a man would put himself with difficulty. By the middle of the 14th century we find what are clearly recognizable as supporters. These, as in a lesser degree the crest, are often personal rather than hereditary, being changed generation by generation. The same person is found using more than one pair of them. The kings of France have had angels as supporters of the shield of the fleurs de lys since the 15th century, but the angels have only taken their place as the sole royal supporters since the time of Louis XIV. Sovereigns of England from Henry IV. to Elizabeth changed about between supporters of harts, leopards, antelopes, bulls, greyhounds, boars and dragons. James I. at his accession to the English throne brought the Scottish unicorn to face the English leopard rampant across his shield, and, ever since, the “lion and unicorn” have been the royal supporters.

Arms of William, Lord Hastings, from his seal (1477), showing shield, crowned and crested helm with mantle and supporters.
Badge of John of Whethamstede,
abbot of St Albans (d. 1465), from
his tomb in the abbey church.
Rudder badge of Willoughby.

An old herald wrote as his opinion that “there is little or nothing in precedent to direct the use of supporters.” Modern custom gives them, as a rule, only to peers, to knights of the Garter, the Thistle and St Patrick, and to knights who are “Grand Crosses” or Grand Commanders of other orders. Royal warrants are sometimes issued for the granting of supporters to baronets, and, in rare cases, they have been assigned to untitled persons. But in spite of the jealousy with which official heraldry hedges about the display of these supporters once assumed so freely, a few old English families still assert their right by hereditary prescription to use these ornaments as their forefathers were wont to use them.

Badge of Dacre of Gilsland and Dacre of the North.

Badges.—The badge may claim a greater antiquity and a wider use than armorial bearings. The “Plantagenet” broom is an early example in England, sprigs of it being figured on the seal of Richard I. In the 14th and 15th centuries every magnate had his badge, which he displayed on his horse-furniture, on the hangings of his bed, his wall and his chair of state, besides giving it as a “livery” to his servants and followers. Such were the knots of Stafford, Bourchier and Wake, the scabbard-crampet of La Warr, the sickle of Hungerford, the swan of Toesni, Bohun and Lancaster, the dun-bull of Nevill, the blue boar of Vere and the bear and ragged staff of Beauchamp, Nevill of Warwick and Dudley of Northumberland. So well known of all were these symbols that a political ballad of 1449 sings of the misfortunes of the great lords without naming one of them, all men understanding what signified the Falcon, the Water Bowge and the Cresset and the other badges of the doggerel. More famous still were the White Hart, the Red Rose, the White Rose, the Sun, the Falcon and Fetterlock, the Portcullis and the many other badges of the royal house. We still call those wars that blotted out the old baronage the Wars of the Roses, and the Prince of Wales’s feathers are as well known to-day as the royal arms. The Flint and Steel of Burgundy make a collar for the order of the Golden Fleece.

Ostrich feather badge of Beaufort, from a garter stall-plate of 1440. The silver feather has a quill gobony silver and azure.

Mottoes.—The motto now accompanies every coat of arms in these islands. Few of these Latin aphorisms, these bald assertions of virtue, high courage, patriotism, piety and loyalty have any antiquity. Some few, however, like the “Espérance” of Percy, were the war-cries of remote ancestors. “I mak’ sicker” of Kirkpatrick recalls pridefully a bloody deed done on a wounded man, and the “Dieu Ayde,” “Agincourt” and “D’Accomplir Agincourt” of the Irish “Montmorencys” and the English Wodehouses and Dalisons, glorious traditions based upon untrustworthy genealogy. The often-quoted punning mottoes may be illustrated by that of Cust, who says “Qui Cust-odit caveat,” a modern example and a fair one. Ancient mottoes as distinct from the war or gathering cry of a house are often cryptic sentences whose meaning might be known to the user and perchance to his mistress. Such are the “Plus est en vous” of Louis de Bruges, the Flemish earl of Winchester, and the “So have I cause” and “Till then thus” of two Englishmen. The word motto is of modern use, our forefathers speaking rather of their “word” or of their “reason.”

Coronets of Rank.—Among accessories of the shield may now be counted the coronets of peers, whose present form is post-medieval. When Edward III. made dukes of his sons, gold circlets were set upon their heads in token of their new dignity. In 1385 John de Vere, marquess of Dublin, was created in the same fashion. Edward VI. extended the honour of the gold circle to earls. Caps of honour were worn with these circles or coronets, and viscounts wore the cap by appointment of James I., Vincent the herald stating that “a verge of pearls on top of the circulet of gold” was added at the creation of Robert Cecil as Viscount Cranborne. At the coronation of Charles I. the viscounts walked in procession with their caps and coronets. A few days before the coronation of Charles II. the privilege

Drawn by William Gibb. Niagara Litho. Co., Buffalo, N. Y.
of the cap of honour was given to the lowest rank of the peerage,

and letters patent of January 1661 assign to them both cap and coronet. The caps of velvet turned up with miniver, which are now always worn with the peer’s coronet, are therefore the ancient caps of honour, akin to that “cap of maintenance” worn by English sovereigns on their coronation days when walking to the Abbey Church, and borne before them on occasions of royal state.

The ancient circles were enriched according to the taste of the bearer, and, although used at creations as symbols of the rank conferred, were worn in the 14th and 15th centuries by men and women of rank without the use signifying a rank in the peerage. Edmund, earl of March, in his will of 1380, named his sercle ove roses, emeraudes et rubies d’alisaundre en les roses, and bequeathed it to his daughter. Modern coronets are of silver-gilt, without jewels, set upon caps of crimson velvet turned up with ermine, with a gold tassel at the top. A duke’s coronet has the circle decorated with eight gold “strawberry leaves”; that of a marquess has four gold strawberry leaves and four silver balls. The coronet of an earl has eight silver balls, raised upon points, with gold strawberry leaves between the points. A viscount’s coronet has on the circle sixteen silver balls, and a baron’s coronet six silver balls. On the continent the modern use of coronets is not ordered in the precise English fashion, men of gentle birth displaying coronets which afford but slight indication of the bearer’s rank.

Lines.—Eleven varieties of lines, other than straight lines, which divide the shield, or edge our cheverons, pales, bars and the like, are pictured in the heraldry books and named as engrailed, embattled, indented, invected, wavy or undy, nebuly, dancetty, raguly, potenté, dovetailed and urdy.

As in the case of many other such lists of the later armorists these eleven varieties need some pruning and a new explanation.

The most commonly found is the line engrailed, which for the student of medieval armory must be associated with the line indented. In its earliest form the line which a roll of arms will describe indifferently as indented or engrailed takes almost invariably the form to which the name indented is restricted by modern armorists.


The cross may serve as our first example. A cross, engrailed or indented, the words being used indifferently, is a cross so deeply notched at the edges that it seems made up of so many lozenge-shaped wedges or fusils. About the middle of the 14th century begins a tendency, resisted in practice by many conservative families, to draw the engrailing lines in the fashion to which modern armorists restrict the word “engrailed,” making shallower indentures in the form of lines of half circles. Thus the engrailed cross of the Mohuns takes either of the two forms which we illustrate. Bends follow the same fashion, early bends engrailed or indented being some four or more fusils joined bendwise by their blunt sides, bends of less than four fusils being very rare. Thus also the engrailed or indented saltires, pales or cheverons, the exact number of the fusils which go to the making of these being unconsidered. For the fesse there is another law. The fesse indented or engrailed is made up of fusils as is the engrailed bend. But although early rolls of arms sometimes neglect this detail in their blazon, the fusils making a fesse must always be of an ascertained number. Montagu, earl of Salisbury, bore a fesse engrailed or indented of three fusils only, very few shields imitating this. Medieval armorists will describe his arms as a fesse indented of three indentures, as a fesse fusilly of three pieces, or as a fesse engrailed of three points or pieces, all of these blazons having the same value. The indented fesse on the red shield of the Dynhams has four such fusils of ermine. Four, however, is almost as rare a number as three, the normal form of a fesse indented being that of five fusils as borne by Percys, Pinkenys, Newmarches and many other ancient houses. Indeed, accuracy of blazon is served if the number of fusils in a fesse be named in the cases of threes and fours. Fesses of six fusils are not to be found. Note that bars indented or engrailed are, for a reason which will be evident, never subject to this counting of fusils. Fauconberg, for example, bore “Silver with two bars engrailed, or indented, sable.” Displayed on a shield of the flat-iron outline, the lower bar would show fewer fusils than the upper, while on a square banner each bar would have an equal number—usually five or six.

Montagu. Dynham. Percy. Fauconberg.

While bends, cheverons, crosses, saltires and pales often follow, especially in the 15th century, the tendency towards the rounded “engrailing,” fesses keep, as a rule, their bold indentures—neither Percy nor Montagu being ever found with his bearings in aught but their ancient form. Borders take the newer fashion as leaving more room for the charges of the field. But indented chiefs do not change their fashion, although many saw-teeth sometimes take the place of the three or four strong points of early arms, and parti-coloured shields whose party line is indented never lose the bold zig-zag.


While bearing in mind that the two words have no distinctive force in ancient armory, the student and the herald of modern times may conveniently allow himself to blazon the sharp and saw-toothed line as “indented” and the scolloped line as “engrailed,” especially when dealing with the debased armory in which the distinction is held to be a true one and one of the first importance. One error at least he must avoid, and that is the following of the heraldry-book compilers in their use of the word “dancetty.” A “dancetty” line, we are told, is a line having fewer and deeper indentures than the line indented. But no dancetty line could make a bolder dash across the shield than do the lines which the old armorists recognized as “indented.” In old armory we have fesses dancy—commonly called “dances”—bends dancy, or cheverons dancy; there are no chiefs dancy nor borders dancy, nor are there shields blazoned as parted with a dancy line. Waved lines, battled lines and ragged lines need little explanation that a picture cannot give. The word invecked or invected is sometimes applied by old-fashioned heraldic pedants to engrailed lines; later pedants have given it to a line found in modern grants of arms, an engrailed line reversed. Dove-tailed and urdy lines are mere modernisms. Of the very rare nebuly or clouded line we can only say that the ancient form, which imitated the conventional cloud-bank of the old painters, is now almost forgotten, while the bold “wavy” lines of early armory have the word “nebuly” misapplied to them.

The Ordinary Charges.—The writers upon armory have given the name of Ordinaries to certain conventional figures commonly charged upon shields. Also they affect to divide these into Honourable Ordinaries and Sub-Ordinaries without explaining the reason for the superior honour of the Saltire or for the subordination of the Quarter. Disregarding such distinctions, we may begin with the description of the “Ordinaries” most commonly to be found.

From the first the Cross was a common bearing on English shields, “Silver a cross gules” being given early to St George, patron of knights and of England, for his arms; and under St George’s red cross the English were wont to fight. Our armorial crosses took many shapes, but the “crosses innumerabill” of the Book of St Albans and its successors may be left to the heraldic dictionary makers who have devised them. It is more important to define those forms in use during the middle ages, and to name them accurately after the custom of those who bore them in war, a task which the heraldry books have never as yet attempted with success.

The cross in its simple form needs no definition, but it will be noted that it is sometimes borne “voided” and that in a very few cases it appears as a lesser charge with its ends cut off square, in which case it must be clearly blazoned as “a plain Cross.”

Andrew Harcla, the march-warden, whom Edward II. made an earl and executed as a traitor, bore the arms of St George with a martlet sable in the quarter.

Crevequer of Kent bore “Gold a voided cross gules.”

Newsom (14th century) bore “Azure a fesse silver with three plain crosses gules.”

St George. Harcla. Crevequer. Latimer.

Next to the plain Cross may be taken the Cross paty, the croiz patee or pate of old rolls of arms. It has several forms, according to the taste of the artist and the age. So, in the 13th and early 14th centuries, its limbs curve out broadly, while at a later date the limbs become more slender and of even breadth, the ends somewhat resembling fleurs-de-lys. Each of these forms has been seized by the heraldic writers as the type of a distinct cross for which a name must be found, none of them, as a rule, being recognized as a cross paty, a word which has its misapplication elsewhere. Thus the books have “cross patonce” for the earlier form, while “cross clechée” and “cross fleurie” serve for the others. But the true identification of the various crosses is of the first importance to the antiquary, since without it descriptions of the arms on early seals or monuments must needs be valueless. Many instances of this need might be cited from the British Museum catalogue of seals, where, for example, the cross paty of Latimer is described twice as a “cross flory,” six times as a “cross patonce,” but not once by its own name, although there is no better known example of this bearing in England.

Latimer bore “Gules a cross paty gold.”

The cross formy follows the lines of the cross paty save that its broadening ends are cut off squarely.

Chetwode bore “Quarterly silver and gules with four crosses formy countercoloured”—that is to say, the two crosses in the gules are of silver and the two in the silver of gules.


The cross flory or flowered cross, the “cross with the ends flowered”—od les boutes floretes as some of the old rolls have it—is, like the cross paty, a mark for the misapprehension of writers on armory, who describe some shapes of the cross paty by its name. Playing upon discovered or fancied variants of the word, they bid us mark the distinctions between crosses “fleur-de-lisée,” “fleury” and “fleurettée,” although each author has his own version of the value which must be given these precious words. But the facts of the medieval practice are clear to those who take their armory from ancient examples and not from phrases plagiarized from the hundredth plagiarist. The flowered cross is one whose limbs end in fleur-de-lys, which spring sometimes from a knop or bud but more frequently issue from the square ends of a cross of the “formy” type.

Swynnerton bore “Silver a flowered cross sable.”

The mill-rind, which takes its name from the iron of a mill-stone—fer de moline—must be set with the crosses. Some of the old rolls call it croiz recercele, from which armorial writers have leaped to imagine a distinct type. Also they call the mill-rind itself a “cross moline” keeping the word mill-rind for a charge having the same origin but of somewhat differing form. Since this charge became common in Tudor armory it is perhaps better that the original mill-rind should be called for distinction a mill-rind cross.

Willoughby bore “Gules a mill-rind cross silver.”

Chetwode. Swynnerton. Willoughby. Brerelegh.

The crosslet, cross botonny or cross crosletted, is a cross whose limbs, of even breadth, end as trefoils or treble buds. It is rarely found in medieval examples in the shape—that of a cross with limbs ending in squarely cut plain crosses—which it took during the 16th-century decadence. As the sole charge of a shield it is very rare; otherwise it is one of the commonest of charges.

Brerelegh bore “Silver a crosslet gules.”

Within these modest limits we have brought the greater part of that monstrous host of crosses which cumber the dictionaries. A few rare varieties may be noticed.

Dukinfield bore “Silver a voided cross with sharpened ends.”

Skirlaw, bishop of Durham (d. 1406), the son of a basket-weaver, bore “Silver a cross of three upright wattles sable, crossed and interwoven by three more.”

Drury bore “Silver a chief vert with a St Anthony’s cross gold between two golden molets, pierced gules.”

Brytton bore “Gold a patriarch’s cross set upon three degrees or steps of gules.”

Hurlestone of Cheshire bore “Silver a cross of four ermine tails sable.”

Melton bore “Silver a Toulouse cross gules.” By giving this cross a name from the counts of Toulouse, its best-known bearers, some elaborate blazonry is spared.

Skirlaw. Drury. St Anthony’s Cross. Brytton.

The crosses paty and formy, and more especially the crosslets, are often borne fitchy, that is to say, with the lower limb somewhat lengthened and ending in a point, for which reason the 15th-century writers call these “crosses fixabill.” In the 14th-century rolls the word “potent” is sometimes used for these crosses fitchy, the long foot suggesting a potent or staff. From this source modern English armorists derive many of their “crosses potent,” whose four arms have the T heads of old-fashioned walking staves.

Howard bore “Silver a bend between six crosslets fitchy gules.”

Scott of Congerhurst in Kent bore “Silver a crosslet fitchy sable.”

Hurlestone. Melton. Howard. Scott.

The Saltire is the cross in the form of that on which St Andrew suffered, whence it is borne on the banner of Scotland, and by the Andrew family of Northamptonshire.

Nevile of Raby bore “Gules a saltire silver.”

Nicholas Upton, the 15th-century writer on armory, bore “Silver a saltire sable with the ends couped and five golden rings thereon.”

Aynho bore “Sable a saltire silver having the ends flowered between four leopards gold.”

“Mayster Elwett of Yorke chyre” in a 15th-century roll bears “Silver a saltire of chains sable with a crescent in the chief.”

Nevile. Upton. Aynho. Elwett.

Restwolde bore “Party saltirewise of gules and ermine.”


The chief is the upper part of the shield and, marked out by a line of division, it is taken as one of the Ordinaries. Shields with a plain chief and no more are rare in England, but Tichborne of Tichborne has borne since the 13th century “Vair a chief gold.” According to the heraldry books the chief should be marked off as a third part of the shield, but its depth varies, being broader when charged with devices and narrower when, itself uncharged, it surmounts a charged field. Fenwick bore “Silver a chief gules with six martlets countercoloured,” and in this case the chief would be the half of the shield. Clinging to the belief that the chief must not fill more than a third of the shield, the heraldry books abandon the word in such cases, blazoning them as “party per fesse.”

Hastang bore “Azure a chief gules and a lion with a forked tail over all.”

Walter Kingston seals in the 13th century with a shield of “Two rings or annelets in the chief.”

Hilton of Westmoreland bore “Sable three rings gold and two saltires silver in the chief.”

With the chief may be named the Foot, the nether part of the shield marked off as an Ordinary. So rare is this charge that we can cite but one example of it, that of the shield of John of Skipton, who in the 14th century bore “Silver with the foot indented purple and a lion purple.” The foot, however, is a recognized bearing in France, whose heralds gave it the name of champagne.

Restwolde. Hastang. Hilton. Provence.

The Pale is a broad stripe running the length of the shield. Of a single pale and of three pales there are several old examples. Four red pales in a golden shield were borne by Eleanor of Provence, queen of Henry III.; but the number did not commend itself to English armorists. When the field is divided evenly into six pales it is said to be paly; if into four or eight pales, it is blazoned as paly of that number of pieces. But paly of more or less than six pieces is rarely found.

The Yorkshire house of Gascoigne bore “Silver a pale sable with a golden conger’s head thereon, cut off at the shoulder.”

Ferlington bore “Gules three pales vair and a chief gold.”

Strelley bore “Paly silver and azure.”

Rothinge bore “Paly silver and gules of eight pieces.”

When the shield or charge is divided palewise down the middle into two tinctures it is said to be “party.” “Party silver and gules” are the arms of the Waldegraves. Bermingham bore “Party silver and sable indented.” Caldecote bore “Party silver and azure with a chief gules.” Such partings of the field often cut through charges whose colours change about on either side of the parting line. Thus Chaucer the poet bore “Party silver and gules with a bend countercoloured.”

Gascoigne. Ferlington. Strelley. Rothinge.

The Fesse is a band athwart the shield, filling, according to the rules of the heraldic writers, a third part of it. By ancient use, however, as in the case of the chief and pale, its width varies with the taste of the painter, narrowing when set in a field full of charges and broadening when charges are displayed on itself. When two or three fesses are borne they are commonly called Bars. “Ermine four bars gules” is given as the shield of Sir John Sully, a 14th-century Garter knight, on his stall-plate at Windsor: but the plate belongs to a later generation, and should probably have three bars only. Little bars borne in couples are styled Gemels (twins). The field divided into an even number of bars of alternate colours is said to be barry, barry of six pieces being the normal number. If four or eight divisions be found the number of pieces must be named; but with ten or more divisions the number is unreckoned and “burely” is the word.

Bermingham. Caldecote. Colevile. Fauconberg.

Colevile of Bitham bore “Gold a fesse gules.”

West bore “Silver a dance (or fesse dancy) sable.”

Fauconberg bore “Gold a fesse azure with three pales gules in the chief.”

Cayvile bore “Silver a fesse gules, flowered on both sides.”

Cayvile. Devereux. Chamberlayne. Harcourt.

Devereux bore “Gules a fesse silver with three roundels silver in the chief.”

Chamberlayne of Northamptonshire bore “Gules a fesse and three scallops gold.”

Harcourt bore “Gules two bars gold.”

Manners bore “Gold two bars azure and a chief gules.”

Wake bore “Gold two bars gules with three roundels gules in the chief.”

Bussy bore “Silver three bars sable.”

Badlesmere of Kent bore “Silver a fesse between two gemels gules.”

Melsanby bore “Sable two gemels and a chief silver.”

Manners. Wake.  Melsanby.  Grey. 

Grey bore “Barry of silver and azure.”

Fitzalan of Bedale bore “Barry of eight pieces gold and gules.”

Stutevile bore “Burely of silver and gules.”

The Bend is a band traversing the shield aslant, arms with one, two or three bends being common during the middle ages in England. Bendy shields follow the rule of shields paly and barry, but as many as ten pieces have been counted in them. The bend is often accompanied by a narrow bend on either side, these companions being called Cotices. A single narrow bend, struck over all other charges, is the Baston, which during the 13th and 14th centuries was a common difference for the shields of the younger branches of a family, coming in later times to suggest itself as a difference for bastards.

 Fitzalan of Bedale.Mauley.Harley.Wallop.

The Bend Sinister, the bend drawn from right to left beginning at the “sinister” corner of the shield, is reckoned in the heraldry books as a separate Ordinary, and has a peculiar significance accorded to it by novelists. Medieval English seals afford a group of examples of Bends Sinister and Bastons Sinister, but there seems no reason for taking them as anything more than cases in which the artist has neglected the common rule.

Mauley bore “Gold a bend sable.”

Harley bore “Gold a bend with two cotices sable.”

Wallop bore “Silver a bend wavy sable.”

Ralegh bore “Gules a bend indented, or engrailed, silver.”

Ralegh. Tracy. Bodrugan. St Philibert.

Tracy bore “Gold two bends gules with a scallop sable in the chief between the bends.”

Bodrugan bore “Gules three bends sable.”

St Philibert bore “Bendy of six pieces, silver and azure.”

Bishopsdon bore “Bendy of six pieces, gold and azure, with a quarter ermine.”

Montfort of Whitchurch bore “Bendy of ten pieces gold and azure.”

Bishopsdon. Montfort. Lancaster. Fraunceys.

Henry of Lancaster, second son of Edmund Crouchback, bore the arms of his cousin, the king of England, with the difference of “a baston azure.”

Adam Fraunceys (14th century) bore “Party gold and sable bendwise with a lion countercoloured.” The parting line is here commonly shown as “sinister.”

The Cheveron, a word found In medieval building accounts for the barge-boards of a gable, is an Ordinary whose form is explained by its name. Perhaps the very earliest of English armorial charges, and familiarized by the shield of the great house of Clare, it became exceedingly popular in England. Like the bend and the chief, its width varies in different examples. Likewise its angle varies, being sometimes so acute as to touch the top of the shield, while in post-medieval armory the point is often blunted beyond the right angle. One, two or three cheverons occur in numberless shields, and five cheverons have been found. Also there are some examples of the bearing of cheveronny.

The earls of Gloucester of the house of Clare bore “Gold three cheverons gules” and the Staffords derived from them their shield of “Gold a cheveron gules.”

Chaworth bore “Azure two cheverons gold.”

Peytevyn bore “Cheveronny of ermine and gules.”

St Quintin of Yorkshire bore “Gold two cheverons gules and a chief vair.”

Sheffield bore “Ermine a cheveron gules between three sheaves gold.”

Cobham of Kent bore “Gules a cheveron gold with three fleurs-de-lys azure thereon.”

Fitzwalter bore “Gold a fesse between two cheverons gules.”

Chaworth. Peytevyn. Sheffield. Cobham.

Shields parted cheveronwise are common in the 15th century, when they are often blazoned as having chiefs “enty” or grafted. Aston of Cheshire bore “Party sable and silver cheveronwise” or “Silver a chief enty sable.”

The Pile or stake (estache) is a wedge-shaped figure jutting from the chief to the foot of the shield, its name allied to the pile of the bridge-builder. A single pile is found in the notable arms of Chandos, and the black piles in the ermine shield of Hollis are seen as an example of the bearing of two piles. Three piles are more easily found, and when more than one is represented the points are brought together at the foot. In ancient armory piles in a shield are sometimes reckoned as a variety of pales, and a Basset with three piles on his shield is seen with three pales on his square banner.

Chandos bore “Gold a pile gules.”

Bryene bore “Gold three piles azure.”

The Quarter is the space of the first quarter of the shield divided crosswise into four parts. As an Ordinary it is an ancient charge and a common one in medieval England, although it has all but disappeared from modern heraldry books, the “Canton,” an alleged “diminutive,” unknown to early armory, taking its place. Like the other Ordinaries, its size is found to vary with the scheme of the shield’s charges, and this has persuaded those armorists who must needs call a narrow bend a “bendlet,” to the invention of the “Canton,” a word which in the sense of a quarter or small quarter appears for the first time in the latter part of the 15th century. Writers of the 14th century sometimes give it the name of the Cantel, but this word is also applied to the void space on the opposite side of the chief, seen above a bend.

Aston. Hollis.  Bryene. Blencowe.

Blencowe bore “Gules a quarter silver.”

Basset of Drayton bore “Gold three piles (or pales) gules with a quarter ermine.”

Wydvile bore “Silver a fesse and a quarter gules.”

Odingseles bore “Silver a fesse gules with a molet gules in the quarter.”

Robert Dene of Sussex (14th century) bore “Gules a quarter azure ‘embelif,’ or aslant, and thereon a sleeved arm and hand of silver.”

Shields or charges divided crosswise with a downward line and a line athwart are said to be quarterly. An ancient coat of this fashion is that of Say who bore (13th century) “Quarterly gold and gules”—the first and fourth quarters being gold and the second and third red. Ever or Eure bore the same with the addition of “a bend sable with three silver scallops thereon.” Phelip, Lord Bardolf, bore “Quarterly gules and silver with an eagle gold in the quarter.”

Basset. Wydvile. Odingseles.  Ever. 

With the 15th century came a fashion of dividing the shield into more than four squares, six and nine divisions being often found in arms of that age. The heraldry books, eager to work out problems of blazonry, decide that a shield divided into six squares should be described as “Party per fesse with a pale counterchanged,” and one divided into nine squares as bearing “a cross quarter-pierced.” It seems a simpler business to follow a 15th-century fashion and to blazon such shields as being of six or nine “pieces.” Thus John Garther (15th century) bore “Nine pieces erminees and ermine” and Whitgreave of Staffordshire “Nine pieces of azure and of Stafford’s arms, which are gold with a cheveron gules.” The Tallow Chandlers of London had a grant in 1456 of “Six pieces azure and silver with three doves in the azure, each with an olive sprig in her beak.”

Squared into more than nine squares the shield becomes checky or checkered and the number is not reckoned. Warenne’s checker of gold and azure is one of the most ancient coats in England and checkered fields and charges follow in great numbers. Even lions have been borne checkered.

Warenne bore “Checky gold and azure.”

Clifford bore the like with “a fesse gules.”

Cobham bore “Silver a lion checky gold and sable.”

Arderne bore “Ermine a fesse checky gold and gules.”

Phelip Lord Bardolf. Whitgreave. Tallow Chandlers. Warenne.

Such charges as this fesse of Arderne’s and other checkered fesses, bars, bends, borders and the like, will commonly bear but two rows of squares, or three at the most. The heraldry writers are ready to note that when two rows are used “counter-compony” is the word in place of checky, and “compony-counter-compony” in the case of three rows. It is needless to say that these words have neither practical value nor antiquity to commend them. But bends and bastons, labels, borders and the rest are often coloured with a single row of alternating tinctures. In this case the pieces are said to be “gobony.” Thus John Cromwell (14th century) bore “Silver a chief gules with a baston gobony of gold and azure.”

The scocheon or shield used as a charge is found among the earliest arms. Itself charged with arms, it served to indicate alliance by blood or by tenure with another house, as in the bearings of St Owen whose shield of “Gules with a cross silver” has a scocheon of Clare in the quarter. In the latter half of the 15th century it plays an important part in the curious marshalling of the arms of great houses and lordships.

Erpingham bore “Vert a scocheon silver with an orle (or border) of silver martlets.”

Davillers bore at the battle of Boroughbridge “Silver three scocheons gules.”

The scocheon was often borne voided or pierced, its field cut away to a narrow border. Especially was this the case in the far North, where the Balliols, who bore such a voided scocheon, were powerful. The voided scocheon is wrongly named in all the heraldry books as an orle, a term which belongs to a number of small charges set round a central charge. Thus the martlets in the shield of Erpingham, already described, may be called an orle of martlets or a border of martlets. This misnaming of the voided scocheon has caused a curious misapprehension of its form, even Dr Woodward, in his Heraldry, British and Foreign, describing the “orle” as “a narrow border detached from the edge of the shield.” Following this definition modern armorial artists will, in the case of quartered arms, draw the “orle” in a first or second quarter of a quartered shield as a rectangular figure and in a third or fourth quarter as a scalene triangle with one arched side. Thereby the original voided scocheon changes into forms without meaning.

Balliol bore “Gules a voided scocheon silver.”

Surtees bore “Ermine with a quarter of the arms of Balliol.”

Clifford.  Arderne. Cromwell. Erpingham.

The Tressure or flowered tressure is a figure which is correctly described by Woodward’s incorrect description of the orle as cited above, being a narrow inner border of the shield. It is distinguished, however, by the fleurs-de-lys which decorate it, setting off its edges. The double tressure which surrounds the lion in the royal shield of Scotland, and which is borne by many Scottish houses who have served their kings well or mated with their daughters, is carefully described by Scottish heralds as “flowered and counter-flowered,” a blazon which is held to mean that the fleurs-de-lys show head and tail in turn from the outer rim of the outer tressure and from the inner rim of the innermost. But this seems to have been no essential matter with medieval armorists and a curious 15th-century enamelled roundel of the arms of Vampage shows that in this English case the flowering takes the more convenient form of allowing all the lily heads to sprout from the outer rim.

Vampage bore “Azure an eagle silver within a flowered tressure silver.”

The king of Scots bore “Gold a lion within a double tressure flowered and counterflowered gules.”

Felton bore “Gules two lions passant within a double tressure flory silver.”

Davillers. Balliol. Surtees. Vampage.

The Border of the shield when marked out in its own tincture is counted as an Ordinary. Plain or charged, it was commonly used as a difference. As the principal charge of a shield it is very rare, so rare that in most cases where it apparently occurs we may, perhaps, be following medieval custom in blazoning the shield as one charged with a scocheon and not with a border. Thus Hondescote bore “Ermine a border gules” or “Gules a scocheon ermine.”

Somerville bore “Burely silver and gules and a border azure with golden martlets.”

Paynel bore “Silver two bars sable with a border, or orle, of martlets gules.”

The Flaunches are the flanks of the shield which, cut off by rounded lines, are borne in pairs as Ordinaries. These charges are found in many coats devised by 15th-century armorists. “Ermine two flaunches azure with six golden wheat-ears” was borne by John Greyby of Oxfordshire (15th century).

The Label is a narrow fillet across the upper part of the chief, from which hang three, four, five or more pendants, the pendants being, in most old examples, broader than the fillet. Reckoned with the Ordinaries, it was commonly used as a means of differencing a cadet’s shield, and in the heraldry books it has become the accepted difference for an eldest son, although the cadets often bore it in the middle ages. John of Hastings bore in 1300 before Carlaverock “Gold a sleeve (or maunche) gules,” while Edmund his brother bore the same arms with a sable label. In modern armory the pendants are all but invariably reduced to three, which, in debased examples, are given a dovetailed form while the ends of the fillet are cut off.

Scotland. Hondescote. Greyby. Hastings.

The Fret, drawn as a voided lozenge interlaced by a slender saltire, is counted an Ordinary. A charge in such a shape is extremely rare in medieval armory, its ancient form when the field is covered by it being a number of bastons—three being the customary number—interlaced by as many more from the sinister side. Although the whole is described as a fret in certain English blazons of the 15th century, the adjective “fretty” is more commonly used. Trussel’s fret is remarkable for its bezants at the joints, which stand, doubtless, for the golden nail-heads of the “trellis” suggested by his name. Curwen, Wyvile and other northern houses bearing a fret and a chief have, owing to their fashion of drawing their frets, often seen them changed by the heraldry books into “three cheverons braced or interlaced.”

Huddlestone bore “Gules fretty silver.”

Trussel bore “Silver fretty gules, the joints bezanty.”

Hugh Giffard (14th century) bore “Gules with an engrailed fret of ermine.”

Wyvile bore “Gules fretty vair with a chief gold.”

Boxhull bore “Gold a lion azure fretty silver.”

Trussel. Giffard. Wyvile. Mortimer.

Another Ordinary is the Giron or Gyron—a word now commonly mispronounced with a hard “g.” It may be defined as the lower half of a quarter which has been divided bendwise. No old example of a single giron can be found to match the figure in the heraldry books. Gironny, or gyronny, is a manner of dividing the field into sections, by lines radiating from a centre point, of which many instances may be given. Most of the earlier examples have some twelve divisions although later armory gives eight as the normal number, as Campbell bears them.

Bassingbourne bore “Gironny of gold and azure of twelve pieces.”

William Stoker, who died Lord Mayor of London in 1484, bore “Gironny of six pieces azure and silver with three popinjays in the silver pieces.”

A pair of girons on either side of a chief were borne in the strange shield of Mortimer, commonly blazoned as “Barry azure and gold of six pieces, the chief azure with two pales and two girons gold, a scocheon silver over all.” An early example shows that this shield began as a plain field with a gobony border.

With the Ordinaries we may take the Roundels or Pellets, disks or balls of various colours. Ancient custom gives the name of a bezant to the golden roundel, and the folly of the heraldic writers has found names for all the others, names which may be disregarded together with the belief that, while bezants and silver roundels, as representing coins, must be pictured with a flat surface, roundels of other hues must needs be shaded by the painter to represent rounded balls. Rings or Annelets were common charges in the North, where Lowthers, Musgraves and many more, differenced the six rings of Vipont by bearing them in various colours.

Campbell. Bassingbourne. Stoker. Burlay.

Burlay of Wharfdale bore “Gules a bezant.”

Courtenay, earl of Devon, bore “Gold three roundels gules with a label azure.”

Caraunt bore “Silver three roundels azure, each with three cheverons gules.”

Vipont bore “Gold six annelets gules.”

Avenel bore “Silver a fesse and six annelets (aunels) gules.”

Hawberk of Stapleford bore “Silver a bend sable charged with three pieces of a mail hawberk, each of three linked rings of gold.”

Stourton bore “Sable a bend gold between six fountains.” The fountain is a roundel charged with waves of white and blue.

Courtenay. Caraunt. Vipont. Avenel.

The Lozenge is linked in the heraldry book with the Fusil. This Fusil is described as a lengthened and sharper lozenge. But it will be understood that the Fusil, other than as part of an engrailed or indented bend, pale or fesse, is not known to true armory. Also it is one of the notable achievements of the English writers on heraldry that they should have allotted to the lozenge, when borne voided, the name of Mascle. This “mascle” is the word of the oldest armorists for the unvoided charge, the voided being sometimes described by them as a lozenge, without further qualifications. Fortunately the difficulty can be solved by following the late 14th-century custom in distinguishing between “lozenges” and “voided lozenges” and by abandoning altogether this misleading word Mascle.

Hawberk. Stourton. Charles. Fitzwilliam.

Thomas of Merstone, a clerk, bore on his seal in 1359 “Ermine a lozenge with a pierced molet thereon.”

Braybroke bore “Silver seven voided lozenges gules.”

Charles bore “Ermine a chief gules with five golden lozenges. thereon.”

Fitzwilliam bore “Lozengy silver and gules.”

Billets are oblong figures set upright. Black billets in the arms of Delves of Cheshire stand for “delves” of earth and the gads of steel in the arms of the London Ironmongers’ Company took a somewhat similar form.

Sir Ralph Mounchensy bore in the 14th century “Silver a cheveron between three billets sable.”

Haggerston bore “Azure a bend with cotices silver and three billets sable on the bend.”

With the Billet, the Ordinaries, uncertain as they are in number, may be said to end. But we may here add certain armorial charges which might well have been counted with them.

First of these is the Molet, a word corrupted in modern heraldry to Mullet, a fish-like change with nothing to commend it. This figure is as a star of five or six points, six points being perhaps the commonest form in old examples, although the sixth point is, as a rule, lost during the later period. Medieval armorists are not, it seems, inclined to make any distinction between molets of five and six points, but some families, such as the Harpedens and Asshetons, remained constant to the five-pointed form. It was generally borne pierced with a round hole, and then represents, as its name implies, the rowel of a spur. In ancient rolls of arms the word Rowel is often used, and probably indicated the pierced molet. That the piercing was reckoned an essential difference is shown by a roll of the time of Edward II., in which Sir John of Pabenham bears “Barry azure and silver, with a bend gules and three molets gold thereon,” arms which Sir John his son differences by piercing the molets. Beside these names is that of Sir Walter Baa with “Gules a cheveron and three rowels silver,” rowels which are shown on seals of this family as pierced molets. Probably an older bearing than the molet, which would be popularized when the rowelled spur began to take the place of the prick-spur, is the Star or Estoile, differing from the molet in that its five or six points are wavy. It is possible that several star bearings of the 13th century were changed in the 14th for molets. The star is not pierced in the fashion of the molet; but, like the molet, it tends to lose its sixth point in armory of the decadence. Suns, sometimes blazoned in old rolls as Sun-rays—rays de soleil—are pictured as unpierced molets of many points, which in rare cases are waved.

Harpeden bore “Silver a pierced molet gules.”

Gentil bore “Gold a chief sable with two molets goles pierced gules.”

Grimston bore “Silver a fesse sable and thereon three molets silver pierced gules.”

Ingleby of Yorkshire bore “Sable a star silver.”

Sir John de la Haye of Lincolnshire bore “Silver a sun gules.”

Mounchensy. Haggerston. Harpeden.  Gentil.

The Crescent is a charge which has to answer for many idle tales concerning the crusading ancestors of families who bear it. It is commonly borne with both points uppermost, but when representing the waning or the waxing moon—decrescent or increscent—its horns are turned to the sinister or dexter side of the shield.

Peter de Marines (13th century) bore on his seal a shield charged with a crescent in the chief.

William Gobioun (14th century) bore “A bend between two waxing moons.”

Longchamp bore “Ermine three crescents gules, pierced silver.”

Tinctures.—The tinctures or hues of the shield and its charges are seven in number—gold or yellow, silver or white, red, blue, black, green and purple. Medieval custom gave, according to a rule often broken, “gules,” “azure” and “sable” as more high-sounding names for the red, blue and black. Green was often named as “vert,” and sometimes as “synobill,” a word which as “sinople” is used to this day by French armorists. The song of the siege of Carlaverock and other early documents have red, gules or “vermeil,” sable or black, azure or blue, but gules, azure, sable and vert came to be recognized as armorists’ adjectives, and an early 15th-century romance discards the simple words deliberately, telling us of its hero that

“His shield was black and blue, sanz fable,
Barred of azure and of sable.”

But gold and silver served as the armorists’ words for yellows and whites until late in the 16th century, when gold and silver made way for “or” and “argent,” words which those for whom the interest of armory lies in its liveliest days will not be eager to accept. Likewise the colours of “sanguine” and “tenné” brought in by the pedants to bring the tinctures to the mystical number of nine may be disregarded.

Grimston. Ingilby. Gobioun. Longchamp.

A certain armorial chart of the duchy of Brabant, published in 1600, is the earliest example of the practice whereby later engravers have indicated colours in uncoloured plates by the use of lines and dots. Gold is indicated by a powdering of dots; silver is left plain. Azure is shown by horizontal shading lines; gules by upright lines; sable by cross-hatching of upright and horizontal lines. Diagonal lines from sinister to dexter indicate purple; vert is marked with diagonal lines from dexter to sinister. The practice, in spite of a certain convenience, has been disastrous in its cramping effects on armorial art, especially when applied to seals and coins.

Besides the two “metals” and five “colours,” fields and charges are varied by the use of the furs ermine and vair. Ermine is shown by a white field flecked with black ermine tails, and vair by a conventional representation of a fur of small skins sewn in rows, white and blue skins alternately. In the 15th century there was a popular variant of ermine, white tails upon a black field. To this fur the books now give the name of “ermines”—a most unfortunate choice, since ermines is a name used in old documents for the original ermine. “Erminees,” which has at least a 15th-century authority, will serve for those who are not content to speak of “sable ermined with silver.” Vair, although silver and blue be its normal form, may be made up of gold, silver or ermine, with sable or gules or vert, but in these latter cases the colours must be named in the blazon. To the vairs and ermines of old use the heraldry books have added “erminois,” which is a gold field with black ermine fails, “pean,” which is “erminois” reversed, and “erminites,” which is ermine with a single red hair on either side of each black tail. The vairs, mainly by misunderstanding of the various patterns found in old paintings, have been amplified with “countervair,” “potent,” “counter-potent” and “vair-en-point,” no one of which merits description.

No shield of a plain metal or colour has ever been borne by an Englishman, although the knights at Carlaverock and Falkirk saw Amaneu d’Albret with his banner all of red having no charge thereon. Plain ermine was the shield of the duke of Brittany and no Englishman challenged the bearing. But Beauchamp of Hatch bore simple vair, Ferrers of Derby “Vairy gold and gules,” and Ward “Vairy silver and sable.” Gresley had “Vairy ermine and gules,” and Beche “Vairy silver and gules.”

Only one English example has hitherto been discovered of a field covered not with a fur but with overlapping feathers. A 15th-century book of arms gives “Plumetty of gold and purple” for “Mydlam in Coverdale.”

Drops of various colours which variegate certain fields and charges are often mistaken for ermine tails when ancient seals are deciphered. A simple example of such spattering is in the shield of Grayndore, who bore “Party ermine and vert, the vert dropped with gold.” Sir Richard le Brun (14th century) bore “Azure a silver lion dropped with gules.”

Brittany. Beauchamp. Mydlam. Grayndorge.

A very common variant of charges and fields is the sowing or “powdering” them with a small charge repeated many times. Mortimer of Norfolk bore “gold powdered with fleurs-de-lys sable” and Edward III. quartered for the old arms of France “Azure powdered with fleurs-de-lys gold,” such fields being often described as flowered or flory. Golden billets were scattered in Cowdray’s red shield, which is blazoned as “Gules billety gold,” and bezants in that of Zouche, which is “Gules bezanty with a quarter ermine.” The disposition of such charges varied with the users. Zouche as a rule shows ten bezants placed four, three, two and one on his shield, while the old arms of France in the royal coat allows the pattern of flowers to run over the edge, the shield border thus showing halves and tops and stalk ends of the fleurs-de-lys. But the commonest of these powderings is that with crosslets, as in the arms of John la Warr “Gules crusily silver with a silver lion.”

Mortimer. Cowdray. Zouche. La Warr.

Trees, Leaves and Flowers.—Sir Stephen Cheyndut, a 13th-century knight, bore an oak tree, the cheyne of his first syllable, while for like reasons a Piriton had a pear tree on his shield. Three pears were borne (temp. Edward III.) by Nicholas Stivecle of Huntingdonshire, and about the same date is Applegarth’s shield of three red apples in a silver field. Leaves of burdock are in the arms (14th century) of Sir John de Lisle and mulberry leaves in those of Sir Hugh de Morieus. Three roots of trees are given to one Richard Rotour in a 14th-century roll. Malherbe (13th century) bore the “evil herb”—a teazle bush. Pineapples are borne here and there, and it will be noted that armorists have not surrendered this, our ancient word for the “fir-cone,” to the foreign ananas. Out of the cornfield English armory took the sheaf, three sheaves being on the shield of an earl of Chester early in the 13th century and Sheffield bearing sheaves for a play on his name. For a like reason Peverel’s sheaves were sheaves of pepper. Rye bore three ears of rye on a bend, and Graindorge had barley-ears. Flowers are few in this field of armory, although lilies with their stalks and leaves are in the grant of arms to Eton College. Ousethorpe has water flowers, and now and again we find some such strange charges as those in the 15th-century shield of Thomas Porthelyne who bore “Sable a cheveron gules between three ‘popyebolles,’ or poppy-heads vert.”

Cheyndut. Applegarth. Chester. Rye.

The fleur-de-lys, a conventional form from the beginnings of armory, might well be taken amongst the “ordinaries.” In England as in France it is found in great plenty.

Aguylon bore “Gules a fleur-de-lys silver.”

Peyferer bore “Silver three fleur-de-lys sable.”

Eton College.

Trefoils are very rarely seen until the 15th century, although Hervey has them, and Gausill, and a Bosville coat seems to have borne them. They have always their stalk left hanging to them. Vincent, Hattecliffe and Massingberd all bore the quatrefoil, while the Bardolfs, and the Quincys, earls of Winchester, had cinqfoils. The old rolls of arms made much confusion between cinqfoils and sixfoils (quintefoilles e sisfoilles) and the rose. It is still uncertain how far that confusion extended amongst the families which bore these charges. The cinqfoil and sixfoil, however, are all but invariably pierced in the middle like the spur rowel, and the rose’s blunt-edged petals give it definite shape soon after the decorative movement of the Edwardian age began to carve natural buds and flowers in stone and wood.

Aguylon. Peyferer. Hervey. Vincent.

Hervey bore “Gules a bend silver with three trefoils vert thereon.”

Vincent bore “Azure three quatrefoils silver.”

Quincy bore “Gules a cinqfoil silver.”

Bardolf of Wormegay bore “Gules three cinqfoils silver.”

Cosington bore “Azure three roses gold.”

Hilton bore “Silver three chaplets or garlands of red roses.”

Quincy. Bardolf. Cosington. Hilton.

Beasts and Birds.—The book of natural history as studied in the middle ages lay open at the chapter of the lion, to which royal beast all the noble virtues were set down. What is the oldest armorial seal of a sovereign prince as yet discovered bears the rampant lion of Flanders. In England we know of no royal shield earlier than that first seal of Richard I. which has a like device. A long roll of our old earls, barons and knights wore the lion on their coats—Lacy, Marshal, Fitzalan and Montfort, Percy, Mowbray and Talbot. By custom the royal beast is shown as rampant, touching the ground with but one foot and clawing at the air in noble rage. So far is this the normal attitude of a lion that the adjective “rampant” was often dropped, and we have leave and good authority for blazoning the rampant beast simply as “a lion,” leave which a writer on armory may take gladly to the saving of much repetition. In France and Germany this licence has always been the rule, and the modern English herald’s blazon of “Gules a lion rampant or” for the arms of Fitzalan, becomes in French de gueules au lion d’or and in German in Rot ein goldener Loewe. Other positions must be named with care and the prowling “lion passant” distinguished from the rampant beast, as well as from such rarer shapes as the couchant lion, the lion sleeping, sitting or leaping. Of these the lion passant is the only one commonly encountered. The lion standing with his forepaws together is not a figure for the shield, but for the crest, where he takes this position for greater stableness upon the helm, and the sitting lion is also found rather upon helms than in shields. For a

Drawn by William Gibb. Niagara Litho. Co., Buffalo, N. Y.
couchant lion or a dormant lion one must search far afield,

although there are some medieval instances. The leaping lion is in so few shields that no maker of a heraldry book has, it would appear, discovered an example. In the books this “lion salient” is described as with the hind paws together on the ground and the fore paws together in the air, somewhat after the fashion of a diver’s first movement. But examples from seals and monuments of the Felbrigges and the Merks show that the leaping lion differed only from the rampant in that he leans somewhat forward in his eager spring. The compiler of the British Museum catalogue of medieval armorial seals, and others equally unfamiliar with medieval armory, invariably describe this position as “rampant,” seeing no distinction from other rampings. As rare as the leaping lion is the lion who looks backward over his shoulder. This position is called “regardant” by modern armorists. The old French blazon calls it rere regardant or turnaunte le visage arere, “regardant” alone meaning simply “looking,” and therefore we shall describe it more reasonably in plain English as “looking backward.” The two-headed lion occurs in a 15th-century coat of Mason, and at the same period a monstrous lion of three bodies and one head is borne, apparently, by a Sharingbury.


The lion’s companion is the leopard. What might be the true form of this beast was a dark thing to the old armorist, yet knowing from the report of grave travellers that the leopard was begotten in spouse-breach between the lion and the pard, it was felt that his shape would favour his sire’s. But nice distinctions of outline, even were they ascertainable, are not to be marked on the tiny seal, or easily expressed by the broad strokes of the shield painter. The leopard was indeed lesser than the lion, but in armory, as in the Noah’s arks launched by the old yards, the bear is no bigger than the badger. Then a happy device came to the armorist. He would paint the leopard like the lion at all points. But as the lion looks forward the leopard should look sidelong, showing his whole face. The matter was arranged, and until the end of the middle ages the distinction held and served. The disregarded writers on armory, Nicholas Upton, and his fellows, protested that a lion did not become a leopard by turning his face sidelong, but none who fought in the field under lion and leopard banners heeded this pedantry from cathedral closes. The English king’s beasts were leopards in blazon, in ballad and chronicle, and in the mouths of liegeman and enemy. Henry V.’s herald, named from his master’s coat, was Leopard Herald; and Napoleon’s gazettes never fail to speak of the English leopards. In our own days, those who deal with armory as antiquaries and students of the past will observe the old custom for convenience’ sake. Those for whom the interest of heraldry lies in the nonsense-language brewed during post-medieval years may correct the medieval ignorance at their pleasure. The knight who saw the king’s banner fly at Falkirk or Crécy tells us that it bore “Gules with three leopards of gold.” The modern armorist will shame the uninstructed warrior with “Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or.”

As the lion rampant is the normal lion, so the normal leopard is the leopard passant, the adjective being needless. In a few cases only the leopard rises up to ramp in the lion’s fashion, and here he must be blazoned without fail as a leopard rampant.

Parts of the lion and the leopard are common charges. Chief of these are the demi-lion and the demi-leopard, beasts complete above their slender middles, even to the upper parts of their lashing tails. Rampant or passant, they follow the customs of the unmaimed brute. Also the heads of lion and leopard are in many shields, and here the armorist of the modern handbooks stumbles by reason of his refusal to regard clearly marked medieval distinctions. The instructed will know a lion’s head because it shows but half the face and a leopard’s head because it is seen full-face. But the handbooks of heraldry, knowing naught of leopards, must judge by absence or presence of a mane, speaking uncertainly of leopards’ faces and lions’ heads and faces. Here again the old path is the straighter. The head of a lion, or indeed of any beast, bird or monster, is generally painted as “razed,” or torn away with a ragged edge which is pleasantly conventionalized. Less often it is found “couped” or cut off with a sheer line. But the leopard’s head is neither razed nor couped, for no neck is shown below it. Likewise the lion’s fore leg or paw—“gamb” is the book word—may be borne, razed or coupled. Its normal position is raided upright, although Newdegate seems to have borne “Gules three lions’ legs razed silver, the paws downward.” With the strange bearing of the lion’s whip-like tail cut off at the rump, we may end the list of these oddments.

Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, bore “Gules a lion gold.”

Simon de Montfort bore “Gules a silver lion with a forked tail.”

Segrave bore “Sable a lion silver crowned gold.”

Havering bore “Silver a lion rampant gules with a forked tail, having a collar azure.”

Felbrigge of Felbrigge bore “Gold a leaping lion gules.”

Esturmy bore “Silver a lion sable (or purple) looking backward.”

Marmion bore “Gules a lion vair.”

Mason bore “Silver a two-headed lion gules.”

Lovetot bore “Silver a lion parted athwart of sable and gules.”

Richard le Jen bore “Vert a lion gold”—the arms of Wakelin of Arderne—“with a fesse gules on the lion.”

Fiennes bore “Azure three lions gold.”

Leyburne of Kent bore “Azure six lions silver.”

Fitzalan. Felbrigge. Fiennes. Leyburne.

Carew bore “Gold three lions passant sable.”

Fotheringhay bore “Silver two lions passant sable, looking backward.”

Richard Norton of Waddeworth (1357) sealed with arms of “A lion dormant.”

Lisle bore “Gules a leopard silver crowned gold.”

Ludlowe bore “Azure three leopards silver.”

Brocas bore “Sable a leopard rampant gold.”

Carew. Fotheringhay. Brocas. Lisle.

John Hardrys of Kent seals in 1372 with arms of “a sitting leopard.”

John Northampton, Lord Mayor of London in 1381, bore “Azure a crowned leopard gold with two bodies rampant against each other.”

Newenham bore “Azure three demi-lions silver.”

A deed delivered at Lapworth in Warwickshire in 1466 is sealed with arms of “a molet between three demi-leopards.”

Kenton bore “Gules three lions’ heads razed sable.”

Kenton.  Pole.  Cantelou. Pynchebek.

Pole, earl and duke of Suffolk, bore “Azure a fesse between three leopards’ heads gold.”

Cantelou bore “Azure three leopards’ heads silver with silver fleurs-de-lys issuing from them.”

Wederton bore “Gules a cheveron between three lions’ legs razed silver.”

Pynchebek bore “silver three forked tails of lions sable.”

The tiger is rarely named in collections of medieval arms. Deep mystery wrapped the shape of him, which was never during the middle ages standardized by artists. A crest upon a 15th-century brass shows him as a lean wolf-like figure, with a dash of the boar, gazing after his vain wont into a looking-glass; and the 16th-century heralds gave him the body of a lion with the head of a wolf, head and body being tufted here and there with thick tufts of hair. But it is noteworthy that the arms of Sir John Norwich, a well-known knight of the 14th century, are blazoned in a roll of that age as “party azure and gules with a tiger rampant ermine.” Now this beast in the arms of Norwich has been commonly taken for a lion, and the Norwich family seem in later times to have accepted the lion as their bearing. But a portion of a painted roll of Sir John’s day shows on careful examination that his lion has been given two moustache-like tufts to the nose. A copy made about 1600 of another roll gives the same decoration to the Norwich lion, and it is at least possible we have here evidence that the economy of the medieval armorist allowed him to make at small cost his lion, his leopard and his tiger out of a single beast form.

Take away the lions and the leopards, and the other beasts upon medieval shields are a little herd. In most cases they are here to play upon the names of their bearers. Thus Swinburne of Northumberland has the heads of swine in his coat and Bacon has bacon pigs. Three white bears were borne by Barlingham, and a bear ramping on his hind legs is for Barnard. Lovett of Astwell has three running wolves, Videlou three wolves’ heads, Colfox three foxes’ heads.

Lovett. Talbot.  Saunders.

Three hedgehogs were in the arms of Heriz. Barnewall reminds us of extinct natives of England by bearing two beavers, and Otter of Yorkshire had otters. Harewell had hares’ heads, Cunliffe conies, Mitford moles or moldiwarps. A Talbot of Lancashire had three purple squirrels in a silver shield. An elephant was brought to England as early as the days of Henry III., but he had no immediate armorial progeny, although Saunders of Northants may have borne before the end of the middle ages the elephants’ heads which speak of Alysaunder the Great, patron of all Saunderses. Bevil of the west had a red bull, and Bulkeley bore three silver bulls’ heads. The heads in Neteham’s 14th-century shield are neat’s heads, ox heads are for Oxwyk. Calves are for Veel, and the same mild beasts are in the arms of that fierce knight Hugh Calveley. Stansfeld bore three rams with bells at their necks, and a 14th-century Lecheford thought no shame to bear the head of the ram who is the symbol of lechery. Lambton had lambs. Goats were borne by Chevercourt to play on his name, a leaping goat by Bardwell, and goats’ heads by Gateshead. Of the race of dogs the greyhound and the talbot, or mastiff, are found most often. Thus Talbot of Cumberland had talbots, and Mauleverer, running greyhounds or “leverers” for his name’s sake. The alaund, a big, crop-eared dog, is in the 15th-century shield of John Woode of Kent, and “kenets,” or little tracking dogs, in a 13th-century coat of Kenet. The horse is not easily found as an English charge, but Moyle’s white mule seems an old coat; horses’ heads are in Horsley’s shield, and ass heads make crests for more than one noble house. Askew has three asses in his arms. Three bats or flittermice are in the shield of Burninghill and in that of Heyworth of Whethamstede.

As might be looked for in a land where forest and greenwood once linked from sea to sea, the wild deer is a common charge in the shield. Downes of Cheshire bore a hart “lodged” or lying down. Hertford had harts’ heads, Malebis, fawns’ heads (testes de bis), Bukingham, heads of bucks. The harts in Rotherham’s arms are the roes of his name’s first syllable. Reindeer heads were borne by Bowet in the 14th century. Antelopes, fierce beasts with horns that have something of the ibex, show by their great claws, their lion tails, and their boar muzzles and tusks that they are midway between the hart and the monster.


Of the outlandish monsters the griffon is the oldest and the chief. With the hinder parts of a lion, the rest of him is eagle, head and shoulders, wings and fore legs. The long tuft under the beak and his pointed ears mark him out from the eagle when his head alone is borne. At an early date a griffon rampant, his normal position, was borne by the great house of Montagu as a quartering, and another griffon played upon Griffin’s name.

The wyver, who becomes wyvern in the 16th century, and takes a new form under the care of inventive heralds, was in the middle ages a lizard-like dragon, generally with small wings. Sir Edmund Mauley in the 14th century is found differencing the black bend of his elder brother by charging it with three wyvers of silver. During the middle ages there seems small distinction between the wyver and the still rarer dragon, which, with the coming of the Tudors, who bore it as their badge, is seen as a four-legged monster with wings and a tail that ends like a broad arrow. The monster in the arms of Drake, blazoned by Tudor heralds as a wyvern, is clearly a fire-drake or dragon in his origin.

The unicorn rampant was borne by Harlyn of Norfolk, unicorn’s heads by the Cambridgeshire family of Paris. The mermaid with her comb and looking-glass makes a 14th-century crest for Byron, while “Silver a bend gules with three silver harpies thereon” is found in the 15th century for Entyrdene.

Concerning beasts and monsters the heraldry books have many adjectives of blazonry which may be disregarded. Even as it was once the pride of the cook pedant to carve each bird on the board with a new word for the act, so it became the delight of the pedant herald to order that the rampant horse should be “forcené,” the rampant griffon “segreant,” the passant hart “trippant”; while the same hart must needs be “attired” as to its horns and “unguled” as to its hoofs. There is ancient authority for the nice blazonry which sometimes gives a separate colour to the tongue and claws of the lion, but even this may be set aside. Though a black lion in a silver field may be armed with red claws, and a golden leopard in a red field given blue claws and tongues, these trifles are but fancies which follow the taste of the painter, and are never of obligation. The tusks and hoofs of the boar, and often the horns of the hart, are thus given in some paintings a colour of their own which elsewhere is neglected.

As the lion is among armorial beasts, so is the eagle among the birds. A bold convention of the earliest shield painters displayed him with spread wing and claw, the feat of a few strokes of the brush, and after this fashion he appears on many scores of shields. Like the claws and tongue of the lion, the beak and claws of the eagle are commonly painted of a second colour in all but very small representations. Thus the golden eagle of Lymesey in a red field may have blue beak and claws, and golden beak and claws will be given to Jorce’s silver eagle upon red. A lure, or two wings joined and spread like those of an eagle, is a rare charge sometimes found. When fitted with the cord by which a falconer’s lure is swung, the cord must be named.

Monthermer bore “Gold an eagle vert.”

Siggeston bore “Silver a two-headed eagle sable.”

Gavaston, earl of Cornwall, bore “Vert six eagles gold.”

Bayforde of Fordingbridge sealed (in 1388) with arms of “An eagle bendwise, with a border engrailed and a baston.”

Graunson bore “Paly silver and azure with a bend gules and three golden eagles thereon.”

Seymour bore “Gules a lure of two golden wings.”

Commoner than the eagle as a charge is the martlet, a humbler bird which is never found as the sole charge of a shield. In all but a few early representations the feathers of the legs are seen without the legs or claws. The martlet indicates both swallow and martin, and in the arms of the Cornish Arundels the martlets must stand for “hirundels” or swallows.

Monthermer. Siggeston. Gavaston. Graunson.

The falcon or hawk is borne as a rule with close wings, so that he may not be taken for the eagle. In most cases he is there to play on the bearer’s name, and this may be said of most of the flight of lesser birds.

Naunton bore “Sable three martlets silver.”

Heron bore “Azure three herons silver.”

Fauconer bore “Silver three falcons gules.”

Hauvile bore “Azure a dance between three hawks gold.”

Twenge bore “Silver a fesse gules between three popinjays (or parrots) vert.”

Cranesley bore “Silver a cheveron gules between three cranes azure.”

Asdale bore “Gules a swan silver.”

Dalston bore “Silver a cheveron engrailed between three daws’ heads razed sable.”

Corbet bore “Gold two corbies sable.”

Seymour. Naunton. Fauconer. Twenge.

Cockfield bore “Silver three cocks gules.”

Burton bore “Sable a cheveron sable between three silver owls.”

Rokeby bore “Silver a cheveron sable between three rooks.”

Duffelde bore “Sable a cheveron silver between three doves.”

Pelham bore “Azure three pelicans silver.”

Asdale. Corbet. Cockfield. Burton.

Sumeri (13th century) sealed with arms of “A peacock with his tail spread.”

John Pyeshale of Suffolk (14th century) sealed with arms of “Three magpies.”

Fishes, Reptiles and Insects.—Like the birds, the fishes are borne for the most part to call to mind their bearers’ names. Unless their position be otherwise named, they are painted as upright in the shield, as though rising towards the water surface. The dolphin is known by his bowed back, old artists making him a grotesquely decorative figure.

Lucy bore “Gules three luces (or pike) silver.”

Heringaud bore “Azure, crusilly gold, with six golden herrings.”

Fishacre bore “Gules a dolphin silver.”

La Roche bore “Three roach swimming.”

John Samon (14th century) sealed with arms of “Three salmon swimming.”

Sturgeon bore “Azure three sturgeon swimming gold, with a fret gules over all.”

Whalley bore “Silver three whales’ heads razed sable.”

Shell-fish would hardly have place in English armory were it not for the abundance of scallops which have followed their appearance in the banners of Dacre and Scales. The crest of the Yorkshire Scropes, playing upon their name, was a pair of crabs’ claws.

Dacre bore “Gules three scallops silver.”

Shelley bore “Sable a fesse engrailed between three whelk-shells gold.”

Rokeby. Pelham. Lucy. Fishacre.

Reptiles and insects are barely represented. The lizards in the crest and supporters of the Ironmongers of London belong to the 15th century. Gawdy of Norfolk may have borne the tortoise in his shield in the same age. “Silver three toads sable” was quartered as a second coat for Botreaux of Cornwall in the 16th century—Botereau or Boterel signifying a little toad in the old French tongue—but the arms do not appear on the old Botreaux seals beside their ancient bearing of the griffon. Beston bore “Silver a bend between six bees sable” and a 15-century Harbottle seems to have sealed with arms of three bluebottle flies. Three butterflies are in the shield of Presfen of Lancashire in 1415, while the winged insect shown on the seal of John Mayre, a King’s Lynn burgess of the age of Edward I., is probably a mayfly.

Human Charges.—Man and the parts of him play but a small part in English shields, and we have nothing to put beside such a coat as that of the German Manessen, on which two armed knights attack each other’s hauberks with their teeth. But certain arms of religious houses and the like have the whole figure, the see of Salisbury bearing the Virgin and Child in a blue field. And old crests have demi-Saracens and falchion men, coal-miners, monks and blackamoors. Sowdan bore in his shield a turbaned soldan’s head; Eady, three old men’s “’eads”! Heads of maidens, the “winsome marrows” of the ballad, are in the arms of Marow. The Stanleys, as kings of Man, quartered the famous three-armed legs whirling mill-sail fashion, and Tremayne of the west bore three men’s arms in like wise. “Gules three hands silver” was for Malmeyns as early as the 13th century, and Tynte of Colchester displayed hearts.

Dacre.Shelley.See of Salisbury.Isle of Man.

Miscellaneous Charges.—Other charges of the shield are less frequent but are found in great variety, the reason for most of them being the desire to play upon the bearer’s name.

Weapons and the like are rare, having regard to the military associations of armory. Daubeney bore three helms; Philip Marmion took with his wife, the coheir of Kilpek, the Kilpek shield of a sword (espek). Tuck had a stabbing sword or “tuck.” Bent bows were borne by Bowes, an arblast by Arblaster, arrows by Archer, birding-bolts or bosouns by Bosun, the mangonel by Mangnall. The three lances of Amherst is probably a medieval coat; Leweston had battle-axes.

A scythe was in the shield of Praers; Picot had picks; Bilsby a hammer or “beal”; Malet showed mallets. The chamberlain’s key is in the shield of a Chamberlain, and the spenser’s key in that of a Spenser. Porter bore the porter’s bell, Boteler the butler’s cup. Three-legged pots were borne by Monbocher. Crowns are for Coroun. Yarde had yard-wands; Bordoun a burdon or pilgrim’s staff.

Of horse-furniture we have the stirrups of Scudamore and Giffard, the horse-barnacles of Bernake, and the horse-shoes borne by many branches and tenants of the house of Ferrers.

Of musical instruments there are pipes, trumps and harps for Pipe, Trumpington and Harpesfeld. Hunting horns are common among families bearing such names as Forester or Horne. Remarkable charges are the three organs of Grenville, who held of the house of Clare, the lords of Glamorgan.

Combs play on the name of Tunstall, and gloves (wauns or gauns) on that of Wauncy. Hose were borne by Hoese; buckles by a long list of families. But the most notable of the charges derived from clothing is the hanging sleeve familiar in the arms of Hastings, Conyers and Mansel.

Chess-rooks, hardly to be distinguished from the roc or roquet at the head of a jousting-lance, were borne by Rokewode and by many more. Topcliffe had pegtops in his shield, while Ambesas had a cast of three dice which should each show the point of one, for “to throw ambesace” is an ancient phrase used of those who throw three aces.

Although we are a sea-going people, there are few ships in our armory, most of these in the arms of sea-ports. Anchors are commoner.

Castles and towers, bridges, portcullises and gates have all examples, and a minster-church was the curious charge borne by the ancient house of Musters of Kirklington.

Letters of the alphabet are very rarely found in ancient armory; but three capital T’s, in old English script, were borne by Toft of Cheshire in the 14th century. In the period of decadence whole words or sentences, commonly the names of military or naval victories, are often seen.

Blazonry.—An ill-service has been done to the students of armory by those who have pretended that the phrases in which the shields and their charges are described or blazoned must follow arbitrary laws devised by writers of the period of armorial decadence. One of these laws, and a mischievous one, asserts that no tincture should be named a second time in the blazon of one coat. Thus if gules be the hue of the field any charge of that colour must thereafter be styled “of the first.” Obeying this law the blazoner of a shield of arms elaborately charged may find himself sadly involved among “of the first,” “of the second,” and “of the third.” It is needless to say that no such law obtained among armorists of the middle ages. The only rule that demands obedience is that the brief description should convey to the reader a true knowledge of the arms described.

The examples of blazonry given in that part of this article which deals with armorial charges will be more instructive to the student than any elaborated code of directions. It will be observed that the description of the field is first set down, the blazoner giving its plain tincture or describing it as burely, party, paly or barry, as powdered or sown with roses, crosslets or fleurs-de-lys. Then should follow the main or central charges, the lion or griffon dominating the field, the cheveron or the pale, the fesse, bend or bars, and next the subsidiary charges in the field beside the “ordinary” and those set upon it. Chiefs and quarters are blazoned after the field and its contents, and the border, commonly an added difference, is taken last of all. Where there are charges both upon and beside a bend, fesse or the like, a curious inversion is used by pedantic blazoners. The arms of Mr Samuel Pepys of the Admiralty Office would have been described in earlier times as “Sable a bend gold between two horses’ heads razed silver, with three fleurs-de-lys sable on the bend.” Modern heraldic writers would give the sentence as “Sable, on a bend or between two horses’ heads erased argent, three fleurs-de-lys of the first.” Nothing is gained by this inversion but the precious advantage of naming the bend but once. On the other side it may be said that, while the newer blazon couches itself in a form that seems to prepare for the naming of the fleurs-de-lys as the important element of the shield, the older form gives the fleurs-de-lys as a mere postscript, and rightly, seeing that charges in such a position are very commonly the last additions to a shield by way of difference. In like manner when a crest is described it is better to say “a lion’s head out of a crown” than “out of a crown a lion’s head.” The first and last necessity in blazonry is lucidity, which is cheaply gained at the price of a few syllables repeated.

Modern Heraldry.—With the accession of the Tudors armory began a rapid decadence. Heraldry ceased to play its part in military affairs, the badges and banners under which the medieval noble’s retinue came into the field were banished, and even the tournament in its later days became a renascence pageant which did not need the painted shield and armorial trappers. Treatises on armory had been rare in the days before the printing press, but even so early a writer as Nicholas Upton had shown himself as it were unconcerned with the heraldry that any man might see in the camp and the street. From the Book of St Albans onward the treatises on armory are informed with a pedantry which touches the point of crazy mysticism in such volumes as that of Sylvanus Morgan. Thus came into the books those long lists of “diminutions of ordinaries,” the closets and escarpes, the endorses and ribands, the many scores of strange crosses and such wild fancies as the rule, based on an early German pedantry, that the tinctures in peers shields should be given the names of precious stones and those in the shields of sovereigns the names of planets. Blazon became cumbered with that vocabulary whose French of Stratford atte Bowe has driven serious students from a business which, to use a phrase as true as it is hackneyed, was at last “abandoned to the coachpainter and the undertaker.”

With the false genealogy came in the assumption or assigning of shields to which the new bearers had often no better claim than lay in a surname resembling that of the original owner. The ancient system of differencing arms disappeared. Now and again we see a second son obeying the book-rules and putting a crescent in his shield or a third son displaying a molet, but long before our own times the practice was disregarded, and the most remote kinsman of a gentle house displayed the “whole coat” of the head of his family.

The art of armory had no better fate. An absurd rule current for some three hundred years has ordered that the helms of princes and knights should be painted full-faced and those of peers and gentlemen sidelong. Obeying this, the herald painters have displayed the crests of knights and princes as sideways upon a full-faced helm; the torse or wreath, instead of being twisted about the brow of the helm, has become a sausage-shaped bar see-sawing above the helm; and upon this will be balanced a crest which might puzzle the ancient craftsman to mould in his leather or parchment. A ship on a lee-shore with a thunderstorm lowering above its masts may stand as an example of such devices. “Tastes, of course, differ,” wrote Dr Woodward, “but the writer can hardly think that the épergne given to Lieut.-General Smith by his friends at Bombay was a fitting ornament for a helmet.” As with the crest, so with the shield. It became crowded with ill-balanced figures devised by those who despised and ignored the ancient examples whose painters had followed instinctively a simple and pleasant convention. Landscapes and seascapes, musical lines, military medals and corrugated boiler-flues have all made their appearance in the shield. Even as on the signs of public houses, written words have taken the place of figures, and the often-cited arms exemplified to the first Earl Nelson marked, it may be hoped, the high watermark of these distressing modernisms. Of late years, indeed, official armory in England has shown a disposition to follow the lessons of the archaeologist, although the recovery of medieval use has not yet been as successful as in Germany, where for a long generation a school of vigorous armorial art has flourished.

Officers of Arms.—Officers of arms, styled kings of arms, heralds and pursuivants, appear at an early period of the history of armory as the messengers in peace and war of princes and magnates. It is probable that from the first they bore in some wise their lord’s arms as the badge of their office. In the 14th century we have heralds with the arms on a short mantle, witness the figure of the duke of Gelderland’s herald painted in the Armorial de Gelre. The title of Blue Mantle pursuivant, as old as the reign of Edward III., suggests a like usage in England. When the tight-laced coat of arms went out of fashion among the knighthood the loose tabard of arms with its wide sleeves was at once taken in England as the armorial dress of both herald and cavalier, and the fashion of it has changed but little since those days. Clad in such a coat the herald was the image of his master and, although he himself was rarely chosen from any rank above that of the lesser gentry, his person, as a messenger, acquired an almost priestly sacredness. To injure or to insult him was to affront the coat that he wore.

We hear of kings of arms in the royal household of the 13th century, and we may compare their title with those of such officers as the King of the Ribalds and the King of the Minstrels; but it is noteworthy that, even in modern warrants for heralds’ patents, the custom of the reign of Edward III. is still cited as giving the necessary precedents for the officers’ liveries. Officers of arms took their titles from their provinces or from the titles and badges of their masters. Thus we have Garter, Norroy and Clarenceux, March, Lancaster, Windsor, Leicester, Leopard, Falcon and Blanc Sanglier as officers attached to the royal house; Chandos, the herald of the great Sir John Chandos; Vert Eagle of the Nevill earls of Salisbury, Esperance and Crescent of the Percys of Northumberland. The spirit of Henry VII.’s legislation was against such usages in baronial houses, and in the age of the Tudors the last of the private heralds disappears.

In England the royal officers of arms were made a corporation by Richard III. Nowadays the members of this corporation, known as the College of Arms or Heralds’ College, are Garter Principal King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms South of Trent, Norroy King of Arms North of Trent, the heralds Windsor, Chester, Richmond, Somerset, York and Lancaster, and the pursuivants Rouge Croix, Bluemantle, Rouge Dragon and Portcullis. Another king of arms, not a member of this corporation, has been attached to the order of the Bath since the reign of George I., and an officer of arms, without a title, attends the order of St Michael and St George.

There is no college or corporation of heralds in Scotland or Ireland. In Scotland “Lyon-king-of-arms,” “Lyon rex armorum,” or “Leo fecialis,” so called from the lion on the royal shield, is the head of the office of arms. When first the dignity was constituted is not known, but Lyon was a prominent figure in the coronation of Robert II. in 1371. The office was at first, as in England, attached to the earl marshal, but it has long been conferred by patent under the great seal, and is held direct from the crown. Lyon is also king-of-arms for the national order of the Thistle. He is styled “Lord Lyon,” and the office has always been held by men of family, and frequently by a peer who would appoint a “Lyon depute.” He is supreme in all matters of heraldry in Scotland. Besides the “Lyon depute,” there are the Scottish heralds, Albany, Ross and Rothesay, with precedence according to date of appointment; and the pursuivants, Carrick, March and Unicorn. Heralds and pursuivants are appointed by Lyon.

In Ireland also there is but one king-of-arms, Ulster. The office was instituted by Edward VI. in 1553. The patent is given by Rymer, and refers to certain emoluments as “praedicto officio ... ab antiquo spectantibus.” The allusion is to an Ireland king-of-arms mentioned in the reign of Richard II. and superseded by Ulster. Ulster holds office by patent, during pleasure; under him the Irish office of arms consists of two heralds, Cork and Dublin; and a pursuivant, Athlone. Ulster is king-of-arms to the order of St Patrick. He held visitations in parts of Ireland from 1568 to 1620, and these and other records, including all grants of arms from the institution of the office, are kept in the Birmingham Tower, Dublin.

The armorial duties of the ancient heralds are not clearly defined. The patent of Edward IV., creating John Wrythe king of arms of England with the style of Garter, speaks vaguely of the care of the office of arms and those things which belong to that office. We know that the heralds had their part in the ordering of tournaments, wherein armory played its greatest part, and that their expert knowledge of arms gave them such duties as reckoning the noble slain on a battlefield. But it is not until the 15th century that we find the heralds following a recognized practice of granting or assigning arms, a practice on which John of Guildford comments, saying that such arms given by a herald are not of greater authority than those which a man has taken for himself. The Book of St Albans, put forth in 1486, speaking of arms granted by princes and lords, is careful to add that “armys bi a mannys proper auctorite take, if an other man have not borne theym afore, be of strength enogh,” repeating, as it seems, Nicholas Upton’s opinion which, in this matter, does not conflict with the practice of his day. It is probable that the earlier grants of arms by heralds were made by reason of persons uncunning in armorial lore applying for a suitable device to experts in such matters—and that such setting forth of arms may have been practised even in the 14th century.

The earliest known grants of arms in England by sovereigns or private persons are, as a rule, the conveyance of a right in a coat of arms already existing or of a differenced version of it. Thus in 1391 Thomas Grendale, a squire who had inherited through his grandmother the right in the shield of Beaumeys, granted his right in it to Sir William Moigne, a knight who seems to have acquired the whole or part of the Beaumeys manor in Sawtry. Under Henry VI. we have certain rare and curious letters of the crown granting nobility with arms “in signum hujusmodi nobilitatis” to certain individuals, some, and perhaps all of whom, were foreigners who may have asked for letters which followed a continental usage. After this time we have a regular series of grants by heralds who in later times began to assert that new arms, to be valid, must necessarily be derived from their assignments, although ancient use continued to be recognized.

An account of the genealogical function of the heralds, so closely connected with their armorial duties will be found in the article Genealogy. In spite of the work of such distinguished men as Camden and Dugdale they gradually fell in public estimation until Blackstone could write of them that the marshalling of coat-armour had fallen into the hands of certain officers called heralds, who had allowed for lucre such falsity and confusion to creep into their records that even their common seal could no longer be received as evidence in any court of justice. From this low estate they rose again when the new archaeology included heraldry in its interests, and several antiquaries of repute have of late years worn the herald’s tabard.

In spite of the vast amount of material which the libraries catalogue under the head of “Heraldry,” the subject has as yet received little attention from antiquaries working in the modern spirit. The old books are as remarkable for their detachment from the facts as for their folly. The work of Nicholas Upton, De studio militari, although written in the first half of the 15th century, shows, as has been already remarked, no attempt to reconcile the conceits of the author with the armorial practice which he must have seen about him on every side. Gerard Leigh, Bossewell, Ferne and Morgan carry on this bad tradition, each adding his own extravagances. The Display of Heraldry, first published in 1610 under the name of John Guillim, is more reasonable if not more learned, and in its various editions gives a valuable view of the decadent heraldry of the 17th century. In the 19th century many important essays on the subject are to be found in such magazines as the Genealogist, the Herald and Genealogist and the Ancestor, while Planché’s Pursuivant of Arms contains some slight but suggestive work which attempts original enquiry. But Dr Woodward’s Treatise on Heraldry, British and Foreign (1896), in spite of many errors arising from the author’s reliance upon unchecked material, must be counted the only scholarly book in English upon a matter which has engaged so many pens. Among foreign volumes may be cited those of Menestrier and Spener, and the vast compilation of the German Siebmacher. Notable ordinaries of arms are those of Papworth and Renesse, companions to the armorials of Burke and Rietstap. The student may be advised to turn his attention to all works dealing with the effigies, brasses and other monuments of the middle ages, to the ancient heraldic seals and to the heraldry of medieval architecture and ornament.  (O. Ba.)