The Composition of the Coat of Arms part 6

Heraldic shield 
  1. Having dealt with the different components of the coat of arms we can now move on to the ordinaries or charges which are shown on the shield. To describe a shield in heraldic language is to “ blazon “ it. The rules of blazoning are fairly straightforward, and can be summarized thus. First the field must be described, whether it is a color, a metal, or a fur. For example, the field is Azure ( Blue). On this there will be a charge, say a chevron or ( a gold chevron). The description, or blazon, is then Azure a chevron or. Such a simple description is however unlikely, the chevron may be marked in some way, for example Azure a chevron or, thereon three fleur de lis sable ( A blue shield with a gold chevron with three fleur de lis in black, on the chevron). There may also be other charges on the shield, say three stars. Azure a chevron or thereon three fleur de lis sable between three mullets or. Thus the shield described is a blue shield with a gold chevron containing three fleur de lis in black and three mullets ( stars) in gold, one below the chevron and and two above it.

There are various ordinaries which are used as primary charges and these ordinaries often assume a form of lines of a mathematical nature. Such are the bend ( diagonal line to left to bottom right), the bend sinister ( diagonal line top right to bottom left), the pale ( vertical line splitting the shield), the fess or fesse ( horizontal line splitting the shield), the chevron ( inverted “v”), the pile ( divides the shield in a “v” shape), the cross ( divides the shield in 4 quarters), the saltire ( divides the shield in 4 diagonal quarters), the Canton ( a square in the top left of the shield), The inescutcheon ( a small shield placed in the center of the shield), the border or bordure ( a border around the shield), the lozenge ( diamond shape), the flaunch (semi-circles protruding into the shield from the sides), and the roundel ( a ring).

After these come the charges that are of an animal nature or of some other objects found in daily life. The origins of the use of animals in Heraldry dates back prior to heraldic matters and relates to man’s identification with specific attributes of certain animals, te courage of lions, the vigilance of a cat, the cunning of a fox, the loyalty of a dog etc. The curious natural history of the Middle Ages, undisturbed by any contact with nature, is responsible for most of the charges used in Heraldry.

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