Notes on Heraldry
by Joseph C. Wolf
The Knights head was protected by a helm covered with a
cloth called a contoise or mantling or lambrequin, used
to shield it from the sun. The helm was distinguished
further by mounting a unique crest upon it. The crest was
fashioned from leather or wood and often took the shape of
men, beasts or monsters.
The traditional method of displaying arms is called an
achievement of arms and consists of six basic parts:
1. Crest - Some arms exist without a
6. Motto - Often nonexistant.
The mantling may take any shape save that
it shows both
top and underside. It most often appears "slashed" as
Blazoning is the heraldic term for describing a coat of
arms. The rules of blazon are remarkably simple and
precise. The correct sequence of describing arms is as
follows: first give the color of the field (background),
or colors if it be parted; second, name the objects on
the field, all in their proper order and with regard to
their relative shapes, colors and positions.
Colors in heraldry are called tinctures and comprise two
metals, seven colors and various furs. Colors and metals
can be depicted in black and white by a system of hatching.
As a general rule in heraldry, a color may not be placed
upon a color nor a metal upon a metal.
There are nine points on the shield by
which objects may be
specifically located., they are: A. Dexter chief, B. Middle
chief, C. Sinister chief, D. Honour point, E. Fess point,
F. Nombril point, G. Middle base, H. Dexter base,
I. sinister base.
The shield may be divided by straight lines
specific heraldic terminology. Such fields are termed
party or parted. The eight most common divisions are
Lines used in dividing the shield or
placed upon it are not always straight and may take
various forms, some of which are:
Charges are devices placed upon the shield and fall into
three groups: ordinaries, sub-ordinaries and common
charges. There are nine ordinaries:
and sixteen sub-ordinaries, some of which are:
Common charges comprise the last group and by far the
largest. Any object, either animate or inanimate, might
constitute a charge: animals (both real or imaginary),
celestial bodies, tools, weapons, men, fish, trees, the
list is endless.
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