Archives

Ermine

Ermine statant (Period)

Ermine statant (Period)

The ermine is a skinny beast of the mustelid family.  It’s technically a “stoat” or “weasel”; and it is sometimes so blazoned, as in the canting arms of Birtwistle, 1478 [Woodcock & Robinson 81].  In heraldry, the term “ermine” refers to the stoat in its winter coloration, pure white with a black-tipped tail; this is its “proper” coloration.  It’s found in this form as the badge of the Dukes of Brittany [Gayre, Heraldic Standards, p.93].

The ermine was valued for its silky white fur, which in time became the ermine furs of heraldry.  It was also one of the symbols of the Virgin, not only because of its pure white fur, but because of a medieval legend that the ermine conceived through its ear.

Similar in form to the ermine are such beasts as the “otter”, found in the canting arms of Ottyr, c.1460 [RH]; the “marten”, found in the arms of von Muggenthal, 1605 [Siebmacher 81]; and in Society heraldry, the “ferret”, the “mink”, and the “polecat”.  Though zoologically distinct, they are heraldically equivalent to the ermine.  All ermine-like beasts seem to be statant by default; this is uncertain, so it’s best to blazon the posture explicitly.  (The illustration shows an ermine statant.)  For related charges, see mongoose.  See also ermine spot.

Rima of Rockridge bears:  Gules, an ermine statant guardant proper.

Friedrich von Waffen bears:  Argent, three ferrets statant guardant in pale sable.

Lorimel the Gentle bears:  Vert, an otter sejant erect Or.

Donatien Delaborde bears:  Per fess argent and azure, two weasels statant counterchanged.

Alrik Eriksson Mård bears: Gyronny azure and argent, a marten rampant coward contourny sable.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Ermine spot

Five ermine spots (Period)

Five ermine spots (Period)

An ermine spot, or ermine tail, is a highly stylized charge, meant to represent the tail of the ermine beast; it is also sometimes blazoned a “muskatour”.  Ermine spots were sometimes charges in their own right, as in the arms of Liesvelt, c.1460 [GATD 34v; also Gelre 83v]; but they are far more often found strewn across a field to form the heraldic ermine-style furs.

Of these furs, by far the most common was simply blazoned “ermine”:  a white field with black ermine spots, most famous as the arms of the Dukes of Brittany, 1318 [Asp2 172].  For most of the Society’s period, this was the only ermine-style fur in use.  In the 15th Century, a variant was introduced, a black field with white ermine spots [Hope 8]:  it was called “ermines” in English and “contre-hermine” in French.  To avert typos, Society blazons use the translation of the latter, “counter-ermine”.

Towards the end of period, two other ermine-style furs appeared in heraldic tracts [e.g., Legh 76]:  “erminois”, a gold field with black ermine spots, and “pean”, a black field with gold ermine spots.  Your Author has found a single period example of erminois, in the arms of Meery, c.1510 [DBA3 489; also Gwynn-Jones 98]; we’ve yet to find a period example of pean.  However, on the basis of Legh if nothing else, all four of these furs are available for Society use.

Post-period examples exist of fields strewn with ermine spots, in other tinctures, e.g., “Gules semy of ermine spots Or” [Woodward 68].  Society practice would blazon this “Gules ermined Or”, and treat it as an ermine-style fur.  Any metal field may be ermined in a color, and vice versa, in Society heraldry; but the practice has no period support.

The illustration shows several stylizations of ermine spot, which were taken from medieval emblazons.  The one in dexter chief, from Legh, is the form most often found in Society emblazons.  Naturally, an emblazon shouldn’t mix styles, but should use one stylization throughout.  See also tail.

Adeliza de Clermont bears:  Or, an ermine spot purpure.

Wilhelm Leopard der Schwarze bears:  Sable, in chief five ermine spots in fess Or.

Alisaundre Caledon bears:  Per chevron Or and sable, three ermine spots counterchanged.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Escallop

Escallop (Period)

Escallop (Period)

An escallop is the shell of a bivalve mollusc; it is also called a “scallop”, “cockle” or “cockleshell”.  The escallop is an ancient charge, found in the arms of Dacre c.1282 [ANA2 351]; it was used as a pilgrim’s badge in medieval times, as it was the symbol of St. James, patron of pilgrims.  The escallop has its hinge to chief by default.

Karl von Kugler bears:  Checky Or and sable, an escallop azure.

Nuala inghean Murchadha bears:  Vert, six escallops Or.

Llywelyn ap Evan bears:  Per fess azure and vair ancient, three escallops in chief argent.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Escarbuncle

Escarbuncle (Period)

Escarbuncle (Period)

An escarbuncle is a stylized heraldic charge, representing the boss and reinforcing bars on a shield.  It is normally of eight spokes, with the ends fleury, as in the illustration; this form is found very early, in the arms of the Counts (later Dukes) of Cleves, c.1275 [Asp2 190; also Gelre 93].  Escarbuncles of six are also found in period arms, as well as pometty ends; such cases are explicitly blazoned.  (Sometimes, the default fleury ends are explicitly blazoned as well.)

Escarbuncles may also be constructed by conjoining other charges:  the arms of the Kings of Navarre, from the mid-14th Century, had an escarbuncle of chains.  In Society heraldry, other charges have been employed as well:  an “escarbuncle of six swords, conjoined at the points”, for example.

See also mullet, sheaf, snowflake.

The King of Æthelmearc bears:  Gules, an escarbuncle argent within a laurel wreath and in chief a coronet Or.

Lorna of Leeds bears:  Or, an escarbuncle of six flory azure.

Alicia of Ravenserespourne bears:  Sable, three escarbuncles one and two Or.

Ferran de Montfery bears:  Argent, an escarbuncle of six spears offset deasil gules.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Escroll

Quill pen transfixing an escroll fesswise (Period)

Quill pen transfixing an escroll fesswise (Period)

An escroll is a strip of parchment or paper, frequently with writing upon it, transfixed or held in place by a larger charge.  By its definition, it can never be used alone, or as a primary charge.  The escroll is a period charge, used in the arms of Sir Roger de Clarendon, d.1402 [Parker 238].  It has no default orientation, though it is usually assumed to be at right angles to whatever charge is transfixing it.

The illustration shows a quill pen transfixing an escroll fesswise.  For related charges, see ribbon, scroll.

Ieuan Gower bears:  Sable, an ostrich feather transfixing an escroll fesswise between in bend sinister two mullets Or.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Escutcheon

Escutcheon (Period)

Escutcheon (Period)

An escutcheon is a heater-shaped shield, used as a charge in its own right since c.1244, in the arms of de Munchensy [Asp2 217].  Its default orientation is with its flat side to chief.  In Society heraldry, to avoid the appearance of augmentations or arms of pretense, escutcheons used as charges should not themselves be charged.

Claude le Champenois bears:  Barry sable and argent, an escutcheon gules.

Brendan McNeill O’Neill bears:  Vert, three escutcheons Or.

Reis ap Tuder ap Wyn bears:  Azure semy of escutcheons Or.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Estoile

Estoile (Period)

Estoile (Period)

An estoile is a heavenly body, the heraldic representation of a star in English heraldry.  Its use dates from the 13th Century, where it was often interchangeable with a mullet; toward the end of period, mullets were more often used to represent stars in Continental heraldry, while estoiles performed that function in English heraldry, as in the arms of Sir Francis Drake, 1581 [Wagner 72].

As defined in later period heraldry, the estoile has wavy rays, numbering six by default.  One ray points to chief by default.  If the number of rays is other than six, this must be explicitly blazoned; an estoile with five rays is deemed a step from period practice.  For related charges, see comet, sun.

Sequora of Zagamar bears:  Gyronny ermine and Or, an estoile gules.

Giovanni Basilio de Castronovo bears:  Counter-ermine, three estoiles Or.

Matilda Stoyle bears:  Azure, three estoiles argent.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Eye

Eye (Period)

Eye (Period)

Cat's eye (Accepted); Dragon's eye (Disallowed)

Cat’s eye (Accepted); Dragon’s eye (Disallowed)

An eye is an organ for seeing.  It was used as an heraldic charge in the arms of di Belugi, mid-15th C. [Triv 80], and in the badge of Blount, c.1520 [HB 79].  The default heraldic eye is the human eye.  At one time, the Society defined proper tinctures for the eye, but that practice has been discontinued; eyes not solidly tinctured must be specified, e.g., an “eye argent irised azure”.

Other eye variants unique to Society heraldry include the “cyclopean eye”, which is perfectly round; the “cat’s eye”, with a slitted pupil; and the “dragon’s eye”, which has been described as a Germanic rune, and is no longer permitted for use in Society heraldry.

Kelan Greeneye bears:  Azure, three eyes argent irised vert.

Melisande Shadow bears:  Sable, two cat’s eyes vert pupilled sable and fimbriated argent.

Hywel ap Riccerch bears:  Per saltire vert and gules, a barrel helm affronty argent, within the eyeslit a cyclopean eye argent irised sable.

Frederic of the West Tower bears as a badge:  Or, a dragon’s eye gules.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .

Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses (Period)

Eyeglasses (Period)

Eyeglasses are a set of lenses mounted in a frame, used to correct faulty vision, dating from the 14th Century.  Period eyeglasses used thick circular lenses; the frames were either tied in place with ribbons, or else held in place by the hand for reading.  The illustration shows the latter type, as found in the arms of Latini, c.1550 [BSB Cod.Icon 268:243].

Eyeglasses are normally solidly tinctured, i.e., the frames and lenses are one tincture.  If the lenses are of another tincture, they must be explicitly blazoned, e.g., “a pair of eyeglasses argent lensed vert”.  If the lenses are removed, so that the field shows through, the charge may simply be blazoned “eyeglass frames”.  See also mask.

The Order of the Grey Beard, of Trimaris, bears:  Per pale sable and azure, in saltire a crutch Or and a sword inverted proper, in chief a pair of eyeglasses argent, stringed Or.

Edward Glass bears:  Or, a pair of eyeglass frames sable.

Leif Andersson bears:  Argent, a pair of eyeglasses sable lensed and on a chief vert two boar’s heads couped Or.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2014, in .