Hautboy (Period)

Hautboy (Period)

An hautboy, or hautbois, is a double-reed musical instrument, the ancestor to the modern oboe; the name means literally “high-wood”.  It’s also called a “shawm” or “shaum”, though this name implies a more rustic instrument; the distinctions are heraldically negligible.  The hautboy is found as a charge in the arms of Bourden, 1610 [Guillim1 200].

Like the recorder, the hautboy and shawm come in a variety of sizes and ranges (e.g., the “treble shawm” shown in the illustration).  Their default orientation is palewise, bell to base, with the fingerholes facing the viewer.  Their “proper” coloration is brown, the color of wood.  For related charges, see krummhorn, rackett.

Mór Bran bears:  Per bend sinister argent and vert, a crow sable and an hautboy bendwise sinister argent.

Simon de Rouen bears:  Per bend sinister gules and purpure, in pale three hautboys bendwise within a bordure Or.

This entry was posted on February 1, 2014, in .

Head, animal’s

Boar's head couped (Period); boar's head couped close (Period)

Boar’s head couped (Period); boar’s head couped close (Period)

Fox's mask (Period)

Fox’s mask (Period)

Animal’s heads are an ancient heraldic motif, dating from at least 1255:  the boars’ heads in the canting arms of Swinburne [Asp2 220].  Almost any beast found in heraldry may have its head used as a separate charge; indeed, in several cases (e.g., the boar), the use of the head predates the use of the whole animal.

Most animal’s heads face dexter by default; the exception is the owl’s head, which is guardant by default.  The line of division is specified, i.e., whether the head be couped or erased; the head is usually severed where the neck meets the shoulders.  A head “couped close” is severed just behind the ears, with no neck included; the illustration compares a boar’s head couped with a boar’s head couped close.  The exact manner of severance is worth no heraldic difference.

A head “cabossed” or “caboshed” is guardant, with no neck showing.  Some animals have special terminology for this posture:  Fox’s heads cabossed are called “fox’s masks”, cat’s heads cabossed are “cat’s faces” (ditto leopards).

Pelican's head erased (Period)

Pelican’s head erased (Period)

Lion's head jessant-de-lys (Period)

Lion’s head jessant-de-lys (Period)

A pelican’s head includes its neck and part of its breast, distilling blood.  A lion’s head “jessant-de-lys” is a lion’s head cabossed, with a fleur-de-lys issuant from the mouth and back of the head; this is an ancient usage, found in the arms of Cantelupe c.1298 [ANA2 473].  Other beasts’ heads jessant-de-lys are found in Society armory, but such usage is considered a step from period practice.

In other respects, the characteristics of any animal’s head are those of the animal, and may be found under the entry for that animal.

The Baron of Coeur d’Ennui bears:  Argent, a laurel wreath vert within eight boar’s heads couped in annulo gules.

The Order of the Lions of Atenveldt bears:  Per pale azure and argent, a lion’s head cabossed and a bordure Or.

Sabina de Lyons bears:  Gules, three lion’s heads cabossed argent.

Adelaide Walcheman bears:  Azure, a peacock’s head couped Or.

Malak Boga bears:  Quarterly Or and ermine, four bull’s heads cabossed sable.

Aénor d’Anjou bears:  Purpure, a lion’s head jessant-de-lys Or.

Hanor Blackwolf bears:  Or, three wolf’s heads couped contourny sable.

Ursula Messerschmitt bears:  Vert, a bear’s head cabossed argent.

Fandral Silverfox bears:  Sable, a fox’s mask argent.

Lianor de Matos bears:  Or, three stag’s heads erased gules.

This entry was posted on February 9, 2014, in .

Head, human’s

While the use of human heads as crests was very popular from the earliest rolls, their use as charges on shields came later, as in the arms of Gundelsdorf, c.1340 [Zurich 431]. Some human heads are affronty or guardant by default, but others aren’t; it depends on the type of human.  As a general rule of thumb, men (Saracens, blackamoors, &c) face dexter by default, while children, maidens, &c, are affronty.

Savage's head couped (Period)

Savage’s head couped (Period)

Maiden's head (or bust) (Period)

Maiden’s head (or bust) (Period)

The “savage’s head” and the “wild man’s head” are shown with a wreath of leaves on their heads, since the leaves on the rest of their bodies are not in evidence. In other respects, the characteristics of a human head are those of that type of human, and are described under human figure.

As with animal’s heads, human heads must be specifically blazoned as couped or erased; couped heads are far more common.  While the dexter-facing heads are couped at the neck, children and maidens are sometimes shown as a bust, showing the shoulders (and, in the maiden’s case, the bosom).  This is not an ironclad rule, and seems to be artistic license; if the shoulders are meant to be included, they should be blazoned.

Head of St. Cybi (Accepted)

Head of St. Cybi (Accepted)

Janus head (Period)

Janus head (Period)

One instance exists in Society armory of “heads of St. Cybi”.  St. Cybi was a 6th Century Cornish bishop, and is shown as a tonsured monk with a mitre.


The “Janus head” is taken from representations of the Roman god of beginnings and endings.  We’ve an example from period Italian heraldry, in the arms of Banda, c.1550 [BSB Cod.Icon 276:15; cf. also Woodward 201].



Cherub (Period)

Cherub (Period)

Seraph (Period)

Seraph (Period)

Also included in this category are the heads of humanoid monsters, particularly those which exist only as a head.  Preeminent among these is the “cherub”, or “cherub’s head”:  a child’s head cabossed, with two wings.  Cherubim are found in the canting arms (Italian angeli, “angels”) of Dianiolli, c.1550 [BSB Cod.Icon 272:277]; Legh, 1576 [84] likewise describes the cherub’s use in armory.

The “seraph”, or “seraph’s head”, is a child’s head cabossed, with six wings; Guillim, 1610 [83] gives an example of its heraldic use (misblazoning it as a “cherub with three pairs of wings”).  In the Society, the seraph’s “proper” coloration is with pink skin, red hair, and rainbow-colored wings.  The seraph should not be confused with the “standing seraph”, a variant of the angel, which is shown with a full body; as an heraldic charge, the standing seraph appears to be unique to the Society.

Gorgon's head cabossed (Period)

Gorgon’s head cabossed (Period)

Demon's head couped (Accepted)

Demon’s head couped (Accepted)

The “gorgon’s head”, taken from the monster of Greek myth, is a woman’s head with serpents for hair.  As an heraldic charge, it’s shown in Bossewell, 1572 [III.22º].  The gorgon’s head is almost invariably cabossed, but the posture should nonetheless be blazoned explicitly.  Finally, there is the “demon’s head”, horned and ugly, much like a Notre Dame gargoyle; this appears to be unique to the Society.


For related charges, see hat, helm, hood, mask, skull, wind.


David of Moorland bears:  Vert, on a bend Or three Moor’s heads couped sable.

Owain of Holyhead bears:  Vert, three heads of St. Cybi proper aureoled Or.

Talanque bears:  Azure, a horned demon’s head erased Or.

Petra Malusclavus Africana bears:  Per pale azure and gules, a gorgon’s head cabossed argent.

John of Coventry bears:  Bendy gules and argent, a Turk’s head affronty couped proper impaled upon a spearhead couped sable.

Staffan Arffuidsson bears:  Azure, three seraphs Or.

Sabina de Almería bears:  Or, a cross flory, on a chief purpure three Janus heads argent.

This entry was posted on February 9, 2014, in .

Head, monster’s

Dragon's head couped (Period)

Dragon’s head couped (Period)

Keythong's head erased (Period)

Keythong’s head erased (Period)

Monsters’ heads follow the same conventions as animals’ heads.  There are some special items of note:  for example, the dragon’s head is severed at the shoulders unless otherwise specified; the term is sometimes used to denote the prow of a Viking drakkar.  The male griffin or keythong’s head is shown with rays and spikes issuant, to distinguish it from a standard griffin’s head.

Most of the other characteristics of any monster’s head may be found in the entry for that monster.



Musimon's head couped (Period)

Musimon’s head couped (Period)

The illustrations show a dragon’s head couped, a keythong’s head erased, and a musimon’s head couped.

Zenobia Naphtali bears:  Per chevron Or and sable, three griffin’s heads erased and sinister facing counterchanged.

Erik Wulfriksson bears:  Azure, a dragon’s head issuant from base argent.

Carol Stewart of Horsehill bears:  Vert, a musimon’s head erased argent, horns wreathed Or and sable.

Isabella d’Hiver bears:  Azure, a unicorn’s head couped argent collared gules.

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Heart (Period)

Heart (Period)

A heart is that organ which pumps blood through the veins.  It is drawn in a stylized shape, much as found on modern valentines.  The heart is found as an heraldic charge as early as c.1330, in the arms of Douglas [Wagner 50; also Gelre 64].  Mundanely, its “proper” coloration is red; Society practice would simply blazon it “gules”.  See also seeblatt.

The Order of the Dragon’s Heart, of the Middle, bears:  Argent, a heart vert scaly argent.

Malinda Angelanne Hohen van Kester bears:  Per fess embattled azure and argent, a heart gules.

Sabiha al-Zarqa’ al-Karakiyya bears:  Sable, in chief three hearts argent.

Teresa Maria Isabella Castro bears:  Or, six hearts sable.

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Heavenly bodies

This category of charges includes all phenomena seen in the sky, both astronomical and meteorological.  A large variety are found in both medieval and Society heraldry.  These are always stylized; representational depictions should be discouraged.  For specific examples of heavenly bodies, see: cloud, comet, crescent, estoile, moon, mullet, rainbow, sun, sunburst.

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Hedgehog (Period)

Hedgehog (Period)

The hedgehog is a small insectivorous beast, also called an “urchin” or “herrison”.  When faced with danger it would roll itself into a ball, exposing only its spines; so it came to be a symbol of caution.  It is a period charge, found in the canting arms of Herries, c.1275 [ANA2 120].  The hedgehog is statant by default, as in the illustration; its “proper” tincture is brown, with a white face and belly.

Of the period depictions of hedgehogs in armory, one curious example shows it with grapes impaling its spikes, rather like an animated hors d’oevre tray!  It’s found this way as the crest of Claxton, 1561 [Gwynn-Jones 33].

Similar to the hedgehog is the “porcupine”, with longer and fewer quills which were held to be poisonous.  It too is a period charge, dating to 1445 in the arms of Eyre [Parker 473].  A crowned porcupine was the badge of Louis XII, d.1515 [Neubecker 210].

Rúadnat ingen Diarmada bears:  Or, three hedgehogs statant gules.

Volodimir Ezhov bears:  Sable, a hedgehog passant contourny Or.

Judhael de Cornouailles bears:  Argent, a chevron gules cotised, in base a porcupine statant sable.

Mergriet van Edelare bears:  Gules, a hedgehog statant argent its quills impaling grapes purpure.

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Helm (Period)

Helm (Period)

A helm is a piece of armor designed to enclose and protect the head; its use as an heraldic charge dates from c.1285, in the arms of Daubeney [ANA2 475].  Throughout period, the type of helm would change, from the great helm in the canting arms of Helmshoven or Helmishofen, c.1340 [Zurich 358] to the barred tournament helm in the arms of Schaden, 1605 [Siebmacher 188]; but in each case, the charge was a “helm”, drawn according to the style of the time.

In Society armory, the “great helm” or “barrel helm” has been ruled the default, though it is sometimes explicitly blazoned.  This is the form in the illustration.  Other types of full helm (e.g., “sallet”, “spangenhelm”, “barbute”, &c) must be specified; the type carries no heraldic difference.  If such a helm is blazoned “plumed”, it carries a single feather as a crest and favor; period helms, when used as charges, sometimes had other crests as well, as in the arms of Schaden, above.

Morion (Period); kettle helm (Period)

Morion (Period); kettle helm (Period)

There are also helms that do not enclose the head, but sit atop it.  Of these, the “kettle helm” (also called a “chapel-de-fer” or “eisenhut”) is the most common:  a broad-brimmed metal hat, more in use by the infantry than the chivalry.  It’s a period charge, found in the arms of Sowys, c.1460 [RH] and of Spiegel, 1605 [Siebmacher 179].

There is also the “morion”, which in some texts is used as another term for the chapel-de-fer; it’s now accepted to mean a Spanish style of iron hat, with turned-up brim and a ridge-crest.  This form of morion came into armorial use in the late 16th Century, as in the crest of Ramburgh, 1583 [Gwynn-Jones 104].




Roman helm (Accepted); Norman helmet (Accepted)

Roman helm (Accepted); Norman helmet (Accepted)

Winged helm affronty (Accepted); horned helm affronty (Accepted)

Winged helmet affronty (Accepted); horned helmet affronty (Accepted)

Of the helm variants unique to the Society, those blazoned a “winged helm” or “horned helm” are usually considered Viking helmets; these are metal caps with wings or horns, rather than full helms, though they may have eye-guards.  (They have more in common with Victorian idealization than anything the Vikings actually wore.)  The “Norman helm” is essentially a steel cap with a nasal.  The “full-faced Saxon helmet” is the famous helm of Sutton Hoo.  Helms of antiquity are not uncommon:  Greek, Roman, and horned Corinthian helms have been registered.

The “Viking” helms, the Sutton Hoo helm, and the kettle helm are affronty by default; all other helms face dexter by default.  For related charges, see hat, head (human’s), hood, skold.

The Shire of the Freelords of Stone Keep bears:  Sable, a Greek helmet Or within a laurel wreath argent.

The Order of the Silver Morion of Mons Tonitrus bears:  Sable, a morion and a bordure denticulada argent.

Mikhail Karten bears:  Quarterly gules and checky azure and Or, a plumed great helm facing to sinister argent.

Olaf of Axar bears:  Vert, three horned helmets argent.

Wilhelm von dem Bajwarishen Berg bears:  Purpure, in pale two chapels de fer between as many flaunches Or, each flank charged with a spear purpure.

Gina Dragoni bears:  Or, a full-faced Saxon helmet crested of a dragon purpure.

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Hempbreak (Period)

Hempbreak (Period)

A hempbreak, or hemp-bray, is a tool for crushing hemp or flax stalks, thus loosening the fibers for removal.  It consists of a flat, legged base, with a hinged blade or toothed lid atop it.  The hempbreak is a period charge:  the form with the blade is found in the arms of von Habel, 1605 [Siebmacher 138], while the form with the toothed lid is the canting badge of Bray, early 16th C. [Siddons 37; also Walden 199].

The hempbreak is found in period armorial art both open and closed, with the hinge both to dexter and sinister; its exact orientation is thus not blazoned, and is not worth difference.  The illustration shows the English (toothed) form of the charge.  See also table.

Jahn Van Breeman bears:  Vert, a hempbreak argent.

Ormr Grimolfsson bears:  Per bend sinister sable and azure, a hempbreak Or.

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Hippogriff segreant (Period)

Hippogriff segreant (Period)

This chimerical monster is considered a variant of the griffin, with the griffin’s head, wings and foreparts, and the hindquarters of a horse.  It’s a late addition to the bestiary of monsters: one of its earliest mentions was in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, 1516.  Some authors (e.g., Vinycombe [161]) maintain that the hippogriff wasn’t used in period armory, but we have one period example:  the arms of Greiff, mid-16h C., clearly depict a hippogriff, not a griffin [NW 37].

Unlike the griffin, the hippogriff doesn’t seem to have a default posture; the illustration shows a hippogriff segreant (rampant).  For related charges, see opinicus.

Iriel of Branoch bears:  Sable, a hippogriff rampant to sinister Or.

Ysabeau Cameron bears:  Per pale Or and gules, two hippogriffs combattant counterchanged.

Nicolette de Coulours bears:  Quarterly purpure and vert, a hippogriff segreant Or.

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