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Letters

Gothic capital letter "M" (Period)

Gothic capital letter “M” (Period)

A letter is a single written glyph, symbolizing a phoneme of speech.  By default, letters are taken from the Roman alphabet, with the case and script sometimes specified in the blazon; letters from other alphabets, such as Greek and Hebrew, are also permitted.  The use of single letters as decorations on shields dates early, but as charges in actual armory, they came into use much later:  e.g., the three letters “M” in the arms of Le Marchant, 1362 [DBA2 384], or the two letters “S” in the arms of Mendoça, c.1540 [Nobreza xii].  The illustration shows a Gothic letter “M”.

Full words are also found in period heraldry:  the word “souvereyne” in the badge of Henry of Lancaster, 1385 [Hope2 167], and the word “lieb” as a charge in the arms of von Startzhausen, 1605 [Siebmacher 84].  Iberian heraldry, in particular, has examples of whole phrases used as charges:  e.g., the arms of Velaz de Medrano, mid-16th C., with a bordure charged with the opening words of the Ave Maria [Armeria 70].

In Society heraldry, the category of letters includes such other symbols as astronomical signs, Arabic script, Norse runes, and Japanese kanji.  The use of these symbols is restricted in one way:  since any person may use a common word – and certainly may use their own initials – no Society armory may consist solely of letters, words, or their equivalents.  The armory must include some other charge as well.

Punctuation marks, being unattested in medieval armory, are not permitted in Society armory.  See also chi-rho, cypher charges, musical note, nefr, rogacina.

Franchesca MacBeth bears:  Vert, a Gothic capital letter “M” Or and a base embattled argent masoned sable.

al-Haadi abd-al-Malik Husam ibn Khalid bears:  Argent, on a fess cotised between the Arabic script “al-mulk” and “lillah” sable, the Arabic script “abd-al-Malik Husam ibn Khalid” argent.

Dulcinea Margarita Teresa Velàzquez di Ribera bears:  Argent, three piles in point gules, overall an estoile, all within a bordure sable charged with the words “Dignidad, Vertud, Honestad” Or.

Julien Lapointe bears:  Gules, three lowercase Greek letters pi within a bordure embattled Or.

Cadell ap Hubert bears:  Argent, the astronomical sign of Sagittarius and a gore sinister azure.

This entry was posted on March 5, 2014, in .

Level

Water-level (Period)

Water-level (Period)

A-frame plumb-line (Accepted)

A-frame plumb-line (Accepted)

A level is a tool used by carpenters and architects for determining the true horizontal and vertical.  The level found in period armory was blazoned a “water-level” in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, 1588 [Bromley & Child 204]:  a roughly triangular piece of wood, encompassing a plumb-line; the flat side is to chief by default.

 

Society armory also has the “A-frame plumb-line”, simpler but less accurate than the standard level.  It dates from ancient Egypt, and was probably in use through the Dark Ages [Singer 672], but we’ve no examples of its use in period armory.

Bróccín Stratton bears:  Per bend sinister sable and azure, on a bend sinister bretessed between a water-level and a fish haurient Or, three roundels azure.

Jonathan Ryder bears:  Tierced per pall inverted sable, Or, and gules mullety Or, in chief two A-frame plumb lines in fess counterchanged.

Renfield Trelain bears:  Vert, an A-frame plumb line argent.

This entry was posted on March 17, 2014, in .

Lighthouse

Lighthouse (Accepted)

Lighthouse (Accepted)

A lighthouse is an edifice with a fire on top, used as an aid to navigation.  Though a period structure, dating from ancient times (e.g., the lighthouse of Pharos), it does not appear in medieval armory.  For related charges, see beacon, tower.

Spurius Furius Eruditus bears: Argent, a bend sinister wavy azure between an open flame lighthouse gules and a lymphad, sails furled, sable.

Karl Friedrich von Sturmhofen bears:  Argent, a lighthouse sable enflamed in chief gules within a bordure rayonny sable goutty argent.

This entry was posted on March 17, 2014, in .

Lightning

Lightning bolt (SFPP); lightning flash (Disallowed)

Lightning bolt palewise (SFPP); lightning flash palewise (Disallowed)

Lightning is a huge electrical discharge common in violent weather.  It was often represented in period art as “fire from heaven”.  In Society heraldry, lightning is represented as “flashes” and “bolts”.  The distinction is made in blazonry to denote two different styles of emblazonry, one of which was common in early Society armory but is no longer permitted.

A “lightning flash” is a tapering bevilled stripe, found in modern comic books; for that reason, it’s sometimes termed (only half-jokingly) a “shazam”.  As a purely modern depiction, this form is no longer permitted in Society heraldry.

A “lightning bolt” is an embattled stripe with barbs at either end.  The depiction is period:  two lightning bolts in saltire are found in the standard emblazon of the thunderbolt [de Bara 128].  This form is still permitted in Society heraldry, though it’s considered a step from period practice when not used as part of a thunderbolt.  As it has no default, the orientation must be explicitly blazoned; the illustration shows both forms of lightning palewise.

Japanese lightning flash lozengewise (probable SFPP at least)

Japanese lightning flash lozengewise (probable SFPP at least)

Japanese Mon represent lightning (inazuma) in a distinctive stylization, as borne by Yamashina [Hawley 75], but this has not yet been dated to period.

Algarth of Mount Coruscation bears:  Per chevron azure and gules, two lightning flashes in pile argent.

Rosaline Weaver bears:  Argent, a lightning bolt palewise azure.

Phillip of Ghent bears as a badge: Sable, issuant from a single strand, double spiral Japanese lightning flash lozengewise, in chief and in base two scarpes argent.

This entry was posted on March 17, 2014, in .

Lily

Lily (Period)

Lily (Period)

The lily is a flower with a stylized heraldic form.  It was the flower of the Virgin Mary and was a symbol of purity and virtue; in period heraldry, though not found as early as the rose, it was second only to the rose in popularity.  Lilies are found in the arms of Mayo, 1504 [Parker 371].

Though possibly related in origin to the fleur-de-lys, the two were considered distinctly different charges by the end of period:  the grant of arms to Eton College, 1449, has both lilies and a fleur-de-lys, so specified [Hope 67].

Society armory also includes examples of more naturalistic lilies, distinguished in blazon by their breed:  e.g., “arum lily” or “tiger lily”.  These are drawn as found in nature, but no heraldic difference is granted for them.  See also iris, tulip.

Rothin in flamska bears:  Or, a lily gules.

Alais Llewella du Bois bears:  Per pale argent and vert, two lilies slipped and leaved counterchanged.

Leonora Monadh bears:  Vert, three lilies and a bordure Or.

Susannah of York bears:  Argent, a lily slipped and leaved purpure.

This entry was posted on March 17, 2014, in .

Lion

Lion (Period)

Lion (Period)

The lion is a feline beast whose pride and strength have made it the King of Beasts and the noblest of animals.  It is thus a frequent charge in medieval armory, dating from the earliest heraldic records:  e.g., the canting arms of the Kingdom of Leon, c.1275 [ANA2 529].

 

The lion is rampant by default, as in the illustration.  When depicted passant guardant, as in the arms of England, medieval heralds often blazoned him a “leopard”.  To avoid confusion, Society blazons don’t use the unmodified term “leopard”:  instead, the term “natural leopard” denotes the beast found in nature, and lions passant guardant are explicitly blazoned as such.

 

Lion passant guardant (Period)

Lion passant guardant (Period)

Ounce (Period)

Ounce (Period)

Period heraldic depictions of the lion were highly stylized, with pinched waist and exaggerated tufts and tail.  Society heraldry also includes great cats, related to the lion, which tend to be drawn more naturalistically:  the “Bengal tiger”, the “cheetah”, and the “natural leopard”, also called an “African leopard”.  These cats differ trivially in outline; only their markings change.

 

There is also the “ounce”, a generic maneless lion, which is found (so blazoned) as the supporters of the Worshipful Company of Salters, 1591 [Bromley & Child 215].  The Society has also used more modern terms to blazon the ounce, such as “catamount”, “cougar”, “mountain lion”, or “natural panther”.  All of these great cats, like the lion, are rampant by Society default.

 

Lion bicorporate (Period)

Lion bicorporate (Period)

Lion tricorporate (Period)

Lion tricorporate (Period)

Lionesses and lion cubs are rarely if ever found.  More frequent are the variant forms:  the lion “queue-fourché” or split-tailed; the “double-headed lion”; the “lion bicorporate”, with two bodies attached to a single head, as in the arms of John Northampton, Mayor of London in 1381 [Dennys 137]; and the lion “tricorporate”, with three bodies attached to its head [Legh 47].  For related charges, see cat, panther, tyger.

 

 

 

The King of An Tir bears:  Checky Or and argent, a lion rampant, tail forked and nowed sable, crowned gules, grasping in dexter forepaw a laurel wreath bendwise vert.

Flóki hvítskeggr Lambason bears:  Argent, a lion rampant sable, armed, orbed and langued gules.

Cyrus Aurelius bears:  Counter-ermine, three lions Or.

Guillaume de Saint Jacques bears:  Sable, a lion sejant ermine.

Arianwen ferch Arthur bears:  Quarterly argent and azure, four ounces sejant counterchanged.

Roger Fitzlyon bears:  Per pall inverted azure, vert, and sable, a tricorporate lion argent.

This entry was posted on April 19, 2014, in .

Lion-dragon

Lion-dragon (Period)

Lion-dragon (Period)

The lion-dragon is a chimerical monster with the forequarters of a lion and the body and tail of a wyvern.  It is a period charge, found as the crest of Blunte in 1572 [Guide 142; Dennys CoA].  The lion-dragon is sejant by default, as in the illustration.

There is also in the Society an instance of the “ounce-dragon”, which differs from the lion-dragon only in being maneless.  For related charges, see dragon, lion.

Settimio d’Olivio bears:  Argent, a lion-dragon and a bordure gules.

Thurstan de Barri bears:  Quarterly vert and argent, a winged lion-dragon sejant to sinister Or.

Sula von Pferdenthal bears as a badge:  Gules, an ounce-dragon passant ermine.

This entry was posted on April 19, 2014, in .

Lips

Pair of lips (Accepted)

Pair of lips (Accepted)

Lips are the folds of flesh surrounding the mouth, essential for speech and useful for evoking emotion.  They were originally justified for Society armory by the use of other body parts in period armory (eyes, heads, feet, &c).  However, the open mouth – including lips and teeth – is a period charge, found in the canting arms (Italian bocca) of di Bocardi, mid-15th C. [Triv 79].

Saundra the Incorrigible bears:  Per bend sinister argent and azure, a pair of lips gules and three increscents argent.

This entry was posted on April 19, 2014, in .

Lizard

Lizard (Period)

Lizard (Period)

The lizard is a small, agile reptile with a reputation for speed.  It’s a period charge, found in the crest of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, 1455 [Bromley & Child 148], and in the canting arms (Portuguese lagarto) of Lagartos, c.1540 [Nobreza xxxviiº].

The lizard is statant by default, as in the illustration.  In Society armory, however, it’s frequently found tergiant.  It is also sometimes blazoned as a “natural salamander”, since it forms the basis of the usual depiction of the salamander.  The lizard’s cousin, the “newt” or “aske”, was used as the badge of Christopher Aske, 1536 [Siddons II.2 16].

Similar footed reptiles, such as the “chameleon”, have also been employed in Society armory.  Also included in this category are what may be termed the giant lizards:  the “crocodile”, the “alligator”, and the “Komodo dragon”.  These are still permitted as of this writing, but those from outside the scope of period Europe (e.g., the alligator) are deemed a step from period practice.

Emmanuelle de Chenonceaux bears:  Ermine, a lizard tergiant azure.

Vespacia Capricornica Kareliae bears:  Pily bendy Or and vert, a natural chameleon gules.

Fiona di Varanus bears:  Gules, a pale cotised Or, overall a Komodo dragon embowed in pale vert.

This entry was posted on April 19, 2014, in .

Loom

Harness loom (Accepted)

Harness loom (Accepted)

A loom is a mechanism for weaving two sets of thread together to form cloth.  The simplest looms date from prehistory; several types of loom were used throughout period.  Although a period artifact, we’ve no examples of the loom used as a period heraldic charge.

The illustration is of a harness loom, which uses foot pedals to raise and lower the harnesses holding the heddles.  It would be used by a human facing dexter, which makes this depiction the default orientation.  Harness looms might have one of several designs; the depiction is taken from Jost Amman’s Book of Trades, 1568 [56].

Diana Doria bears:  Azure, a harness loom argent.

This entry was posted on May 17, 2014, in .