Quatrefoil (Period); cinquefoil (Period)

Quatrefoil (Period); cinquefoil (Period)

While the term “foil” means literally “leaf, lobe”, the term is used here to denote a class of generic flowers.  They are not of any natural species, but are highly stylized heraldic charges:  the petals are usually drawn rounded, with points at the ends.

The term “foil” is used as a root, with a prefix indicating the number of petals.  Thus we have the “trefoil”, with three petals, the “quatrefoil” with four petals, the “cinquefoil” with five, &c.  More than six petals (“sixfoil” or “sexfoil”) are uncommon; more than eight petals (“octofoil” or “double quatrefoil”) are not found.

In period armory, cinquefoils were the most common foil-type flower, found as early as c.1244 in the arms of de Umfraville [Asp2 219].  Early heralds made no distinction between cinquefoils and roses, considering both the blazons and emblazons interchangeable (as in the various cadet arms of the Darcy family through the 14th Century).  The cinquefoil is sometimes blazoned a “fraise”, or strawberry flower, especially for canting purposes.

Next in popularity were sixfoils, dating to 1255, and quatrefoils, dating to 1244.  Trefoils, the most popular form in Society heraldry, first appear c.1254 in the arms of de Perie [Brault 280 and Brault2 28], but in period were not as common at first as the other foil-flowers.

Trefoil (Period); shamrock (Accepted)

Trefoil (Period); shamrock (Accepted)

The trefoil is the only foil-flower that is shown slipped by default; the others have no slips unless specifically blazoned.  (Even the trefoil has the slip blazoned occasionally, though it’s the Society’s default.  It’s also sometimes found double-slipped, which does have to be blazoned.)  The trefoil is also the only foil-flower with a definite default orientation, with a petal to chief; period examples of cinquefoils, by comparison, may be drawn with a petal to chief, or a petal to base.  Most foil-flowers follow the convention of the trefoil, and are drawn as in the illustrations, with a petal to chief.

A variant on the trefoil is the “shamrock”, the symbol of Ireland; its petals are heart-shaped and have no points.  The distinction is purely artistic: no heraldic difference is granted between trefoils and shamrocks.  A crowned shamrock, as the Royal badge of Ireland, is not registerable in the Society.

Similarly, the “four-leaved clover” is a Society variant on the quatrefoil, with heart-shaped petals; it is almost always shown with the petals in saltire, even when not so blazoned.

In the English system of cadency, the octofoil is the brisure of the ninth son.  For related charges, see rose.  See also leaf.

Bevin Fraser of Sterling bears:  Vert, three fraises Or pierced vert, on a chief Or a rose gules, barbed and seeded proper.

Olwen of Buckland bears:  Azure, a trefoil stalked argent.

Myles of the Shamrock bears:  Argent, a shamrock vert.

Elspeth de Stervlen bears:  Purpure, six cinquefoils Or.

Johanna le Walkere bears:  Quarterly azure and sable, four quatrefoils argent.

Carol of Bellatrix bears:  Per bend argent and vert, six octofoils in bend three and three counterchanged, all pierced Or.

Ærne Clover bears:  Or, a four-leaved clover saltirewise slipped vert.

This entry was posted on January 29, 2014, in .


Flowers are plants’ organs of reproduction, valued for their ornamental beauty or fragrance.  In heraldry, flowers are generally shown affronty by default.  The exceptions include such cup-shaped blossoms as the lily, such trumpet-shaped blossoms as the daffodil, and such prickly flowers as the thistle; all these are shown in profile by default.  Trumpet-shaped blossoms like the daffodil must have their postures explicitly blazoned, e.g., “bell to chief”.  Other exceptions are noted in the individual entries for those flowers.

Any flower known to period Europeans may be used in the Society – though, if the flower is not itself European, its use may be considered a step from period practice, as with the New World dogwood.  (An exception would be made for non-European flowers actually used in period European armory, but no examples have been adduced.)

Flowers may be slipped and leaved; such cases are almost always explicitly blazoned.  Some flowers occur in “clusters”, with several small blossoms issuant from a single slip; these are usually so blazoned, since the individual blossoms might also be charges.

For specific entries, see:  columbine, daisy, edelweiss, foil, Gendy flower, gillyflower, iris, lily, lotus, rose, teazel, thistle, trillium, tulip.  For related charges, see fleur-de-lys, slip, wreath.

Karol Johanna Gartenheit bears:  Azure, in fess four jonquil blossoms, bells to chief Or.

Emma Dandelion bears:  Vert, a dandelion slipped and leaved and a bordure argent.

Margaret Obrolchan bears:  Or, three lilies of the valley vert flowered argent.

Rachel of Bon Repos bears:  Argent, a hyacinth azure slipped and leaved proper.

Franca Donato bears:  Argent fretty azure, on a chief sable three hibiscus blossoms argent.

This entry was posted on January 28, 2014, in .


Edelweiss (Accepted)

Edelweiss (Accepted)

The edelweiss is an Alpine flower, famed for growing in inaccessible spots in the mountains.  It was known to period Europeans, and was believed to have medicinal properties, but does not appear to have been used in period heraldry.  The Society default is affronty; an “edelweiss proper” is argent, seeded Or.

The Order of the Edelweiss, of Drachenwald, bears:  An edelweiss Or seeded gules, within and conjoined to an annulet argent.

Alesia Anna von Altmul bears:  Per fess indented azure and Or, in chief two edelweiss argent seeded Or.

Appolonia von Württemberg bears:  Quarterly purpure and argent, two edelweiss blossoms proper, a bordure counterchanged.

This entry was posted on January 16, 2014, in .


Daisy (Period)

Daisy (Period)

The daisy is a bright, cheerful flower, the medieval symbol of innocence.  It is a period charge, found in the canting arms of Day, 1543 [Parker 193].  It may also be blazoned a “marguerite”, especially for canting purposes.  The daisy is shown affronty by default; its “proper” tincture is argent, seeded (or “eyed”) Or.

Similar to the daisy is the “sunflower”, also known as a “heliotrope”:  a larger flower with more prominent seeding.  When “proper”, the sunflower is Or, with its seeding either black or brown at the artist’s discretion.  It’s found in the arms of Florio, 1614 [Parker 559].

Ealasaid of the Isles bears:  Purpure, three daisies argent seeded Or.

Margaret MacIain of Lochwood bears:  Gyronny purpure and Or, each Or gyron charged with a daisy azure.

Cristina Rose da Napoli bears:  Azure, a sunflower proper, on a chief argent three goblets gules.

This entry was posted on January 12, 2014, in .


Columbine slipped and leaved (Period)

Columbine slipped and leaved (Period)

The columbine is a droopy-petaled flower, which was held to have medicinal value in period.  It’s a period charge, found as early as 1461, in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Cooks [Bromley & Child 53].  The columbine is drawn in a somewhat stylized manner, with the petals resembling doves (hence the name); it is pendant by default.  When “proper”, the columbine has blue petals.

The Shire of Cúil Choluim bears:  Purpure, on a chevron between three columbine flowers Or three laurel wreaths vert.

Aodhnait Máire Siobhán ní Nuanáin bears:  Ermine, a columbine azure slipped and leaved vert.

Sancha de Flores bears:  Gules, a columbine slipped and leaved argent.

Amabel Radleigh bears:  Argent, three columbines azure, slipped and leaved vert.

This entry was posted on January 3, 2014, in .