Eagle (Period)

Eagle (Period)

The eagle is the monarch of the birds, the medieval symbol of majesty and vision (literally and figuratively).  It is thus a frequent charge in medieval armory, dating from the earliest heraldic records, as in the arms of the Kingdom of Germany, c.1244 [ANA2 193].  More than any other bird of heraldry, it is drawn in a highly stylized manner:  with a crest, ruffled feathers, and ornate wings and tail.  German emblazons may add klee-stengeln, wing-bones, and they are sometimes explicitly blazoned; they are considered artistic details.

The eagle is displayed by default; however, the form of display may differ according to time and place.  In later-period England, eagles displayed held their wings with their tips up; while in early Germany, eagles displayed had the wingtips down, in the posture called “displayed inverted” in English.  As the distinction is mostly one of emblazonry, it is granted no heraldic difference, and indeed is usually left unblazoned.

A variant of the eagle is the “alerion” or “allerion”, a beakless, footless eagle found in the arms of the Duchy of Lorraine; this form had been recognized as a variant by the end of our period [de Bara 213].  It may only be shown displayed.

Double-headed eagles are also found, most famously in the arms of the Holy Roman Emperor c.1220 [Asp2 34], but also in lesser armory such as Bluet, c.1282 [ANA2 196].  (As the Imperial eagle was shown through history with either one or two heads, no difference is granted for the number of heads.)  Triple-headed eagles are not permitted, by Society precedent.  For related charges, see falcon, phoenix, roc, vulture.

The Award of the Alerion, of the Barony of Lochmere, bears:  Per fess engrailed azure and argent, an alerion counterchanged.

Al Altan bears:  Or, three eagles gules.

John Aquila of Eaglesdown bears:  Purpure, an eagle close to sinister Or.

Andrei de Sevastopol bears:  Gyronny argent and gules, a double-headed eagle displayed sable.

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


Dove (Period)

Dove (Period)

The dove is a bird related to the pigeon, with a soft cooing cry.  It is often used as a symbol of peace, and thus is sometimes shown with an olive slip in its mouth, as in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers, 1456 [Bromley & Child 237].  In heraldic art, the dove is distinguished by a small curled tuft on top of its head.  The dove’s “proper” coloration is white, with pink (some sources say gules) beak and legs; its default posture is close.

“Descending” is a special term applied to doves, equivalent to “migrant to base”.  A “paraclete” is a dove portrayed as the Holy Spirit:  descending and with a halo.

Francesca of Bright Angel bears:  Azure, a dove displayed, head elevated argent.

Serena Fabrizio bears:  Sable, three doves volant contourny argent.

James de St. Germain bears:  Purpure, upon a chevron argent beneath a paraclete descending proper three crosses of Lorraine sable.

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


Crow (Period)

Crow (Period)

The crow is a bird with a harsh voice and a reputation for avarice.  It is close by default; period emblazons, in fact, overwhelmingly depict it close and sable.  A few heraldic depictions, particularly on the Continent, show it with hairy feathers; most others draw it sleekly feathered; but all show the crow with a long, pointed bill.  A “crow speaking” or “croaking” has its mouth open as if in speech.

Similar to the crow are the “raven”, the “rook”, and the “(jack)daw”.  Indeed, for emblazonry purposes, all these corvids are indistinguishable; the exact term was frequently chosen purely for the sake of a cant.  Likewise, any of these might be blazoned a “corbie”, as in the canting arms of Corbet, c.1255 [ANA2 200].

There is also the “Cornish chough” (pronounced “chuff”), in form identical to the crow, and only distinguishable when “proper”:  it is then black with red beak and feet.  Its most famous use is in the arms of Cardinal Wolsey, c.1520 [Wagner 66].  The chough may sometimes be blazoned a “beckit” for canting purposes [Parker 136].

Ogan O Crowly bears:  Argent, five crows in saltire and a chief sable.

Cigfran o Gaer Walch bears:  Or, six ravens close sable.

John of Ravenwolf bears:  Sable, a raven speaking Or, beaked and membered argent.

Cynthia of the Loch bears:  Per bend sinister Or and gules, a bend sinister counter-ermine between a rook contourny sable and three towers Or.

Pippin de Corbie bears:  Ermine, a corbie sable holding in its mouth a ring Or and in chief three apples gules.

Cadan of Mons Tonitrus bears:  Quarterly argent and azure, in bend two Cornish choughs proper.

This entry was posted on January 10, 2014, in .


Crane in its vigilance (Period)

Crane in its vigilance (Period)

The crane is a long-legged aquatic bird with a long neck and bill.  It was often depicted “in its vigilance”, standing on one foot and grasping a stone in the other.  The medieval bestiaries held that the crane would stand this way; should it fall asleep, it would drop the stone and awaken.  As an heraldic charge, the crane dates from c.1270, in the canting arms (French grue) of the Counts de Gruyere [ANA2 191].

Heron (Period)

Heron (Period)

Similar to the crane are the “heron”, the “stork”, the “egret”, and the “ibis”.  The heron is distinguished by the long tuft on its head; it’s found in the canting arms of Heron, c.1255 [ANA2 192].  The stork is often depicted with a serpent or eel in its bill, even when this is not specifically blazoned; it is found in the arms of Egglescliffe, Bishop of Llandaff, 1323 [DBA2 151].  The ibis and egret appear to be Society innovations, and are generally drawn as found in nature.  All of these birds are close by default; though frequently drawn with one leg raised, this is considered an artistic detail, usually left unblazoned.


Japanese crane displayed (SFPP)

Japanese crane displayed (SFPP)

A particular depiction of the crane is the “Japanese crane” (tsuru):  legless, with its wings displayed in annulo, the whole forming almost a crescent.  It was used in the Mon of Mori Nagayoshi, d.1585 [Hawley 48].  The Japanese crane is permitted in Society armory, but as a non-European charge, it carries a step from period practice.

Grimbold of Settmour bears:  Ermine, a crane in its vigilance azure.

Brennan O Loughran bears:  Azure, two herons addorsed argent.

Karl von Süssen bears:  Vert, a stork passant, wings elevated and addorsed argent, grasping in its beak a fish Or, all within a bordure argent.

Sybilla Keisalovitch bears:  Argent, an ibis close to sinister reguardant, dexter leg upraised gules, within a bordure compony gules and argent.

Kamiizumi Hirotarō bears:  Argent, a Japanese crane displayed purpure.

This entry was posted on January 4, 2014, in .


Dunghill cock (Period)

Dunghill cock (Period)

The cock, or cockerel, is the male chicken, noted for its fighting spirit; it is found as early as c.1285, in the canting arms of Cockerel [ANA2 201].  The cock is often blazoned more fully as a “dunghill cock”, to distinguish it from male birds of other species:  e.g., the peacock; the turkeycock; the “heathcock” or male partridge; and the moorcock.  (The term “rooster” is a modern American usage, and no longer used in blazon.)

All these types of cock are statant close by default.  There are some terms which appear to be unique to the Society:  A dunghill cock without wattles or crest may be blazoned a “gamecock”, as the wattleless breed was favored in cockfights.  A dunghill cock rising may also be blazoned a “cock hardy”.

Chicken hens are also found in heraldry (as in the canting arms of the Counts of Henneberg, c.1340 [Zurich 82]), as are capons (in the canting arms of Capenhurst, 1610 [Guillim1 164]).  These seem to be much less common than males, however.

Merwenna Maycock bears:  Per fess embattled Or and gules, two cocks counterchanged.

Konrad Partman bears:  Per pale vert and Or, a dunghill cock rising, wings displayed gules.

Sabine de Provence bears:  Quarterly azure and ermine, a hen close Or.

Anne of Bradford bears:  Azure chapé, a chicken martletted close to sinister Or.

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


Birds in Society heraldry follow most of the conventions as those of mundane heraldry.  As a rule of thumb, most birds are statant close by default; indeed, a bird displayed (other than an eagle) is considered a step from period practice.

There are some bird postures unique to Society heraldry.  A bird “migrant” or “migratory” is tergiant, wings displayed or displayed inverted, head erect; with no other qualification, a bird is migrant to chief.  The posture carries a step from period practice.  A bird “stooping” is volant to dexter base, with the body bendwise sinister and the wings addorsed and swept back.  A bird “striking” has its wings elevated and addorsed, its head lowered, and its talons extended; for purposes of difference, it is indistinguishable from a bird rising.

Any bird known to period Europeans may be used in Society armory – though, if the bird is not itself European, its use may be considered a step from period practice.  (An exception is made for non-European birds actually used in period European armory.  The turkeycock is perhaps the prime example of this.)  The unmodified term “bird” can be used in blazon to refer to a generic bird, vaguely pigeon-shaped; it will conflict with all “standard” birds, as classified below.

In terms of difference between birds, as of this writing the Society’s policy classes every bird into one of four categories:  crane-shaped (cranes, storks, herons), swan-shaped (swans, geese, ducks), poultry-shaped (chickens, quail, peacocks), and “standard bird” (corbies, doves, raptors).  (One might assume a fifth category, “other”, to cover anomalies such as the ostrich.)  Birds from different categories, when in period postures for those birds, will usually be considered completely different for purposes of conflict.

For specific birds, see:  cock, crane, crow, dove, eagle, falcon, firebird, goose, hummingbird, martlet, moorcock, ostrich, owl, peacock, pelican, penguin, popinjay, roc, sea-mew, simurgh, swallow, swan, turkeycock, vulture.

Grim Finch bears:  Argent, a bend per bend sable and azure, in chief a finch volant, wings addorsed azure.

Eleanor of Pica bears:  Vert, a magpie proper maintaining in its dexter talon a feather argent.

Linnet of Liddington bears:  Quarterly azure and Or, four linnets counterchanged.

Luke Aucher bears:  Argent, a great auk close sable and a chief rayonny gules.

Robin Vinehall the Ambivalent bears:  Or, in fess two robins close addorsed, tails crossed in saltire proper.

Wilhelmina Brant bears:  Or, two pheasants respectant and in chief three garden roses slipped vert.

Beverly FitzAlan de Stirkelaunde bears:  Gules, a pigeon between flaunches argent.

This entry was posted on December 2, 2013, in .