List of heraldic charges

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Main article: Charge (heraldry)

This list of heraldic charges takes up a representative collection of charges found in heraldry. It is in no way comprehensive.

This article does not cover those charges which are geometrical patterns and resemble partitions of the field; for these, see Ordinary (heraldry).

"Subordinary" charges[edit]

a shield with three lozenges.

A few simple charges are traditionally, and arbitrarily, classified among the subordinaries. (All other mobile charges are called common charges.)

  • lozenge
  • fusil
  • mascle (lozenge voided)
  • rustre (lozenge pierced)[1]
  • billet[1][2]
  • annulet;
  • roundel, but different tinctures have different names: for example roundels argent are called plates. A roundel barry wavy azure and argent is called a fountain.
  • label is commonly a mark of difference, but also appears as an independent charge.
  • fret: originally woven from three bendlets (dexter) and three bendlets sinister, now usually a single bendlet each way interwoven with a mascle.[1]

Human figures[edit]

The Virgin, St. John the Apostle and St. Mary Magdalene lamenting the body of Christ taken down from the Cross": the arms of Pinggau, Steiermark, Austria
  • Christ appears in many forms, including as an infant or on the cross.
  • The saints and their attributes.[1]
  • Angels and archangels
  • The Devil and demons
  • A man, by default depicted as European
  • The Maure or "blackamoor" is accurately shown as being African
  • Saracen
  • Saxon usually depicted without a beard in Wales[1]
  • Turk
  • A woman usually depicted as young, beautiful, and with blond disheveled hair.[1]
  • Other persons depicted in national costume.[1]
  • Greek gods and allegorical figures
  • a wild man or savage
Coat of Arms of the municipality of Rosh Pinna, Israel

Parts of human bodies[edit]

  • The head
  • The hand, or hand and arm, is the most common part of the human body to be a charge.[1]
  • Feet[5]
  • Teeth
  • Tongue[6]
  • The heart, even when blazoned "a human heart", always appears like the heart in a deck of cards rather than a natural human heart.
  • A "dug" or woman's breast "distilling drops of milk" famously appears in the arms of the Dodge family, and appeared for a time on the badge of cars made by the Dodge Automotive company.[7]
  • Beards[8]
  • Testicles: the Neapolitan family of Coglione bore "per fess argent and gules, three pairs of testicles counterchanged".[9]

Beasts[edit]

Any animal can be a heraldic charge, although more traditional ones vary in the exactitude with which they resemble the creature as found in nature. Animals depicted naturally are either described as natural or using the scientific nomenclature. Also included in heraldry are Mythical creatures and chimeras.

Predatory beasts[edit]

  • The lion.
  • The heraldic tyger is an imaginary monster; where natural beast appears is blazoned as a Bengal tiger.[1][10]
  • A leopard refers to a lion "passant guardant", rather than a natural leopard, in the languages of French and English heraldry. A leopard's face also occurs, sometimes jessant-de-lys.[1]
  • The (domestic) cat, distinguished from the wild cat or "cat-a-mountain"

Ungulates[edit]

Other mammals[edit]

Reptiles and amphibians[edit]

  • The serpent usually depicted nowed.[1]
  • The salamander is typically shown as a generic lizard, sometimes with a head of unusual shape often described as "dog-shaped", and always surrounded by flames.
  • The lizard
  • The Biscione
  • Dragon: by default a European one, but also a Chinese dragon.[12]
    • Wyvern: similar to a dragon, but with only two legs.
    • Zilant: a form of dragon appearing in Russian heraldry.

Invertebrates[edit]

Insects include:

Combination animals[edit]

  • Sphinx: depicted with the head and breasts of a woman.
  • Griffin, combining the head (but with ears), chest, wings and forelegs of the eagle with the hindquarters and legs of a lion (the male griffin lacks wings and his body is scattered with spikes). See List of griffins as mascots and in heraldry.
  • Unicorn, having a horse's body, deer's legs, goat's beard, and often a lion's tail
  • The hippogriff is like the griffin except that the lion parts of the griffin are replaced by those of a horse.
  • Harpy
  • Theow is a wolf-like creature but with cloven hoves.
  • The sea-lion is a combination of a lion and a fish.[1]
  • Any combination of parts of other animals, e.g. winged reindeer, is possible.[1]

Birds[edit]

By far the most frequent heraldic bird is the eagle. A variant is the alerion, without beak or feet, seen in the arms of the duchy of Lorraine (for which it is an anagram).

Also very frequent is the martlet, a conventional swallow without feet or beak.

Fish and creatures of the sea[edit]

"Fish" are sometimes only described as "a fish", but the species is often named:

Parts of animals[edit]

Parts of creatures may also be used as charges.

Plants[edit]

Flowers[edit]

  • The fleur-de-lis
  • Heraldic roses are shown in a stylised form similar to the wild rose. A rose on top of another rose form a double rose.
  • The lotus flower
  • The thistle
  • Other commonly used flower-like charges (called "foils") include:
    • Trefoil (with three petals; usually slipped, with a stem)
    • Quatrefoil (with four petals)
    • Cinquefoil (with five petals)
    • Sexfoil (with six petals)
    • The septfoil (with seven petals)
    • The double quatrefoil (with eight petals)—in England the rare cadency mark of a ninth son.

Trees and their fruits[edit]

Trees appear as eradicated (showing the roots) or couped. Fruit can appear on a tree, or by itself. Also, leaves and branches appear.

Alder in the coat of arms of Grossarl, Austria.

Trees are sometimes merely blazoned as "a tree" but specific trees are mentioned in blazon.

A small group of trees is blazoned as a hurst, grove, wood or thicket.[2]

Grain crops and vegetables[edit]

Barley (French orge) in the arms of Orges, Switzerland
  • Wheat occurs in the form of "garbs" or sheaves and as ears), though sometimes garbs represent another crop
  • Ears of rye are depicted exactly as wheat, except the ears droop down.
  • "Ginny wheat" or "guinea wheat" (like wheat but with a fatter ear) also exists[19]

Inanimate charges[edit]

Ships and boats[edit]

Structures[edit]

  • Religious Structures
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Flag

Headgear[edit]

Music[edit]

Coat of arms of Albert, Prince Consort

Musical instruments include:

Weapons[edit]

Arms of the united provinces.svg

Tools[edit]

Clothing and other personal items[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1909). A complete guide to heraldry (1909). New York : Dodge. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Heraldsnet.org". Heraldsnet.org. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  3. ^ "NGW.nl". NGW.nl. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  4. ^ "Heraldsnet.org". Heraldsnet.org. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  5. ^ "Blasoneshispanos.com". Blasoneshispanos.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. ^ "NGW.nl". NGW.nl. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  7. ^ Martin Goldstraw. "Cheshire-Heraldry.org.uk". Cheshire-Heraldry.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  8. ^ "Zeljko-heimer-frame.from.hr". Zeljko-heimer-fame.from.hr. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  9. ^ "Sex in Heraldry". Heraldica.org. 1997-06-26. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  10. ^ "NGW.nl". NGW.nl. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  11. ^ "Heralrdy.ca". Heraldry.ca. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  12. ^ "College-of-arms.gov.uk". College-of-arms.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  13. ^ "Heraldsnet.org". Heraldsnet.org. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  14. ^ "NGW.nl". NGW.nl. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  15. ^ Gerard Michon (2004-06-19). "Numericana.com". Numericana.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  16. ^ Balfour Paul, James (1893). An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. William Green and Sons. pp. 108–109. 
  17. ^ "Heraldsnet.org". Heraldsnet.org. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  18. ^ "College-of-arms.gov.uk" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  19. ^ Books.Google.com. Books.Google.com. 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  20. ^ "College-of-arms.gov.uk" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  21. ^ A Complete Guide to Heraldry by A.C. Fox-Davies and J.P. Brook-Little (1969 edition), p. 212.
  22. ^ Cundinamarca.gov.co
  23. ^ Heraldsnet.org
  24. ^ a b c d e Jacqueline Fearn. Discovering Heraldry. Shire Publications. pp. 40–41. 
  25. ^ Heraldica.org
  26. ^ Heraldsnet.org
  27. ^ Balfour Paul, p. 41
  28. ^ Heraldica.org

External links[edit]