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In heraldry, a bend is a band or strap running from the upper dexter (the bearer's right side and the viewer's left) corner of the shield to the lower sinister (the bearer's left side, and the viewer's right). Authorities differ as to how much of the field it should cover, ranging from one-fifth (if shown between other charges) up to one-third (if charged alone). The supposed rule that a bend should occupy a maximum of one-third of the field appears to exclude the possibility of three bends being shown together, but contrary examples exist.
The diminutives of the bend, being narrower versions, are as follows, in descending order of width:
- Bendlet: One-half as wide as a bend, as in the ancient arms of Churchill family, and the arms of Byron. A bendlet couped is also known as a baton, as in the coat of Elliot of Stobs
- Cotise: One-fourth the width of a bend; it usually appears in pairs, one on either side (French: coté) of a bend, in which case the bend is said to be cotised as in the ancient arms of Fortescue and Bohun and in the more modern arms of Hyndburn Borough Council, England. In ancient arms it can be found on only one side of a bend blazoned as a bend singly cotised.
- Riband or ribbon: Also one-fourth the width of a bend. It is also called a cost as in the arms of Abernethie of Auchincloch (Or, a lion rampant gules surmounted of a cost sable, all within a bordure engrailed azure — first and fourth quarters)
- Scarp (or scarf): a bend sinister of one-half width.
The usual bend is occasionally called a bend dexter when it needs to contrast with the bend sinister, which runs in the other direction, like a sash worn diagonally from the left shoulder (Latin sinister means left). The bend sinister and its diminutives such as the baton sinister are rare as an independent motif; they occur more often as marks of distinction. The term "bar sinister" is an erroneous term when used in this context, since the "bar" in heraldry refers to a horizontal line.
The bend sinister, reduced in size to that of a bendlet (narrow) or baton (ending short of the edge of the shield), was one of the commonest brisures (differences) added to the arms of illegitimate offspring of European aristocratic lords. Such royal descent was considered a mark of honour, and in most of Europe, illegitimate children of nobles, despite having few legal rights, were customarily regarded as noble and married within the most aristocratic families.
This was the usual mark used to identify illegitimate descendants of the English royal family dating from fifteenth century, as in the arms of Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, illegitimate son of Edward IV of England. It also appears in the arms of Antoine de Bourgogne, illegitimate son of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. The full-sized bend sinister was seldom used in this way, and more recent examples also exist of bends sinister that have no connection with illegitimacy, such as in the arms of the Burne-Jones baronets. These markings were never subject to strict rules, and the customary English use of the bend, bendlet, and baton sinister to denote illegitimacy in this way eventually gave way to the use of different kinds of bordures.
Sir Walter Scott is credited with inventing the phrase bar sinister, which has become a metonymic term for bastardy. Heraldry scholar Arthur Charles Fox-Davies and others state that the phrase derives from a misspelling of barre, the French term for bend. The term is irregular, since in English heraldry, a bar is horizontal, neither dexter nor sinister; nevertheless, bar sinister has become a standard euphemism for illegitimate birth.
The phrase in bend refers to the appearance of several items on the shield being lined up in the direction of a bend, as in the arms of the ancient Northcote family of Devon: Argent, three crosses-crosslet in bend sable. It is also used when something is slanted in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Surrey County Council in England.
A charge bendwise is slanted like a bend. When a charge is placed on a bend, by default it is shown bendwise.
Party per bend
A shield party per bend (or simply per bend) is divided into two parts by a single line which runs in the direction of a bend. Applies not only to the fields of shields but also to charges. A division in the opposite direction is called party per bend sinister.
Analogous terms are derived from the bend sinister: per bend sinister, bendwise sinister, bendy sinister.
In national flags
- Debrett's 1968, p. 461.
- Boutell (1914), p. 58.
- Public Register volume 1, page 144.[full citation needed]
- Public Register volume 1, page 69[full citation needed]
- Edmondson, Joseph (1780). A Complete Body of Heraldry. p. 163.
- Woodward & Burnett (1892), p. 172; Montagu (1840), pp. 41–42.
- Bertelli & Litchfield (2003), pp. 174–5.
- Montagu (1840), pp. 41–42.
- Montagu (1840), pp. 41–42; Bertelli & Litchfield (2003), pp. 174–5; Boutell (1914), pp. 190–1.
- Fox-Davies (1909), p. 512; O'Shea (1986), pp. 11–12.
- Fox-Davies (1909), p. 508; Woodward & Burnett (1892), p. 553.
- Boutell (1914), pp. 190–1.
- Wilson (2005), p. 56; Freeman (2009), p. 29.
- Woodward & Burnett (1892), p. 172; O'Shea (1986), pp. 11–12; Fox-Davies (1909), p. 508.
- Wilson (2005), p. 56; Hogarth & Pine (2017).
- Debrett's 1968, p. 604.
- Weald and Downs n.d.
- Boutell (1914), p. 59.
General and cited references
- Bertelli, Sergio; Litchfield, R. Burr (2003). The King's Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Penn State Press. ISBN 0-2710-4139-0.
- Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C. (ed.). The Handbook to English Heraldry (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. OCLC 81124564 – via Project Gutenberg.
- "Civic Heraldry of England and Wales – Weald and Downs Area". www.civicheraldry.co.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Debrett's Peerage. 1968.[full citation needed]
- Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry: Illustrated by Nine Plates and Nearly 800 Other Designs. London: T.C. & E.C. Jack. ISBN 0-517-26643-1. LCCN 09023803.
- Freeman, Jan (2009). Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 978-0-8027-1970-6.
- Hogarth, Frederick; Pine, Leslie Gilbert (2017). "Heraldry: The scope of heraldry". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Montagu, J. A. (1840). A Guide to the study of Heraldry. London: William Pickering.
- O'Shea, Michael J. (1986). James Joyce and Heraldry. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-8870-6270-4.
- Wilson, Kenneth (2005). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-5850-4148-3.
- Woodward, John; Burnett, George (1892) [originally published 1884]. Woodward's a treatise on heraldry, British and foreign: with English and French glossaries. Edinburgh: W. & A. B. Johnson. ISBN 0-7153-4464-1. LCCN 02020303.
- Boutell, Charles (1890). Heraldry, Ancient and Modern: Including Boutell's Heraldry. London: Frederick Warne. OCLC 6102523.
- Brooke-Little, J P (1985) [originally published 1975]. An heraldic alphabet (New and revised ed.). London: Robson Books.
- Young, Robert (12 May 2005). "Civic Heraldry of England and Wales". Retrieved 24 July 2019.
- Clark, Hugh (1892) [originally published 1775]. Planché, J. R. (ed.). An Introduction to Heraldry (18th ed.). London: George Bell & Sons. ISBN 1-4325-3999-X. LCCN 26005078.
- Cussans, John E. (2003). Handbook of Heraldry. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-7338-0. LCCN 04024470.
- Friar, Stephen, ed. (1987). A New Dictionary of Heraldry. Sherborne: Alphabooks.
- Greaves, Kevin (2000). A Canadian Heraldic Primer. Ottawa: Heraldry Society of Canada.
- Heraldry Society (England). "Members' Roll of Arms".
- Heraldry Society of Scotland. "HSS Members' - Scots Arms". Archived from the original on 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- Innes, Sir Thomas (1956). Scots Heraldry (second ed.). Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.
- Moncreiffe, Iain; Pottinger, Don (1953). Simple Heraldry. London and Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons.
- Neubecker, Ottfried (1976). Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-046312-3.
- Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. "Members' Roll of Arms".
- Bureau of Heraldry. "Gallery". National Archives & Records Service of South Africa. Archived from the original on 2019-07-24. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
- von Volborth, Carl-Alexander (1981). Heraldry: Customs, Rules and Styles. Poole, England: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-0940-5. LCCN 81670212.
- Woodcock, Thomas; Robinson, John Martin (1988). The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211658-4. LCCN 88023554.