Variations of ordinaries

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Ordinaries in heraldry are sometimes embellished with stripes of colour alongside them, have lumps added to them, shown with their edges arciform instead of straight, have their peaks and tops chopped off, pushed up and down out of the usual positions, or even broken apart.


Cottices, also spelled cottises, cotises, cotices, are narrow stripes beside and parallel to an ordinary.

The arms of Champagne show double cottices "potented and counter potented," (côtoyée de deux doubles cotices potencées et contre-potencées) while the cotises of Timothy Hugh Stewart Duke have "upper edges in the form of the upper rim of a ducal coronet."


An ordinary with a circular boss in the middle is described as nowy.

An ordinary with a square boss is called quadrate or, more fully, nowy quadrate. A saltire quadrate has the square boss turned lozengeways, with edges parallel to those of the saltire. An ordinary with a lozenge-shaped boss is called nowy lozengy or nowy of a lozenge (applies also to saltires)

Nowy and quadrate are usually applied only to the cross, saltire, pale, fess and bend.


An ordinary, perhaps especially a cross, might, like diamonds and mullets, be facetted, but examples of facetted ordinaries in actual heraldry are extremely hard to find.

a mullet facetted - Azure; a facetted six pointed star [mullet] argent ensigned with a gable crown or, the whole within a double tressure argent - Landenhoven, South Africa


An ordinary embowed has the edges bowed inwards producing a concavity; this is sometimes more explicitly blazoned inwardly embowed. Its opposite is enarched.

This variation is most often applied to the chevron and pile.

The term embowed is also applied to bent arms and legs, arched fish, and serpents in circles.

Ecimé and other modified chevrons[edit]

The chevron écimé has its peak "blunted", i.e. squared off rather than meeting in a point. Much more common is couped at the peak (or point) or even truncated. In the Canadian Public Register truncated is used in the Anglophone versions of blazons, and ecimé in the Francophone ones.

The chevron disjointed or disjoined has the central, pointed portion missing.[5] The chevron éclaté has each end with roughly-made points or spikes on it.[6]. The chevron brisy (or brisé) as in the Scots Public Register, vol 52, p54 also has the point part removed though in this case the two remaining sections are squared off and 'lean' against each other, as can be seen in the French coat of Meaudre de la Pouyade.[7]

The Armorial de Gelre shows Bernard v.d. Wilten as bearing a "fasce palissée" (similar to a fess embattled with long merlons and the ends rounded).

Enhanced and abased[edit]

An ordinary enhanced is placed higher in the field than its usual position.

When an ordinary is shown lower down the shield than its usual position, it is described as debased or abased or abaisse or dehanced.


An ordinary rompu is "broken" in some way, though the form of the breaking may vary considerably and may perhaps need further description to avoid confusion.

An example is the chevronels rompu in the arms of Danzé, Loir et Cher, France. A chevron 'rompu' has the central section shifted vertically upward, as in the coat of the US 278th Armored Infantry Battalion. [4] A bend rompu arraswise of an unusual form can be found in the arms of the 99th Air Base Wing of the United States Air Force.[5] "Rompu" should be distinguished from "fracted". The arms of the Roossenekal Local Area Committee are Per chevron Gules and Azure, a chevron fracted and embattled to chief Or, between in chief a rose Argent, barbed and seeded, and in base a cross fleuretty, Or. The form of the "fracting" can be specified.

An ordinary affaissée, in French heraldry, is wavy in the form of a depression in its middle.

The word rompu is also applied to a mobile charge which is broken, e.g. "a circular chain with link rompu at the top".

See also[edit]


External links[edit]


  • Boutell's Heraldry (revised by J.P. Brooke-Little, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms). Frederick Warne, London and New York, 1983
  • A.C. Fox-Davies. A Complete Guide to Heraldry (revised by J P Brooke-Little, Richmond Herald). Thomas Nelson and Sons, London 1969
  • A.C. Fox-Davies. The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory. Bloomsbury Books. London. 1986 (first published 1904)
  • Kevin Greaves. A Canadian Heraldic Primer. The Heraldry Society of Canada, Ottawa, 2000
  • Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon King of Arms. Scots Heraldry (revised Malcolm R Innes of Edingight, Marchmont Herald). Johnston and Bacon, London and Edinburgh, 1978
  • Alexander Nisbet. A system of heraldry. T&A Constable. Edinburgh.1984(first published 1722)
  • Sir James Balfour Paul, Lord Lyon King of Arms. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. W. Green & Sons. Edinburgh. 1903
  • David Reid of Robertland and Vivien Wilson. An Ordinary of Arms, volume 2 [1902-1973]. Lyon Office. Edinburgh. 1977
  • Urquhart, R M . Scottish Civic Heraldry: Regional - Islands - District. Heraldry Today. London. 1979