heraldry Heraldry () is a broad term, encompassing the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank and pedigree. Armory, the best-known bran ...

, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the
field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlefield * Lawn, an area of mowed grass * Meadow, a grassl ...

of an ''
'' (shield). That may be a geometric design (sometimes called an ''
ordinary Ordinary or The Ordinary often refer to: Music * ''Ordinary'' (EP) (2015), by South Korean group Beast * ''Ordinary'' (Every Little Thing album) (2011) * "Ordinary" (Two Door Cinema Club song) (2016) * "Ordinary" (Wayne Brady song) (2008) * "Ordi ...

'') or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object, building, or other device. In French
blazon In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image. The verb ''to blazon'' means to create such a description. The visual ...

, the ordinaries are called ''pièces'', and other charges are called ''meubles'' ("
he He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ and ヘ * He (letter), the fifth letter of many Semitic alphabets * He (Cyrillic), a letter of the Cyrillic script called '' ...

). The term ''charge'' can also be used as a verb; for example, if an escutcheon depicts three
lion The lion (''Panthera leo'') is a species in the family Felidae and a member of the genus ''Panthera''. It has a muscular, deep-chested body, short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. It is sexually dimorphic; adu ...

s, it is said to be ''charged with three lions''; similarly, a crest or even a charge itself may be "charged", such as a pair of eagle wings ''charged with trefoils'' (as on the
coat of arms of Brandenburg A coat is a garment worn on the upper body by either gender for warmth or fashion. Coats typically have long sleeves and are open down the front, closing by means of buttons, zippers, hook-and-loop fasteners, toggles, a belt, or a combination of ...

coat of arms of Brandenburg
). It is important to distinguish between the ordinaries and
divisions of the field In heraldry, the field (background) of a shield can be divided into more than one area, or subdivision, of different tinctures, usually following the lines of one of the ordinaries and carrying its name (e.g. a shield divided in the shape of a chevr ...

divisions of the field
, as that typically follow similar patterns, such as a shield ''divided'' "per chevron", as distinct from being ''charged with'' a
chevron Chevron (often relating to V-shaped patterns) may refer to: Science and technology * Chevron (aerospace), sawtooth patterns on some jet engines * Chevron (anatomy), a bone * ''Eulithis testata'', a moth * Chevron (geology), a fold in rock layer ...

. While thousands of objects found in nature, mythology, or technology have appeared in armory, there are several charges (such as the cross, the eagle, and the lion) which have contributed to the distinctive flavour of heraldic design. Only these and a few other notable charges (crowns, stars, keys, etc.) are discussed in this article, but a more exhaustive list will be found in the
list of heraldic charges This is a list of heraldic charges. It does not cover those charges which are geometrical patterns and resemble partitions of the field; for these, see Ordinary (heraldry). Fox-Davies (1909) in his presentation of common heraldic charges divides ...

list of heraldic charges
. In addition to being shown in the regular way charges may be ''umbrated'' (which, is to be distinguished from them being blazoned as ''detailed'' and, rather incorrectly, ''outlined'', highly unusual description of them as being ''shaded'' and are rather irregularly sometimes stated to be ''in silhouette'' or are, more ambiguously, confusingly, and unhelpfully, blazoned as ''futuristic'', ''stylized'' or ''simplified''. There are also several units in the
United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as ...

United States Air Force
with charges blazoned as "mythical," or beasts as "chimerical," but those conceptions are meaningless and irrelevant to the conception of heraldry, and it does not affect the appearance of those charges.

Ordinaries and sub-ordinaries

Some heraldic writers distinguish, albeit arbitrarily, between ''honourable ordinaries'' and ''sub-ordinaries''. While some authors hold that only nine charges are "honourable" ordinaries, exactly which ones fit into this category is a subject of constant disagreement. The remainder are often termed ''sub-ordinaries'', and narrower or smaller versions of the ordinaries are called ''diminutives''. While the term ''ordinaries'' is generally recognised, so much dispute may be found among sources regarding which are "honourable" and which are relegated to the category of "sub-ordinaries" that indeed one of the leading authors in the field,
Arthur Charles Fox-Davies Arthur Charles Fox-Davies (28 February 1871 – 19 May 1928) was a British expert on heraldry. His ''Complete Guide to Heraldry'', published in 1909, has become a standard work on heraldry in England. A barrister by profession, Fox-Davies worke ...

Arthur Charles Fox-Davies
(1871–1928), wrote at length on what he calls the "utter absurdity of the necessity for any
classification at all," stating that the ordinaries and sub-ordinaries are, in his mind, "no more than first charges." Apparently ceding the point for the moment, Fox-Davies lists the generally agreed-upon "honourable ordinaries" as the bend, fess, pale, pile, chevron, cross, saltire and chief. Woodcock sheds some light on the matter, stating that earlier writers such as Leigh, Holme and Guillim proposed that "honourable ordinaries" should occupy one-third of the field, while later writers such as Edmondson favoured one-fifth, "on the grounds that a bend, pale, or chevron occupying one-third of the field makes the coat look clumsy and disagreeable." Woodcock goes so far as to enumerate the ordinaries thus: "The first Honourable Ordinary is the cross," the second is the chief, the third is the pale, the fourth is the bend, the fifth is the fess, the sixth is the inescutcheon, the seventh is the chevron, the eighth is the saltire, and the ninth is the bar, while stating that "some writers" prefer the bordure as the ninth ordinary. Volborth, having decidedly less to say on the matter, agrees that the classifications are arbitrary and the subject of disagreement, and lists the "definite" ordinaries as the chief, pale, bend, fess, chevron, cross and saltire. Boutell lists the chief, pale, bend, bend sinister, fess, bar, cross, saltire and chevron as the "honourable ordinaries". Thus, the chief, bend, pale, fess, chevron, cross and saltire appear to be the undisputed ordinaries, while authors disagree over the status of the pile, bar, inescutcheon, bordure and others.

"Honourable ordinaries"

Several different figures are recognised as ''honourable ordinaries'', each normally occupying about one-fifth to one-third of the field. As discussed above, much disagreement exists among authors regarding which ordinary charges are "honourable", so only those generally agreed to be "honourable ordinaries" will be discussed here, while the remainder of ordinary charges will be discussed in the following section. * The ''
chief Chief may refer to: Title or rank Military and law enforcement * Chief master sergeant, is the ninth, and highest, enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, * Chief of police, the head of a police department * Chief of the boat, the senior enliste ...

'' is the upper portion of the field. * The '''' runs from the upper left to the lower right, as \, as seen by the viewer. The ''bend sinister'' runs from the upper right to the lower left, as /. * The ''
pale Pale may refer to: Jurisdictions * Medieval areas of English conquest: ** Pale of Calais, in France (1360–1558) ** The Pale, or the English Pale, in Ireland *Pale of Settlement, area of permitted Jewish settlement, western Russian Empire (1791 ...

'', a vertical stripe in the centre of the field. * The ''
fess In heraldry, a fess or fesse (from Middle English ''fesse'', from Old French, from Latin ''fascia'', "band") is a charge on a coat of arms (or flag) that takes the form of a band running horizontally across the centre of the shield.Woodcock & Rob ...

'' is a broad horizontal stripe across the centre of the field. * The ''
chevron Chevron (often relating to V-shaped patterns) may refer to: Science and technology * Chevron (aerospace), sawtooth patterns on some jet engines * Chevron (anatomy), a bone * ''Eulithis testata'', a moth * Chevron (geology), a fold in rock layer ...

'' is a construction shaped like an inverted letter V. * The ''
cross A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed ...

'' is a geometric construction of two perpendicular lines or bands. It has hundreds of variants, most of which are common charges rather than ordinaries; some of these will be discussed below. * The ''
saltire A saltire, also called Saint Andrew's Cross or the crux decussata, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross, like the shape of the letter X in Roman type. The word comes from the Middle French ''sautoir'', Middle Latin ''saltatoria'' ...

'' is a diagonal cross, often called ''Saint Andrew's cross''. Most of the ordinaries have corresponding ''diminutives'', narrower versions, most often mentioned when two or more appear in parallel: ''bendlets, pallets, bars'' (multiples of the ''fess''), ''chevronels''. File:Argent a chief azur.svg|Chief File:Bend demo.svg|Bend File:Ecu d'argent au pal de sable.svg|Pale File:Fess demo.svg|Fess File:Blason Capbreton.svg|Chevron File:Blason Bootzheim 67.svg|Cross File:Blason ville fr Souday (LoirCher).svg|Saltire

Other ordinaries

In addition to those mentioned in the above section, other ordinaries exist. Some of these are variously called "honourable ordinaries" by different authors, while others of these are often called ''sub-ordinaries''. * The ''
pall Pall may refer to: * Pall (funeral), a cloth used to cover a coffin * Pall (heraldry), a Y-shaped heraldic charge * Pall (liturgy), a piece of stiffened linen used to cover the chalice at the Eucharist * Pall Corporation, a global business * Pall., ...

'' or ''pairle'' is shaped like the letter Y. * The '''' is a wedge issuing from the top of the field and tapering to a point near the bottom. Its length and width vary widely. Piles may occur in any orientation, e.g. ''pile reversed'', ''pile bendwise'' and so on. * The '''' is a rectangle occupying the top left quarter of the field, as seen by the viewer. * The '''' is a square occupying the left third of the chief (sometimes reckoned to be a diminutive of the quarter). * The ''''_may_be_considered_an_inner_bordure:_a_reasonably_wide_band_away_from_the_edge_of_the_shield,_it_is_always_shown_following_the_shape_of_the_shield,_without_touching_the_edges. **The_''[[orle_(heraldry)#Tressure.html" "title="orle_(heraldry).html" "title="Infanta_Isabella_of_Castile.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="purpure">Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, with a ''bordure argent semy of lions León_in_the_arms_of_[ ...

'' is a border touching the edge of the field. * The ''[[orle (heraldry)">orle
'' may be considered an inner bordure: a reasonably wide band away from the edge of the shield, it is always shown following the shape of the shield, without touching the edges. **The ''[[orle (heraldry)#Tressure">tressure In heraldry, an orle is a subordinary consisting of a narrow band occupying the inward half of where a bordure would be, following the exact outline of the shield but within it, showing the field between the outer edge of the orle and the edge of t ...

'' is a narrower version of the orle, rarely seen except in the ''double tressure flory and counter-flory'', an element of the [[royal coat of arms of Scotland and of many other Scots coats. * The ''fret'' originally consisted of three bendlets interlaced with three bendlets sinister; other depictions form the outer bendlets into a mascle through which the two remaining bendlets are woven. This has also been called a Harington knot, as in the arms of Harington. * The ''base'' or ''terrace in base'' is the lower portion of the field. * ''
Flaunch ''Argent flaunches gules'' In heraldry, a flaunch (; also called flanches or flanks) are among the ordinaries or subordinaries, consisting of two arcs of circles protruding into the field from the sides of the shield. The flaunch is never borne si ...

es'', ''flanches'' or ''flasks'' are regions on the sides of the field, bounded by a pair of circular arcs whose centers are beyond the sides of the shield. * A ''
label A label (as distinct from signage) is a piece of paper, plastic film, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a container or product, on which is written or printed information or symbols about the product or item. Information printed directl ...

'' is a horizontal strap, with a number of pendants (usually called ''points'') suspended from it; the default is three, but any number may be specified. The label is nearly always a mark of
cadency In heraldry, cadency is any systematic way to distinguish arms displayed by descendants of the holder of a coat of arms when those family members have not been granted arms in their own right. Cadency is necessary in heraldic systems in which a ...

in British and French heraldry, but is occasionally found as a regular charge in early armory and even in the 20th century. It is sometimes called a ''file'', as in the canting arms of Belfile, a label with a bell hanging from each point. There are some examples in which the strap is omitted, the points issuing from the top of the shield. * The ''gyron'' is a
right triangle A right triangle (American English) or right-angled triangle (British ) is a triangle in which one angle is a right angle (that is, a 90-degree angle). The relation between the sides and angles of a right triangle is the basis for trigonometry. T ...

right triangle
occupying the lower half of the first quarter: its edges follow per bend and per fess from the dexter side to the centre of the field. A ''gyron sinister'', much rarer, is a similar figure in the sinister chief. Gyrons are sometimes blazoned to be shown in other positions - as in 'the sun in his splendour ... along with in dexter base a sixth gyron voided' File:Blason Marsal.svg|Pall File:Blason Jean Chandos.svg|Pile File:Pile reversed demo.svg|Pile reversed File:Blason Anstaing 59.svg|Quarter File:Blason ville fr Trémoulet (Ariège).svg|Canton File:Blason ville fr Le Born (Haute-Garonne).svg|Bordure File:Orle demo.svg|Orle File:Champagne demo.svg|Base File:Earl of Dysart COA.svg|Fret File:Flaunches demo.svg|Flaunches File:Ecu d'argent à un lambel à cinq pendants de gueules.svg|Label File:Gyron demo.svg|Gyron

Common charges

So-called ''mobile charges'' are not tied to the size and shape of the shield, and so may be placed in any part of the field, although whenever a charge appears alone, it is placed with sufficient position and size to occupy the entire field. Common mobile charges include
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. They are the only extant members ...

figures, human parts,
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and grow from a ...

s, animal parts,
legendary creature A legendary or mythological creature, also called fabulous creature and fabulous beast, is a supernatural animal, generally a hybrid, sometimes part human, whose existence has not or cannot be proven and that is described in folklore, but also in h ...

legendary creature
s (or "
monster A monster is often a type of grotesque creature, whose appearance frightens and whose powers of destruction threaten the human world's social or moral order. A monster can also be like a human, but in folklore, they are commonly portrayed as th ...

plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, plants were treated as one of two kingdoms including all living things that were not animals, and all algae and fungi wer ...

s and floral designs, inanimate objects, and other devices. The heraldic animals need not exactly resemble the actual creatures. A number of geometric charges are sometimes listed among the subordinaries (see above), but as their form is not related to the shape of the shield – indeed they may appear independent of the shield (''i.e.'' in
badges Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department badge A badge is a device or accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a sy ...

) – they are more usefully considered here. These include the escutcheon or inescutcheon, lozenge, fusil, mascle, rustre, billet, roundel, fountain, and annulet. * The ''
'' is a small shield. If borne singly in the centre of the main shield, it is sometimes called an ''inescutcheon'', and is usually employed to combine multiple coats. It is customarily the same shape as the shield it is on, though shields of specific shapes are rarely specified in the blazon. * The ''
lozenge A lozenge (), often referred to as a diamond is a form of rhombus. The definition of lozenge is not strictly fixed, and it is sometimes used simply as a synonym (from the french: losange) for rhombus. Most often, though, lozenge refers to a th ...

'' is a
rhombus In plane Euclidean geometry, a rhombus (plural rhombi or rhombuses) is a quadrilateral whose four sides all have the same length. Another name is equilateral quadrilateral, since equilateral means that all of its sides are equal in length. The ...

generally resembling the
diamonds Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At room temperature and pressure, another solid form of carbon known as graphite is the chemically stable form of carbon, but di ...

of playing cards. A more acute lozenge is called a ''fusil''. A lozenge voided (''i.e.'' with a lozenge-shaped hole) is a ''mascle''; a lozenge pierced (''i.e.'' with a round hole) is a ''rustre''. * The ''billet'' is a rectangle, usually at least twice as tall as it is wide; it may represent a block of wood or a sheet of paper. Billets appear in the shield of the
house of Nassau The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled "Count of Na ...

house of Nassau
, which was modified to become that of the
kingdom of the Netherlands ) when they act as Kingdom Ministers, as for example with "Our Minister of Justice in his capacity as Minister of the Kingdom" ( nl|Onze Minister van Justitie in zijn hoedanigheid van minister van het Koninkrijk), except for the Minister of Fore ...

kingdom of the Netherlands
. * The ''
roundel A roundel is a circular disc used as a symbol. The term is used in heraldry, but also commonly used to refer to a type of national insignia used on military aircraft, generally circular in shape and usually comprising concentric rings of differe ...

'' is a solid circle, frequently of gold (blazoned a ''
bezant 350px|Arabic (1270–1300), and Tripoli silver gros_(1275–1287)._gros_(1275–1287)._'')._A_'''')._A_''[[fountain_(heraldry)">fountain A_fountain_(from_the_Latin_"fons"_(genitive_"fontis"),_a_source_or_spring)_is_a_structure_which_squirts_water_into_a_basin_to_supply_drinking_water._It_is_also_a_structure_that_jets_water_into_the_air_for_a_decorative_or_dramatic_effect. Fount_...


'')._A_''[[fountain_(heraldry)">fountain A_fountain_(from_the_Latin_"fons"_(genitive_"fontis"),_a_source_or_spring)_is_a_structure_which_squirts_water_into_a_basin_to_supply_drinking_water._It_is_also_a_structure_that_jets_water_into_the_air_for_a_decorative_or_dramatic_effect. Fount_...

''_is_a_roundel_voided_(''i.e.''_a_ring). Several_other_simple_charges_occur_with_comparable_frequency._These_include_the_mullet_or_star,_crescent_and_cross. *_The_''[[Star_(heraldry).html" "title="Annulet_(ring).html" "title="fountain_(heraldry).html" "title="British_Museum">gros_(coinage)">gros_(1275–1287)._[[British_Museum..html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="British_Museum.html" styl ...

bezant''). A ''[[fountain (heraldry)">fountain A fountain (from the Latin "fons" (genitive "fontis"), a source or spring) is a structure which squirts water into a basin to supply drinking water. It is also a structure that jets water into the air for a decorative or dramatic effect. Fount ...

'' is depicted as ''a roundel barry wavy argent and azure''. An ''[[Annulet (ring)">annulet
'' is a roundel voided (''i.e.'' a ring). Several other simple charges occur with comparable frequency. These include the mullet or star, crescent and cross. * The ''[[Star (heraldry)">mullet
'' is a star of (usually five) straight rays, and may have originated as a representation of the ''rowel'' or ''revel'' of a ''[[spur'' (although "spur revels" do appear under that name). Mullets frequently appear pierced. An unpierced mullet is sometimes called a "star" in Scottish heraldry, and stars also appear in English and continental heraldry under that name (often with six points). The "spur revel" is also found in Scottish heraldry. * A star with (usually six) wavy rays is called an ''estoile'' (the [[Old French word for 'star'; modern French ''étoile''). * The ''[[comet'' is shown as a mullet with a bendwise wavy tail, rather than naturalistically. * The ''[[crescent'', a symbol of the [[Moon, normally appears with its horns upward; if its horns are ''to dexter'' it represents a waxing moon (''increscent''), and with horns ''to sinister'' it represents a waning moon (''decrescent''). File:Blason Colombey les Belles 54.svg|Inescutcheon File:Blason ville fr Vieillevigne (Haute-Garonne).svg|Lozenge File:Blason fam fr du Puy du Fou.svg|Three mascles File:Blason ville fr Courris (Tarn).svg|Rustre File:Blason de la ville d'Aignay-le-Duc (21) Côte d'or-France.svg|Six billets File:Blason Montrodat.svg|Three bezants File:Fontana coa.svg|Fountain File:Blason Chalon Ville.svg|Three annulets File:Blason Jean Leliwa (selon Gelre).svg|Star and crescent File:Blason ville fr Plémet (Côtes-d'Armor).svg|Five mullets pierced One of the most frequently found charges in heraldry, if not ''the'' most, is the ''[[Cross#In heraldry|cross'', which has developed into, some say, 400 varieties. When the cross does not reach the edges of the field, it becomes a mobile charge. The plain ''Greek cross'' (with equal limbs) and ''Latin cross'' (with the lower limb extended) are sometimes seen, but more often the tip of each limb is developed into some ornamental shape. The most commonly found crosses in heraldry include the ''cross botonny'', the ''cross flory'', the ''cross moline'', the ''cross potent'', the ''cross patée'' or ''formée'', the ''cross patonce'' and the ''cross crosslet''. File:Cross-Bottony-Heraldry.svg|cross botonny File:Cross-Crosslet-Heraldry.svg|cross crosslet File:Cross-Flory-Heraldry.svg|cross flory File:Maltese cross.svg|Maltese cross File:Cross-Moline-Heraldry.svg|cross moline File:Cross-Pattee-Heraldry.svg|cross patée File:Cross-Patonce-Heraldry.svg|cross patonce File:Cross-Potent-Heraldry.svg|cross potent In English heraldry the [[crescent, [[mullet (heraldry)|mullet, [[martlet, [[annulet (ring)|annulet, [[fleur-de-lis and [[rose (heraldry)|rose may be added to a shield to distinguish [[cadency|cadet branches of a family from the senior line. It does not follow, however, that a shield containing such a charge necessarily belongs to a cadet branch. All of these charges occur frequently in basic (''undifferenced'') coats of arms.

Human or humanlike figures

Humans, deities, angels and demons occur more often as crests and supporters than on the shield. (Though in many heraldic traditions the depiction of deities is considered taboo, exceptions to this also occur.) When humans do appear on the shield, they almost always appear ''affronté'' (facing forward), rather than toward the left like beasts. Such as the arms of the [[Dalziel family of Scotland, which depicted a naked man his arms expanded on a black background. The largest group of human charges consists of [[saints, often as the patron of a town. Knights, bishops, monks and nuns, kings and queens also occur frequently. There are rare occurrences of a "child" (without further description, this is usually understood to be a very young boy, and young girls are extremely rare in heraldry), both the head and entire body. A famous example is the child swallowed by a dragon (the [[biscione) in the arms of [[Visconti of Milan|Visconti dukes of [[Milan. [[Greek mythology|Greco-[[Roman mythology|Roman mythological figures typically appear in an allegorical or [[canting arms|canting role. [[Angels very frequently appear, but angelic beings of higher rank, such as [[cherubim and [[seraphim, are extremely rare. An [[archangel appears in the arms of [[Arkhangelsk. The [[Devil or a [[demon is occasionally seen, being defeated by the archangel [[Saint Michael. Though the taboo is not invariably respected, British heraldry in particular, and to a greater or lesser extent the heraldry of other countries, frowns on depictions of [[God or [[Christ, though an exception may be in the not-uncommon Continental depictions of [[Madonna and Child, including the [[Black Madonna in the arms of [[Marija Bistrica, [[Croatia. Moors—or more frequently their heads, often crowned—appear with some frequency in medieval European heraldry. They are also sometimes called ''moore'', ''blackmoor'' or ''negro'' [[Moors appear in European heraldry from at least as early as the 13th century, and some have been attested as early as the 11th century in [[Italy, where they have persisted in the local heraldry and [[vexillology well into modern times in [[Corsica and [[Sardinia. Armigers bearing moors or moors' heads may have adopted them for any of several reasons, to include symbolizing military victories in the [[Crusades, as a pun on the bearer's name in the [[canting arms of Morese, Negri, Saraceni, etc., or in the case of [[Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor|Frederick II, possibly to demonstrate the reach of his empire. Even the [[Coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI|arms of Pope Benedict XVI feature a moor's head, crowned and collared red. Nevertheless, the use of moors (and particularly their heads) as a heraldic symbol has been deprecated in modern North America, where racial stereotypes have been influenced by a history of [[Trans-Atlantic slave trade and racial segregation, and applicants to the College of Arms of the [[Society for Creative Anachronism are urged to use them delicately to avoid creating offensive images. File:Arms of Dalzell, Earl of Carnwath.svg|Human man File:COA of Kyiv Kurovskyi.svg|Angel File:Coat of Arms of Arkhangelsk.svg|Angel slaying Demon File:Arms of Corsica.svg|Moor File:Arms of the House of Visconti (1395).svg|Biscione File:Coat of arms of Trakai district.png|Knight File:Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg|Knight on horse File:Arms of Gijón.svg|King File:Blason de Cépie (version 2).svg|Clergy Member

Human parts

Parts of human bodies occur more often than the whole, particularly [[heads in heraldry|heads (occasionally of exotic nationality), hearts (always stylized), hands, torso and armored limbs. A famous heraldic hand is the [[Red Hand of Ulster, alluding to an incident in the legendary [[Milesians (Irish)|Milesian invasion. Hands also appear in the coat of arms of [[Antwerp. [[Ribs occur in Iberian armory, canting for the Portuguese family ''da Costa''. According to Woodward & Burnett, the Counts Colleoni of Milan bear arms blazoned: "Per pale argent and gules, three hearts reversed counterchanged;" but in less delicate times these were read as [[canting arms showing three pairs of testicles (''coglioni'' = "testicles" in Italian). The community of [[Cölbe in [[Hesse has a coat of arms with a similar charge.


Animals, especially lions and eagles, feature prominently as heraldic charges. Some differences may be observed between an animal's natural form and the conventional [[Attitude (heraldry)|attitudes (positions) into which heraldic animals are contorted; additionally, various parts of an animal (claws, horns, tongue, etc.) may be differently coloured, each with its own terminology. Most animals are broadly classified, according to their natural form, into beasts, birds, sea creatures and others, and the attitudes that apply to them may be grouped accordingly. Beasts, particularly lions, most often appear in the ''rampant'' position; while birds, particularly the eagle, most often appear ''displayed''. While the lion, regarded as the king of beasts, is by far the most frequently occurring beast in heraldry, the eagle, equally regarded as the king of birds, is overwhelmingly the most frequently occurring bird, and the rivalry between these two is often noted to parallel with the political rivalry between the powers they came to represent in medieval Europe. Neubecker notes that "in the heroic poem by [[Heinrich von Veldeke based on the story of [[Aeneas, the bearer of the arms of a lion is set against the bearer of the arms of an eagle. If one takes the latter to be the historical and geographical forerunner of the [[Holy Roman Empire|Holy Roman emperor, then the bearer of the lion represents the unruly feudal lords, to whom the emperor had to make more and more concessions, particularly to the powerful duke of Bavaria and Saxony, [[Henry the Lion of the [[House of Welf." The beast most often portrayed in heraldry is the [[Lion (heraldry)|lion. When posed ''passant guardant'' (walking and facing the viewer), he is called a ''léopard'' in [[French heraldry|French blazon. Other beasts frequently seen include the [[Wolves in heraldry|wolf, [[Bears in heraldry|bear, [[Boars in heraldry|boar, [[horse, [[bull or [[ox, and [[stag or hart. The ''tiger'' (unless blazoned as a ''Bengal [[tiger'') is a fanciful beast with a wolflike body, a mane and a pointed snout. [[Dogs of various types, and occasionally of specific breeds, occur more often as crests or supporters than as charges. According to Neubecker, heraldry in the Middle Ages generally distinguished only between pointers, hounds and whippets, when any distinction was made. The [[unicorn resembles a horse with a single horn, but its hooves are usually cloven like those of a deer. The [[griffin combines 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. The bird most frequently found in armory is, by far, the [[Eagle (heraldry)|eagle. Eagles in heraldry are predominantly presented with one or two heads, though triple-headed eagles are not unknown, and one eagle appearing in the [[Codex Manesse curiously has its wing bones fashioned into additional heads. Eagles and their wings also feature prominently as crests. Eagles most frequently appear full-bodied, with one head, in numerous [[attitude (heraldry)|positions including ''displayed'', ''statant'', ''passant'' and ''rising''. The ''demi-eagle'', which is shown only from the waist up, occurs less frequently. [[Double-headed eagles almost always appear ''displayed''. As a result of being the dominant charge on the imperial [[Byzantine Empire|Byzantine, [[Holy Roman Empire|Holy Roman, [[Habsburg Monarchy|Austrian and [[Russian Empire|Russian coats of arms, the double eagle gained enduring renown throughout the Western world. Among the present day nations with an eagle charge on their coat of arms are: [[Coat of arms of Albania|Albania, [[Coat of arms of Austria|Austria, [[Coat of arms of Germany|Germany, [[Coat of arms of Montenegro|Montenegro, [[Coat of arms of Poland|Poland, [[Coat of arms of Romania|Romania, [[Coat of arms of Russia|Russia, and [[Coat of arms of Serbia|Serbia. Additionally, the ''Double-Headed Eagle of Lagash'' is used as an emblem by the [[Scottish Rite of [[Freemasonry. There are many meanings attached to this symbol, and it was introduced in France in the early 1760s as the emblem of the [[Knight Kadosh degree. The [[martlet, a stylized swallow without feet (sometimes incorrectly, at least in the Anglophone heraldries these days, said to have no beak), is a mark of
cadency In heraldry, cadency is any systematic way to distinguish arms displayed by descendants of the holder of a coat of arms when those family members have not been granted arms in their own right. Cadency is necessary in heraldic systems in which a ...

in English heraldry, but also appears as a simple charge in undifferenced arms. The pelican is notable as frequently occurring in a peculiar attitude described as ''[[Pelican in her piety|in her piety'' (''i.e.'' wings raised, piercing her own breast to feed her chicks in the nest, which is how it is actually often blazoned, 'in its piety' being a fairly modern conceit). This symbol carries a particular religious meaning, and became so popular in heraldry that pelicans rarely exist in heraldry in any other position. Distinction is however observed, between a pelican "vulning herself" (alone, piercing her breast) and "in her piety" (surrounded by and feeding her chicks). The [[swan is also often seen, and the [[Peafowl|peacock in heraldry is described as being ''in its pride''. The domestic cock (or [[rooster) is sometimes called ''dunghill cock'' to distinguish it from the ''game cock'' which has a cut comb and exaggerated spurs, and the ''moor cock'', which is the farmyard cock with a game bird's tail. Other birds occur less frequently. The category of sea creatures may be seen to include various fish, a highly stylized "dolphin", and various fanciful creatures, sea monsters, which are shown as half-fish and half-beast, as well as mermaids and the like. The "sea lion" and "sea horse", for example, do not appear as natural [[sea lions and [[seahorses, but rather as half-lion half-fish and half-horse half-fish, respectively. [[Fish of various species often appear in [[canting arms, e.g.: [[pike (fish)|pike, also called luce, for Pike or Lucy; [[Coryphaenidae|dolphin (a conventional kind of fish rather than the natural mammal) for the [[Dauphin de Viennois. The ''escallop'' ([[scallop shell) became popular as a token of pilgrimage to the shrine of [[Santiago de Compostela. The ''sea-lion'' and ''sea-horse'', like the [[mermaid, combine the foreparts of a mammal with the tail of a fish, and a dorsal fin in place of the mane. (When the natural [[seahorse is meant, it is blazoned as a ''hippocampus''.) The ''sea-dog'' and ''sea-wolf'' are quadrupeds but with scales, webbed feet, and often a flat tail resembling that of the [[beaver. Reptiles and invertebrates occurring in heraldry include serpents, lizards, salamanders and others, but the most frequently occurring of these are various forms of dragons. The "[[dragon", thus termed, is a large monstrous reptile with, often, a forked or barbed tongue, membraned wings like a bat's, and four legs. The ''[[wyvern'' and ''[[lindworm'' are dragons with only two legs. The [[Salamander (legendary creature)|salamander is typically shown as a simple lizard surrounded by flames. Also notably occurring (undoubtedly owing much of its fame to [[Napoleon, though it also appears in much earlier heraldry) is the [[bee. File:Blason Duncan de Fife.svg|Lion ''rampant'' File:Blason Jean Sans Terre Sceau 1189.svg|Two lions ''passant'' File:Herb Polski.svg|Eagle ''displayed'' File:Bucks swan badge.svg|Swan ''gorged'' with a coronet File:Laholm kommunvapen - Riksarkivet Sverige.png|Three salmon ''naiant'' File:Shield of Arms of the Lord Arundell of Wardour.svg|Six martlets File:Blason ville be Kruibeke (ancien).svg|Unicorn File:CoA Rostock County.svg|Griffin ''segreant'' File:Phildeptseal.svg|"Sea lion" with sword File:Héraldique meuble Salamandre.svg|Salamander ''crowned''

Animal parts

Animals' [[heads in heraldry|heads are also very frequent charges, as are the paw or leg (''gamb'') of the lion, the wing (often paired) of the eagle, and the antlers (''attire'') of the stag. Sometimes only the top half of a beast is shown; for example, the ''demi-lion'' is among the most common forms occurring in heraldic crests. Heads may appear ''cabossed'' (also ''caboshed'' or ''caboched''): with the head cleanly separated from the neck so that only the face shows; ''couped'': with the neck cleanly separated from the body so that the whole head and neck are present; or ''[[erasure (heraldry)|erased'': with the neck showing a ragged edge as if forcibly torn from the body. While cabossed heads are shown facing forward (''affronté''), heads that are ''couped'' or ''erased'' face dexter unless otherwise specified for differencing. Heads of horned beasts are often shown cabossed to display the horns, but instances can be found in any of these circumstances. A lion's head cabossed is called simply a ''face'', and a fox's head cabossed, a ''mask''. File:Earl of cromartie arms.svg|Hart's head ''cabossed'' File:Wood (OfOrchard Lew Trenchard Devon) Arms.png|Three leopard's faces File:Complete Guide to Heraldry Fig345.png|Fox's mask File:Blason ville fr Sains-du-Nord (Nord).svg|Boar's head ''erased'' File:POL Sejny COA.svg|Bull's head ''couped''

Attitude of animals

The ''attitude'', or position, of the creature's body is usually explicitly stated in English blazon. When such description is omitted, a lion can be assumed to be ''rampant'', a leopard or herbivore ''passant''. By default, the charge faces dexter (left as seen by the viewer); this would be forward on a shield worn on the left arm. In German armory, animate charges in the dexter half of a composite display are usually turned to face the center. * An animal ''toward sinister'' or ''contourny'' is turned toward the right of the shield (as seen by the observer, i.e. the shield-bearer's left), the sinister. * An animal ''affronté'' or ''full faced'' faces the viewer. * An animal ''guardant'' faces dexter with its head turned to face the viewer. * An animal ''regardant'' faces dexter with its head turned toward sinister, as if looking over its shoulder. Certain features of an animal are often of a contrasting tincture. The charge is then said to be ''armed'' (claws and horns and tusks), ''langued'' (tongue), ''[[vilené'', "Vilené: se dit un animal qui a la marque du sexe d'un autre émail que le corps"; translating roughly to "Vilené: when an animal has its genitals in another color than the body" or ''[[pizzled'' (penis), ''attired'' (antlers or very occasionally horns), ''unguled'' (hooves), ''crined'' (horse's mane or human hair) of a specified tincture. Many attitudes have developed from the herald's imagination and ever-increasing need for differentiation, but only the principal attitudes found in heraldry need be discussed here. These, in the case of beasts, include the erect positions, the seated positions, and the prone positions. In the case of birds, these include the "displayed" positions, the flying positions, and the resting positions. Additionally, birds are frequently described by the position of their wings. A few other attitudes warrant discussion, including those particular to fish, serpents, griffins and dragons. The principal attitude of beasts is ''rampant'' (''i.e.'' standing on one hind leg with forepaws raised as if to strike). Beasts also frequently appear walking, ''passant'' or, in the case of stags and the occasional unicorn, ''trippant'', and may appear ''statant'' (standing), ''salient'' or ''springing'' (leaping), ''sejant'' (seated), ''couchant'' or ''lodged'' (lying prone with head raised), or occasionally ''dormant'' (sleeping). The principal attitude of birds, namely the eagle, is ''displayed'' (''i.e.'' facing the viewer with the head turned toward dexter and wings raised and upturned to show the full underside of both wings). Birds also appear ''rising'' or ''rousant'' (''i.e.'' wings raised and head upturned as if about to take flight), ''volant'' (flying), ''statant'' (standing, with wings raised), ''close'' (at rest with wings folded), and waterfowl may appear ''naiant'' (swimming), while cranes may appear ''vigilant'' (standing on one leg). Fish often appear ''naiant'' (swimming horizontally) or ''hauriant'' (upwards) or ''urinant'' (downwards), but may also appear ''addorsed'' (two fish hauriant, back to back). Serpents may appear ''glissant'' (gliding in a wavy form) or ''nowed'' (as a [[figure-eight knot). Griffins and quadrupedal dragons constantly appear ''segreant'' (''i.e.'' rampant with wings addorsed and elevated) and, together with lions, may appear ''combatant'' (''i.e.'' two of them turned to face each other in the rampant position).


Plants are extremely common in heraldry and figure among the earliest charges. The [[turnip, for instance, makes an early appearance, as does [[wheat. Trees also appear in heraldry; the most frequent tree by far is the [[oak (drawn with large leaves and acorns), followed by the [[pine. [[Apples and bunches of [[grapes occur very frequently, other fruits less so. When the fruit is mentioned, as to indicate a different tincture, the tree is said to be ''fructed'' of the tincture. If a tree is "eradicated" it is shown as if it has been ripped up from the ground, the roots being exposed. "Erased" is rarely used for a similar treatment. In Portuguese heraldry, but rarely in other countries, trees are sometimes found [[Decortication|decorticated. The most famous heraldic flower (particularly in French heraldry) is the ''[[fleur-de-lis'', which is often stated to be a stylised lily, though despite the name there is considerable debate on this. The "natural" [[lily, somewhat stylised, also occurs, as (together with the fleur-de-lis) in the arms of [[Eton College. The [[rose (heraldry)|rose is perhaps even more widely seen in English heraldry than the fleur-de-lis. Its heraldic form is derived from the "wild" type with only five petals, and it is often ''barbed'' (the hull of the bud, its points showing between the petals) and ''seeded'' in contrasting tinctures. The [[thistle frequently appears as a symbol of [[Scotland. The [[trefoil, [[quatrefoil and [[cinquefoil are abstract forms resembling flowers or leaves. The trefoil is always shown ''slipped'' (i.e. with a stem), unless blazoned otherwise. The cinquefoil is sometimes blazoned ''fraise'' (strawberry flower), most notably when [[canting arms|canting for Fraser. The [[trillium flower occurs occasionally in a Canadian context, and the [[protea flower constantly appears in South Africa, since it is the national flower symbol. Wheat constantly occurs in the form of "garbs" or sheaves and in fields (e.g. in [[Coat of arms of Alberta|the arms of the province of Alberta, Canada), though less often as ears, which are shown unwhiskered (though some varieties of wheat are naturally whiskered). Ears of [[rye are depicted exactly as wheat, except the ears droop down and are often whiskered, e.g. in the arms of the former [[Ruislip-Northwood Urban District. [[Barley, [[cannabis, [[maize, and [[oats also occur. The "garb" in the arms of [[Gustav I of Sweden|Gustav Vasa (and in the Coat of Arms of Sweden) is not a wheatsheaf, although it was pictured in that way from the 16th to 19th century; rather, this "vasa" is a bundle but of unknown sort. File:Héraldique meuble Pommier.svg|Tree ''fructed'' and ''eradicated'' File:Armoiries de Wachtendonck.svg|Fleur-de-lis File:Ledenice CZ CoA.svg|Heraldic rose File:Blason de la ville de Trets (13).svg|Three trefoils File:Vasa vapen.svg|"Vasa" File:Wangen-Br%C3%BCttisellen-blazon.svg|Cannabis File:Canadian Coat of Arms Shield.svg|Three maple leaves

Inanimate objects

Very few inanimate objects in heraldry carry a special significance distinct from that of the object itself, but among such objects are the ''escarbuncle'', the ''fasces'', and the ''key''. The escarbuncle developed from the radiating iron bands used to strengthen a round shield, eventually becoming a heraldic charge. The [[fasces (not to be confused with the French term for a ''bar'' or ''fess'') is emblematic of the Roman magisterial office and has often been granted to [[mayors. [[Key (lock)|Keys (taking a form similar to a "[[Key (lock)#Skeleton key|skeleton key") are emblematic of [[Saint Peter and, by extension, the [[Pope|papacy, and thus frequently appear in ecclesiastical heraldry. Because St. Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, keys also notably appear in the arms of the [[Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. The [[sun (heraldry)|sun is a disc with twelve or more wavy rays, or alternating wavy and straight rays, often represented "''in his splendour''" (''i.e.'' with a face). The [[moon "in her plenitude" (full) sometimes appears, distinguished from a ''roundel argent'' by having a face; but [[crescents occur much more frequently. ''[[Star (heraldry)|Estoiles'' are stars with six wavy rays, while ''stars'' (when they occur under that name) have straight rays usually numbering five in British and North American heraldry and six in continental European heraldry. [[Clouds often occur, though more frequently for people or animals to stand on or issue from than as isolated charges. The raindrop as such is unknown, though drops of fluid (''[[goutte'') is known. These occasionally appear as a charge, but more frequently constitute a [[Variation of the field#Semé|field semé (known as ''goutté''). The [[snowflake occurs in modern heraldry, sometimes blazoned as a "snow crystal" or "ice crystal". The oldest geological charge is the ''mount'', typically a green hilltop rising from the lower edge of the field, providing a place for a beast, building or tree to stand. This feature is exceedingly common in Hungarian arms. Natural mountains and boulders are not unknown, though ranges of mountains are differently shown. An example is the arms of [[Edinburgh, portraying [[Edinburgh Castle atop [[Castle Rock, Edinburgh|Castle Rock. [[Volcanos are shown, almost without exception, as erupting, and the eruption is generally quite stylised. In the 18th century, ''landscapes'' began to appear in armory, often depicting the sites of battles. For example, Admiral [[Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson received a chief of augmentation containing a landscape alluding to the [[Battle of the Nile. By far the most frequent building in heraldry is the ''[[tower'', a tapering cylinder of masonry topped with [[battlements, usually having a door and a few windows. The canting arms of the [[Kingdom of Castile are ''Gules, a tower triple-turreted Or'' (''i.e.'' three small towers standing atop a larger one). A [[castle is generally shown as two towers joined by a wall, the doorway often shown secured by a [[portcullis. The portcullis was used as a canting badge by the [[House of Tudor ("two-doors"), and has since come to represent the British Parliament. The modern [[rook (chess)|chess-rook would be indistinguishable from a tower; the heraldic chess rook, based on the medieval form of the piece, instead of battlements, has two outward-splayed "horns". Civic and ecclesiastical armory sometimes shows a [[church (building)|church or a whole town, and cities, towns and Scots burghs often bear a [[mural crown (a crown in the form of a wall with battlements or turrets) in place of a crown over the shield. [[Ships of various types often appear; the most frequent being the ancient galley often called, from the Gaelic, a [[lymphad. Also frequent are [[anchors and [[oars. The ''maunch'' is a 12th-century lady's sleeve style. Its use in heraldry arose from the custom of the knights who attended tournaments wearing their ladies sleeves, as "gages d'amour" (tokens of love). This fashion of sleeve would later evolve into [[Tippet-style stoles. In French blazon this charge is sometimes informally referred to as ''manche mal taillée'' (a sleeve badly cut). [[Spurs also occur, sometimes "winged", but more frequently occurring is the ''spur-rowel'' or ''spur-revel'', which is said to more often termed a "[[Star (heraldry)|mullet of five points pierced" by English heralds. [[Crown (headgear)|Crowns and [[coronets of various kinds are constantly seen. The ecclesiastical [[hat and bishop's [[mitre are nearly ubiquitous in [[ecclesiastical heraldry. The [[sword is sometimes a symbol of authority, as in the royal arms of the [[Netherlands, but may also allude to [[Paul the Apostle|Saint Paul, as the patron of a town (e.g. [[London) or dedicatee of a church. Sometimes it is shown with a key, owing to the fact that Saints Peter and Paul are paired together. Other weapons occur more often in modern than in earlier heraldry. The [[mace (bludgeon)|mace also appears as a weapon, the war mace, in addition to its appearance as a symbol of authority, plain mace. The ''[[globus cruciger'', also variously called an ''orb'', a ''royal orb'', or a ''mound'' (from French ''monde'', Latin ''mundus'', the world) is a ball or globe surmounted by a cross, which is part of the regalia of an emperor or king, and is the emblem of sovereign authority and majesty. [[Books constantly occur, most frequently in the arms of [[colleges and [[university|universities, though the [[Gospel and [[Bible are sometimes distinguished. Books if open may be inscribed with words. Words and phrases are otherwise rare, except in Spanish and Portuguese armory. Letters of the various alphabets are also relatively rare. Arms of merchants in Poland and eastern Germany are often based on [[house marks, abstract symbols resembling [[runes, though they are almost never blazoned as runes, but as combinations of other heraldic charges. Musical instruments commonly seen are the [[harp (as in the [[coat of arms of Ireland), [[bell and [[trumpet. The [[drum, almost without exception, is of the field drum type. Since musical notation is a comparatively recent invention, it is not found in early heraldry, though it does appear in 20th century heraldry. Japanese [[Mon (emblem)|mon are sometimes used as heraldic charges. They are blazoned in traditional heraldic style rather than in the Japanese style.''Tsubouchi, David Hiroshi (Canadian register of arms)
/ref> File:Blason Famille de la Blétonnière.svg|Anchor File:Luven wappen.svg|Book with letters File:Blason ville fr Coustaussa (Aude).svg|Chess rook File:GrenvilleArms ModernClarions.png|Three clarions File:Vestfold våpen.svg|Crown File:Blason ville fr Arquian.svg|Escarbuncle File:Héraldique meuble Estoile.svg|Estoile File:Blason-CH-Canton-Saint-Gall.svg|Fasces File:Arpajon ancien.svg|Harp File:Blason ville Cluny ancien.svg|Keys addorsed File:Arran arms.svg|Lymphad File:Blason fam uk Hastings (selon Gelre).svg|Maunch File:Héraldique meuble Lune pleine.svg|Moon ''in her plenitude'' File:Badge of the Portcullis Pursuivant.svg|Portcullis File:Ice cristal - heraldic figure.svg|Snow crystal File:Blason famille fr Channac de la Selve.svg|Spur File:Héraldique meuble Soleil avec visage.svg|Sun ''in his splendour'' File:Blason ville be Chimay (Thuin).svg|Sword File:CoA civ ITA brunico.png|Tower on a mount File:DEU Erfurt COA.svg|Wheel

See also

* [[List of heraldic charges * [[Ordinary (heraldry) * [[Attitude (heraldry) * [[Eagle (heraldry) * [[Lion (heraldry)




* * * * * * * * * * * *

Further reading

* * * —Some illustrations of attitudes * * * * * —Many illustrations * *

External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Charge (Heraldry) [[Category:Heraldry [[Category:Heraldic charges|