Escutcheon (heraldry)

In heraldry, an escutcheon (/ɪˈskʌtʃən/) is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses.

First, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed. Escutcheon shapes are derived from actual shields used by knights in combat, and thus are varied and developed by region and by era. As this shape has been regarded as a war-like device appropriate to men only, British ladies customarily bear their arms upon a lozenge, or diamond-shape, while clergymen and ladies in continental Europe bear theirs on a cartouche, or oval. Other shapes are in use, such as the roundel commonly used for arms granted to Aboriginal Canadians by the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Second, a shield can itself be a charge within a coat of arms. More often, a smaller shield is placed over the middle of the main shield (in pretence or en surtout) as a form of marshalling. In either case, the smaller shield is usually given the same shape as the main shield. When there is only one such shield, it is sometimes called an inescutcheon.

The word escutcheon (late 15th century) is based on Old North French escuchon "shield".[2]

Shield points
Points of an escutcheon or heraldic shield:[1]
  1. Chief
  2. Dexter
  3. Sinister
  4. Base
  5. Dexter Chief
  6. Middle Chief
  7. Sinister Chief
  8. Honour Point
  9. Fess Point
  10. Nombril Point
  11. Dexter Base
  12. Sinister Base
  13. Middle Base (seldom used)

Shapes

The earliest depictions of "proto-heraldic" shields in the second half of the 12th centuy still have the shape of the Norman kite shield used throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. By about the 1230s, shields used by heavy cavalry at least had become shorter and more triangular, the so-called "heater" shape. Transitional forms, intermediate between "kite" and "heater" shapes, are seen in the late 12th to early 13th centuries. Transition to the classic "heater" shape was essentially complete by 1250. For example, the shield of William II Longespée (d. 1250) shown with his effigy at Salisbury Cathedral is triangular, whilst the shield shown on the effigy of his father William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury (d. 1226) is still of a more elongated form. That on the enamel monument to the latter's grandfather Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou (d. 1151) is of almost full-body length. This heater-shaped form was used in warfare during the apogee of the Age of Chivalry, at about the time of the Battle of Crecy (1346) and the founding of the Order of the Garter (1348), when the art of Heraldry reached its greatest perfection. This almost equilateral shape is therefore used as a setting for armorials from this "classical age" of heraldry, in the sense that it produced the best examples of the art.

Beginning in the 15th century, and even more throughout the early modern period, a great variety of escutcheon shapes develops. In the Tudor era the heraldic escutcheon took the shape of an inverted Tudor arch. Continental European designs frequently use the various forms used in jousting, which incorporate "mouths" used as lance rests into the shields; such escutcheons are known as à bouche. The mouth is correctly shown on the dexter side only, as jousting pitches were designed for right-handed knights. Heraldic examples of English shields à bouche can be seen in the spandrels of the trussed timber roof of Lincoln's Inn Hall, London.

The shape of the top, the sides and the base may be separately described, and these elements may be freely combined (Grazebrook 1890, plate I). The highly complex Baroque style shields of the 17th century come in many artistic variations.

Kite shield

Kite shield, 12th/13th century

HerbTarczaPL XIIIa

"Norman" style, 13th century

Coa Illustration Tincture none

"Heater" shape, 13th/14th century

CoA OF shield 260x300

Square ("Old French") shape

CoA sample 260x300

"Square Spanish" or Iberian style (square top, rounded base), 15th century[3]

German Escutcheon

Bouched or bouché side ("German" or "Dutch" style), 15th century.[4]

Coa Illustration Shield Renaissance

Scroll-eared top, lobed base, 16th century

HerbTarczaPL XVIa

Square eared, nicked top, rounded base, 16th century

HerbTarczaPL XIXa

"Wedge" top

CoA English2 260x300

Eared top, French base

CoA modFrench2 260x300

"French" style, 17th century[5]

HerbTarczaPL XVIIIa

"Cardiodid" shape, 18th century

Swiss Escutcheon

Two engrailed top, 19th century[6]

CoA dames 220x300

oval or "Spanish" shape

CoA demoiselles 226x300

Lozenge shape (see below)

Lozenge

Arms of Catherine Middleton
Pippa Middleton's coat of arms (granted 2011), based on those of her father. This lozenge shaped version, supported by a blue ribbon, denotes an unmarried woman.[7][8]
Coats of arms at Cardinal's Wharf, Bankside, Southwark - panoramio
Male (shield-shaped) and female (lozenge-shaped) coats of arms in relief in Southwark, London.

In English heraldry, the lozenge has for many centuries been particularly associated with certain females as a vehicle for the display of their coats of arms, instead of the escutcheon or shield, which is in its origin an object of manly warfare. In this case the lozenge is without crest or helm, again objects of manly warfare. However, for the practical purpose of categorisation the lozenge may be treated as a variety of heraldic escutcheon.

Traditionally, very limited categories of females have been able to display their own arms, for example a female monarch (who uses an escutcheon not a lozenge, being unlike most armigerous females, a military commander) and suo jure peeresses, who may display their own arms alone on a lozenge even if married. In general a female was represented by her paternal arms impaled by the arms of her husband on an escutcheon. (See Marshalling (heraldry)).

In modern Canadian heraldry, and certain other modern heraldic jurisdictions, women may be granted their own arms and display these on an escutcheon. Life peeresses in England display their arms on a lozenge. An oval or cartouche is occasionally also used instead of the lozenge for armigerous women.

As a result of rulings of the English Kings of Arms dated 7 April 1995 and 6 November 1997, married women in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and in other countries recognising the jurisdiction of the College of Arms in London (such as New Zealand) also have the option of using their husband's arms alone, marked with a small lozenge as a difference to show that the arms are displayed for the wife and not the husband, or of using their own personal arms alone, marked with a small shield as a brisure for the same reason. Divorced women may theoretically until remarriage use their ex-husband's arms differenced with a mascle. Widowed women normally display a lozenge-shaped shield impaled, unless they are heraldic heiresses, in which case they display a lozenge-shaped shield with the unaltered escutcheon of pretence in the centre.[9]

The lozenge shape of quasi-escutcheon is also used for funerary hatchments for both men and women. Pretoria High School for Girls in South Africa is one of the few all-girls schools that was granted permission to use the lozenge as part of its coat of arms.

Points

The points of the shield refer to specific positions thereon and are used in blazons to describe where a charge should be placed.

Inescutcheon

Escutcheon of pretence demo
Simple example of incorporating an heiress's arms as an escutcheon of pretense

An inescutcheon is a smaller escutcheon that is placed within or superimposed over the main shield of a coat of arms. This may be used in the following cases:

  • as a simple mobile charge, for example as borne by the French family of Abbeville, illustrated below; these may also bear other charges upon them, as shown in the arms of the Swedish Collegium of Arms, illustrated below;
  • in pretence (as a mark of a hereditary claim, usually by right of marriage), bearing assumed arms over one's own hereditary arms;
  • in territorial claim, bearing a monarch's hereditary arms en surtout over the territorial arms of his domains.
Armoiries famille d'Abbeville

Escutcheons as mobile charges, as borne by the French family of Abbeville.

Svenska Vapenkollegiet vapen

Inescutcheons for style in the arms of the Swedish Collegium of Arms.

Blason Champagne-Suze

An escutcheon of pretence, as borne by the French family de Champagne-La Suze.

Erik av Pommern 2000px

Inherited arms borne en surtout over territorial arms.

Inescutcheons as mobile charges

Inescutcheons may appear in personal and civic armory as simple mobile charges, for example the arms of the House of Mortimer, the Clan Hay or the noble French family of Abbeville. These mobile charges are of a particular tincture but do not necessarily bear further charges and may appear anywhere on the main escutcheon, their placement being specified in the blazon, if in doubt.

Inescutcheons may also be charged with other mobile charges, such as in the arms of the Swedish Collegium of Arms (illustrated below) which bears the three crowns of Sweden, each upon its own escutcheon upon the field of the main shield. These inescutcheons serve as a basis for including other charges that do not serve as an augmentation or hereditary claim. In this case, the inescutcheons azure allow the three crowns of Sweden to be placed upon a field, thus not only remaining clearly visible but also conforming to the rule of tincture.

Inescutcheon of pretence

Inescutcheons may also be used to bear another's arms in "pretence".[note 1] In English heraldry the husband of an heraldic heiress, the sole daughter and heiress of an armigerous man (i.e. a lady without any brothers), rather than impaling his wife's paternal arms as is usual, must place her paternal arms in an escutcheon of pretence in the centre of his own shield as a claim ("pretence") to be the new head of his wife's family, now extinct in the male line. In the next generation the arms are quartered by the son.

Use by monarchs and states

A monarch's personal or hereditary arms may be borne on an inescutcheon en surtout over the territorial arms of his/her domains,[note 2] as in the arms of Spain, the coats of arms of the Danish Royal Family members, the greater coat of arms of Sweden, or the arms of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England (1653–1659). The early Georgian kings of England bore an inescutcheon of the royal arms of Hanover on the arms of the Stuart monarchs of Great Britain, whose territories they now ruled.

Pelta escutcheon

Armoiries république française
Pelta escutcheon as used in the National emblem of France.

Modern (republican) French heraldry tends to be based on the pelta, a wide form of shield (or gorget) with a small animal head pointing inward at each end. This is Roman in origin; although not the shape of their classic shield, many brooches of this shape survive from antiquity. A form of pelta appears as a decoration above the head of every official on the Austerlitz table, commissioned by Napoleon for propaganda purposes.

The heraldic pelta appeared officially on the cover of the French passport early in the twentieth century, and in the mid-twentieth century as the emblem of the French state in the halls of the United Nations. The Belgian coat of arms uses the same form of shield.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The origin of the inescutcheon of pretense lies in the armorial representation of territorial property. A man coming into lordship by right of his wife would naturally wish to bear the arms associated with that territory, and so would place them inescutcheon over his own; "and arms exclusively of a territorial character have certainly very frequently been placed 'in pretense'." Fox-Davies (1909), p. 539. It is also worth noting that the arms thus borne in pretense represent arms of assumption, while those on the larger shield represent arms of descent.
  2. ^ Especially in continental Europe, sovereigns have long held the custom of bearing their hereditary arms in an inescutcheon en surtout over the territorial arms of their dominions. Fox-Davies (1909), p. 541. This custom, coupled with the frequency of European sovereigns ruling over several armigerous territories, may have given rise to the common European form of "quarterly with a heart".

References

  1. ^ Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C. (ed.). Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. p. 33.
  2. ^ ultimately from Vulgar Latin scūtiōn-, Latin scūtum, "shield". "Escutcheon". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2009. From its use in heraldry, escutcheon can be a metaphor for a family's honour. The idiom "a blot on the escutcheon" is used to mean a stain on somebody's reputation. Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ Codex Figdor, Tiroler Landesarchiv, Innsbruck (c. 1400).
  4. ^ The gap or bouche represents the opening for the lance in specialised jousting shields, attested (in depictions of actual shields) from the mid 14th century, occasional use as a shape of heraldic escutcheons from the mid-15th century (Grazebrook 1890, 31–35).
  5. ^ used in the Armorial général de France (1696). The "French" shape of the base is found earlier, in French and English heraldry, from c. 1600 ("Stuart" type).
  6. ^ called ecu suisse in some French sources of the 19th century, as this shape was used in coats of arms on some coins of the Swiss mediation period (1803–1815).
  7. ^ "Royal wedding: Kate Middleton coat of arms unveiled". BBC News. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  8. ^ Bates, Stephen (19 April 2011). "Kate Middleton family gets coat of arms". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  9. ^ Fearn, Jacqueline (1980). Discovering Heraldry. Shire. p. 61.

Further reading

Cuellar (surname)

Cuellar or Cuéllar is a Spanish surname that was derived from the name of the town Cuéllar in the Segovia province of Spain, with spelling variations that include; Cuéllar, de Cuéllar, Cuellar, de Cuellar, Cuello, de Cuello, Coello de Coello and many more, and were first found in the Kingdom of Castile, an important Christian kingdom of medieval Spain.

Escutcheon

Escutcheon may refer to:

Escutcheon (heraldry), a shield or shield-shaped emblem, displaying a coat of arms

Escutcheon (furniture), an item that surrounds a keyhole or lock cylinder on a door

(in medicine) the distribution of pubic hair

Shield

A shield is a piece of personal armour held in the hand or mounted on the wrist or forearm. Shields are used to intercept specific attacks, whether from close-ranged weaponry or projectiles such as arrows, by means of active blocks, as well as to provide passive protection by closing one or more lines of engagement during combat.

Shields vary greatly in size and shape, ranging from large panels that protect the user's whole body to small models (such as the buckler) that were intended for hand-to-hand-combat use. Shields also vary a great deal in thickness; whereas some shields were made of relatively deep, absorbent, wooden planking to protect soldiers from the impact of spears and crossbow bolts, others were thinner and lighter and designed mainly for deflecting blade strikes. Finally, shields vary greatly in shape, ranging in roundness to angularity, proportional length and width, symmetry and edge pattern; different shapes provide more optimal protection for infantry or cavalry, enhance portability, provide secondary uses such as ship protection or as a weapon and so on.

In prehistory and during the era of the earliest civilisations, shields were made of wood, animal hide, woven reeds or wicker. In classical antiquity, the Barbarian Invasions and the Middle Ages, they were normally constructed of poplar tree, lime or another split-resistant timber, covered in some instances with a material such as leather or rawhide and often reinforced with a metal boss, rim or banding. They were carried by foot soldiers, knights and cavalry.

Depending on time and place, shields could be round, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, bilabial or scalloped. Sometimes they took on the form of kites or flatirons, or had rounded tops on a rectangular base with perhaps an eye-hole, to look through when used with combat. The shield was held by a central grip or by straps that went over or around the user's arm.

Often shields were decorated with a painted pattern or an animal representation to show their army or clan. These designs developed into systematized heraldic devices during the High Middle Ages for purposes of battlefield identification. Even after the introduction of gunpowder and firearms to the battlefield, shields continued to be used by certain groups. In the 18th century, for example, Scottish Highland fighters liked to wield small shields known as targes, and as late as the 19th century, some non-industrialized peoples (such as Zulu warriors) employed them when waging war.

In the 20th and 21st century, shields have been used by military and police units that specialize in anti-terrorist actions, hostage rescue, riot control and siege-breaking. The modern term usually refers to a device that is held in the hand or attached to the arm, as opposed to an armored suit or a bullet-proof vest. Shields are also sometimes mounted on vehicle-mounted weapons to protect the operator.

Officials
Subjects
Charges
of
heraldic
achieve-
ments

(List)

See also
Canting arms
Tinctures
Rules
Tricking
Hatching

(with
black and white
rendering)
External
Applications
See also

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