Heraldic Primer #4

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June 28, 2013 by phicks2012

I love Heraldry. As a result, and because very few people really know a lot about it, I’ve decided to include in my blog some basic information about how heraldic “coat of arms” were put together back in the early days.

In my first three blogs I told you about the Heraldic Tinctures, the Field and the Lines of Division, and the Ordinaries. This time I’m going to talk about other Charges. This category includes dragons, eagles, and unicorns, but it also includes inanimate charges like wheels, weapons, stars, trees, articles of clothing, household and farming implements, tools, books, and even furniture. Most objects and creatures tend to be very stylized, and are nearly always shown either in profile or head-on.

They can be used singly or in multiples, but as a general rule the number of different charge types and tinctures used tended to be minimal. Otherwise the design tended to become visually confusiong and chaotic.


Many can be placed either upon the field itself or on one of the ordinaries, and, as with the ordinaries, all of these charges have to contrast with the portion of the field, or with the ordinary, upon which they are placed, simply so that they will be visible and distinguishable from a distance.

They do not have to be naturalistic in coloration, and some animate charges from the period of history when heraldry had its heyday do not necessarily resemble the animals they supposedly represent,

Next time I’ll discuss in more detail the postures used for animate charges, but for now just know that charges could be either animate or inanimate, and that a wide range of possibilities exists.

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June 2013


I am an active, outgoing person interested in all sorts of things and all sorts of people! I'm constantly discovering new interests, and expect that to continue right into the grave!

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