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Heraldry Terms

Heraldry Terms

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There are lots of different terms associated with Heraldry and each highlights another aspect of this exciting subject.

‘Heraldic Furs’

These are the coloured patterns on the field of a shield which are design to represent fur and wealth.

‘Tinctures’

This is a term which refers to the colour and texture of heraldic symbol or shield and at one time meant to dye or tint.

‘Field’

This is the background upon which the heraldic symbols are placed.

‘Blazoning’

This is the decorating of the shield of coat of arms and will often mean the symbols are powerful and dramatic.

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'Helms and Coronets'

From the 12th century, the mounted helmet became a platform for the heraldic color and symbols, which were often painted on the side and perhaps helped to protect its surface.

However, in terms of armour and helmet design it was a long time before the headset itself had become an accessory associated with heraldry – in fact before the end of the 15th century, it was included in the heraldic lore just as a support for the ridge. Helmets represented in the first heraldic manuscripts and rules follow whatever style happened to be in favor at the time. They were rarely used to indicate rank and early imagery shows all rank of knight and royal person using the same type of helmet.

From about 1500 for design and symbols on the helmets of those of royal rank became common. At the same time "pageant helmet" appeared which covered the face, which put further demands on the need for identification. This often involved a process of decorating and embellishment depending on the wearer. The helmet was therefore soon to gain meaning for every aspects and the records went to great lengths to highlight particulars as number of bars across the face, patterns and gold edgings.

As with most heraldic attributes and adornments, it is France that led to the fashion. They not only designed the style but also how they should be drown on coats of arms and the symbolic meaning of these positions.

Crowns and Coronets began to appear as helmet design became more and more ornate. These small crowns, rings and circles of stones were a precise representation of royal rank and only in England, in rare circumstances, did none royalty wear them. The Renaissance period brought with it a more formalized crowns, with peaks built of specific numbers of leaves and beads according to the rank of the wearer. In most cases, it is heraldic conventions, and these ideas have never been worn.

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