Heraldry in the HFSEdit

The HFS term Heraldry can mean one of three things...


Personal, territorial and group 'logo' heraldry deals with artwork called 'blazonry', which you might know as "coats of arms", or the decoration on a shield. HFS Heralds help members devise their very own distinct personal armory, which the member can then register with the Society. That way the armory belongs to the member alone.


Protocol heralds are "Masters of Ceremony" and "Criers", the people you hear crying "Oyez!" (pronounced "o-yay"). They inform us of what's going on during an event (field Heralds), who's fighting in the Lists (tournament Heralds), and who's being given what award in Court (court heralds). Protocol heralds also enjoy keeping track of ceremonies and the Order of Precedence, which can be a quite complicated and daunting task.

Origins and ExplanationEdit

History of HeraldryEdit

The origins of heraldry from the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets. Eventually a formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry.The system of that is used in English-speaking countries today was developed by the officers of arms in the Middle Ages. This includes a stylized description of the shield, the crest, and, supporters, mottoes, and other insignia if present. Certain rules apply, and an understanding of these rules is a key to the art of heraldry. The rules and terminology differ from country to country; indeed several national styles had developed by the end of the Middle Ages, but there are some aspects that carry over internationally.

In the HFS, we are not as strict and do not fault anyone for choosing heraldry thad does not follow the formal rules. This is a club, and we want everyone to have fun. However, it is considered bad taste and form to select heraldry that immitates heraldry already in use.

Though heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms. Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world. Heraldic societies still exist to promote education and understanding about the subject.

Basic Parts of HeraldryEdit

Tinctures - Tinctures are the colors used in heraldry. Since heraldry is essentially a system of identification, the most important convention of heraldry is the rule of tincture, but keep in mind that there can always be exceptions. The names used in for the tinctures come mainly from French and include Or (gold), Argent (white), Azure (blue), Gules (red), Sable (black), Vert (green), and Purpure (purple). Besides tinctures, certain patterns called furs can appear in a coat of arms, and heraldic charges (objects) can also be displayed in their natural colors.Divisions of the field - The field of a shield in heraldry can be divided into more than one tincture, as can the various heraldic charges. Many coats of arms consist simply of a division of the field into two contrasting tinctures.

Ordinaries - In the early days of heraldry, very simple bold rectilinear shapes were painted on shields. There is also a separate class of charges called sub-ordinaries which are of a geometrical shape subordinate to the ordinary.

Charges - A charge is any object or figure placed on a heraldic shield or on any other object of in an armorial composition. Animals are often found in various stereotyped positions or attitudes.

Mottoes - An armorial motto is a phrase or collection of words intended to describe the motivation or intention of the person or company.

Supporters - Supporters are human or animal figures placed on either side of a coat of arms as though supporting it.

Blazon and EmblazonEdit

In mediaeval times (and to a certain degree today as well) it was difficult to keep a pictorial record of large numbers of coats of arms. A large part of a heralds job was to record and recognize coats of arms. They would identify people in tournaments as well as on the battlefield. It would have been impractical to carry around a large collection of pictures. In addition, even if they were recorded pictorially, a single coat of arms would likely vary from artist to artist. In such a case, two examples of the same coat of arms might not be recognizable as being the same. The system of describing coats of arms needed to be standardized and exact. So, to describe the appearance of a coat of arms, a special set of terminology was used. This language of heraldry is called "Blazon". A blazon can also be the description of a particular coat of arms. Because the practice of heraldry was formalized by the Normans, most of the terminology is derived from Old French. It should be noted that the terminology in this introduction is that used in English heraldry. Although it is almost entirely universal among European languages, there are as well numerous variations. As well, spelling (even within English heraldry) was not completely standardized. Some spellings are more anglicized than others.When a herald "blazons a coat" he is describing in a very specific code the "field" (background), tinctures (colors) and the "charges" (things on the field). The field must be described in terms of it's coloring, if and how it is divided (parted) and the "partitions" themselves. In addition to the field, Blazon also describes any charges that are to appear on the field in terms of such aspects as, their coloring, what shape they are (or what they represent), where they are placed, or if in groups, how they are arranged, and even (in the case of living things) how they are behaving (their "attitude").

A heraldic picture is called an emblazon. Emblazons are visual manifestations of heraldic insignia, typically displayed on shields or flags. Because emblazons are awkward to work with, heraldry uses a specialized jargon called blazon to describe shields and flags. Persons skilled in heraldry can discuss shields entirely in blazon, without ever drawing the emblazons. As a noun, the word "blazon" is also used to refer to the heraldic description of a shield or flag.

The great advantage of blazon over plain English is that blazon terms are defined more precisely than English ones. As a result, one can describe a shield more accurately and in fewer words with blazon than one can in plain English.

The distinction between blazon and emblazon is an important one, since there is not a one-to-one correspondence between blazons and emblazons. In many cases, a particular emblazon can be blazoned (=described in heraldic language) in more than one way. And no two heraldic artists will emblazon (=draw) a given blazon in exactly the same way. But for well-designed heraldry, the blazon captures the important features of the emblazon, and, given a blazon, a trained heraldic artist should be able to produce a reasonable facsimile of the original emblazon.

The system of blazoning arms that is used in English-speaking countries today was developed by the officers of arms in the Middle Ages. This includes a stylized description of the escutcheon (shield), the crest, and, if present, supporters, mottoes, and other insignia. Certain rules apply, such as the Rule of Tincture. A thorough understanding of these rules is a key to the art of heraldry. The rules and terminology differ from country to country; indeed several national styles had developed by the end of the Middle Ages, but there are some aspects that carry over internationally.

Syntax rules of Blazonry:Edit

  • field divisions if any
  • field before charges
  • number, then type, placement, then tincture of charges
    • counter-charging if any
  • then type, and tincture of Bourdures or other details if any

Shield ShapesEdit

The focus of modern heraldry is the armorial achievement, or the coat of arms, the central element of which is the escutcheon or shield. In general, the shape of the shield employed in a coat of arms is irrelevant, because the fashion for the shield-shapes employed in heraldic art has evolved through the centuries, but of course there are occasions when a blazon specifies a particular shape of shield.

Traditionally, as women did not go to war, they did not bear a shield. Instead, women's coats of arms were shown on a lozenge—a rhombus standing on one of its acute corners or a cartouche. This continues true in much of the world, though some heraldic authorities, such as Scotland's, with its ovals for women's arms, make exceptions. In the HFS, the restriction against women bearing arms on a shield is eliminated. Historically, non-combatant clergy also have used the lozenge and the cartouche – an oval – for their display.