In the early part of heraldry only a small percentage of individuals possessed arms.  All that was needed to give each man
an undupicated shield of the coat of arms was to choose from the few basic fields and ordinaries then in existence.  The
ordinaries are of a rectilinear nature, such as a vertical or a horizontal bar, a chevron, a cross, triangle shapes, in a very
simplified explanation.

      These were later supplemented as needed by a limited group of common charges, such as, the lion, eagle, molet, crescent,
boar's head, cinguefoil, and fleur-de-lis.  The common charges later grew to unlimited in number and were subdivided for
purposes of better examination.

      1.  Divine and Human Beings.
      2.  Living Animals.
      3.  Imaginary Animals.
      4.  Natural Objects.
      5.  Inanimate Objects.

      Varying the tinctures would provide further distinction where necessary between similar in arms.  The supply of possible
combinations that could be supplied from these forms and tinctures were being exhausted by the increasing use of arms.  The
effect being the inevitable appearance of many accidental similarities.  The needs of heraldry were being further complicated by
many men-at-arms to identify with their feudal lords by adopting arms resembling those of their leaders.  Some men who were
leaders displayed their alliance with another leader by incorporating the latter's arms into their own.  It soon became necessary to
establish a system of distinguishing between similar arms, known as differencing.  This was accomplished in several ways.  If
a feudal lord was known by a particular common charge, such as a 'garb of wheat', this common charge  was added to the
individual bearings of his allies.  If the feudal leader was distinguished by the ordinary that he bore, which were of a rectilinear
design, his allies could adopt them in one of three ways:

       1.  assume the entire form of the bearing but reverse the tincture of the field and ordinary.
       2.  adopt the ordinary but apply a new secondary charge upon it.
       3.  modify the ordinary by adding cotises or endorses to it or reduce the ordinary itself to a diminutive of its orginal form.

Bear in mind this type of differencing deals with similar arms borne by individuals unrelated or not of the same blood.
       There is another type of differencing for distinguishing each member of the same family and also all of its braches.  This
is called differencing for cadency.
       The several marks of cadency were assigned to specific grades or seniority in the family line of inheritance or succession,
and were given definite points of placement on the shield, so that such a mark in such a position could mean only one thing.
       The label became an exclusive mark of the eldest son, and among royalty it is the only cadency mark used in their arms.

LABEL - the eldest son (during father's lifetime)- is removed upon the death of his father.
                                 CRESCENT (with the horns pointed up)- the second son                                                               
                         MOLET - the third son  
                            MARTLET - the fourth son
                                  ANNULET - the fifth son
                          FLEUR-de-LIS - the sixth son
                            ROSE - the seventh son
                     CROSS MOLINE - the eight son
                        OCTOFOIL (DOUBLE QUARTREFOIL) - the ninth son

       The next generation arms can be differenced by using the crescent or second symbol on which to affix the original cadency symbols.
So that the eldest son in the next generation or next family in line of inheritance would show a label on crescent, the next oldest son would
display a crescent on a crescent, and the third oldest a molet on a crescent.
       In quartering it is possible to display 2 sets of arms.  The more important one is placed in the first quarter(upper left) and the fourth
quarter(lower right).  When more than 2 coats of arms are to be displayed, the most important one occupies the first and fourth quarters
while the other 2 coats are placed in the second(upper right) and third(lower left) quarters according to their remaining order of importance.

SourcesHeraldry and Armor of the Middle Ages
                  by Marvin H. Pakula


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