Escutcheon (heraldry)

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In heraldry, an escutcheon (/ɪˈskʌtʃən/) is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_0

The word is used in two related senses. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_1

First, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed; second, a shield can itself be a charge within a coat of arms. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_2

Escutcheon shapes are derived from actual shields used by knights in combat, and thus are varied and developed by region and by era. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_3

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_4

Other shapes are in use, such as the roundel commonly used for arms granted to Aboriginal Canadians by the Canadian Heraldic Authority or the Nguni shield used in African heraldry. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_5

Though it can be used as a charge on its own, the most common use of an escutcheon charge is to display another coat of arms as a form of marshalling. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_6

These escutcheons are usually given the same shape as the main shield. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_7

When there is only one such shield, it is sometimes called an inescutcheon. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_8

The word escutcheon (late 15th century) is based on Old North French escuchon "shield". Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_9

Shapes Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_0

The earliest depictions of proto-heraldic shields in the second half of the 12th century still have the shape of the Norman kite shield used throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_10

By about the 1230s, shields used by heavy cavalry had become shorter and more triangular, now called heater shields. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_11

Transitional forms intermediate between kite and heater are seen in the late 12th to early 13th centuries. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_12

Transition to the heater was essentially complete by 1250. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_13

For example, the shield of William II Longespée (d. 1250) shown with his effigy at Salisbury Cathedral is triangular, while the shield shown on the effigy of his father William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury (d. 1226) is still of a more elongated form. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_14

The shield on the enamel monument to Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou (d. 1151) is of almost full-body length. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_15

The heater 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). Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_16

The shape is therefore used in armorials from this "classical age" of heraldry. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_17

Beginning in the 15th century, and even more throughout the early modern period, a great variety of escutcheon shapes develops. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_18

In the Tudor era the heraldic escutcheon became more square, taking the shape of an inverted Tudor arch. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_19

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_20

The mouth is correctly shown on the dexter side only, as jousting pitches were designed for right-handed knights. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_21

Heraldic examples of English shields à bouche can be seen in the spandrels of the trussed timber roof of Lincoln's Inn Hall, London. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_22

The shape of the top, the sides and the base may be separately described, and these elements may be freely combined. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_23

The highly complex Baroque style shields of the 17th century come in many artistic variations. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_24

Escutcheon (heraldry)_unordered_list_0

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Lozenge Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_1

In English heraldry, the lozenge has been used by women since the 13th century for the display of their coats of arms instead of the escutcheon or shield, which are associated with warfare. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_25

In this case the lozenge is shown without crest or helm. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_26

For the practical purpose of categorisation the lozenge may be treated as a variety of heraldic escutcheon. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_27

Traditionally, very limited categories of females have been able to display their own arms, for example a female monarch—who uses an escutcheon as a military commander, not a lozenge—and suo jure peeresses, who may display their own arms alone on a lozenge even if married. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_28

In general a female was represented by her paternal arms impaled by the arms of her husband on an escutcheon as a form of marshalling. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_29

In modern Canadian heraldry, and certain other modern heraldic jurisdictions, women may be granted their own arms and display these on an escutcheon. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_30

Life peeresses in England display their arms on a lozenge. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_31

An oval or cartouche is occasionally also used instead of the lozenge for armigerous women. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_32

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_33

Divorced women may theoretically until remarriage use their ex-husband's arms differenced with a mascle. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_34

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_35

Women in same-sex marriages may use a shield or banner to combine arms, but can use only a lozenge or banner when one of the spouses dies. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_36

The lozenge shape of quasi-escutcheon is also used for funerary hatchments for both men and women. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_37

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_38

Points Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_2

The points of the shield refer to specific positions thereon and are used in blazons to describe where a charge should be placed. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_39

Inescutcheon Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_3

An inescutcheon is a smaller escutcheon that is placed within or superimposed over the main shield of a coat of arms. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_40

This may be used in the following cases: Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_41

Escutcheon (heraldry)_unordered_list_1

  • 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;Escutcheon (heraldry)_item_1_16
  • in pretence (as a mark of a hereditary claim, usually by right of marriage), bearing assumed arms over one's own hereditary arms;Escutcheon (heraldry)_item_1_17
  • in territorial claim, bearing a monarch's hereditary arms en surtout over the territorial arms of his domains.Escutcheon (heraldry)_item_1_18

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Inescutcheons as mobile charges Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_4

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_42

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_43

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_44

These inescutcheons serve as a basis for including other charges that do not serve as an augmentation or hereditary claim. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_45

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_46

Inescutcheon of pretence Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_5

Inescutcheons may also be used to bear another's arms in "pretence". Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_47

In English heraldry the husband of a 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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_48

In the next generation the arms are quartered by the son. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_49

Use by monarchs and states Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_6

A monarch's personal or hereditary arms may be borne on an inescutcheon en surtout over the territorial arms of his/her domains, 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). Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_50

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. Escutcheon (heraldry)_sentence_51

Pelta escutcheon Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_7

See also Escutcheon (heraldry)_section_8

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: (heraldry).