Coat of Arms
A red shield with a vair chevron between three gold crosses crosslet.
A dragon's head collared with a crown.
The practice of representing people with symbols is ancient, and in England this habit evolved with feudal society into a system of distinctive devices on shields. The heralds developed an extensive armory that had the important function of distinguishing members of the upper class from each other, whether at court or on the battlefield. Since then, heraldry has grown into a complex field with many rules and a terminology that requires some knowledge to interpret.
Red, with the former name of belic, and the current name "gules," is the military color for excellence and fortitude. It is symbolic of nobility, boldness and ferocity, and can also represent fire and summer. Some ancient laws restricted its use to princes and their families. Red corresponds to the metal copper and is denoted in engravings by numerous perpendicular lines.
This bell-shaped pattern represents the fur of an animal like a weasel called a ver or a vair, from the Latin word varus, that had to be imported from Russia and was often used for lining the cloaks of rich nobles. Vair was a symbol of great wealth. Unless otherwise stated, it is always colored blue and white and it is drawn in a sharp bell shape stacked in tiers on a shield. If there are more than four rows, it is called menu-vair by French heralds, from which the medieval word minever is derived. This is often borne by Flemish families. When there are more than four rows the term gros vair is used. Counter vair describes alternating tiers of the pattern right side up and then inverted, and vair en pointe is slightly different again. The term vairy is often used when describing a definite tincure.
The chevron occurs frequently in British and French heraldry, while it is comparatively rare in German heraldry. The chevron represents the roof of a house, derived from the French word "chevron" meaning rafter. It signifies protection. The chevron was granted to those who had participated in some notable enterprise, had built churches or fortresses, or had accomplished some work requiring faithful service. Formerly, heralds would draw the chevron almost reaching the top of the shield, with it nearly attaining a third of the surface of the shield. More recently, the chevron is drawn lower and with a less acute inner angle to allow more devices to be represented more attractively, and the artist may draw the chevron at the height and angle that will best suit the accompanying charges. The chevronel, is the diminutive of the chevron and is much narrower. Chevronels may be stacked on top of each other or side-by-side at the same height, which is termed interlaced, or braced. A field composed entirely of an even number of chevrons is called "chevronny."
Gold, or in heraldic terms "or," was considered the noblest color. One of only two metals used in heraldry, it exceeds all others in value, purity and finesse. It represents the light of the sun, and was once borne only by princes. Gold is said to gladden the heart and destroy all works of magic. It is also associated with excellence and achievement, and the bearer surpasses all others in valour. It is represented on coats of arms by the color yellow, and in engravings by an indefinite number of small points.
The cross crosslet, also sometimes called a cross crossed, consists of four crosslets joined at their bases, and is said to signify "the fourfold mystery of the cross." A cross crosslet fitched or fitche', is also a common symbol where the bottom arm of the cross is replaced by an elongated point. A field composed of an indefinite number of small cross crosslets is termed crusilly.
The Dragon is one of the most common mythical beasts in heraldry. It is depicted as a huge fire-breathing reptile with the claws of an eagle, the tail of a serpent, and wings like a bat. It is covered in scales and has a barbed tongue. Some form of dragon has been prominent in the mythology of many different cultures around the world and as such, it has been depicted in various ways. In modern heraldry, great differences can be found in the way their ears are drawn, and in almost all modern representations the tail is barbed, though the dragons of the Tudor period in England invariably had smooth tails. A Wyvern differs from a dragon in that it has no legs. If blazoned as a Chinese dragon, then no wings are shown.
Dragons were perceived as powerful, protective, and fearsome, and they were valued for their warlike qualities. They were often protectors of a treasure, and from this they can be symbolic of a most valiant defender. They were also sometimes terrorizers of the people, symbols of satanic evil. One of the highest achievements of a hero in medieval legend was the slaying of a dragon, as in the story of St. George, where the victory over the dragon, was a symbolic victory of Christianity. Thus the dragon as a heraldic charge may signify the faith, strength and selfless courage needed to battle the overwhelmingly powerful, and evil dragon.
The crown is an emblem of victory, sovereignty, and empire. It is a visible sign of success, thus the term "crowning achievement," and its significance as the decoration of the ultimate level of rank and power, makes bearing the crown a great honor. Crowns are sometimes a symbol of God, as he is considered by some to be the “King of all.” There are different types of crown; the word "crown" blazoned without any additional details usually implies a ducal coronet without a cap