Introduction to Heraldry

In the Current middle Ages that we endeavor to recreate within the Society for Creative Anachronism, the art of Heraldry adds pageantry and color to our game.

Each individual in our Society is entitled to register their own personal device with the College of Heralds. Each branch within our Society has its own coat of Arms, as well.

What is a coat of arms or a device? It is a picture consisting of a field (background and its division) and charges (animals, objects, etc) that are unique to the person holding the registry.

There are several basic rules that are to be followed in order to successfully register a unique (and suitable) coat of arms with the College of Heralds. One of the most important is the Rule of Tincture: A metal must be placed on a color; a color must be placed on a metal (there must be contrast).

The basic tinctures are:
  • Colors:
    Sable (black)
    Azure (blue)
    Purpure (purple)
    Vert (green)
    Gules (red)

  • Metals:
    Argent (silver, white or grey)
    Or (yellow or gold)

  • There are also several types of fur, of which the most common are:
    Ermine (white tails on black)
    Counter-Ermine (black tails on white)
    Pean (gold tails on black)
    Erminois (black tails on gold)

A field can be divided in a number of ways. When a field is composed of two colors where one is a metal and one is a color,
then it is considered neutral and a charge of any tincture can be placed upon it.

You can read more about Heraldry and its rules at the SCA Heraldry pages.

For some baronies, the candidates for Sergeants and Courtiers must be able to recognize heraldry on this site. You may find it useful to create flashcards to study the different arms, field divisions and animal positions. The following devices are available here:

Comparing the blazon (the picture of the arms or device) with the emblazon (the words describing the device) is a good way to learn many of the basics of heraldry. Coloring in the flashcards is a good way to become more familiar with each device or arms.

Read more about it:
Heraldry for Scribes Basics about color, animal position, fields of division
Designing Your Own Arms (shows colors, fields of division and ordinaries)
More Heraldry (colors, ordinaries and sub-ordinairies)
About Heraldry (subordinaries and charge positions)
Tempus Peregrinator's Little Heraldry Book (attitudes, attributes & positions)
Pennsic Traceable Art Project - many charges in different sizes

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