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CADENCY: As the original object of armorial bearings was to distinguish one iron- encased warrior from another, it was also necessary to provide distinctive bearings for different members of a family all entitled to bear the paternal arms. This gave rise to the use of Marks of Cadency, or differences (called by the French 'brisure').

Label: A bearing closely resembling the strap with pendants which form the saddle crossed the horse's chest. It is the oldest mark of difference, but sometimes borne as a charge. As a difference, the princes of the royal house used it. The number of points did not necessarily mean anything, although the label of three points was supposed to represent the heir during the lifetime of his father; five points, during the lifetime of his grandfather; seven points, while the great-grandfather still lived, etc. According to the modern system, the elder son of an elder son places a label upon a label.

Crescent: A bearing resembling the half moon with the points turned up. When used as a mark of cadency it denotes the second son.

Mullet: A bearing resembling a five-pointed star. It is sometimes called a spur rowel, but it was in use long before the rowel spur. When used as a difference it denotes the third son.

Martlet: A fanciful bird somewhat resembling a swallow, but having short tufts of feathers in the place of legs. When used as a difference it denotes the fourth son.

Annulet: A ring borne on an escutcheon. Originally it stood as the symbol of nobility and jurisdiction, being the gage of royal favour and protection. In describing the arms the colour of the annulet should always be expressed. When used as a difference, the annulet represents the fifth son.

Fleur-de-lis: Heraldically this is a flower, and stands at the head of the flowers of heraldry. Its origin is unknown; one "authority" claiming that it was brought down from heaven by an angel for the arms of France. It is also said to mean the flower of Louis (Fleur de Louis), and was certainly used by Louis VII. It is undoubtedly the "flower of the Lilly." Originally the royal banner of France was semee-of-lis (completely covered with fleurs-de-lis); but from the time of Charles VI it has consisted of three golden fleurs-de-lis on a blue field. The fleurs-de-lis did not at first meet with much favour in England, and did not become popular, in fact, until its assumption by Edward III. George VI, on his accession, abolished French quartering, in the English royal arms. When used as a difference the fleur-de-lis represents the sixth son.

Rose: The Rose, which is popular in English heraldry, is generally borne singly and full-faced, with five petals, barbs and seeds. When used as a difference it denotes the seventh son.

Cross Moline: So called because its shape resembles a millrind (the iron clamp of the upper millstone). It is borne both inverted and rebated, and sometimes saltire-wise or in saltire. When used as a mark of cadency it represents the eighth son.

Octofoil: A double quatrefoil: a leaf of eight points. When used as a difference it denotes the ninth son.

CADENCY (Canada): unique to Canada the following marks of cadency for ladies, apply:

1st Daughter: the heart, 2nd Daughter: the ermine spot, 3rd Daughter, the snowflake, 4th Daughter, the fir twig, 5th Daughter, the chess rook, 6th daughter, the escallop, the 7th Daughter, the harp, the 8th Daughter, the buckle, 9th Daughter, the clarion.


CADUCEUS: This staff was first borne by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It was also called the wand of Hermes when he superseded Iris in much later myths. In Roman iconography was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars and thieves. The mace of Mercury, with wings attached, and entwined with two snakes; denotes balance and the union of opposing forces. It is a symbol of peace and healing.


The caduceus is sometimes used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, which has only a single snake and no wings. Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, symbolizes renewal of youth as the serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita, the prototype of the Greek Asklepios.


It should be noted that the connection between the caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) and medicine seems to have arisen by the seventh century A.D., when Hermes had come to be linked with alchemy.

CALOPUS:Also known as the Chatloup, this mythological beast is said to have the body of a wolf, face of a cat, serrated horns of a goat and spines on its body. It has been said it inhabited the banks of the Euphrates and was soon adopted as an emblem in European medieval heraldry. Said to be very savage, hard to trap and with the help of its serrated horns was capable of cutting down trees, to capture its prey. Historical renderings and writings have suggested other descriptions including the snout of a boar, however as with all fabulous creatures, descriptions do vary. A symbol of ferociousness and where the bearer was unyielding, in his cunning to achieve advantage over his enemies.

CALTRAP: French heralds called it Chausse-trap. It is an abbreviated form of Cheval-trap: an instrument thrown upon the ground to injure feet of horses. One who demonstrates ingenuity and resourcefulness when faced with a stronger foe. Caltraps also served to slow down the advance of foot soldiers, war elephants and camels. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels.

CAMEL: Highly valued in Middle Eastern cultures and represents stamina, obedience, and temperance. It is a classical symbol of Arabia where it is regarded as ennobled by God. Prized by the Bedouin desert nomads, it was used as a beast of burden, for riding, and as a draught animal. "Kaswa, Al" was the name of Muhammad's favourite Camel. It fell on its knees when the prophet delivered the last clause of the Koran to the assembled multitude at Mecca. In ancient Persian texts and in the Zohar, the serpent in the Garden of Eden is said to have been a flying a dragon-camel; such Camels are also thought to be Eden's guards. A Camel was a sign of wealth in the ancient world; their rich trappings, even during the Renaissance, were used to indicate royalty and prosperity. The three wise men are usually shown riding Camels to Bethlehem where the beasts knelt to worship the Christ Child; according to legend, the wise men's Camels journeyed to Bethlehem without food, water, or rest in order to reach the Child in only twelve or thirteen days.


CANNON (and Cannon Balls): Said of one who has dared their terror in sieges and in battles.; a military engine for throwing ball, first used in the battle of Cressy, in 1346, by king Edward ; or, mounted in battery on the decks of ships, to fire balls on other ships. Symbol of authority, crusade and protection. Also, canting arms for surnames such “cannon” and the like frequently occur.

CANNET: A duck without beak or legs. Signifies one who has to subsist by virtue and merit. The symbolism is suggested to be the same or similar to that of a 'martlet'.

CANTING ARMS: Canting, or punning arms are derived from the literal meaning or from the sound of a name. They are bearings in the nature of a similarity alluding to the name of the bearer. Thus, the Castletons bear three castles, and Pope Adrian IV. (Nicholas Breakspeare) bore a broken spear, the Keyes bore keys, Wells used a water well, Archer bore arrows etc…the list is extensive. Although individually these charges may have specific historical symbolism, it may be that the first bearer had in mind a pun on the name, and nothing more. There are however some instances where apparent 'canting arms' where not only an allusion to the name but had true symbolic meaning to the bearer. In most cases its indeed impossible to know which of these gleanings apply.

CANTON: A Subordinary-Bearing of honour; when borne charged, it often contains some very special symbol granted by the sovereign in reward for the performance of eminent service.

CAP OF MAINTENANCE: Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons (see "Chapeau").

CAPON: A cockerel, castrated to improve the flesh for use as food. The Capon looks like a rooster but without wattles. It's been called a Capon since the times of the ancient Romans. Capon was the preferred course of ecclesiastic people and princes and is a symbol of hospitality and virtue.

CARNATION: The carnation, was also known as a “Pink”, or "Jove's Flower." The Romans used this flower in their tribute to a beloved god. Symbol of admiration; hope and joy. According to a Flemish custom, a variety of carnation, the pink, was worn by the bride upon the day of her wedding, and the groom was supposed to search her and find it. From this custom, the pink has become a symbol of marriage. In portrait painting, especially of the 15th and 17th cents, when held in the sitter's hand it signifies that the picture commemorates his betrothal. The carnation often appears in paintings of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, in which Mary holds a carnation out to Jesus, as in the painting by Raphael, "Madonna of the Pinks," or the painting "Madonna of the Carnation" by Albrecht Durer (1516). The pink carnation became the symbol of a mother's undying love. In Christian legend, the pink carnation flower grew where the tears of the Virgin Mary fell at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. The carnation flower is also the international botanical symbol of Spain and the state flower of Ohio

CARPENTER'S SQUARE: Given to those that in all their works there shall nothing be found done either rashly or by adventure.

CASTLE (tower, chateau): The emblem of grandeur and society, and has been granted sometimes to one who has faithfully held one for his king, or who has captured one by force or strategy. The castle of Western Europe was a Norman creation, stemming from the 10th and 11th-century 'Norman Mound' castles. A castle that became the model for many English and Norman castles was the formidable castle built at Arques in Normandy by Henry I of England. In the Middle East the Crusaders developed great castles with double circuits of curving outer walls and towers or turrets to overlook all sections of the wall. Early in the 13th century the medieval castle, a mixture of Norman, English, and Byzantine elements were born.

CAT (CAT-A-MOUNT): Represents a mountain or wild cat and signify liberty, vigilance, forecast, and courage. The Roman goddess of Liberty was represented as holding a cup in one hand, a broken sceptre in the other, and with a cat lying at her feet. No animal is so great an enemy to all constraint as a cat. Held in veneration by the Egyptians under the name of Ælurus. This deity is represented with a human body and a cat's head. Diodorus tells us that whoever killed a cat, even by accident, was by the Egyptians punished by death.

CATHERINE WHEEL:  Said to have been used in the martyrdom of St. Catherine, under the Emperor Maximinus, and therefore it is the emblem of one who is prepared to undergo great trials for the Christian faith. It is a universal symbol of martyrdom. Catherine, the Virgin and martyr, was born according to her legend at Alexandria, and of so wonderful a capacity, that having soon after her conversion to Christianity, in 305, disputed with fifty heathen philosophers, she not only vanquished them by the strength of her reasoning, but in the end painted to them the divine truths of the Gospel in such glowing colours, that she converted them all to the true faith. For this offence, so heinous in the eyes of the Emperor, that tyrant caused her instantly to be cast into prison, where the Empress and one of the principal generals, who visited her out of curiosity, were likewise converted by the irresistible power of her eloquence and learning; which was deemed so great an aggravation of her crime, that the Emperor not only condemned the Virgin Saint to a cruel death, but caused the fifty philosophers to be " burnt alive.''

CHAINS: Reward for acceptable and weighty service; with crowns and collars, this suggests the bearer bore the chain of obligation or obliged others because of services done. Chains signify servitude and captivity, and sometimes temperance and chastity, which bridle unruly passions.

CHALICE: The receptacle of spiritual forces. It is associated with the element of water. Shown upright, the cup is ready to receive; shown inverted, it symbolizes birth and realization; a symbol of faith. A golden Chalice signifieth the Treasures Of Wisdom That Be Hid In Christ. A silver Chalice denoteth purity from sin. A Chalice of tin denoteth the similitude of sin and punishment. For tin is as it were half way between silver and lead. The Chalice, it is the figure of the Church which was set and founded on the persecution and on the martyrdom of the prophets and others.

CHAPEL: When St. Martin divided his military cloak (cappa) and gave half to the beggar at the gate of Amiens, he wrapped the other half round his shoulders, thus making of it a cape (capella). This cape, or its representative, was afterwards preserved as a relic and accompanied the Frankish kings in their wars, and the tent which sheltered it became known also as cappella or capella. In this tent Mass was celebrated by the military chaplains (capellani). When at rest in the palace the relic likewise gave its name to the oratory where it was kept, and subsequently any oratory where Mass and Divine service were celebrated was called capella, chapelle, chapel. Often awarded for special services to the church or as a revelation of faith.

CHAPEAU: Granted to British peers and Scottish feudal barons. It is a cap generally of red velvet turned up with ermine, formerly peculiar to dukes (whence it is sometimes called a duciper), but now often used to place crests upon instead of a wreath. Also termed a Cap of Dignity or cap of maintenance, it was formerly a badge of high dignity, being borne by King Edward III. and the succeeding Kings of England, to the time of Edward VI. It was an ancient cap of honor, worn by the highest nobility. Such a cap is said to be have been sent by Pope Julius II., with a sword, to Henry VIII., for writing a book against Martin Luther. Though originally, as said above, to be a very high token of honor, it is to be met with, together with ducal coronets, in the hereditary arms of many private persons— having been granted by the heralds in a somewhat promiscuous manner, on the decline of the exclusive privileges in the matter of bearing arms which so long held sway.

CHAPLET: A circular garland, usually woven of 4 flowers (equally spaced), leaves, and foliage, that traditionally indicated honour or celebration. The wreath in ancient Egypt was most popular in the form of a chaplet made by sewing flowers to linen bands and tying them around the head. In ancient Greece, wreaths, usually made of olive, pine, laurel, celery, or palm, were awarded to athletes victorious in the Olympic games and as prizes to poets and orators. In Rome, laurel crowns were bestowed as a mark of honour, especially on civil officials and returning warriors. The heraldic chaplet is a crown of joy and admiration, honour and celebration.

CHATTERER: Said to be obnoxious and a loquacious talker.

CHECKYiCheckie): in French, Eschiquette, is what we call Checker'd, or in Checkers, too well known to need any Description. Terms of Art Colombiere speaking of the Checker says thus: "This Figure is one of the most noble and most ancient' to that are used in Armoury, and ought to be given to none but valiant Warriors in token of their Nobility; for the Chiefs Bond represents a Field of Battle, and the Pawns and Men placed on both sides represent the Soldiers of the two Armies, that move, attack, advance, or retire, according to the Will of the two Gamesters, who are the Generals. This Figure is always composed of Metal and Colour, and some Authors would have it reckoned among the several sorts of Furs, because formerly there were some Furs' worn in Checkers: When all the Escutcheon is checky, it ought generally to be of six Rows, but there is no need in blazoning to express the same; only it must be observed, to begin to blazon by the first Square.

CHERUB: In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic literature, a celestial winged boy's head that functions as a throne bearer of the deity; derived from ancient Middle Eastern mythology. Denotes dignity, glory, and honour; symbol of a missionary; bearer of joyful news. A Cherub is a name used in scripture to denote some angelic power or powers under the figure of some strange animal: the plural number in the Hebrew is cherubim, which signifies cherubs, and I know not how our translators of the Bible came so often to speak of cherubims, adding an s to the Hebrew plural number instead of the English plural, namely, cherubs. It is the symbol of God’s presence.

CHOUGH (Cornish): A species of crow with red legs, called "the king of crows and was betoken on one manifesting military stratagems to the great disadvantage of his enemies. It is also said the Cornish Chough indicates one who is watchful for friends and kindred.

CHESS-ROOK: Heraldic symbol of a fortress signifying protection and strength; a representation of the chess piece resembling the cronal of a lance. It may have been granted to one who successfully shielded a leader in an engagement of war or notorious enterprise.

CHEVRON: See Ordinaries.

CHEVRONELS: Diminutive of the Chevron-Represents military stripes of merit worn by gallant soldiers.

CHIEF: See Ordinaries.

CHIMERA:A Mythological monster variously described over the centuries. Most renderings show it with the body of a lioness, a tail that terminated in a snake's head, the head of a goat rising from the back at the center of her spine, and often shown vomiting flames. The Chimera was an offspring of Typhon and Echidna and a sibling of such monsters as Cerberus. It is said the Chimera was defeated by Bellerophon, hero of Greek mythology, with the help of Pegasus. Pegasus was a winged horse sired by Poseidon, and known as the Horse god. The Chimera challenged the hero to use bravery, strength and cunning in order to achieve victory. This fabulous beast represents triumph of good over evil and in medieval Christian art the Chimera appears as a symbol of the devil.

CINQUEFOILS: A five-leafed flower signifying hope and joy. In French civic heraldry, the cinquefoil is sometimes used to represent the plant, narcissus, commonly called the cinquefoil. In Scottish heraldry this symbol is called a fraise. Cinquefoils were held by the ancient heralds to represent various flowers according to the colours in which they were borne.

CIVIC WREATH: One who saved a fellow citizen's life or shown patriotism in defence of one's native land.

CLAYMORE (Glaymore): The word is derived from the Gaelic claidheamh (a sword), and mór (great); large two-handed sword popular in Scotland during the 15th, 16th and even the 17th centuries. These swords were popular also in Germany and in the Swiss states during the 15th and 16th centuries, although the term Claymore seems to have been restricted to Scotland. Said to denote one who was of high military honour, equity and justice.

CLARION: Represents the ancient clarion. An emblem well becoming one who has bravely followed its sound in war; ready for the fray.

CLUB: A heavy stick, usually thicker at one end than at the other; also known as a cudgel; usually borne as a weapon of defence by savages. If shown as a separate charge or device it may have represented some special enterprise or experience to the first bearer; symbol of guardianship and propugnation.


Wreath (Fr: tortil, also bourrelet): The wreath, technically speaking, is the twisted band composed of two strips of lace and silk by which the crest is joined to the helmet; the colors are usually the two principal colors of the shield. It is sometimes referred to as a 'torse'. It was, perhaps, copied by the crusaders from the wreathed turbans of the Saracens.

Helmet: Sometimes called a Helm, in French, a Casque. There were many different types and styles over the centuries. Note: the Helmet is not officially or traditionally part of a coat of arms.

Supporters: It is generally accepted that Supporters had their origin from tilts and tournaments, wherein the knights caused their shields to be carried by servants or pages, under the disguise of Lions, Bears, Griffins etc, who also held and guarded the escutcheons, which the knights were obliged to expose to public view some time before the lists were opened. The French refer to supporters as "supports" and "tenants", the former applied to animals, the latter to human beings.

Shield (Anglo-Saxon: Scyld): borne on the arm to protect the bearer in battle and to be recognized by his compatriots in the midst of the fight.

Compartment: A compartment is a carved panel, sometimes stone or earth and grass, or a period scroll; it's placed below the shield and it is where supporters stand.

Crest (Fr: cimier): A figure anciently affixed to the helmet of every commander, for his distinction in the confusion of battle. It's the portion above the wreath.

Mantle (Mantling, or Cappeline): In French it's called a Lambrequin. It represents the lambrequin, or covering of the helmet, to protect it from the sun or rain. Typically, the colors are the primary colors of the shield. Note: the Mantle is not officially or traditionally part of a coat of arms.

Escroll (Scroll): A long strip of parchment bearing the motto. When no motto is available, the name is often found here. The motto can be below or above the shield. Note: the escroll is not officially or traditionally part of a coat of arms.

Charge (Device): Anything borne on a coat of arms, whether upon the field, as was more usually the case in ancient arms, or upon an ordinary, or indeed upon another charge. In french its called 'Meuble'.


1--OR, GOLD, YELLOW: Known as 'jaune'; symbolizes generosity and elevation of the mind; one of the two metals of Heraldry. 'Or' is from Latin aurum: the chief of the tinctures; it is called Sol by those who blazon by the sun and planets. Gold was consecrated to Horus (Egyptian) as to Vischnu (Hindu) and to Mithras (Roman); the resemblance between the Latin word aurum, the French or, and the Hebrew aor, light, indicates it, and monuments demonstrate it. Gold which was considered a divine metal, was thought to be the flesh of the gods. Symbol of eternity, royalty, power and strength.

2--ARGENT, SILVER OR WHITE: Sometimes fancifully called Luna in the arms of princes, as also pearl in those of peers; peace and sincerity. A symbol of purity, honour, and virtue.

3--RED OR GULES (Fr. gueules): The term is probably derived from the Arabic gule, a red rose; introduced by the Crusaders. Some historians feel the word is derived from the Latin gula, which in Old French is found as gueule, i.e. the "red throat of an animal." Others, again, have tried to find the origin in the Hebrew word gulade, which signifies red cloth. Symbolizes a warrior or martyr; military strength and magnanimity.

In pagan antiquity, red was the symbol of innocence and of virginity; the mystic couches used in the mysteries of Eleusis, bound round with purple fillets, designate the virginity of Proserpine when she arrived at hell. Red colour being established as a symbol of the divinity, and consecrated to his worship, we proceed to its application in the costume of pontiffs and kings. Red (Court de Gebelin) was in Rome the colour for generals, the nobility, and patricians aristocratic families of Ancient Rome) ; consequently it became that of the emperors. Those of Constantinople were clothed entirely in red. Thus the last of the princes, being overwhelmed in the crowd, fighting valiantly against the Turks, who captured his capital, he was recognised by his red boots amidst a mountain of the slain. The gules, or red, in coats of arms, observes La Colombiere, denotes in spiritual virtues, ardent love towards God and one's neighbour ; in mundane virtues, valour and energy ; in vice, cruelty, wrath, murder, and carnage; of the four elements, fire; in the complexions of men, the choleric ; in precious stones, the ruby. It represents the day of judgment, because it is believed that the world will be consumed by fire.

4--BLUE OR AZURE: Bright blue, the colour of an eastern sky, derived from the Arabic 'lazura'; denotes truth and loyalty. Azure, in its absolute signification, represents truth ' divine. It was the symbol of divine eternity, and of human immortality, and, by natural consequence, became a mortuary color. In China, blue is appropriated to the dead, and red to the living. Red represents fire and vivifying heat. Blue is the symbol of the soul after death. In Christian symbolism, azure is similar. In a manuscript of the tenth century, Jesus, represented in the tomb, is bound by blue fillets; his countenance is blue, the sepulchre is red. There are two attending angels; the one on the right has a blue aureole and violet mantle, symbols of the passion, and of the death of Christ. After the death of Christ, the Virgin is often represented in blue vestures.

5---GREEN OR VERT (Fr. sinople): The French are said to have called it Sinople, from a town in Asia Minor (Sinope) from which were brought the best materials for dyeing green, or silks and stuffs of a brilliant green colour; signifies hope, joy, and loyalty in love. In China, green typifies the East, the spring, a tree, and charity. In Christianity, green is the symbol of regeneration in action, that is, charity. Christian painters of the middle ages, painted the cross of a green color, symbol of regeneration, of, charity, of hope. The friend of Christ, the Christian initiator, the sacred scribe, St. John, is almost always robed in green. Among the Arabs, green had the same signification. It became the symbol of initiation to the knowledge of the supreme God revealed in the Koran. Green, like other colors, had a nefarious signification. In opposition, it signified moral degradation and folly. In symbolism, the eye signifies the understanding, intellectual light; and man can turn it towards good or towards evil. Satan and Minerva, Folly and Wisdom, were represented with green eyes.

6--BLACK OR SABLE: Derived from animals with black feet called Sable; signifies constancy or sometimes grief; mysteriousness. black was the emblem of mourning, affliction, calamity; it was also the sign of humiliation and the omen of evil. Black was the colour appropriated to the Guelphic faction which was known by that name, and by whom Dante was banished and condemned to death, will scarcely be questioned by those who are in the least aware of the stress laid upon names in this class of allegory.

7--PURPLE OR PURPURE: Royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice. It is the most majestic of colours. It has also been referred to as 'plumby' and 'porprin'. The language of heraldry is generally derived from the French; this word, however, retains its original Greek aspect, and the colour purple, and the name, have evidently been handed down to us from the throne of the Caesars. There is, we believe, some uncertainty as to what was the exact shade of the imperial purple, and it is very possible that Heraldry may throw some light on this question. The colour purple, as appearing in coat-armour, is the compound tint of blue and red, in which the red is just sufficiently predominant to give it warmth, and we may, with every probability, connect this colour with antiquity, when we consider, that the Popes, on their obtaining the supremacy at Rome, adopted the imperial colour, and from their example it was used by noble ecclesiastics in their armorial bearings; this colour, indeed, has generally, both in modern and ancient heraldry, originated with the clergy: nevertheless, in the arms of the kings of Leon, and of the noble family of Lacey, earls of Lincoln, there appears a " Lion purpure." This colour is also introduced in the coat of the ancient family of Burton of Longnor, near Shrewsbury. The learned Dr. Burton, Regius professor of Divinity at Oxford, is descended immediately from this house. Purpure is delineated in engravings by lines falling diagonally from the left-hand side of the shield to the base.

8--ORANGE, TAWNY OR TENNE: Occasionally called 'brusque'; denotes worthy ambition. It is very rarely found mentioned, but was one of the colours forming the livery of the royal House of Stuart.

9--MAROON SANGUINE OR MURRAY: Blood colour, called by heraldic writers in the arms of princes Dragon's tail, and in those of lords Sardonyx; symbolizes patient in battle, and yet victorious.

COCK: A symbol of vigilance, and also an emblem of St. Peter. It denotes great courage, and as the herald of the dawn, it is often used as an emblem of watchfulness. It signifies a hero in the field or an able man in the senate. It is said the Cock, crows three times before the death of a person. As the Cock was always connected in symbolism with the sun gods of Death and Resurrection, it has found its appropriate place in the four Gospels in the prophecy about Peter repudiating his Master before the Cock crowed thrice. The Cock is the most magnetic and sensitive of all birds; hence it's Greek name "alectruon". In the Zoroastrian Avesta, the Cock is called Parodarsh "he who foresees" the coming dawn, and is also termed the drum of the worlds, for he crows in the dawn that dazzles away the fiends of the Avesta: thus he shares with the dawn the honour of the victory.

COCKATRICE: A heraldic monster with the head, beak, comb, wattles and legs of a cock, a barbed tongue and the wings, tail and body of a wyvern. It is said the Cockatrice is hatched from a cock's egg by a serpent. Since it had the "Medusa-like" gift of killing anything that looked upon it, the Cockatrice was often depicted as an emblem of protection and used by many who bore it to instil deadly fear on the enemy. It is mentioned in several passages of the bible and is the emblem of terror to all beholders.

COLUMBINE: Called the dove plant, columbine was also thought to be the favourite plant of lions and thus was known also as Herba leonis. It was highly regarded for its medicinal values. In religious symbolism, the columbine signified the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the five petals of the flower formed little doves. Denotes courage and love.

COLUMN (or pillar): Signifies fortitude and constancy. A serpent coiled around a pillar would signify wisdom and fortitude. A vine of grapes coiled around a pillar would signify a strong harvest. One theory is that the pillar was a symbol which had reference to the Persian solar worship —another conjecture made the pillar sacred to Apollo, in which character Apollo was the guardian of streets and public places, and that he would thus be the appropriate deity of gates and vestibules. The column is a well known symbol of the Freemasons.

COMET: Were seen as harbingers of devastating invasion, war, and conquest; also may signify the remembrance of a great battle.

COMPASS & SQUARE: The origins and early development of Freemasonry are a matter of some debate and conjecture. A poem known as the "Regius Manuscript" has been dated to approximately 1390 and is the oldest known Masonic text. The compass and square is one of this fraternal organization's most famous symbols. There are many interpretations of what these symbols mean, but we subscribe to the more romantic view that members "square their actions by the square of virtue", and learn to "circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind." The letter "G" is generally accepted to represent God (or deity). In heraldry, you will often see these symbols used separately, and in some instances as shown.

CONE, PINE: The emblem of life amongst the ancient Semitic races, much like the Crux Ansata or key-cross among the Egyptians. See Pine.

CONEY: Also known as the pika or mouse hare or rock rabbit, the Coney is an Old World rabbit. 'Coney' is from the Hebrew 'shaphan' meaning "the hider", and is an animal that inhabits the mountain gorges and the rocky districts of Arabia and the Holy Land. It is about the size and colour of a rabbit, though appearing clumsier in structure has no tail and is not to be confused with a Rabbit or Hare. Its feet are not formed for digging, and therefore it has its home not in burrows but in the clefts of the rocks. It is quite likely that a scriptural reference to conies was intended. An often-quoted proverb says: "The Conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks" (Proverb. 30: 26; Ps. 104: 18). The proverb refers to the Coney's gregariousness and wisdom for he who realizes his weaknesses can better prepare to thwart his enemies; this strategy results in the weakness becoming the reason for his strength; one should never underestimate a Coney.

COOT: Conspicuous and noisy birds, Coots appear to aggressively defend their territories as they splatter across the water with flapping wings to confront intruders, uttering a vocal barrage of croaks, squawks, and cackles in an attempt to intimidate. The bearer of this device will use strategy rather than confrontation to achieve success.

COUPEAUX: Usually described as a mountain of three coupeaux or hills; can also be 6 or 10 hills. The reference to the first bearer was representative of locale and not to any other symbolism. Many communes had arms where coupeaux were blazoned, referring to the geographical nature and site of the commune, castle or domicile. It is doubtful the coupeaux had any other significance. Whether it was a mount of 3 coupeaux or 10 simply meant that there were more hills or hillocks involved. One herald impressed that the hills represented challenges accomplished.

CORBIE (THE RAVEN): The Raven was considered a symbol of virility or wisdom by many medieval cultures. An ancient Norse saga describes the use of Ravens by ocean navigators as guides to land, and Norse mythology describes Ravens as scouts for Odin. The Gaelic name for the raven is 'Bran,' also the name of a Celtic God; Bran offers initiation, protection, and the gift of prophecy. To the ancient Germanic tribes, Ravens were a symbol of sacrifice, for they were known for "receiving and rejoicing over sacrificial victims." The Raven was associated to thought and memory, and thus was a source of wisdom and prophetic knowledge, most particularly where such knowledge concerned omens of war. Like their relatives the crows, Ravens were known throughout Europe as death birds and other world messengers especially if you were doomed to die in battle. It is said that dead warriors on the battlefield were called 'feeders of ravens' in Skaldic verse. The all-powerful Viking leaders however, were known to bear the sign of the Raven upon their banners as a token of victory. Esteemed by the Romans and an ensign of the Danes, the Raven denotes prophetic counsel and is the sentinel of successful endeavours. A bearer using this device may have done so to commemorate a great battle or noted experience where a family member was killed. To the Christians, the Raven was a symbol of the Jews, of confession and of penance.

CORNUCOPIA (or horn of plenty): The ancient symbol of the bounty of Nature's gifts.

CORMORANT: At sea, or on the inland lakes, they make a terrible havoc. From the greatest height they drop down upon the object of pursuit, dive after it with the rapidity of a dart, and with an almost unerring certainty, seize the victim. Then emerging, with the fish across the bill, with a kind of twirl, throw it up into the air and dextrously catching it head foremost, swallow it whole. Among the Chinese, it is said, they have frequently been trained to fish, and that some fishermen keep many of them for that purpose, by which they gain a livelihood. "A ring, placed round the neck, hinders the bird from swallowing; its natural appetite joins with the will of its master, and it instantly dives at the word of command; when unable to gorge down the fish it has taken, it returns to the keeper, who secures it for himself. Sometimes, if the fish be too big for one to manage, two will act in concert, one taking it by the head and the other by the tail." In England, according to Willoughby, they were hoodwinked in the manner of the "Falcons", 'til they were let off to fish, and a leather thong was tied round the lower part of their necks, preventing them from swallowing the fish. Whitlock tells us "that he had a cast of them manned like Hawks, which would come to hand." He took much pleasure in them, and relates that the best he had was one presented to him by Mr Wood, Master of the Cormorants to Charles I. (Thomas Bewick's British Birds-1826). The Cormorants have been used as symbols of nobility, indulgence, and in more modern times a totem for fishermen and a bountiful catch.

COW: The Egyptian goddess Hathor was the goddess of fertility and agriculture and she was also known as the cow-goddess. In Norse mythology, the Cow was also a symbol of fertility and a symbol of the goodness that nourishes. It is also a symbol of the harvest.

CRAB: Symbolizes force and energy expressed through emotions and imagination, and a desire to store memories and possessions. An ancient Zodiac symbol.

CRANE: The word literally means long-shanks; it comes from the Welsh, gar, "the shanks" Garan is the long-shanked bird, contracted into g'ran, which eventually became 'crane'. Although sometimes confused with herons, cranes are more closely related to rails and limpkins. Cranes are known for their loud trumpeting call that can be heard for miles and for the rhythmic dances they perform during mating season, when both males and females can be seen jumping high into the air. The Crane symbol is said to be representative of long life, fidelity, grace, prosperity and peace. The ancient Greeks revered the Crane as a guide to Hades, the immortal kingdom of the dead. Legend has it that when the Greek poet Ibycus was murdered by unknown robbers, Cranes pointed to the killers by mysteriously circling over the head of one of the guilty. This old proverb has been referred to as 'The Cranes of Ibycus'. In mythology, they are often messengers for the gods, and are thought to have great intelligence and vigilance. The Crane is associated with the Greek Goddess Demeter (the Roman Ceres), goddess of the harvest, and also the Celtic god Pwyll, king of the underworld (the mythological place of departed souls).

CRAVAT GOOSE: See "Goose" to the Chinese the Goose symbolizes a blissful marriage, and to many cultures (Indian) it represents knowledge. The Goose was the sacred bird in the temple of Juno who was the Queen of the Olympian gods, and goddess of Marriage, Women and the Home.

CREEPER: Creeps up and down trees in a way a mountain climber scales mountains. When feeding, Creepers have a characteristic habit of starting at the base of a tree and working upward, always going around and around as though ascending a spiral staircase. Creepers are methodical in their hunt for food and bearers of this bird as an emblem reflect this trait.

CRESCENT (or increscent): Said to signify one who has been enlightened and honoured by the gracious aspect of his sovereign; also a symbol of 'hope and greater glory'. Knights returning from the Crusades introduced this Islamic symbol to heraldry and it has been used as a representative emblem ever since. The ancient Egyptians and many other cultures revered the moon. The crescent is used as a mark of cadency of the 2nd son (see cadency).

CROCODILE:The Crocodile flourished in the waters of the Nile, and as such came to signify the country of Egypt. The crocodile god Sebet was a guard of the pharaoh and also showed the newly deceased how to live in the world beyond life, and protected them from Set, the evil one. Sebet was protector of the infant Horus, who was the Egyptian equivalent of the Christ-child. The image of a crocodile first appeared on a coin in the Roman settlement of Nemausus, The ancient city of Nemausus, capital of the Gallic Volcae tribe known, later be known as Nîmes. The symbol is said to have interpreted the Roman conquest of Egypt by Emperor Augustus. 1500 years later, King François I of France, accommodated the crocodile emblem to the coat of arms of Nîmes. In Christian symbolism the crocodile sometimes replaced the dragon as the "guardian of knowledge" and its mouth was used to represent the entrance to hell; the crocodile was also the symbol for St. Theodore of Amasea. Though fearsome and destructive to many, the crocodile faces the morning sun as though in veneration. An heraldic symbol of fury, power, death, and protection.

CROSIER / Shepherd's Crook: The shepherd's watchfulness; Christian faith; pastoral authority; also Episcopal jurisdiction; service in the Crusades.

CROSSBOW (properly called an Arbalest): (Fr: arbalète, Ger. Armbrust, Crossbow). First introduced early in the 14th century, the crossbow consisted of a bow mounted on a stock that could be cranked or pulled into place using more leverage than could be used on a conventional longbow. The result was a very high-powered, lower trajectoried weapon of great destructive potential. It fired a bolt, a shorter version of an arrow; an emblem of war and of great power.

CROSS-BILL: This interesting Finch-like bird, in which the hooked tips of the upper and lower bill cross one another, is often used as a religious; this specific beak characteristic is unique to the Cross-bill.


Cross-Baptismal: This Greek cross is superimposed on a Greek "chi", the first letter of the Greek word for "Christ." It forms a cross with eight arms. Since the number eight is symbolic of rebirth or regeneration.

Cross-Calvary: Was originally rejected by Christians because it was a pagan symbol. Some earlier uses of this symbol were as a sceptre of Apollo; with the phrase "Ptolemy the Saviour" and a sign of life to come in the Egyptian religion of Sarapis.

Cross Celtic: One of the most ancient of cruciforms; this cross was used by the Celtic Christians in Great Britain and Ireland. Symbolizes the unity of heaven and earth.

Cross Constantine's: (Labarum) Good omen; Christianity.

Cross Crosslet: Signifies the fourfold mystery of the cross.

Cross Eastern: Used primarily in the Russian Orthodox Church. The upper bar represents the inscription, abbreviated "INRI" that Pilate had placed above Jesus' head. The meaning of the slanted bar is lost in legend. One story holds that Jesus' legs were of unequal length, another that the earthquake that came at His death caused the cross to tilt. Another explanation (probably the correct one) is that the slanted bar forms St. Andrew's cross. St. Andrew is believed to have introduced Christianity to Russia.

Cross Embattled: This heraldic cross calls to mind the battlements of a fortress or castle, and thus may have been used as a symbol of the "church militant" (the church at war, as opposed to the church triumphant).

Cross Fitchee: (cross pointed at base) A combination of cross and sword; symbolizing unshakeable faith.

Cross Fleurette: Much like the cross fleurie/fleury, this cross is a reminder of the Trinity and of the Resurrection.

Cross Flory (Patoncee): Represents one who has conquered.

Cross Fourchee: This design reflects Christian piety and was popular as a decorative cross in medieval heraldry. The design ties to the age-old trust in the pagan magic of the forked stick.

Cross Formee (see Pattee): Denotes military honour.

Cross-Greek: One of the original forms used by Christians. (The Latin cross was not in popular usage until the eighth and ninth centuries.) Before Christianity, the Greek cross was an emblem of Hecate as the Goddess of Crossroads. The vertical was male; the horizontal was female - making it a plus sign of one-plus-the-other.

Cross Jerusalem: This complex form is composed of a central cross made of four tau crosses representing the Old Testament law. The four smaller Greek crosses represent the fulfilment of the law in the gospel of Christ. This cross appeared on the coat-of-arms Godfrey of Bouillon, the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was embodied in the heraldry of the Crusaders.

Cross Maltese: The badge of Knights; from the island of Malta, home of one of the world's oldest Goddess temples. This design directs attention to the centre, possibly to indicate earth's geographical centre, Omphalos, and site of the Goddess's chief temple.

Cross Moline: The mutual converse of human society; said to represent a millstone.

Cross Pattee: Was popular in medieval heraldry. It was a combination of the Christian (Greek) cross and Wotan's. This cross, also known as Cross Formee, was often shown as the insignia of the god Frey.

Cross Patriarchal: This is an ecclesiastical cross that is often seen carried by the patriarchs in works of art. The upper bar represents the inscription placed on the cross by Pilate; adopted by cardinals and archbishops as a hierarchical distinction.

Cross Pommee: This cross represents the Assyrian god Asshur, who ruled time and seasons. He was pictured with the faces of a man, lion, eagle, and bull, his four totems. The cross with circles was later used on Jewish amulets.

Cross Potent: Was a symbol of ancient Mesapotamia. The cross- potent, with a circle was the sign of the Assyrian heaven-god Anu. This cross is also called the Windlass, a term linked with it in the Middle Ages.

Cross Raguly: Denotes difficulties encountered.

Cross-of St. Andrews: According to tradition, St. Andrew felt unworthy to be crucified like his Lord, so he begged that his cross be made differently. It is a symbol of humility and suffering.

Cross Tau: Made from the Greek letter "T", is the simplest of all crosses. It is often used as the cross of Prophecy, or Old Testament cross, because it is the traditional sign that Israelites made with lamb's blood on their doorposts in Egypt on the night of Passover. A tau cross is often pictured as the pole on which Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness.

CROW (ROOK): The emblem of long life; a settled habitation and a quiet life. Along with the raven, the crow is a symbol of conflict and death, associated with such gods as Macha, Badb, and the Morrigan (Goddess of war and death). The Irish word for crow is badb, which is also the name of the Celtic war Goddess. The Crow was also considered skilful, cunning, and to some, the harbinger of knowledge. Crows are considered one of the most intelligent of all birds. A group of crows is called a flock or a murder; the latter because the group will sometimes kill a dying or wounded crow. in classical Greek mythology, when the crow told the god Apollo that his lover Coronis was cheating on him with a mortal, he became very angry, and part of that anger was directed at the crow, whose feathers he turned from white to black...so it said.

CROWNS: Are symbols of monarchy, state and power and denotes dignity and accomplishment. The etymology is as follows Middle English coroune, crowne, from Old French corone, from Latin corona wreath, crown, from Greek korone/ culmination, something curved like a crow's beak, literally, crow; akin to Latin cornix crow, Greek korax raven. The use of the crown as a symbol of monarchy is of ancient tradition in Egypt and the Middle East. In ancient Greece and Rome, however, crowns sometimes made of leaves, were simply wreaths, awarded to victors in athletic tournaments or bestowed on citizens in recognition of an extraordinary deed. In medieval and modern times, the crown is generally made of metal, often gold or silver and inlaid with precious gems.


Antique or Ancient: The ancient crown is often used to represent the days of the Saxons and at times the feudalistic period. It is usually depicted in Gold.

The Eastern Crown: Represents the crown anciently worn by Oriental princes. Baron's Coronet: is a plain circle of gold having six large pearls upon it, four that are seen in a drawing. Sometimes referred to an antique crown (as well).

Charlemagne: This crown having been borne by five kings of England as Arch-treasurers of the Holy Roman Empire.

Duke's Crown: Is a circle of gold richly chased, and having upon its upper edge eight strawberry-leaves; only five are shown in the drawing, two of them being in profile. The cap is of crimson velvet lined with white taffeta and turned up with ermine. At the top is a gold tassel. A coronet without the cap, and showing but three leaves, is called a Ducal (or Crest) coronet, and frequently a Ducal crown. Rarely a ducal coronet is shown with cap.

Earl's Coronet: Is a rim of gold richly chased, on the upper edge of which are eight strawberry-leaves, and the same number of pearls (5 showing on a drawing) set upon high points, so that it is readily distinguished from the coronet of the marquis.

Hanover Crown: The electorate of Hanover having been constituted a kingdom, the bonnet which had hitherto been placed over the insignia of that state was exchanged for a crown, in pursuance of a royal proclamation dated June 8, 1816.

Imperial Crown of England: The Royal Crown of England is adorned with gold crosses pattée and fleur-de-lis, cap is of crimson velvet, turned up with ermine, and surmounted by a cross pattée.

Imperial Crown of Germany: Is properly the crown peculiar to the German emperor.

Mural Crown: Formed of battlements masoned. Said to have been given by the Romans to the soldier who first ascended the walls of a besieged fortress. Symbolizes a defender of a fortress; a token of civic honour; one who first mounted the breach in the walls of a fortress.

Marquis Coronet: This coronet features a rim of gold richly chased, supporting four strawberry leaves and as many large pearls (or rather balls of silver (2 showing in a drawing) upon short points.

Naval Crown: A circle, having upon its upper edge four masts of galleys, each with a topsail, and as many sterns placed alternately. Some heralds say it was invented by the Emperor Claudius as a reward for sea service. Denotes one who first boarded an enemy's ship; distinguished naval commander.

Crown Palisado (Vallary): A name given to a form of crown with, as it were, palisades upon it, and hence said to have been given by the Roman generals to him who first entered the enemies' camp by breaking through their outworks. It is also called vallary, from the Latin vallus, which generally means the palisade surmounting the vallum.

Viscount's Coronet: A chased circle of gold supporting twelve, fourteen, or, as some say, sixteen pearls, but usually only seven visible.

CUCKOO: It is said that in ancient Tibet the Cuckoo was considered the king of birds and that it possessed many magical powers; it is a symbol of a competitive soul and also represents lovers of music.

CUIRASS: The armour defence for the body. First Introduced during the third quarter of the 14th century and it became the premier defence of the 15th century. Consisting of a breast and back-plate, hoops of steel to defend the hips known as faulds, and tassets to defend the upper or front surface of the thigh. During the 14th century, the breastplate was often made from a single piece of steel and the back-plate from a brigandine, but during the 15th the breastplate was generally made in two or more pieces and the back in many pieces. It represented one who was unassailable, one of strength and might.

CUSHION (see pillow): This charge is found in ancient arms under the name oreiller (old fr. horeler), or pillow, the latter term also sometimes occurring in modern blazon. It has, as a rule, four tassels, one at each of the corners, and it is not necessary to mention them unless of a different tincture. They are considered marks of authority likely in reference to their popular use in royal chambers and ceremonies. The Norman Cushions were called Carreaux, from their square or diamond shape, as you see them placed under the heads of the recumbent effigies.

CYPRESS (pine, yew): Evergreen tree emblematic of death; the Egyptians considered this evergreen symbolic of hope in an eternal life beyond the tomb.

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