Blazon in CoA

[otw_is sidebar=otw-sidebar-2]This page sets out the preferred style of ‘blazon’ (the technical vocabulary for describing coats of arms) used in CoA. There are also detailed notes on the preferred style of citation and a list of abbreviations. The full guidance notes which they form part of can be downloaded as a pdf (for which you will need a pdf programme such as Adobe Acrobat reader) and as a document in MS Word; click on the links to the right. To return to the introductory guidance, click here.

When blazon is quoted directly from some other source, such as a grant of arms or a secondary writer, the source’s spelling and punctuation should of course be preserved, as in any other instance of quotation. In such cases the fact that the blazon is a quotation should be clearly indicated in the text. In all other cases, blazon should be done as follows:

  1. The word is to be spelled ‘blazon’ rather than ‘blason’.
  2. Blazon should be in italics, without abbreviations (save in footnotes, where the tinctures may be abbreviated in the way indicated in the list of abbreviations). Commas should be used as sparingly as possible.
  3. The only capital should be the first letter of the blazon and the initial letter of any proper noun that appears in the blazon.
  4. The shield and crest and any supporters are blazoned separately; any linking phrases such as ‘For his crest, on a wreath of the colours’, do not constitute blazon. Stilted and formulaic linking phrases should be avoided.
  5. Spelling. Blazon words deriving from French past participles should terminate in -y rather than -ee or -ée: thus fitchy rather than fitchée. Other blazon words with alternative spellings should be spelled as follows:
    • caboshed rather than cabossed.
    • chequy rather than checky.
    • chevron rather than cheveron.
    • demi lion rather than demi-lion.
    • fess rather than fesse.
    • fleur-de-lys rather than fleur-de-lis. The plural is fleurs-de-lys.
    • griffin rather than gryphon.
    • guardant and reguardant rather than gardant and regardant.
    • mullet rather than molet.
    • pall rather than pairle.
    • sejant rather than sejeant.
    • tiger rather than tyger when the natural animal is intended.
    • tyger rather than tiger when the heraldic monster is meant.
    • wyvern rather than wivern.

    Note also the following spellings of words which, though not blazon, have a heraldic reference:

    • Clarenceux rather than Clarencieux
    • pursuivant rather than poursuivant.
  6. Vocabulary. Describe roundels as such, giving their tincture, rather than as hurt, pomeis and the like. Similarly, use gutty azure rather than gutty (or gouttée) de larmes and the like. Ancient, astral, celestial, eastern, naval, mural and palisado crowns should be described as such rather than as coronets; but the item frequently referred to as a ‘ducal coronet’ should be blazoned and referred to as a crest coronet. The following words and phrases should be preferred to the stated alternatives:
    • mantling rather than lambrequin.
    • mill rind rather than ink moline.
    • mullet pierced rather than spur rowel.
    • per fess, per pale etc., rather than party (or parted) per fess, party per pale etc.
  7. When a charge consists of a noun prefixed by another noun in the possessive aspect, such as lion’s gamb or saracen’s head, the apostrophe should not move in the plural; thus three lion’s gambs and four saracen’s heads. This reflects ordinary language usages such as cat’s eyes (The M1 has over half a million cat’s eyes on it, not The M1 has over half a million cats’ eyes on it). The number of lions and saracens involved is immaterial, as is the number of cats in the parallel case.
  8. Repeat tinctures rather than saying of the first or similar: thus say Azure on a fess argent three billets azure rather than Azure on a fess argent three billets of the first. However, where appropriate and natural, words such as all and also may be used: Azure a fess between in chief a billet between two mullets and in base a cross crosslet all argent; Gules three lion’s gambs ermine armed azure each grasping a staff or flying therefrom a banner also ermine.