Eagle, (fr. Aigle): the eagle being the recognized king of birds, it is natural that it should from a favourite device. With the Romans, it will be remembered, it was adopted as their ensign, no doubt as symbolical of the courage and power attributed to that bird. It is found very frequently in the earlier rolls of arms, and is very common throughout the Middle Ages. In the roll, for instance, of the time of Edward II., to which reference has already been made, over forty coats of arms bear eagles. In that, however, of Henry III. there are only two or three, and in that of Edward III. not so large a number in proportion. From the following selection it will be observed that amongst the earliest examples the beak and claws are blazoned of a different tincture from that of the body; and in Edward the Second's reign we find the double-headed eagle, and in Edward the Third's reign we get the term espanie, signifying displayed, or spread out; (conf. modern fr. épandre). The mention, too, of the eagles being tinctured barry implies rather that they were represented displayed, even where not so described.
John de BEAUCHAMP, noir ung egle d'argent, beke et les pees d'or--Roll, temp. HEN. III.
Dru de BARANTINE, noir a trois egles d'or--Ibid.
Sir Johan de CASTRE, de sable a un egle barre de argent e de goules--Roll, temp. ED. II.
Sire William de GRAUNSON, pale de argent e de azure a une bende de goules e iij egles de or--Ibid.
Sire John PLUET, de or et un egle de goules a ij testes--Ibid.
Monsire Edward de MONTHERMER, port d'or une egle espanie de vert beke et pedes gules--Roll, temp. ED. III.
Monsire de WANTY, port d'argenta une egle espanie d'asur beke et peds gules--Roll, temp. ED. III.
Monsire de SIGESTON, port d'argent a une egle espanie de sable a double teste beke et pedes de gules--Ibid.
Monsire John CHANSCYRE, port d'azur a un egle barre di sis peeces d'argent et gules--Ibid.
In later arms also, an eagle is more frequently rendered displayed(mod. fr. eployé). and it may be drawn in two different ways. The first figure shews an eagle with its wings elevated, which is what is generally intended by the phrase 'an eagle displayed,' and the second with its wings inverted. The difference appears, however, to be an accidental one. The term expanded is also found sometimes used, which implies, perhaps, that the wings are displayed more than usual. Unless otherwise appointed, the eagle is to be drawn with the head looking towards the dexter.
Or, an eagle displayed vert, armed sable--MONTHERMER.
Or, an eagle displayed gules, armed azure--PEVENSEY.
Or, an eagle displayed wings downwards sable--FREDERICK II., Emperor of Germany, and EDMUND, E. of Cornwall, son of Richard, the king of the Romans.
Azure, an eagle displayed wings downwards argent, crowned or--(Part of the arms of) DIEPHOLZ.
Argent, an eagle displayed reguardant sable armed or--BOKELAND.
Argent, an eagle wings expanded sable, armed or--HILTOFTE.
Azure, an eagle reguardant, wings expanded or armed gules--CANVILL.
But there are various terms which, though not confined to the eagle, are more frequently applied to it than to other birds, namely, as regards its wings, and the several positions in which it is represented.
It may be with wings close, i.e. closed, or it may be with its wings elevated, or it may be with wings disclosed, i.e. somewhat open, but inverted, and pointing downwards(and this is practically the same as the expression overt, written sometimes overture).
Sable, an eagle close or--ROPER, Derby.
Sable, a chevron ermine between three eagles close argent--GAMES, Leicester, granted 1614.
Sable a chevron between three eagles close argent--JERVOISE.
Azure, an eagle with wings elevated argent--COTON, Ashill, Norfolk.
Argent, a bendlet(or baston) sable, between in chief an eagle rising overt vert, and in base a cross crosslet of the second--RICSWORTH.
If it is recursant, it means the head is turned back towards the sinister, the term reguardant being used for the same. If in full aspect, it is facing the spectator; if in trian aspect, something between that and facing towards the dexter.
Or, a bendlet(or baston) gules between three eagles close in trian aspect sable--Robert WILTRAM, co. York.
Azure, an eagle reguardant to the sinister, rising wings overt and inverted or, breaked gules--Richard CANVILL.
Again, an eagle may be rising, that is, about to fly; volant, that is, flying; or eyrant, that is, sitting, as it were, on its nest; or it may be statant, i.e. standing in an ordinary position; and if so, generally perched upon some branch or other object, or holding something in its mouth; or it may be represented as preyant; or, again, pruning its wings. These are a few for which examples are readily found; but to judge of the varieties which might be adopted, the reader is referred to those noted under Bird, and to the article Wings.
Argent, an eagle recursant wings overture sable--BACK.
Argent, an eagle rising, wings overt inverted gules, standing on a baston raguly in bend vert--William PORTER.
Sable, an eagle volant argent--STAYLTON or STALTON.
Gules, an eagle ayrant or--BARDOLPH, Norfolk.
Azure, an eagle eyrant or, armed gules--BYGBERY, Devon.
Per pale or and argent, an eagle displayed perched on a ragged staff sable--PYNELL.
Azure, an eagle with wings endorsed standing on a branch of laurel all or--Priory of Austin Canons at CAERMARTHEN.
Quarterly, gules and vert, an eagle displayed holding in the beak a slip of oak proper--GREAVES.
Argent, an eagle preyant sable, upon a child swaddled gules--CULCHETH.
Azure, an eagle pouncing on a hare courant or--DENSKINE, Scotland.
Or, an eagle displayed pruning its wings azure, armed gules--ROUS, co. Devon, and HALTON, co. Cornwall.
Again, Eagles, whether in any of the positions above named, or displayed, may have their beaks, talons, or legs of a different tincture from that of the body. Of the talons the term armed in most frequently used, though unguled(fr. onglé) is sometimes used; of the legs, membered(fr. membré); of the beak, beaked(fr. becqué.) It is not unusual, too, to find an eagle crowned, or having a collar.
Argent, an eagle displayed sable, armed purple--EAGLESTON.
Or, three bars azure, over all an eagle displayed gules, beaked and armed or--JERNEGAN, Fitz-Hugh.
Argent, an eagle displayed sable, armed and langued gules--BRUYNE, Harl. MS. 1603.
Argent, an eagle displayed sable crowned or--ESTE.
Azure, an eagle displayed argent armed or, collared with a ducal coronet gules--WILCOCKS.
Or, an eagle displayed azure, holding in the dexter talon a rose slipped in pale proper--CARNEGIE.
When three or more eagles occur in the same shield they are generally represented displayed, though occasionally they are found blazoned otherwise. If they are more than three they are generally blazoned as eaglets.
Argent, three eagles displayed gules, armed or--Robert de EGLESFIELD, [Founder of Queen's College, Oxford, and borne by the college].
Vert, three eagles displayed in fesse, within a bordure or--WILLIAMS, London.
Argent fretty and four eagles displayed gules--Priory of Austin Canons at MARTON, Yorkshire.
Sable, five eagles displayed in saltire argent--ROGER, Abp. of York, 1154-81. [Similar arms(excepting the tinctures) are also ascribed to Roger, Bp. of Salisbury, 1107-39, and to Alexander, Bp. of Lincoln, 1123-47.]
Azure, seme of eagles displayed or--FITZSYMON, Hertfordshire.
Vert, three eagles statant, wings displayed argent collared or--SMITHERMAN.
The double-headed eagle was borne by the German emperors(who claimed to be considered the successors of the Cæsars of Rome), and hence the term frequently applied to it is imperial eagle. The wings of the imperial eagle are always drawn by German heralds with a small feather between each pair of large ones. An eagle is also borne by the emperor or czar(that is Cæsar) of Russia. In the Bulle d'or of Charles IV. (A.D. 1323) the eagle is there represented with but one head, and it is not until Sigismund has son began his reign that we find the eagle represented double headed.
Or, an eagle with two heads displayed sable--GERMAN EMPIRE.
Argent, an eagle displayed double-headed sable--ATHESON, Scotland; BOWCEGAULT, Brin, co. Chester; BROWNE, Ireland, &c.
Or, an eagle displayed with two necks sable--MILLINGTON.
Or, an eagle's head with hound's ears azure--AERBOROUGH.
Sire Wauter le BAUD, de goules a iij eles[i.e. ailes] de egles de or--Roll, temp. ED. II.
Azure, three eagle's legs couped argent--GAMBON.
Gules, three eagle's legs erased, talons in chief or--BAWDE, Essex.