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Ermine, or Ermin, (old fr. armine, fr. hermine): the fur most frequently used in heraldry. It derives its name from the Ermine or mus Armenicus(so call from being found in the woods of Armenia), a small white animal whose fur it is. The black spots are supposed to represent the tails of ermines, sewed to the white fur for its enrichment. When a bend is ermine, the spots(like all other charges placed upon a bend) must be bendwise, but on a chevron, saltire, &c., they are drawn upright.

The term ermyn is frequently found in the ancient rolls of arms, and is very often applied to a quarter or canton.

Ermine is practically used like any other tincture, and so any animals, e.g. lions, may be blazoned ermine. Also a crescent, q.v., and even martlets may be blazoned ermine, both occurring in the arms of Frank DE BOUN.

A coat of arms of ermine only has been ascribed to the dukes of BRITTANY, but more frequently to the province,

Robert de TATESHALE, eschequere d'or et de goules, ung cheif d'ermyne--Roll, temp. HEN. III.

Robert de TATISHALE eschequere d'or e de goules al chef armine--Roll, temp. HEN. III. Harl. MS. 6589.

John de NEVILLE, COWERDE, mascule d'or e de goules ung quartier de hermyne--Roll, temp. HEN. III.

Hugh BOLEBEK, vert ung lion d'ermyn rampand--Ibid.

Le Counte de Bretaine eschekere d'or e dazur a une kantelle dermine a un bordure de goules--Harl. MS. 6589, temp. HEN. III.

    Cele de TATESHALE a oun                 De or e de rouge eschequeré         
    Por sa valour o eus tirée               Au chef de ermine outréement.       
                                              Roll of Carlaverock, A.D. 1300.   

The arms, too, which in some rolls, tinctured blanc are supposed to represent this fur, as they are in others tinctured ermine, the tincture representing rather the white skin of the animal than the metal. For instance, at the siege of Carlaverock the arms of Morice de BERKELE are described as--

Vermeil ... croissilie o un chevron blanc,

through the arms of the Berkley family are elsewhere blazoned--

Gules, crusilly argent, a chevron ermine.

Again, while numerous instances occur of "gules with a fesse ermine," it is doubtful if an example is to be found of "gules with a fesse argent." And the Carlaverock poet possibly intends ermine when he writes:--

    Bien doi mettre en mon serventois       Baniere ot rouge ou entaillie       
    Ke Elys de AUBIGNI li courtois          Ot fesse blanche engreelie.         
The same poem also gives.
    BADELSMERE, Ki tout le jour             Portoit en blanc au bleu label      
    Iluec se contint bien e bel             Fesse rouge entre deux jumeaux.     
Again, the waterbougets in the arms described there as.
    Guillemes de Ros assemblans             I fu rouge o trois bouz blans       
appear afterwards, blazoned of different tinctures, sometimes as argent, sometimes as ermine.
Ermine spots.
Ermine spots.

Although the form shewn in the illustrations is used in all modern emblazoning, there were ancient forms of the ermine spot, as shewn in the margin. No. 1 is from the surcoat of Sir Robert du BOIS, upon his tomb in Fersfield Church, Norfolk,--he died 1311; No. 2, from the stall plates of Sir Walter PAVELEY, one of the first knights of the Garter, and Sir Thomas BANASTER, his successor in the stall,--the first died 1376, the other, 1379; and No. 3 from the stall-plate of Sir Simon DE FELBRYGG, K.G., who died A.D. 1422.

An ermine spot, (fr. hermine, or moucheture, whence the word mouchetor in some heraldic works) is occasionally found to occur by itself; sometimes more than one are named, and sometimes, when there is only space for a few spots, the term spotted is used.

Azure, three plates, on each an ermine spot sable--NEWALL.

Or, on two bars azure as many barrulets dancetty argent; a chief indented of the second charged with an ermine spot or--SAWBRIDGE.

Argent, a chevron between three crows sable, in each beak an ermine spot--LLOYD, Bp. of S.Asaph, 1680, Lichfield, 1692, and Worcester, 1700-17.

Argent, a fesse gules between three ermine spots sable--KILVINGTON.

Argent, two bars sable, spotted ermine, in chief a lion passant gules--HILL, co. Wexford.

D'argent, à cinq hermines de sable posées 2, 1 et 2--BROUILHAC DE LA MOTHE COMTAIS, Poitou.

D'azure, à trois besants d'argent chargés chacum d'une moucheture d'hermines--VENCE, Orleanais.

A cross erminée or of four ermine spots.--See Cross §8.


Ermines(fr. contre hermine), and counter ermine, as given by Nisbet: a fur resembling ermine in pattern, but having the tinctures reversed, the field being sable, and the spots argent.

Barry of six ermine and ermines--BRADWARDINE, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1349.

Argent, a chevron engrailed ermine; on a chief sable three martlets of the first--WILDE, co. Leicester.

Ermines, simply--MIGNON.

Per chevron ermine and ermines, a chevron per chevron sable and argent; on the first three estoiles or--WIGSTON.

Erminites, or erminetes and erminois. These are varieties of ermine, i.e. of the fur of the same from but of different colours. The first is supposed to be distinguished by having a red hair on the side of each spot, and it is doubtful if a case occurs in true English heraldry; erminois is used when the field is or, and spots sable. The pean is said to be sable with spots or. This name was derived from the old fr. pannes, or square pieces of fur of different tincture sewn together. The French call all the above furs hermines, adding the names of the tincture.

Quarterly indented erminois and gules; in the first quarter a lion passant guardant gules--CROFT, co. York.

Sable, a chevron erminois; on a chief indented argent an estoile between two mullets gules--KEIRLL, co. Hereford.

Per bend sinister ermine and erminois, a lion rampant or--EDDOWES.

Pean, a cross quarter pierced erminois--GROIN, Watlington, Norfolk, Harl. MS., 1177.

Per bend sinister ermine and pean, a lion rampant or gorged with a wreath of oak vert, and supporting in the dexter forepaw a sword erect proper pomel and hilt gold--LLOYD, Lancing, Sussex.

Per bend sinister ermine and ermines, a lion rampant reguardant erminois; on a chief azure three mullets of six points argent--DAVIS.

Or, a cross gules, semée of ermine spots argent--DEOBODY, Ireland.

De gueules, a six hermines d'argent 3, 2, et 1--ROUX.

D'argent, semé d'hermines de sable--BERRY, Poitou, Languedoc.

Ermine, (the animal). See Weasel.

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