Self Test 1

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We have already learnt enough blazonry to describe several hundred different shields! Let's see how well you have remembered what we have covered! Look at the shield picture on the left. Can you work out what the blazon would be? Remember, you describe the field (or background) first, then any ordinaries, then any charges, and each item has its colour given immediately afterwards.

Before you start you need to know about the new ordinary that appears here, the thick bar across the top of the shield which is known as the chief. It is very common and has a special feature in that all of the other things on the shield get scrunched down to make room for it.

Per bend azure and or a chief sable and 3 choughs sable

Well done if you recognised the birds as choughs!

There is another lesson that we can learn here - heralds (who write blazons) don't like to waste words or repeat themselves, and we have two things on this shield that are the same colour. When they follow one another, as they do in the blazon above we can leave out the first one, to produce this:

Per bend azure and or a chief and 3 choughs sable

This gives us exactly the same result but is shorter. In complex shields you will often see colours and tinctures given in the form of the first, of the second or even of the field. In each case this "of the" actually means "the same as".

Now work the other way and try to picture in your mind the shield that is described by the following blazon:

Per fess or and gules, 3 roundels argent

What do you think this looks like?

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Why are the three roundels arranged that way? For each number of charges there is a "default" arrangement, and this is the default way that three charges are laid out. Later on we will see various ways to control how charges can be laid out more precisely, but before that we will talke about furs, which we will meet on the next page.

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