During my recent review of precedents on “independent forms of armorial display” I collected a number of decisions that document how the Society’s College of Arms developed its current rules.
Some of those older precedents are no longer relevant, but I figured I’d post them here for those who are interested in the history of this subject.
Initial Rule: Charged Shapes
Charged lozenges are acceptable so long as they do not look like arms of pretense or arms within arms. Only charged single cantons, inescutcheons and cartouches are specifically restricted.
— [Barony of Storvik, July 1981]
We prohibit charged inescutcheons, lozenges, and cartouches because these were the three shapes used to display arms; therefore, there could be confusion as to whether their charged use was an augmentation or arms of pretense. The inescutcheon is the obvious case and the lozenge is so common that it could be confused by many. The cartouche was uncommon, used mainly by clergy. Inasmuch as in-period ordination of females was almost unheard of and marriage of ordained priests was also rare for most of our period, the use of a cartouche as arms of pretense would be rather unlikely, as it would imply that the wife was ordained. It seems to be that the cartouche would also be unlikely to be used as an augmentation. The question is, therefore: Shall we allow charged cartouches in the SCA? What do you think?
— [Oct 1982 Cover Letter]
This [Vert, On a lozenge argent a sprig of heather] is not arms of pretense or an augmentation because the lozenge is placed on a plain field.
— [Donaleigh of Heathervale, Dec 1982 LoAR]
Argent, on a delf sable two femurs in saltire argent, all within a bordure indented azure. The general consensus in the College was that the charged delf appeared to be arms of pretense of Newton (“Sable, two shin bones in saltire argent.”).
— [Arwen Evaine ferch Rhys of Gwynedd, Mar 1988 LoAR]
Old Rules: Two Tertiaries
AR10.d.: “To avoid the appearance of arms of pretense, certain charges within armory may themselves be charged with no more than one tertiary charge… Examples, include inescutcheons, lozenges, cartouches, roundels, etc.”
— [Catrin of Llanbadarn, Returm, Apr 1988 LoAR]
Early RfS: Two Tertiaries or an Ordinary
Under both the old and the new rules this [A plate charged with a pomme within an annulet sable] comes afoul of the restrictions on use of roundels which could appear as arms of pretense: “Such charges may not contain an ordinary that terminates at the edge or more than one charge.” (Arms of Pretense, XI.4, p.16).
— [Owain ap Ioan, Nov 1989 LoAR]
Sadly, under both rules, the charged bezant gives the appearance of arms of pretense, since it is charged with multiple charges.
— [Gunther Addis, Return, Mar 1990 LoAR]
By current standards, a roundel invected is not considered a “standard vehicle” for the display of armory, and thus this is not considered arms of pretense under RfS XI.4.
— [Myron Duxippus Draco, Sep 1994 LoAR]
XI.4. Arms of Pretense: Armory that uses charges which themselves are charged in such a way as to appear to be arms of pretense is considered presumptuous. Period and modern heraldic practice asserts a claim to land or property by surmounting an individual’s usual armory with a display of armory associated with that claim. Such arms of pretense are most commonly placed on an inescutcheon or lozenge, but may also appear on other geometric charges such as roundels, cartouches, etc. For this reason, such charges may not be charged in such a way as to suggest independent arms. Such charges may not contain an ordinary that terminates at the edge, or more than one charge.
— [RfS, as 0f Dec 1994 – Mar 2001]
RfS XI.4 (or, “Charging Inescutcheons”)
It was pointed out that in the registrations last September of the devices of Mersi Stonegate and Gabriela Silver Fox we have apparently moved from a prior interpretation of RfS XI.4. The Rule itself states: [quotes from RfS XI.4.]
While we have regularly allowed roundels, lozenges, cartouches, etc. to be charged with a single charge, prior Laurel precedent has continued to return charged inescutcheons. The wording of Rule XI.4 which seems most applicable is “… in such a way as to appear to be arms of pretense …” and “… such charges may not be charged in such a way as to suggest independent arms.” It has been noted that there is no way an inescutcheon can be charged without suggesting a display of independent arms because, unlike roundels, lozenges, etc., a charged inescutcheon so strongly suggests pretense that even a single tertiary has been sufficient to cause a submission to be returned under this Rule.
Should we continue to return charged inescutcheons under RfS XI.4? Your research and commentary on this issue is sought.
— [Dec 1994 Cover Letter]
RfS XI.4 states that “such charges [inescutcheon or lozenge, or other geometric charges such as roundels, cartouches, etc.] may not be charged in such a way as to suggest independent arms. Such charges may not contain an ordinary that terminates at the edge, or more than one charge.” The lozenge here has upon it two charges; the rabbit and the axe. The fact that one charge is maintained by another does not disqualify it from being considered a second charge. The fact that it is a maintained charge does mean that we tend to view the combination as a singe charge group, just as we view two axes in saltire as a single charge group. However, in both cases, there are two charges, and the letter of the Rule seems clear: no “more than one charge”.
— [Domingo de Valencia, Return Sep 1995 LoAR]
This [Per saltire argent and azure, in pale a hawk displayed and on a roundel sable a hammer and in chief an anvil argent] is being returned for violating our rules on arms of pretense, by having more than one charge on a shape that was used for displaying armory in period. Additionally, this is very bad style, by having two different tertiary charge groups on the same charge.
— [Steinar Vidfamne, Mar 1997 LoAR]
The device [Per saltire sable and gules, on a plate a Celtic cross conjoined to a Thor’s hammer gules] technically violates rule XI.4, Arms of Pretense… The device contains two charges on a roundel.
— [Dougal O’Sirideain, Jul 2000 L0AR]
The device [Gules, on a bezant four roundels two and two gules] is in technical violation of XI.4, Arms of Pretense… As the device contains a roundel charged with more than one charge, it must be returned.
— [Molon Munokhoi Tsagan, Return, Mar 2001 LoAR]
Revised RfS: Only Escutcheons and Cantons
…. the text of rule XI.4 is changed to the following:
XI.4. Arms of Pretense and Augmentations of Honor – Armory that uses charges in such a way as to appear to be arms of pretense or an unearned augmentation of honor is considered presumptuous.
Period and modern heraldic practice asserts a claim to land or property by surmounting an individual’s usual armory with a display of armory associated with that claim. Such arms of pretense are placed on an escutcheon. Similarly, an augmentation of honor often, though not necessarily, takes the form of an independent coat placed on an escutcheon or canton. Generally, therefore, a canton or a single escutcheon may only be used if it is both uncharged and of a single tincture. For example, Argent, a fess gules surmounted by an escutcheon sable charged with a roundel argent has the appearance of being arms of pretense or an augmentation. Or, in saltire five escutcheons sable each charged with three roundels argent does not have this appearance, as it has multiple escutcheons, as so is acceptable. The exception to the restrictions of this rule is when the submitter is entitled to an augmentation as described in RfS VIII.7. Augmentations of Honor.
As per the rules change in the cover letter to the June 2001 LoAR, the fact that the charged shape is not an escutcheon means that this is not an inescutcheon of pretense. … While this armory [purpure, on a lozenge argent a fleur-de-lys gules all within an orle argent] is evocative of the city of Florence, whose arms are Argent, a fleur-de-lys gules, it is acceptable.
— [Alethea of Shrewsbury, Accepted, Aug 2001]
Note that a lozenge charged with a single charge does not violate RfS XI.4, “Arms of Pretense and Augmentations of Honor”. As noted in the August 2001 LoAR, [then quotes Alethea of Shrewsbury, Accepted, Aug 2001] This armory similarly does not appear to display an inescutcheon of pretense of Flanders, Or a lion rampant sable.
— [Gwineth Llynllwyd, Oct 2003 LoAR]
The question was raised as to whether this device [Gules, on a delf argent a raven displayed sable] has the appearance of arms of pretense displaying the arms of Prussia, Argent, an eagle displayed sable crowned Or, a resemblance based on the fact that we do not generally distinguish between types of bird when they are displayed nor do we consider removing the crown to be a significant difference. However, the relevent rule, RfS XI.4, was amended in the June 2001 Cover Letter. Under the amended rule, the appearance of pretense occurs only when the charge bearing the potential arms of pretense is an escutcheon. The purpose of the amendment was to reflect the practice of period (and modern) heraldry: arms of pretense are displayed on an escutcheon even when the underlying coat is displayed as some other shape. A period example of this can be found in Fox-Davies’s The Art of Heraldry, Plate CXXXIII, which shows the arms of Mary of Lorraine, queen of James V of Scotland, displayed on a lozenge and bearing an escutcheon of pretense in the conventional heater shape. The present submission, by using a delf, avoids any appearance of pretense.
— [Gunnar Skullsplitter, Mar 2005 LoAR]
These are not arms of pretense under our current rules; RfS XI.4 limits consideration of arms of pretense to a single escutcheon. Laurel has previously ruled: [quote from Alethea of Shrewsbury, Accepted, Aug 2001] In the same manner, while the design of the lozenge is evocative of the arms of Dorcas Dorcadas, Sable, a three-headed hound rampant, one head reguardant, argent, langued gules, it is acceptable.
— [John Greywolf, July 2006, A-Ansteorra]
This [Argent, on a lozenge quarterly azure and vert, a rose argent] is not arms of pretense, by precedent: [quote from John Greywolf, July 2006, A-Ansteorra] Were the charged lozenge considered to be a display of armory, this would have been returned for conflict … Fortunately, we do not consider it such, and we can register this device.
— [Lilla æt Sceaphylle, Accepted, June 2011]
SENA: Only Escutcheons and Cantons
Claims through Arms of Pretense and Unearned Augmentations: In period and modern heraldry, an individual may assert a claim to land or property by placing the armory associated with that property on an escutcheon in the middle of their existing armory. An augmentation of honor often takes the form of a charged canton; occasionally it takes the form of a charged escutcheon. Therefore, either a canton or a single escutcheon may be used in an armorial submission only if it is uncharged and of a single tincture. Multiple escutcheons do not have to follow this limitation.
— [SENA A.6.C.]