The two main devices (symbols) in the Every blazon are the chevronel and unicorn. The three main tinctures (colors) are erminois, gules and azure .
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 4. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 5.
Readers may already be aware of the chevron, the large inverted ‘V’ shape that extends across the whole shield but may be new to its smaller cousin the chevronel. This can equally cover the whole width but is at least half the width of the chevron, if not narrower. 6 There can be multiple chevronels present, normally these are stacked vertically, but there is a very striking variant whereby the chevronels are said to be interlaced, in which case they are side-by-side, overlapping and intertwined, creating a very striking effect 7. In common with its larger relative, Wade associates the chevronel with the idea of “Protection…and a reward to one who has achieved a notable enterprise” 8.
In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? As heraldry developed a whole menagerie of imagined creatures 9 came into being, and their various representations became more or less standardised in form and appearance. The unicorn is an intresting example that is still part of our own mythology today. The unicorn as illustrated on even the most ancient coat of arms is still instantly recognisable to us today, and shares many of the same poses that both lions and horses can be found in. 10. Wade, the 18th century heraldic writer suggested that were adopted as symbols because of “its virtue, courage and strength”. 11