The four main devices (symbols) in the Fulcher blazon are the lion, bend, anchor and plate. The three main tinctures (colors) are argent, gules and ermine .
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 1. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”3. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 4. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).5
Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century 6 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 7. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.8. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 9 10 11. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 12 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 13, a sentiment echoed equally today.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 14. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 15. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 16.
A wide variety of inanimate objects 17 appear in coats of arms, so of them still recognisable today, others now rather obscure. The images used are often simplified and stylised, the anchor is a typical case. For any meaning, we need look no further than a nautical or sea-faring heritage. Indeed, some arms go into great detail of the colours and arrangement of the stock, stem, cables and flutes of the anchor reflecting a detailed knowledge of the form and use of this device. 18.