The two main devices (symbols) in the Hansard blazon are the martlet and mullet. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. 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).3
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) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 6. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 7. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.
The heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” 8. A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires 9. In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” 10.