The four main devices (symbols) in the Hudson blazon are the per chevron embattled, escallop, martlet and boar’s head. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, argent and azure .
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P52. 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).3A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P154
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) 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.
To add variety and interest to the arms, heraldic artists began to divide the background of the shield into two parts, giving each a different colour. They were named for the ordinary that they most resembled, so the division of the shield by an inverted ‘V’ shape, similar to the ordinary known as the chevron came to be called per chevron 8Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P63. Visually rather striking, it became popular and artists added decorative effects to the partition line to distinguish otherwise very similar coats of arms. 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Party. An edge which is decorated like the top of a castle wall is said to be embattled, or sometimes crenelle, from the original French. (In castle building terminology the parts of the wall that stick up are known as merlons, and the resulting gaps as crenels). A whole sub-section of heraldic terminology has sprung up to describe whether these crennellations appear on which edges, whether they line up or alternate, have additional steps or rounded tops. The interested reader is directed to the reference for the full set! 10A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Embattled For obvious reasons, use of this decoration is to be associated with castles and fortified towns, an early authority, Guillim suggest also some association with fire, but with out clear reason 11The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P41. In all, this is one of the more common, and most effective and appropriate of the decorative edges.
The escallopoccurs often in arms, represented as the outside of the shell, sometimes “fluted” of a different colour 12A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Escallop. It has been part of heraldic tradition almost from the beginning of the art, Henry III of England awarded Gules, 3 escallopes argent to Herbert de CHAMBERLEYNE in the 13th century, and it is present in the heraldry of almost all countries 13A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P299. It is believed that they were adopted as badges of those going to the Holy Land and can be found in the arms of many a crusading family. Hence Wade’s suggested association of the scallop with those that “complete long journeys to far countries” 14The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P91.
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. 15A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Martlet. 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” 16The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P79. 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.