The three main devices (symbols) in the Manlove blazon are the anchor, chevron and flaming sword. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, or and ermine .
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”1. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 2. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.3.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
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 7 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 8. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.9. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
A wide variety of inanimate objects 10 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. 11.
The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield 12, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.13. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 14, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms 15. Indeed, the sheer variety of different swords 16 can be bewildering and expaining the difference between a scimitar and a falchion is perhaps best left to the expert! Sometimes the sword is described as flaming for added visual effect.