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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(co. Kent). Azure three plates in fess between as many crosses crosslet argent.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Maye Coat of Arms and Family Crest

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Maye Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Maye blazon are the plate and cross crosslet. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and argent.

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 1. 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” 2.

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) 3. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4.

For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 5 One of the simplest such shapes is the plain circle, known to heralds as the roundle. 6 So popular is this charge that a shorthand has arisen for roundles of a particular colour and plate is a roundle argent, or white. Most authorities agree that the English usage signifies the “Manchet cake” or communion wafer and thus is a symbol of religious allegiance.

No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 7. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross. The cross crosslet is one of these, being symetrical both vertically and horizontally and having an additional cross bar on each arm. 8 Wade suggests that these additional crossing signify “the fourfold mystery of the Cross”. 9

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References

  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 5 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146
  • 6 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Roundle
  • 7 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47
  • 8 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Cross Crosslet
  • 9 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P103