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  Home >> Heraldry >> Supporters

Composition Tinctures Charges Blazon Beasts of Charge Heraldic Beasts Design Structure Interpretation Crests Supporters

Other external ornaments include the "supporters". They first appeared on seals in the course of the 14th century and are made up of animal or human figures what appear to be holding up the shield. They have been used more widely in modern times but remain ornamental, even though some families have always tried to use the same supporters.

Conversely, the collars of orders of chivalry and the insignia of office and rank (Episcopal cross, crosier, sword belonging to a constable) are personal and significant. They help identify an individual when the armorial shield itself only indicates the family a and they can often provide a certain amount of data on the life or career of that individual.

The many coronets that surmounted shields from the 17th century are, on the whole, decorative. There are five coronets of rank that may surmount the arms of English peers. 

Finally, from the end of the Middle Ages, a motto, in the modern sense of the term, would sometimes be added to the shield. It could be a single word, derived from the war cries of feudal times, or an entire phrase. The mottoes were generally inscribed on a scroll or ribbon. Some are individual, some belong to a family or community. The same individual or family could have several mottoes, while the same motto could be common to several families, communities or unrelated individuals.

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Rampart of black and yellow shields