coat of arms, crest, crests, family, family crest, french, genealogical, genealogy, geneology, german, heraldry, history, irish, italian, scottish, spanish -

Heraldic Quartering. Combining Coats of Arms

Quartering in heraldry is a method of joining several different coats of arms together in one shield. The process involves dividing the shield into equal parts and placing different coats of arms in each division1. Here are some key points about quartering:

  1. Basic Concept:

    • Quartering allows individuals to display multiple coats of arms on a single shield.
    • Traditionally, a quartering consists of dividing the shield into four equal parts (two above and two below), known as “party per cross.” Alternatively, the division can occur along both diagonals, creating four parts at the top, bottom, left, and right (referred to as “party per saltire”).
    • There is no strict limit on the number of divisions allowed, although most quarterings involve four sections.
  2. Examples:

    • The Sovereign Arms of the United Kingdom (used outside Scotland) is an example of party per cross. It displays the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the coat for England repeated at the end.
    • The arms of the medieval Kingdom of Sicily use party per saltire. The top and bottom sections feature the coat of the Crown of Aragon, while the left and right sections display the coat of the Sicily branch of the Hohenstaufen dynasty during their reign as Holy Roman Emperors.
    • Some shields have an extensive number of quarterings. For instance, the Lloyd of Stockton family coat of arms includes 323 quarterings, including attributed arms assigned to Welsh chieftains from the 9th century or earlier.
    • The Powys-Lybbe family coat of arms boasts an impressive 64 quarterings.
  3. Rules and Exceptions:

    • In English heraldry, strict rules apply to what arms may be displayed by way of quarterings and the order in which they appear.
    • Men and women are entitled to display the arms of their paternal line. However, they are usually not allowed to quarter the arms of families from whom there is descent only through a female line (e.g., the arms of a mother or grandmother).
    • An exception is made if the female who breaks the male line of descent is a heraldic heiress—a woman with no brothers or whose brothers have died without issue.

In summary, heraldic quartering allows individuals to honor their ancestral lineage by combining multiple coats of arms into a single shield.