Creating a Coat of Arms for Your Story | Part Two


Part One

Today we’re picking up from Monday’s post about achievements. (Link above.) Once you have finished choosing the elements for your shield, the next step is:

The Compartment

This goes below the shield and provides a base for the supporters and the motto. A mount of grass is commonly seen, or branches. The coat of arms of France uses a compartment of clouds. Water could be used, if fitting.

The Order

An order would be a knighthood or baronetcy, i.e. The Order of the Bath, The Order of the British Empire, etc. Each order has a special medal known as a star. The star of the order, if your character belongs to one, is placed at the bottom point of the shield in the center of the compartment above the motto.

The Motto

The motto is printed in caps on a ribbon across the compartment. You can go simple for the ribbon, or very elegant. Mottoes are commonly written in Latin or French. The motto of the Earls of Hathaway is’ DEUS DIVES FACIT ‘ loosely translated from Latin is ‘God makes rich’, a play on the motto on Arizona’s state seal ‘God endows’.

The Mantle

A mantle in its original sense was a cloak. The mantle on the achievement of a cleric would be recognizable, as ministers were considered men of peace. But for a nobleman, or one who had made his name great by warfare and military brilliance, the mantle was torn and shredded elaborately to symbolize battles he had fought. (I personally think it looks like the decal on a Hot Wheels.) The mantle is two colors: one of the two metallic tinctures, argent or or (gold), and one of the other colors.

The Supporters

These flank the shield, depicted as supporting it. The choice is most commonly animals: lions, dragons, unicorns, or birds. Angels or people are also featured, as can be trees or other inanimate objects. I chose dragons for the arms of Hathaway because they represent the guardians of treasure. They are also symbolic of bravery; they are considered the bravest of all creatures. (They’re fun too, even though they’re a bit creepy to draw. 😛 )


The Coronet

Shows the rank of the person who has the achievement. The image (via Wikipedia) shows the detail of the coronet for each rank.


The Helm 

The custom is: a helmet with bars for nobility, a helmet without bars and facing forward for a baronet or knight. Gold with gold bars for royalty, silver with gold bars for nobility, steel for a baronet or knight. This goes behind, rising above the coronet, and is topped by:

The Torse

A band of two colors wound together, like the cord that holds the headdress of a middle eastern man in place on his head. This is to secure:

The Crest

From what I understand, usually the head of a creature. I couldn’t make out that it’s much else.

Earldom Hathaway achivement
The finished achievement.

I hope this is of help or interest to all the writers out there who are looking for some way to enhance their story, or merely kill time during a phase of uninspired-ness. 🙂 Almost all of the info on here is from Wikipedia (The source of all knowledge), and what I have complied here is the barest bones. There are manifold details that I did not include and dozens of other websites where you can learn more. If you’re lacking inspiration or feeling indecisive, then I suggest a look at some of the hundreds of real achievements from the past. There’s plenty of possibilities.

I see Coats of Arms primarily used today as décor. I follow numerous artists and creatives and while writing this article series I came across more than one example.

by Ashley Bush
by English Tea Paperie

The second is much more traditional, but I love the first. And yes, it is written with gold ink. I desperately need to get my hands on some of that.

What about you? Does your story have an achievement? What does it look like?


2 thoughts on “Creating a Coat of Arms for Your Story | Part Two

  1. That is a beautiful drawing. Good job.

    I don’t think I’ve ever added an achievement for one of my fantasy novels. Come to think of it, I did design a sword for one of my WIPs. Can’t say that’s *technically* an achievement!


  2. Thanks, Ashton! I didn’t really think it would show when I traced it (I use tracing paper way too much; it’s a lifesaver.) but the mantle is ever so slightly crooked. Haha! I guess it has character. You definitely should create one! The individual elements sometimes stand on their own, like the shield or the crest, so you could just do that instead. That is, if you don’t care to spend countless hours deliberating over which designs to choose, etc., etc.. 😉


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