The Law of Arms
In the Principality of the Northern Forests, we have developed Our own traditions and rules of Heraldry which may significantly deviate from the norm in other official Heraldic traditions around the world.
Rule of Tinctures
There are seven main tinctures, five colours and two metals. Colour cannot go over colour nor metal over metal. The only exception for this contrast rule are furs, which are usually composed of metal and colour.
In the Principality, Sable has a special status, between colour and fur, since the name comes from Middle German sabel or zobel, the actual fur of the Martes zibellina. Therefore, as it happens also in some cases in Central European Heraldry traditions, Sable can be found combined with other colours.
Mottos and supporters are rare and reserved for ducal and princely titles unless the Princess grants an exception (which is also rare). Helms and coronets are set and ruled about on “Rank marks” section. Crests can be used but they are not common and usually substituted by feathers with the livery colours of the armiger.
Coat of Arms of Women. Escutcheon shapes.
The College of Arms of the Northern Forests does not differentiate between males or females with the exception of Cadency Marks. Unlike the English tradition of using a lozenge, oval, or diamond shape, all women in the Principality of the Northern Forests are entitled to use all the elements of their male counterparts. Some people may desire the use of a lozenge or other forms and must petition the Prince of Arms of the Northern Forests specifically for this features, which is not in common use in Northern Forest Heraldry. It will be regarded as an aesthetic choice with no symbolic meaning since the blazoned arms are the content of the escutcheon regardless of its shape.
Descent of a Coat of Arms
The descent of arms in the Principality of the Northern Forests is determined by the Law of arms, which allow transmission through both the female and male lines. The arms of a woman or man pass equally to any of their legitimate children following the eldest to youngest. The woman or man may also "designate" an heir to their Coat of Arms potentially skipping the eldest child should they choose to do so. Even if the eldest child inherits the arms, the remaining siblings are allowed either to use cadency marks through heraldic charges placed in chief of the arms or to impale the original arms with a unique design of their own. We also use Dimidiation to achieve as well as Tiercing even though these methods have generally fell out of modern use to a large degree. In any case, the marshalling of arms cannot exceed the four quarters.
The Control of Armorial Achievements
Armorial Bearings in the Principality of the Northern Forests derive from the Crown as the fount of honour (fons honorum). Control is delegated to the Prince of Arms, or senior heralds. They interpret the laws and conventions of arms, and are empowered to grant arms in the name of the Sovereign Princess.
Disputes of Heraldry
The Princess's Court has jurisdiction over cases of misuse of arms.
Rank marks. Timbre.
All the elements placed above the arms can be known as timbre from French. This timbre includes helmets, crowns or coronets, torses and crests. Helmets, crowns and coronets are used to denote a certain rank or title among nobility, dames and knights. For unranked subjetcs there's a wide range of designs, but normally a closed helmet (tilted, bucket, jousting...) is used, facing dexter or halfway dexter with a torse and a possible crest or the generic feathers with livery colours, widely used in the Principality. For the following ranks, there are some rules and set characteristics for helmets and coronets. If a crown denotes personal rank, it should be used, preferably, over the shield. If the armiger wants to use a helmet, then the rank coronet will be placed directly over the helmet, and then the crest if applicable. There are only two cases where a crown or coronet can be found over a torse:
– It is not a rank coronet, but a crown as an object, part of the crest. In this case the armiger shall use the so called 'ancient crown', which is a standard heraldry charge that can be found inside the arms too and shows just three trilobulated forms, two of them shown from the profile. Other non-ranked coronets are the civic and loyalist ones used in some countries, considered inadvisable to avoid confusion with actual coronets.
– It is a rank coronet (a Count crown, a Duchess crown) that shows not the personal rank but one's lineage higher rank. E.g.: the son of a Duchess who is a Baron would use a Baronial crown directly over the arms or over a helmet without a torse. If he wants to show his family's ducal title, he shall use his personal baronial coronet over his arms, and then above a baronial helmet, a torse and the ducal coronet with a crest if applicable. This rank demonstration is a contemplated within Heraldry but exceptional and uncommon in the Principality. For the rest of the cases, the arms will have a timbre composed of the content of this chart (rank helmet and rank coronet) upon which feathers or another type of crests can be used.
For the rest of the cases, the arms will have a timbre composed of the content of this chart (rank helmet and rank coronet) upon which feathers or another type of crests can be used.