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Bill Thayer

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Bill Thayer's arms: a red cross on a blue field

Azure a cross patty gules.

It is typical of me that my arms should break one of the most basic rules of heraldry: that metal should not be on metal, fur on fur, nor — as in this case — color on color. In French heraldry, such an infringement of the rules is blazoned à enquerre , meaning "to be inquired about".

Enquire here, I'm afraid, and you will merely find cussedness: I was aware of the rules when as a teenager I drew these arms, and I still want them this way. There is, mind you, this advantage: arms that break the rules are not likely to be shared with anyone else; always a consideration in view of the basic purpose of heraldry: to be distinguishable from others.

Of lesser controversy: the branches of a cross patty (or pattée) are usually emblazoned flared following a curve, although this is not a firm rule. Like this:

a flared red cross on a blue field

A stone capital bearing a carved cross pattée. It is in the church of S. Brizio, near Spoleto in Umbria (central Italy). On the other hand . . . not always. And then I like to think that this capital (in the crypt of the magnificent high Romanesque church of S. Brizio near Spoleto in Umbria) had a blue background, of course.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20