The eagle was considered to be the king of birds (rex avium) by medieval authors such as Vincent de Beauvais. In pre-Christian times it was associated with majesty, victory and courage, while later in the Middle Ages it became a symbol of desire for knowledge, generosity, hope and sublime clarity.
This term refers to the heraldic depiction of a helmet, either as a charge or as a distinct element placed upon a chief (the upper part of the shield). The helmet's edges are emphasized, suggesting the bearer's nobility, but also wisdom and protection.
When a line is termed `embattled', it depicts a castle's battlements: the characteristic square-shaped waves which are found in such heraldic representations as the tower with turrets.
An `engrailed' line is drawn by using a series of semicircular arcs which form points or peaks with curved edges. These points face towards the exterior of the shield.
This term refers to those charges which are only partially depicted on a shield - for instance a boar's or a wolf's head - and have a jagged edge where they have been separated from their body. This manner of depicting an animal part signifies warrior spirit, strength and military victory.
When an animal is described as `erased affronté', it is facing towards a shield's viewer. In addition to the symbolic meanings attached to the `erased' attitude, it also stands for watchfulness.
The term `ermine' refers to one of the furs employed in heraldry, and is derived from the small, weasel-like creature with precious fur. The ermine stands for dignity, sovereignty and majesty.
A variant of the ermine fur, the ermines (or counter ermine) is similarly shaped, but is depicted in a reversed manner on the shield itself: the spots are argent on a sable field, whereas in the case of ermine, they are sable on a field argent.
Another instance which is similar to ermine or ermine is that of erminois, which occurs less frequently in heraldry. In the case of erminois, the ermine spots are sable and depicted on a field or.
Frequently appearing as an inanimate heraldic charge, the escallop shell initially served as an emblem for pilgrims. From this early usage derived its later employment in heraldry, as a sign of long voyages to distant lands. It symbolized piety, victory and warrior spirit.
The escutcheon appears frequently in heraldry, and takes the shape of smaller shield used as a charge. It can also be represented multiple times within the same field.