Armorial bearings were at first a simple way of identifying individuals on the field or at the tourney. Part of the knight’s armour was a shield, on which was depicted a distinguishing pattern. This pattern, which remained the same, was the personal property of its owner and passed on to his descendants. The science of heraldry dates from the second half of the twelfth century. Rules, were framed for the ordering, regulation and composition of armorial bearings.
The heraldic shields shown are: (top) the baton sinister, a symbol denoting illegitimacy; (center) the fess, which occupies the center third of the shield: (bottom) the saltire, usually called a St Andrew’s cross.