Abatement (heraldry)

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Abatement of coat of arms of younger line de Pardiac

An abatement, in heraldry, is a modification of the shield or coat of arms that supposedly can be imposed by authority (in England supposedly by the Court of Chivalry) for misconduct. Each abatement is supposed to be a specific charge in a specific "staynand colour" or stain (tenné, sanguine or murrey) for a specific offence; the charges if themselves charged or of a regular colour, metal or fur (or, in some cases, if the charge in question appeared as multiples, not as a single charge of the kind) were not supposed to symbolise anything dishonourable. Thus, it is probable that the system of abatements never had much if any basis in fact and was simply a theoretical exercise created by heralds. The sole exception to the rarity of abatements is the reversal of the entire shield as a punishment for treason, as the shield was briefly so displayed in England at the time of the execution of the convicted traitor, the arms ceasing to exist after this.[clarification needed]


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