Marks of Cadency for a Coat of Arms

First through the Sixth



Just as the original intent of a Coat of Arms was to distinguish one knight from another (since they were in armor with a helm protecting and also hiding their features), it was also necessary to provide distinctive bearings for different members of a family all entitled to bear the paternal arms. This gave rise to the use of Marks of Cadency, or differences (called by the French brisure).


The eldest son (during the lifetime of his father) bears a label of three points; the second son, a crescent; the third, a mullet; the fourth, a martlet; the fifth, an annulet; and the sixth, a fleur-de-lis. Some historical documentation carries that out to the tenth, with the seventh bearing a rose, the eigth a cross moline, the ninth an anchor, and the tenth a double quatrefoil.


The graphics below show each of the Marks of Cadency, along with examples of how an original Coat of Arms might look with the different Marks applied.


marks of cadency


original coat of arms
Original Coat of Arms
first son cadence
First Son
second son cadence
Second Son
third son cadence
Third Son
fourth son cadence
Fourth Son
fifth son cadence
Fifth Son
sixth son cadence
Sixth Son