The College of Arms

Achievements in the Adrian Empire

originally written by Sir Nigel Seymor of Huntingdon

In Adria, there are no laws restricting armorial achievements. There are also no traditions. This paper is an attempt to lay out a framework for building those traditions based on Period practices and existing Adrian traditions.

Creating achievements appropriate to the Adrian environment required several challenges, including dealing with varied cultures from the beginnings of Heraldry through its Golden Age, to the beginnings of its decline.

Adrian culture and law also had to be taken into effect. Knights Combattant demand special distinction. Knights Archer did not even exist until just recently. Archduchies and Viscounts have also only been in existence a short while. People may have any combination of four disciplines of Knighthood in three levels, as well as any number of honours and awards bestowed by Crown and Parliament.

This article is intended only as a guide to creating achievements within our Adrian context. It is not law, nor is it official policy of the College of Arms. Consider this a guide for artistic expression, nothing more.

So what is an Achievement?

An achievement is the heraldic "frou-frou" that surrounds a shield. Generally, the more stuff you have around your shield, the more important you are. This is an example of an Achievement:

This is the achievement of the British College of Arms. The shield is blue, the helm is grey, the mantling is light green, the coronet is yellow, the crest is pink, the supporters are red, the motto scroll is cyan, and the compartment is dark green.

One of the reasons behind achievements is that they make it very easy to determine the bearer's rank at a glance (if you know the intricate details of the system). Great Britain's system is particularly complex, including such subtleties as position of the helm, color and type of ornamentation on the helm, fine details of coronets, and positions of supporters.

Fortunately, Adria doesn't need to get quite so picky.

First, we will deal with the subject of armorial coronets before we get into the larger subject of achievements.

Armorial Coronets of the Adrian Empire


There are two types of crowns and coronets: the first kind are the actual pieces of jewelry worn by the Nobility, and the second are the stylized forms found only in heraldry. This article is concerned with the latter.

Armorial coronets (also known as "coronets of rank") are those found as part of an achievement, the heraldic "frou frou" that goes around the basic shield. The College of Arms only registers the design of the shield, it leaves the exact details of the rest of the achievement to the end user. Coronets are used to show the rank of the bearer, and do not represent the actual coronets worn in real life. In fact, the College discourages modelling actual coronets after their armorial counterparts, preferring to allow for great personal variety them.

By definition, armorial coronets are strictly regulated in design. Adria does not regulate the shape, composition, number, or style of points of coronets, real or armorial. Control over armorial coronets dates to the 14th Century, when artisans first began standardizing the way they were depicted, and was formalized in the late 16th Century, first in England, then later on the Continent. Even then, it was never slavishly adhered to.

When designing the armorial coronets for the Empire, relying on the usual British model that is most easily accessable to the modern American reader was not considered sufficient. Since Adria is a multi-cultural group, cultures from across Europe had to be looked at before coming up with a sufficiently unique set of guidelines that emulated Period practice.

Adria's main basis is mid-Period France, and so that is our primary guideline. France made the fleur-de-lis the basis of its style, and it likewise forms the basis of ours. When it came to the system of depiction, Spanish precedent was chosen for its logical, step-by-step process.

There are also existing Adrian laws, rules, and traditions to take into account. One very strict guideline involves the fleur-de-lis. Tradition makes it clear that the gold fleur-de-lis is the symbol of the Empire, and so cannot be borne by anyone who is not a representative of the Imperial or Royal Crowns. In addition to the Empire, Kingdoms, Duchies, and Shires may also use this charge, as well as Princes, Counts Royal, and Founding Viscounts. Therefore, the gold fleur-de-lis is limited to those ranks. Similarly, the silver fleur-de-lis is limited to the Church of Adria, so it cannot be borne by any temporal title.

Arches over a crown have signified sovereignity since Henry II of England put arches on his. The Empire, of course, is sovereign, but what about Kingdoms and, to a lesser extent, Duchies and Archduchies? British and German heraldry offer suggestions for this situation: the more arches, the more sovereignity.

Therefore, the following guidelines were drawn up in preparation for creating the Adrian armorial coronets:

  1. The following points should be permitted, in descending order of precedence:
    1. Fleurs-de-lis
    2. Strawberry leaves, trefoils, or crosses (formy, couped, or bottony)
    3. Pearls
    4. Plain points
  2. Fleurs-de-lis should be permitted for titles directly linked to the Imperial Crown:
    1. The Imperium
    2. Order of the Fleur-de-Lis (member of the Imperial family)
    3. Kingdom (geographic chartered subdivision)
    4. Prince (member of the Imperial or royal families)
    5. Archduchy (geographic chartered subdivision)
    6. Duchy (geographic chartered subdivision)
    7. Count Royal (retired kingdom Crown, member of the royal family)
    8. Founding viscount
    9. Shire (geographic chartered subdivision)
  3. Arches should be permitted for entities with sovereignity, however limited. Arches are limited to the following coronets:
    1. Imperial (4)
    2. Royal (2)
    3. Archducal (1)
    4. Ducal (1)
    5. Note: Shires, while they are Geographic Chartered Subdivisions, have no sovereignity of their own, and are therefore not entitled to any arches.
  4. Ornamentation on the circlet should be permitted in the following categories:
    1. Jewelled (Estate Imperial or Royal with high level of sovereignity)
      • Imperial
      • Royal
      • Archducal
    2. Chased as if jewelled (Estate Royal or Major with limited or no sovereignity)
      • Principal
      • Ducal
      • Royal Comital
      • Marquesal
      • Founding Viscomital
    3. Plain (Estate Minor or no Estate)
      • Viceroyal
      • Comital
      • Viscomital
      • Baronial (Temporal)
      • Baronial (Court)
      • Domal
      • Noble


In listing the specifics of crowns, bear in mind that only half of the crown is visible in an achievement. A coronet of four fleurs-de-lis and four strawberry leaves alternating would have a single fleur-de-lis in the center flanked by two strawberry leaves, with two half-fleurs on the side.

The "highest ranking" point is always in the front center. In order, they are the fleur-de-lis, strawberry leaf or cross, and pearl. A coronet of four strawberry leaves and four pearls would be positioned to have a strawberry leaf at front center. A coronet of four pearls would have a pearl at front center.

In each case, the rim of the coronet is set with points, where the ornamentation is attached. Alternately, there may be no points at all, and the ornaments may be attached directly to the circlet. "Jewelled" means that the circlet has colored gemstones on it. These gemstones may be any color, according to the Artist, Designer, or Bearer. Subdivisions may choose to have the gemstones colored the same as the main tinctures in the shield. "Chased as if jewelled" means that the circlet is drawn to appear to have gemstones, but they are left the same color as the coronet's metal.

The "mural" coronet was chosen for Houses because the House is the basic building block of the Estates, the foundation upon which the entire system of Estates rests. Mural coronets are always depicted as the color of grey stone.

Coronets may be either silver or gold. Fleurs-de-lis are always gold and pearls are always silver or white, no matter what the color of the coronet. It is acceptable for a gold coronet to be accented with silver, and it is acceptable for a silver coronet to be accented with gold.

Artistic variation is acceptable: strawberry leaves may be replaced with any of the following crosses: formy, couped, or bottony. A coronet may not combine strawberry leaves and crosses, and only one type of cross may be used on a single coronet. Crosses, while prevalent in British armorial coronets, are not an official category unto themselves for two reasons: First, the obvious connection with religion which Adrian Law discourages, and Second and perhaps more important, because their use is relatively rare outside of the British Isles.

Coronets may also alternate the heights of points, according to taste.

Caps of maintenance may also be displayed with all coronets except Domal, at the pleasure of the Bearer. Caps of maintenance may be turned up ermine or erminois, at the preference of the bearer, although ermine is the preferred tincture. It is incorrect to show a cap of maintenance inside a coronet without showing a turned-up rim of ermine at its base. For those coronets without arches, a tassel of the same metal as the coronet should be shown at the top of the cap. It is incorrect to show a Domal coronet with a cap of maintenance.

Caps of maintenance for Estates (Domain, Barony, County, Shire, March, Duchy, Archduchy, Kingdom, Empire) are purple. Caps of maintenance for individuals so entitled (Lord, Court Baron, Viscount, Founding Viscount, Count Royal, Prince, and Protector of the Dream) may be of the following colours:

  • If the Bearer is not a member of the Chivalry, the cap is white.
  • If the Bearer is a Knight in the Combat Roll, the cap is black.
  • If the Bearer is a Knight in the Arts Roll, the cap is blue.
  • If the Bearer is a Knight in the Ministry Roll, the cap is red.
  • If the Bearer is a Knight in the Archery Roll, the cap is green.
No cap may be comprised of more than one colour; bearers should generally choose either the oldest of their Knightly ranks, or else the highest-ranking one.

Arches may take many forms; British style generally shows the arches flattened at the top, while German and Italian styles have the arches bow out significantly from the edge of the coronet. Arches may be jewelled, chased, encrusted with pearls, or left plain. A Ducal coronet should have its arches chased as if jewelled or pearled, in keeping with the design of the rest of the coronet.

The illustrations on the next page are only guidelines to show the basic layout; they need not be slavishly adhered to.

Kings of Arms

In our Period, Kings of Arms had their own special coronets, separate and distinct from those of the temporal nobility. Therefore, the coronet acceptable for armorial display on the official arms of Kings and Queens of Arms of the Adrian Empire was designed to be of four crosses fleury. This is not intended to be displayed on the personal armory of Kings and Queens of Arms, rather, it is intended for the arms of their positions. These coronets should never be displayed with caps of maintenance.


The coronet of rank may simply be placed on top of the shield with or without the rest of the entitled achievement. This is called a "simple" achievement.

If there are no arches or cap of maintenance, the coronet may be placed on top of the shield with the crest or helm issuing out of it.

If there are arches, a cap of maintenance, or both, the coronet may be placed on top of the shield with no crest, helm, or mantling, or on the top of the helm in place of a crest, or with the crest on top of the coronet.

The coronet may be added to any supporters to which the Bearer may be entitled, either on the head (crowned) or around the throat (gorged).

If the Bearer is a Royal or Imperial Peer or an Estate, the appropriate coronet may be included in the design of any armory. A generic crown (known in heraldry as a "ducal" coronet even though it has no relation to the rank of Duke) may also be used in place of a specific crown; no heraldic difference is counted between crowns of whatever type.

More than one type of coronet may be displayed in any one achievement. For instance, a Viscount who is also a Court Baron may display both the Viscomital and Baronial coronets in his achievement. Likewise, a Princess who is also a Countess Royal may display both the Principal and Comital coronets. The Bearer may choose to display any coronet he is entitled to, but would be most correct in displaying only the highest coronet to which he is entitled.

The Holders of internal subdivision Estates ordinarily should display only the arms of the Estate they hold. For those occasions where display of personal arms is warranted, the Estate Holder may augment his achievement with the coronet of rank appropriate to the Estate he holds. A Court Baron who is also head of a County may choose to display a comital coronet instead of the baronetal to which he would otherwise be entitled. Of course, such display ceases when the Estate is no longer held by that individual. CAVEAT: It is incorrect for the Crown of a Geographic Chartered Subdivision to display on their personal achievement the armorial coronet for the subdivision over which they reign.


As with armorial coronets, certain Adrian laws and customs placed strictures on Period practice. The goal was to design achievements appropriate to our re-creation while keeping to overall good Period practice as much as possible.

It was obvious that Knightly rank warranted a Blue Belt, and a Vote in Parliament warranted a Chain of State, since these are already part of existing Adrian law. Denoting the various levels and disciplines of Knighthood was the biggest challenge, as well as creating armorial coronets appropriate to Adria's unique titular structure.

The following rules have been developed:

  1. Mantling may be of any 1 colour and 1 metal, and should have the colour on the outside.
  2. Pavilions have the specified colour on the outside, and any 1 metal on the inside, at the preference of the Bearer. Where more than one pavilion is permitted to the Bearer, only one pavilion is used and shall be be divided between the colours, with actual configuration left to the preference of the Bearer. Artistically, a pavilion is differenced from a mantle (as opposed to Mantling) by the addition of a cap, but there is no heraldic distinction so the actual design is left to the preference of the Bearer.
  3. Ermine and Erminois are preferred for doubling the mantlings and pavilions of Knights Third Level and Imperial Peers, but anyone entitled to mantling or pavilion may use them. Non-standard Ermine variants, such as argent ermined gules, are permitted.
  4. No more than one crest and helm should be borne at one time, unless one is designing the achievement in the Late Period German style, which often incorporates several helms and crests as a show of heredity. No more than 2 supporters should be borne at one time.
  5. Combinations are acceptable:
    • A Viscount who is a Third Level Knight Combattant may bear his escutcheon encircled by a blue belt and black-and-gold chain, ensigned by a coronet, helm, torse, crest, and mantling, and supporters.
    • A First Level Knight Minister who is a Lady may bear her escutcheon encircled by a blue belt and ensigned by a coronet.
    • A Second Level Knight Artisan who is also a Second Level Knight Archer and a Baronet may bear his escutcheon encircled by a blue belt and black chain ensigned of a coronet, the whole within a blue and green pavilion.
  6. At the discretion of the Bearer, not all allowed elements of an achievement may be used; a person who is both a Knight Combattant and Knight Minister may choose to use either a pavilion or a helm, or may use both.
  7. Only the arms of Knights may be encircled by belts; persons who are not members of the Chivalry who by custom wear belts of varying colours may not encircle their arms with them, no matter what their station.
  8. Orders or Awards of which the Bearer is a member may be hung from the shield on ribbons or otherwise added to the achievement according to Period models.
  9. Supporters are left to the preference of the Bearer. If the Bearer is a retired Crown, one or both of the supporters may be taken from the arms or badge of the region ruled over.
  10. Anyone who is entitled to display an achievement may display a motto of their choosing on a scroll either above or below the achievement. This motto will not be registered by the College of Arms, even though such mottoes have been registered in the past. This is because mottoes were often shared between members of a family or even a political group, and sometimes changed within a person's lifetime. No more than two mottoes should be displayed. The scroll upon which a motto is displayed may take the place of or be in addition to the compartment upon which the supporters stand.

Special Circumstances

There are certain cases which require special treatment.

One such special case is that of Dame Pheonia mac Bellsche. This gentle Lady founded a corporation that she made available to members of Adria during a particularly troublesome time in our History. Since she is the Foundress of this corporation, and for her exceptional service to the Empire by creating it for our use (even though we ended up not needing it), she was granted the title of Viscountess in our Empire. This title ranks in precedence immediately behind all Founding Viscounts, but it does not carry an Estate Vote. Since she is a non-Voting Viscountess with special precedence, Dame Pheonia may display the achievement of a Founding Viscountess with its accompanying Founding Viscomital coronet, save that she may not display a Chain of State unless she is otherwise entitled to one.

Continue to page 2, Illustrations 

Copyright ©2001-2023
The Adrian Empire, Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

All other product names are trademarks of their respective owners.