French Heraldry: Marshalling of Arms

Marshalling of arms is not subject to the same rigid rules as in British heraldry. Essentially, families combine arms as they want. There are various reasons for quartering arms:

  • to indicate a claim on a title or territory
  • to indicate inheritance
  • to signal an illustrious ancestry
  • to satisfy a clause of name and arms

As in England, "clauses of name and arms" were fairly common. Typically, a marriage contract or a will required that the heirs to a title change their name and arms, sometimes only quartering their original arms with the inherited arms, more frequently requiring complete replacement of one by the other. The establishment of substitutions also often carried such a clause. An ordinance of 23 March 1553 subjected complete changes of name and arms to royal approval; but the approval was not necessary for quartering and hyphenating.

Examples of "Substitutions de Nom et d'Armes"


Portrait of the cardinal de Richelieu, by Philippe de Champaigne. Note the "cordon bleu" (Order of the Saint-Esprit).

The title of duc de Richelieu was created for Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal de Richelieu. As an ecclesiastic, he obviously could not pass the title to his children. He had two sisters, one was Françoise (d. 1615), married in 1603 to René Vignerot, seigneur de Pont-Courlay (d. 1625), of minor nobility in Poitou. Their only son was François, marquis de Pontcourlay (d. 1646), and their only daughter was Marie-Madeleine (d. 1675). The cardinal arranged for his eldest grand-nephew Armand-Jean Vignerot (1639-1715) to change his name and arms to those of Richelieu and to receive the title of duc-pair de Richelieu (which he did in 1657). The arms of Vignerot were originally d'argent à trois hures de sanglier de sable. Armand-Jean took the arms of Richelieu: d'argent à trois chevrons de gueules "sans meslange d'aulcunes autres" as the letters patent required. His son Louis-François-Armand (1696-1788), maréchal de France, received an augmentation of honor from the city of Genoa in 1748, namely placing his arms in an inescutcheon over the arms of that city (Argent a cross gules). His only son Louis-Antoine-Sophie had only one surviving son Armand-Emmanuel (1766-1822), the founder of Odessa and later Prime Minister of Louis XVIII, duc-pair in 1817. He obtained that the name and arms of Richelieu revert to his nephews Odet and Armand-Henri, sons of his half-sister Simplicie by Antoine-Pierre Chapelle de Jumilhac. So the name of Richelieu was substituted a second time. The line ended with Armand (1875-1952), grandson of Armand-Henri, last duc de Richelieu.

The cardinal also had a niece, Marie-Madeleine Vignerot. She received the title of duc d'Aiguillon, with remainder to her niece Marie-Thérèse Vignerot (1635-1705), who became a nun. She bore: écartelé, au 1 de Vignerot, au 2 de Richelieu, au 3 d'azur à la croix d'or cantonnée de quatre oiseaux d;argent, au 4 d'or au lion de gueules. At her death the title was inherited by her nephew Louis-Armand, marquis de Richelieu (1654-1730). But the inheritance was not formalized until 1730, for his son Armand-Louis (1683-1750), duc d'Aiguillon. The line ended with Armand-Désiré in 1800, thus ending the Vignerots. The ducs d'Aiguillon quartered Vignerot with Richelieu.

The family of Lamoignon was of noblesse de robe and several members had reached the highest judicial offices: Guillaume de Lamoignon (1617-77) was Premier Président du Parlement de Paris in 1658, created marquis de Basville in December 1670. His great-grandson Crétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (1721-94) was one of the defenders of Louis XVI during his trial at the Convention in 1792. The last of the names were Christian-René (1765-1845) peer in 1832, unmarried, and his brother Anne-Christian (1770-1837), vicomte de Lamoignon and peer in 1818. His only child was Marie-Louise-Félicité (1805-60) who married in 1823 Adolphe-Louis-Marie, vicomte de Ségur (1800-76). The vicomte de Ségur's arms were: écartelé 1 et 4, contr'écartelé de gueules au lion d'or et d'argent plein (Ségur), 2 et 3 d'azur à deux fasces d'or accompagnées de cinq coquilles d'argent 2, 2 et 1, celle en pointe soutenue d'un croissant du même (Aguesseau). This quartering resulted from his mother, Marie-Félicité-Henriette d'Aguesseau, being the heiress to another illustrious parliamentary family. A decree of 1828 changed the arms of the vicomte de Ségur by adding overall: losangé d'argent et de sable au franc-canton d'hermine et à un écusson en abîme d'azur à une fleur-de-lys d'or (Lamoignon), and changed his name to Ségur-Lamoignon. (Note the augmentation of honor in the arms of Lamoignon, given at the Restoration to commemorate Malesherbes' courage in defending Louis XVI). As the marriage remained childless, a decree of 1860 allowed a nephew to take the name and arms of Ségur-Lamoignon, namely Adolphe-Louis-Edgard (b. 1825), third son of Henri-Raymond-Eugène de Ségur (1798-1863), comte-pair, and Sophie Rostopschine (the famous comtesse de Ségur).

The Grimaldi family underwent two substitutions of name and arms as well. Louise-Hippolite Grimaldi, heiress of the principality of Monaco (d. 1731) married Jacques-François-Léonor de Goyon de Matignon (arms: d'argent au lion couronné de gueules) with the condition that he adopt the name and arms of Grimaldi "sans y pouvoir rien ajouter ni retrancher". Their son Honoré continued the new Grimaldi line, which ended in 1949. In 1920, the heiress of the name married the comte Pierre de Polignac (arms: fascé d'argent et de gueules de six pièces) under the same condition. Their son Rainier currently reigns over Monaco.

The name of Laval was carried by many families. The original comtes de Laval, all named Guy, ended with Guy V, whose daughter married Harvoise de Craon, and their only daughter married Matthieu II de Montmorency. The latter's son Guy VI continued the line of Montmorency-Laval (arms: d'or à la croix de gueules cantonnée de seize alérions d'azur et chargée de cinq coquilles d'argent). With Anne de Laval, daughter of Guy XII, the baronny passed to her husband Jean de Montfort Gael (arms before then: d'argent à la croix givrée de gueules) in 1413. He took the name of Guy XIII and the arms of Montmorency-Laval, and his son Guy XIV was made count on July 17, 1429, with style of "cousin du Roy". This line ended with Guy XVI (d. 1531), who marrid Charlotte of Aragon, daughter of Frederic, king of Sicily. He bore écartelé au 1 de France, au 2 et 3 de Montmorency-Laval, au 4 de Bourbon-Vendôme. Their younger daughter Anne married François de La Trémoïlle. Their older daughter Catherine took the name of Guyonne XVII and married Claude de Rieux (d'azur à dix besants d'or, 3, 3, et 1). Their eldest daughter Renée or Guyonne XVIII became comtesse de Laval, and was succeeded by her sister Claude, wife of François de Coligny (de gueules à l'aigle d'argent, becquée, membrée et couronnée d'azur; he quartered his arms with Montmorency-Laval). Their son Paul (d. 1586) took the name of Guy XIX, and his son Guy XX (d. 1605) was the last of the line. the county of Laval then passed to Henri de La Trémoïlle (1599-1674), who unfortunately did not continue the charming Guy tradition.

The title of La Vauguyon was owned in the 18th century by a family whose name represented three substitutions. François de Pérusse des Cars, seigneur de La Vauguyon (d. 1550) belonged to a junior branch of this important family (de gueules au pal de vair, à la bordure engrelée d'argent). He married in 1516 Isabelle de Bourbon, dame de Carenci and heiress of this junior branch of the Bourbon-Vendôme (de France au bâton de gueules péri en bande chargé de trois lionceaux d'argent). Their son Jean de Pérusse des Cars (d. 1595) was made comte de La Vauguyon in 1586 and was one of the original members of the Saint-Esprit in 1578. He quartered his paternal and maternal arms. His two sons died before him, and his two daughters were his heiresses. The eldest Diane married Louis de Stuer de Caussade (d. 1634), whose ancestor had taken the name of Caussade by substitution in 1538. Their son Jacques (d. 1671), comte de La Vauguyon, marquis de Saint-Mégrin, baron de Tonneins, knight of the Saint-Esprit in 1661, bore écartelé d'or au sautoir de gueules (Stuer) et d'or à la fasce échiquetée d'argent et d'azur (Stuart). His eldest daughter and heiress was Marie de Stuer de Caussade (d. 1693), who in 1653 married Barthélémy de Quélen (d. 1667) of an old Britton family. By his will of October 1670, Jacques de Stuer de Caussade transmitted his name and arms to his grandson Nicolas (d. 1725), who took the name of Quélen de Stuer de Caussade. Diane later married André de Bethoulat, seigneur de Fromenteau, comte de La Vauguyon jure uxoris (1630-1693), chevalier du Saint-Esprit in 1688, who bore his wife's arms with his own (de sable à un chevron d'argent accompagné de trois chardons d'or) over all. Nicolas de Quélen de Stuer de Caussade had a son Antoine-Paul-Jacques de Quélen de Stuer de Caussade (1706-72), made chevalier du Saint-Esprit in 1753 and duc de La Vauguyon. His arms were écartelé au 1 d'argent au sautoir de gueules (Stuer), parti d'or à quatre bandes de gueules (Caussade); au 2 et 3 de France au bâton de gueules péri en bande chargé de trois lionceaux d'argent (Bourbon-Carency), au 4 de fueules au pal de vair à la bordure engrelée d'argent (des Cars); sur le tout d'argent à trois feuilles de houx de sinople (Quélen). His son Paul-François (1746-1828) used the same arms.

One of the most famous subsitutions was that of Rohan. The Rohan were one of the oldest and proudest families in France, claiming descent from the independent kings of Brittany. Henri, 20th vicomte de Rohan (d. 1638) was the head of his house. His paternal grandmother was Isabelle d'Albret, sister of Henri d'Albret king of Navarre and grandfather of Henri IV. As such, he was the heir presumptive to the throne of Navarre from 1572 to 1606. Henri IV made him duc de Rohan in 1603. He left only a daughter Marguerite (d. 1684). She married on June 6, 1645 Henri Chabot, comte de Saint-Aulaire (d. 1655), of good Poitevin nobility, who was made duc de Rohan in December 1648, with substitution of name and arms. The other branches of the Rohan family (as well as an individual who claimed to be a son of Henri de Rohan) protested and sued. Louis de Rohan-Chabot was maintained in 1704 in his name and arms by decision of the Conseil d'État. Later, the head of another branch of the Rohan family was made duc de Rohan-Rohan (as distinguished from Rohan-Chabot) in 1714. Arms: Rohan, de gueules à neuf mâcles d'or 3, 3 et 3.

The younger branch of the Rohans, the Rohan-Montbazon, distinguished their arms by quartering Rohan with Évreux and Navarre to recall their descent from Jean, vicomte de Rohan and Jeanne de Navarre (d. 1403) daughter of Charles d'Évreux and Jeanne de France. The younger son of this marriage founded the line of Rohan-Montbazon.

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François Velde

Last modified: Apr 03, 2000