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Dictionary of Vexillology: Q (Quadrant - Quinterfoil)

Last modified: 2022-10-01 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) The term for a quarter of a circular or near-circular seal or emblem (see also ‘seal’ and ‘emblem, state, national or royal’ under ‘emblem’ ).
2) A term also (mistakenly) used to cover an area equal to one quarter of a flag’s surface – but see ‘canton 3)’.
3) See ‘quarter 2)’.

[Quadrant] [Quadrant]
Former flag of the Smithsonian, US (fotw); Flag of Glendale, US (fotw)

In current usage, a plain yellow flag (‘Q’ Quebec in the International Code of Signal Flags) that is flown by a vessel arriving in port stating that it is healthy and requires medical clearance or free pratique – a pratique flag but see note below (also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’ and ‘visiting flag’).

[Quebec signal flag]
Signal Flag Quebec (fotw)

Please note, it has been suggested that this flag (but flown to indicate the presence on board of infections/disease) has its origins in the late medieval period, however, in British usage it was established with its present meaning (by Act of Parliament) in 1825.

1) A heraldic term for a rectangular panel occupying the upper dexter quarter of a shield or banner of arms (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘dexter’, and ‘canton 4)’).
2) A heraldic term for one of the rectangles formed on a shield or banner of arms by the process of quartering – see 'quartering’ and ‘canton 3)’ (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘grand quarter’, 'quartered 1)', ‘quarterly’ and ‘shield 1)’).
3) See ‘quarter the arms’.

[quartered arms] [quartered arms] [quartered arms]
Arms of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia (fotw); Arms of Brodnica, Poland (fotw); Arms of the 16th Earl of Derby, UK (Wikipedia)

Please note with regard to 2) that the main quarters of a shield are described in canton 3) as referenced above, and are (from the point of view of the observer) 1 the upper left, 2 the upper right, 3 the lower left and 4 the lower right

See ‘ensign staff’.

[quarterdeck staff]

Please note that this is a comparatively modern term, since the “quarterdeck” was not the aftmost deck of many sailing warships, and therefore, not the deck upon which an ensign staff was mounted.

1) In strict (English) heraldic usage the term for where a shield or banner of arms is divided into four or more quarters but which are taken from two or more previously unconnected sets of arms is in, for example, the royal standard of England 1340 – 1605 or France and England quartered - but compare with ‘quarter the arms’ (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘quarter’, ‘quartering’, ‘quarterly’ and ‘shield 1)’)
2) See ‘quarterly’.

[quartered example]  [quartered example]  [quartered example]
Royal Standard of England c1399 – 1603) (fotw); Standard of HM Queen Alexandra 1844 – 1925, UK (fotw); Standard HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother 1900-2002, UK (fotw)

1) In vexillology, a phrase that may be used in place of the heraldic term per saltire.
2) In heraldry see ‘per saltire 1)’.

[quartered diagonally example] [quartered diagonally example] [quartered diagonally example]
Jack of the Federated Malay States, 1939 (fotw); Flag of Forquetinha, Brazil (fotw); Flag of Ducherow, Germany (fotw)

A term that may be used when the canton of a flag is of a different design or colour from its field, and which occupies exactly one-quarter of that field (see also ‘canton 2)’).

Samoa Taiwan Guernsey civil ensign
National Flag of Samoa (fotw); National Flag of Taiwan (fotw); Civil Ensign of Guernsey (fotw)

Please note that this term has been introduced by the Editors as no established existing term could be found.

1) A heraldic term for the the marshalling (or placing) of two or more coats of arms on a shield or banner of arms in order to form a single escutcheon with four or more divisions, usually by drawing horizontal and vertical lines across it - but see ‘point-in-point’, ‘impale’, ‘inescutcheon’, (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘marshalling’, ‘quarter’, 'quartered 1)', ‘quarterly’ and ‘shield 1)’).
2) (v) The act of creating divisions as described above (see also ‘quarter 2)’).

[New Zealand Royal Standard]  [Arms - Košice, Slovakia]  [Grand Ducal standard - Mecklenburg, Germany]
Royal Standard, New Zealand (fotw); The Presidential Arms of Košice, Slovakia (fotw); Grand Ducal Standard of Mecklenburg, Germany c1897–1918 (fotw)

Please note that whilst quarterings are generally (but not exclusively) restricted to four in flags, there is no actual limit to the number that may be employed  (see also ‘canton’).

A heraldic term for when the field of a shield, flag or banner of arms is divided horizontally and vertically into four quarters - but see ‘quartered 1)’ (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘canton 3)’, ‘quarter’, ‘quarter the arms’, ‘quartering’ and ‘shield 1)’).

[Quarterly] [quarterly] [quarterly]
Flag of Carrión de los Condes, Spain (fotw); Flag of Santorcaz, Spain (fotw); Flag of Praha 1, Czechia (fotw)

See ‘crescent 1)’.

[Antongil, Madagascar]
Flag of Antongil, 1774 – 1786 (fotw)

(v) The heraldic phrase used when a shield or banner of arms, which was formerly impaled, is divided into four, with the previously impaled arms displayed in opposing quarters – see ‘impaled’ and compare with ‘quartered 1)’.

[Castile and Leon] [Castile and Leon]
Arms of Castile and Leon impaled (CS and fotw); Flag of Castile and Leon, Spain with those Arms displayed quarterly (fotw)

Please note that in English heraldic usage the two separate coats of arms of a couple are generally impaled upon marriage, and that these same arms are then displayed quarterly by any children of that union - see ‘quarterly’).

1) In vexillology the term for a charge in the form of a stylized flower or plant with four petals or leaves (see also ‘cinquefoil’ and ‘trefoil’).
2) In heraldry as above, but the charge is almost invariably pierced – a caterfoil (see also ‘pierced 2)’).

quatrefoil example quatrefoil example quatrefoil example
Flag of Enebakk, Norway (fotw); Flag of Brinkum, Germany (fotw); Flag of Sortes, Portugal (fotw)

See ‘colour 2)’ and ‘colours 2)’.

RAF Queens Colour RAAF Queens Colour RCN Queens Colour
Queen’s Colours of the RAF, UK, the RAAF, Australia, and the RCN, Canada (fotw)

Alternative heraldic terms for double queued - see ‘double queued’ (also fourché).

Vítonice, Czechia Vítonice, Czechia
Arms and Flag of Vítonice, Czechia (fotw)

The heraldic term used when the tail of a heraldic beast is placed in a position other than bending over its back (as it is in ‘passant’), or is shown in a different tincture to the body – cowed – but see ‘coward’ and ‘double queued’.

queued queued
Arms and Flag of Čeminac, Croatia (fotw)

The Portuguese term for the five plates or discs with which the five blue escutcheons on the national arms of Portugal are charged (see also ‘disc’ and ‘plates’).

Quinas Quinas Quinas
Royal Banner 1248, National Arms and Royal Banner 1485, Portugal (fotw)

A term for the arrangement of five objects within a square (or rectangle) – one in the centre and one in each corner – but see the note below.

[Quincunx flags] [Quincunx flags] [Quincunx flags]
Flag of Oriola, Portugal (fotw); Arms of Sequeira, Portugal (fotw); National Flag of the Solomon Islands (fotw)

Please note that this term is occasionally (and incorrectly) used to describe a 3-2-3-2-3 arrangement of the stars as sometimes seen on the original pattern of the stars and stripes – but see ‘Betsy Ross flag’ (also ‘continental colours’, ‘eagle standard’, ‘Franklin flag’, ‘great star flags’, ‘old glory’, ‘star-spangled banner’ and ‘stars and stripes’).

[Quincunx flags]
Naval Jack/Canton of the National Flag 1777 - 1795, US (fotw)

Alternative heraldic terms for a cinquefoil - see ‘cinquefoil’.

[Quinterfoil example] [Quinterfoil example]
Arms and Flag of Brno-Komín, Czechia (fotw)

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