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Baron and feme

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Title: Baron and feme  
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Subject: Heraldry, Impalement (heraldry), English law, Coat of arms
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Baron and feme

In English law, baron and feme is a phrase used for husband and wife, in relation to each other, who were accounted as one person by coverture. Hence, by the old law of evidence, the one party was excluded from giving evidence for or against the other in civil questions, and a relic of this is still preserved in criminal law.


  • Heraldry 1
  • Etymology 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Source 5
  • External links 6


Impalement of the arms of a married couple; husband's arms at left, wife's arms (on lozenge) at right

In heraldry, baron and femme are terms used when the coats-of-arms of a man and his wife are impaled, that is borne per pale within the same escutcheon.[1] The position of the husband's arms, on the dexter side (to viewer's left), the position of honour, is referred to as baron whilst the paternal arms of the wife are shown in sinister, referred to as femme. This is the normal way of displaying a married couple's arms together. Impalement is not used when the wife is an heraldic heiress, in which case her arms are displayed in an escutcheon of pretence within her husbands' arms, denoting that the husband is a pretender to the paternal arms of his wife, and that they will descend to the couple's issue.


In late Latin baro, baronis, meant man (cf modern Spanish "varón" which means a male). Later, in Western Europe, the word was used to refer to a ruler's leading henchmen (e.g. a baron was the King's Man). Later, it came to have a specific, legal definition as the tenant-in-chief of the early Norman kings, which class developed into feudal barons who held their lands from the king by the feudal tenure per baroniam and were entitled to attend parliament.[2] The Norman-French word feme/femme simply denotes "woman" or "wife".

See also


  1. ^ Boutell, Charles (1864), Heraldry, historical and popular (3 ed.), R. Bentley, p. 106, Escutcheon: an Heraldic Shield See Chap III ... Femme: the Wife as distinguished from the Baron her Husband. 
  2. ^ Sanders, Ivor John (1980), in Medieval England Barones Feudal Military Service in England: A Study of the Constitutional and Military Powers of the, Greenwood Press, p. 100, Part I, The Baro and the Baronia 



External links

  • "Baron and Femme". Florida Center for Instructional Technology. Retrieved June 2012. 'Parted per pale, baron and femme, two coats; first, or, a chevron gules; second, barry of twelve pieces, azure and argent. In Heraldry, the husband and wife are called baron and femme; ... the shield is in heraldic language said to be parted per pale.' -Hall, 1862 
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