One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small shield within a coat of arms, bearing another coat or device to which the bearer has a claim, especially one to which a man's wife is heiress.
- ‘An escutcheon of pretence was used only when the wife had no brothers, and could transmit the right to use her familial coat of arms to a man who would act as her family's representative - in this case, her husband.’
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