Abatements, sometimes called Rebatements, are marks of disgrace attached to arms on account of some dishonourable act of the bearer. They are shewn by pieces of different shapes being to all appearance cut out of, or off from, the shield; their shapes and positions are represented by the following varieties, which are nine in number, and must be either sanguine or tenné, which the old writers call “staynande colours,” otherwise they are no abatements but honourable charges, viz.–
1. Delf. 4. Point dexter. 7. Gore sinister. 2. Inescutcheonreversed. 5. Point pointed. 8. Gusset dexter. 3. Plain Point. 6. Point champaine. 9. Gusset sinister.
As the use of arms in not compulsory, a bearer would of course rather relinquish them than publish his own disgrace by bearing them abated. Abatements such as the above exist only in systems of heraldry, and no instance of their actual use is on record: but under the several headings diagrams will be found explaining the meaning of the terms which are used by heraldic writers.
Broken chevrons, and beasts turned towards the sinister, are supposed by some heraldic writers to have been given as abatements.
“And Edward the Third of England ordained two of six stars which a gentleman had in his arms to be effaced, because he had sold a seaport of which he was made governor.” [According to Sir George Mackenzie, in allusion to AYMERY OF PAVIA, a Lombard, governor of Calais in 1349, who bore azure, four mullets or.]
There is another mark of disgrace which is due only to the traitor: is consists in debasing or reversing the entire coat.