, in heraldry
, is a modification of the shield or coat of arms that supposedly can be imposed by authority (in England
supposedly by the Court of Chivalry
) for misconduct. Each abatement is supposed to be a specific charge in a specific "staynand colour" or stain (tawney, also called tenne; sanguine
) for a specific offence; the charges if themselves charged or of a regular colour, metal or fur (or, in some cases, if the charge in question appeared as multiples, not as a single charge of the kind) were not supposed to symbolise anything dishonourable. As the bearing of a coat of arms is purely voluntary, and the bearer would most likely not wish to advertise the misconduct, obviously most people would not wish to bear a coat on which an abatement had been imposed, though there was at least one imposition of an abatement, for an adulterer
. Thus, it is probable that the system of abatements never had much if any basis in fact and was simply a theoretical exercise created by heralds. The sole exception to the rarity of abatements is the reversal of the entire shield as a punishment for treason
, as the shield was briefly so displayed in England at the time of the execution of the convicted traitor
, the arms ceasing to exist after this.