Seize quartiers are still used today in genealogical, heraldic, and antiquarian circles. They are a great way of representing ancestry, as they show the relationships between a person and their sixteen great-great-grandparents.

 

The History of Seize Quartiers

Seize quartiers (or “16 quarters”) were used as a proof of nobility in Continental Europe throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Possessing them meant that a person would be admitted to any court in Europe, receiving in consequence all the advantages that bestowed. In order for a person to claim a specific degree of nobility, all of their 16 great-great-grandparents had to have been entitled to bear arms.

Although the doctrine of seize quartiers prevailed over most of the Continent, in the British Isles the most frequent examples come from Scotland (where arms are tied to clanship and their use is controlled tightly by Lyon Court).

The Continental system of a noble caste, with a royalty that tended to marry only with other royal families, has not existed in England since early medieval days. The landed gentry intermarried with the peerage families but its membership was not protected by law; Britain had a more flexible society that allowed for a certain degree of vertical movement.

Seize Quartiers history and templates
Seize quartiers ahnentafel document (1786), by Josepha Maximiliana Lodron. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

What's Included in a Seize Quartier Chart

A Seize Quariers chart usually includes the following information:

  • Coat of Arms
  • Name
  • Date of birth and death 
  • Locations

Although they were borrowed from the heraldic tradition used to prove one’s nobility, Seize Quartiers are used today in genealogy as they give a great overview of a four generation pedigree – someone’s 16 great-great grandparents. 

Someone’s Seize-Quartiers can include any other pieces of information that the person considers relevant, including addresses, employment/profession, military history, other marriages, and more.

Mine include full name, date of birth, date of baptism, date of marriage (listed under the female) and date of death, plus locations for each of these events. Although it sounds like a lot to fit in one document, you can see below that there are ways to format the data so it’s easy to read.

Creting your Own Seize Quartiers

Below you can find the template I use to create Seize Quartiers. It’s made in Microsoft Word but can be opened in other programs as well. 

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