In heraldry, the figures represented on a shield are called charges, and a shield with figures upon it is said to be charged. The charges in a shield ought to be few in number and strongly marked, both as regards their character and the mode of their representation. The family shield belonging to the head of the house almost always is simpler (i.e. has fewer charges) than the shields of collaterals, or even of junior members.
Related term(s): Heraldry; Shield; Ordinary; Escutcheon; Bend; Fess
Source information: Wilhelm, Thomas. A Military Dictionary and Gazetteer. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1881. 100.