Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

A herald wearing a tabard
Flags of the Nordic countries

Heraldry encompasses all of the duties of a herald, including the science and art of designing, displaying, describing and recording coats of arms and badges, as well as the formal ceremonies and laws that regulate the use and inheritance of arms. The origins of heraldry lie in the medieval need to distinguish participants in battles or jousts, whose faces were hidden by steel helmets.

Vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, a flag or banner) is the scholarly study of flags, including the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. Flags were originally used to assist military coordination on the battlefield, and have evolved into a general tool for signalling and identification, particularly identification of countries.

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Selected biography

Johannes Baptista Rietstap in 1861

Johannes Baptista Rietstap (12 May 1828–24 December 1891) was a Dutch heraldist and genealogist, who is often considered to be the father of modern heraldry in the Netherlands. Rietstap was proficient in English, French, German, Spanish and Latin in addition to his mother tongue, and from the 1850s to the 1870s published a large number of translations of both fiction and non-fiction works. He also worked as a stenographer for the Staten-Generaal for 37 years, eventually rising to the position of First Stenographer. He is most well-known however for his publication of the Armorial Général. This monumental work contains the blazons of the coats of arms of more than 130,000 European families, and is still one of the most complete works of its kind. (more...)

Selected coat of arms

A crest badge of a clan chief of a fictional Scottish clan. A clan chief is the only one entitled to three eagle feathers.

A Scottish crest badge, more commonly called a clan crest, is a heraldic badge worn to show one's allegiance to a specific Scottish clan. Crest badges may be worn by any member of a clan. Even though it is the most common name, the term clan crest is a misnomer. There is no such thing as a clan crest. Modern crest badges usually consist of the clan chief's personal crest surrounded by a strap and buckle and the chief's motto or slogan. Although "clan crests" are commonly bought and sold, the heraldic crest and motto belong to the chief alone and never the clan member. Crest badges, much like clan tartans, do not have a long history, and owe much to Victorian era romanticism, having only been worn on the bonnet since the 19th century. The original badges used by clans are said to have been specific plants worn in bonnets or hung from a pole or spear. (more...)

Selected flag

The National Flag of Mexico

In Article 18 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem (Ley Sobre El Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) there is a listing of dates that the Mexican flag is flown by all branches of government. Civilians are also encouraged to display the national flag on these days. Many of the dates listed in the law denote significant events and people that shaped of Mexican identity and the course of its History. Some of the holidays and commemorations listed require the flag to be flown at half-staff. The national flag can be flown any day of the year by civilians or at festive occasions in persurrence to Article 15 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem. (more...)

Selected picture

Coat of Arms of Austria-Hungary

Coat of Arms of Austria-Hungary, designed in 1915 in order to replace an older coat of arms, also used as the coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for other countries under Austro-Hungarian rule.

Did you know...

Flag of Nunavut

  • ...that a bumerke is a house mark with relation to coats of arms as it was frequently used instead of them and used with a shield as a frame work for the mark?

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