Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

Flags of the Nordic countries
A herald wearing a tabard

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.

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.

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The Bayeux Tapestry

Heraldry in its most general sense encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. To most, though, heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and badges. Historically, it has been variously described as “the shorthand of history” (Fox-Davies) and “the floral border in the garden of history” (Moncreiffe & Pottinger). The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets. Eventually a system of rules developed into the modern form of heraldry. Though heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. (more...)

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The flag of Hong Kong

The flag of Hong Kong, or the Regional Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, features a stylised, white, five-petal Bauhinia blakeana flower in the centre of a red field. The flag was adopted on 16 February 1990. On 10 August 1996, it received formal approval from the Preparatory Committee, a group which advised the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to the PRC in 1997. The flag was first officially hoisted on 1 July 1997, in the handover ceremony marking the transfer of sovereignty. The precise use of the flag is regulated by laws passed by the 58th executive meeting of the State Council held in Beijing. The design of the flag is enshrined in Hong Kong's Basic Law, the city's constitutional document, and regulations regarding the use, prohibition of use, desecration, and manufacture of the flag are stated in the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance. (more...)

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Self portrait of Matthew Paris

Matthew Paris (lit. "Matthew the Parisian"; c. 1200 – 1259) was a Benedictine monk, English chronicler, artist in illuminated manuscripts and cartographer, based at St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire. He wrote a number of works, mostly historical, which scribed and illuminated himself, typically in drawings partly coloured with watercolour washes, sometimes called "tinted drawings". Some were written in Latin, some in Anglo-Norman or French verse. His Chronica Majora is an oft-cited source, though modern historians recognize that Paris was not always reliable. (more...)

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A town hall in the Netherlands displaying heraldic banners

The town hall of Gouda, a city in the Netherlands, displaying heraldic banners of the arms of (left to right) the Dutch Republic (1581–1795), the County of Holland (1198–) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–).

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William Segar, Garter Principal King of Arms, early 17th century

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