Portal:Heraldry

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Heraldry and Vexillology portal

The German Hyghalmen Roll was made in the late 15th century and illustrates the German practice of repeating themes from the arms in the crest. (See Roll of arms).

Heraldry (/ˈhɛrəldri/) is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement, more commonly known as the coat of arms. The coat of arms usually includes a shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.

Although the use of various devices to signify individuals and groups goes back to antiquity, both the form and use of such devices varied widely, and the concept of regular, hereditary designs, constituting the distinguishing feature of heraldry, did not develop until the High Middle Ages. The use of helmets with face guards during this period made it difficult to recognize one's commanders in the field when large armies gathered together for extended periods, necessitating the development of heraldry as a symbolic language. Read more...

Vexillology (/ˌvɛksɪˈlɒləi/) is the study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general. The word is a synthesis of the Latin word vexillum ("flag") and the Greek suffix -logia ("study").

A person who studies flags is a vexillologist, one who designs flags is a vexillographer, and the art of flag-designing is called vexillography. One who is a hobbyist or general admirer of flags is a vexillophile. Read more...


Selected article

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...)

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 flag

Flag of the Philippines

The national flag of the Philippines is a horizontal bicolor with equal bands of blue and red, and with a white equilateral triangle based at the hoist side; in the center of the triangle is a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays; and at each corner of the triangle is a five-pointed golden yellow star. The flag is displayed with the blue field on top in times of peace, and with the red field on top in times of war. The design was conceptualized by Emilio Aguinaldo during his exile in Hong Kong in 1897, and formally adopted in 1898. The flag's colors have varying symbolism, and the shade of blue has changed over time. (more...)

Selected image

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–).

Did you know...

Flag of Nunavut

  • ...that in almost 100 years of existence, Ireland King of Arms granted only four known coats of arms, two of which were within the heraldic jurisdiction of other kings of arms and so annulled or regranted?

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