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 coat of arms

Seal of Dartmouth College

The Seal of Dartmouth College is the official insignia of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university located in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. Anglo-American law generally requires a corporate body to seek official government sanction, usually in the form of a charter, in order to operate. Such chartered bodies normally authenticate their official acts by marking them with a distinctive seal. The seal's design is usually complicated to avoid counterfeiting, but it can also express something about the institution's history or mission. Dartmouth College is one such chartered body, and it obtained its official seal in 1773. (more...)

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1957 Coat of Arms of Québec with French, English and Canadian elements

Canadian heraldry refers to the cultural tradition and style of coats of arms and other heraldic achievements in modern and historic Canada, including national, provincial, and civic arms, noble and personal arms, ecclesiastical heraldry, heraldic displays as corporate logos, and Canadian heraldic descriptions.

Canadian heraldry derives mainly from heraldic traditions in France and the United Kingdom while adding distinctly Canadian symbols, especially those which reference the First Nations and other aboriginal peoples of Canada. Canadian heraldry has a unique system of cadency for daughters inheriting arms, and a special symbol for United Empire Loyalists. Since 1988, both personal and corporate heraldry in Canada is officially governed by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, which reviews all applications for arms. (more...)

Selected flag

The flag of Japan

The national flag of Japan is a white flag with a large red disc (representing the rising sun) in the center. The flag's official name in Japanese is Nisshōki (日章旗?, "sun flag") but the flag is more commonly known as Hinomaru (日の丸?, "sun disc"). The Hinomaru was widely used on military banners in the Sengoku (Warring States) period of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Meiji Restoration the flag was officially adopted for use as the civil ensign by Proclamation No. 57 on February 27, 1870 (January 27, Meiji 3 in the Japanese calendar). However, the flag was not adopted nationally until August 13, 1999, by the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem.

Along with the national anthem Kimi ga Yo, the Hinomaru is considered a controversial symbol of the militaristic past of the country. Use of the Hinomaru was also severely restricted during the early years of the American occupation of the country after World War II, although restrictions were later relaxed. Japanese law did not designate any particular flag as the national flag from 1885 until 1999, although the Hinomaru was legally the national flag for the brief period from 1870 until 1885. Despite this, several military banners of Japan are based on the design of the Hinomaru, including the sun-rayed Naval Ensign. The Hinomaru was used as a template to design other Japanese flags for public and private use. (more...)

Selected picture

Heralds in procession in 1933

Sir Francis Grant, Lord Lyon King of Arms, HRH The Duke of York, and Rev. Charles Warr proceeding to the Armistice Service at St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, in 1933.

Did you know...

Thomas Hawley

  • ...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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