One of the most common devices found on Hungarian shields is a symbol of the many Turkish invasions of Hungary: the head of a Turk with a black mustache wearing a turban, blood dripping from the neck. At least 15 percent of all Hungarian personal arms include the severed head of a Turk, Also popular were the griffin, bear, sun, moon, stars, horses, men on horseback, swords and a green dragon with a red cross on its body. A coronet often replaces the wreath above the helmet. The mantling is often a combination of more than two tinctures, the most common being blue and gold on the dexter side and red and silver on the sinister. Hungarian heraldry also employs a clan system instead of individual arms. The arms of the old kingdom of Hungary included St. Stephen's cross, lions'heads, eagles and a six-pointed star representing the old kingdoms and provinces of Bosnia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Slavonia, and Transylvania.
Most Hungarian coats of arms are figurative; arms with simple divisions of the shield, or charged with ordinaries and subordinaries only, are extremely rare and mostly of foreign origin. The color of the field is most often blue, representing the sky. Around 90% of Hungarian arms have a green base, often a trimount.
Due to great demand of soldiers during the wars against the Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries, sometimes a whole garrison of 80 to 120 soldiers was raised to nobiliary rank, being granted one coat of arms for all of them to share.
The double cross was an ancient element in the arms of Hungary. It may have been given to Saint Stephen by the pope as the symbol of the apostolic Kingdom of Hungary. Today, the most accepted theory is that it derives from Byzantine influence, as the cross appeared around 1190 during the reign of King Béla III, who was raised in the Byzantine court.
The coat of arms with the stripes on the dexter half and the cross on the hills on the sinister half appeared during the reign of Louis I of Hungary (1342-1382). The crown above the coat of arms appeared during the reign of Vladislaus I of Hungary (1440-1444). At first it was only a non-specific diadem but on the 1464 seal of Matthias Corvinus it resembled more the Holy Crown of Hungary.
Some basic vocabulary
- coat of arms = címer
- crest = sisakdísz
|Tincture||Heraldic name||Hungarian name|
|Metals - Fémek|
|Colours - Színek|
- Coat of arms of Hungary
- Historical coat of arms of Transylvania
- Nobility and royalty of the Kingdom of Hungary
- de Tamáska de Baranch, Endre: The Evolution of the Hungarian Coat of Arms. Sarasota, 1979.
- Kezd, Bela Kezdy Vasarheli De: Totemistic Elements in Hungarian Armory, 1961.
- von Warnstedt, Christopher. (October 1970). "The Heraldic Provinces of Europe". The Coat of Arms XI (84): 129-30.
- Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 28-32.
- Rosemary A. Chorzempa, Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry, Courier Dover Publications, 1987, p.16
- Carl-Alexander von Volborth: Heraldry: Customs, Rules, and Styles Poole, Dorset, New Orchard Editions, 1981, pp. 120–122
- College of the Hereditary Nobility of Hungary and Transylvania
- A Note on Hungarian Heraldry from François Velde's Heraldica website
- Main characteristics of Hungarian heraldry
- Heraldikai lexikon - Hungarian dictionary of arms
- Magyar Címer Portál - Hungarian Coat of Arms Portal