Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillogy 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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Selected biography

Sir John Vanbrugh in Godfrey Kneller's Kit-cat portrait, considered one of Kneller's finest portraits.

Sir John Vanbrugh (pronounced "Van'-bru") (January 24, 1664?–March 26, 1726) was an English dramatist, officer of arms and architect, perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace. He wrote two argumentative and outspoken Restoration comedies, The Relapse (1696) and The Provoked Wife (1697), which have become enduring stage favourites but originally occasioned much controversy.

Vanbrugh was in many senses a radical throughout his life. As a young man and a committed Whig, he was part of the scheme to overthrow James II, put William III on the throne and protect English parliamentary democracy, dangerous undertakings which landed him in the dreaded Bastille of Paris as a political prisoner. In his career as a playwright, he offended many sections of Restoration and 18th-century society, not only by the sexual explicitness of his plays, but also by their messages in defence of women's rights in marriage. He was attacked on both counts, and was one of the prime targets of Jeremy Collier's Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage. In his architectural career, he created what came to be known as English Baroque. His architectural work was as bold and daring as his early political activism and marriage-themed plays, and jarred conservative opinions on the subject. Vanbrugh also held the heraldic offices of Carlisle Herald and Clarenceux King of Arms. (more...)

Selected flag

The Flag of Scotland, the Saltire

The Flag of Scotland, (Scottish Gaelic: Bratach nàiseanta na h-Alba, Scots: Banner o Scotland), also known as Saint Andrew's Cross or The Saltire, is the national flag of Scotland. Consisting of a blue background over which is placed a white representation of an X-shaped cross, the Saltire is one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols.

According to legend, the Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross at Patras, (Patrae), in Achaea. Use of the familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, first appears in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1180 during the reign of William I. Use of a simplified symbol associated with Saint Andrew which does not depict his image has its origins in the late 14th century. The earliest reference to the Saint Andrew's Cross as a flag is to be found in the Vienna Book of Hours, circa 1503, where a white saltire is depicted with a red background. In the case of Scotland, use of a blue background for the Saint Andrew's Cross is said to date from at least the 15th century. (more...)

Selected coat of arms

National emblem of Belarus (1995 - current)

The National Emblem of Belarus (Belarusian: Дзяржаўны герб Рэспублікі Беларусь, Russian: Государственный герб Республики Беларусь), which replaced the historic Pahonia arms in a 1995 referendum, features a ribbon in the colors of the national flag, the map of Belarus, wheat ears and a red star. It is sometimes referred to as the coat of arms of Belarus, which is incorrect due to lack of several heraldic elements. The emblem is an allusion to the one used by the Byelorussian SSR, designed by I.I. Dubasov in 1950. Emblems reminiscent of the times of the Soviet Union are also used by the nations of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the region of Transnistria. (more...)

Selected picture

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States

The reverse of the Great Seal of the United States was designed by William Barton, and features two mottos: Annuit Cœptis and Novus Ordo Seclorum.

Did you know...

Flag of Lesotho

  • ...that Lesotho adopted a new flag (pictured) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its independence?

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