Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillogy 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

Coat of arms of Albany, New York

The coat of arms of Albany, New York is a heraldic symbol representing the city of Albany, the capital of the U.S. state of New York. The coat of arms is rarely seen by itself; it is almost always used in the city seal or on the city flag. The current coat of arms was adopted in 1789, although prior to that it was significantly simpler, ranging from stylized lettering to a caricature of a beaver. Included in the coat of arms are references to Albany's agricultural and fur-trading past. It is supported by a white man and an American Indian and is crested by a sloop. The coat of arms is meant to represent the "symbols of industry and its rewards to man and beast on land and sea". (more...)

Selected article

The shield blazoned Azure, a Bend Or, which was the subject of Scrope v. Grosvenor

Scrope v. Grosvenor was one of the earliest heraldic law cases brought in England. The case resulted from the fact that two different families were using the same undifferenced coat of arms. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the composition of coats of arms was very simple. Most shields consisted of only one charge and two tinctures, and there were times when two families bore the same coat of arms in the same jurisdiction. In the fourteenth century, though, cases of two unrelated families bearing the same coat of arms became less tolerated. When this happened, the monarch was usually called on to make a decision. (more...)

Selected flag

The National Flag of Mexico

In Article 18 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem (Ley Sobre El Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) there is a listing of dates that the Mexican flag is flown by all branches of government. Civilians are also encouraged to display the national flag on these days. Many of the dates listed in the law denote significant events and people that shaped of Mexican identity and the course of its History. Some of the holidays and commemorations listed require the flag to be flown at half-staff. The national flag can be flown any day of the year by civilians or at festive occasions in persurrence to Article 15 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem. (more...)

Selected picture

Coat of arms of the British Antarctic Territory

The Coat of arms of the British Antarctic Territory features a lion and Emperor penguin as supporters, and the RSS Discovery in the crest.

Did you know...

Flag of Brisbane

  • ...that the three caducei on the Flag of Brisbane (pictured) represent Hermes' role as the protector of commerce, and not its more familiar meaning associated with medicine?
  • ...that the Pennon, one of the principal varieties of flag carried during the Middle Ages, derives its name from the Latin penna, meaning wing?

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