Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillogy Portal!
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.
The flag of Poland consists of two horizontal stripes of equal width, the upper one white and the lower one red. The two colors are defined in the Polish constitution as the national colors. A variant of the flag with the national coat of arms in the middle of the white stripe is legally reserved for official use abroad and at sea. A similar flag with the addition of a swallow-tail is used as the naval ensign of Poland.
White and red were officially adopted as national colors in 1831. They are of heraldic origin and derive from the tinctures (colors) of the coats of arms of the two constituent nations of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, i.e. the White Eagle of Poland and the Pursuer (Lithuanian: Vytis, Polish: Pogoń) of Lithuania, a white knight riding a white horse, both on a red shield. Prior to that, Polish soldiers wore cockades of various color combinations. The national flag was officially adopted in 1919. Since 2004, Polish Flag Day is celebrated on May 2. (more...)
Elias Ashmole was an antiquarian, collector, politician and officer of arms. He supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices, including Windsor Herald of Arms in Ordinary. Throughout his life he was an avid collector of curiosities and other artifacts. Many of these he acquired from the traveller, botanist, and collector John Tradescant the elder and his son of the same name, and most he donated to Oxford University to create the Ashmolean Museum. He also donated his library and priceless manuscript collection to Oxford. Apart from his collecting activities, Ashmole illustrates the passing of the pre-scientific world view in the seventeenth century: while he immersed himself in alchemical, magical and astrological studies and was consulted on astrological questions by Charles II and his court, these studies were essentially backward-looking. Although he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, a key institution in the development of experimental science, he never participated actively. (more...)