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 biography

1835 portrait by Henry Perronet Briggs.

James Robinson Planché (February 27, 1796 – May 30, 1880) was a British dramatist, antiquary and officer of arms. Over a period of almost 60 years he wrote, adapted, or collaborated on 176 plays in a wide range of genres. Planché was responsible for introducing historically accurate costume into nineteenth century British theatre, and subsequently became an acknowledged expert on historical costume, publishing a number of works on the topic.

Planché's interest in historical costume led to other antiquarian research, including heraldry and genealogy. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1829, and was influential in the foundation of the British Archaeological Association in 1843. Appointed Rouge Croix Pursuivant in 1854 and promoted to Somerset Herald in 1866, Planché undertook heraldic and ceremonial duties as a member of the College of Arms including proclaiming peace at the end of the Crimean War and investing foreign monarchs with the Order of the Garter. (more...)

Selected coat of arms

Coat of arms of Amsterdam

The coat of arms of Amsterdam is the official symbol of the city of Amsterdam. It consists of a red and black shield with three silver Saint Andrew's Crosses, the Imperial Crown of Austria, two golden lions, and the motto of Amsterdam. Several heraldic elements have their basis in the history of Amsterdam. The crosses are thought to represent the three traditional dangers to the city: flood, fire and pestilence. The crown was awarded in 1489 by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, out of gratitude for services and loans. The crosses and the crown can be found as decorations on different locations in the city. (more...)

Selected flag

Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem of Japan as published in the Official Gazette (August 15, 1999)

The Law Regarding the National Flag and Anthem (国旗及び国歌に関する法律 Kokki Oyobi Kokka ni Kansuru Hōritsu?) (abbreviated as 国旗国歌法) is a law that formally established Japan's national flag and anthem. It was promulgated on August 13, 1999, and established the Nisshōki (日章旗?, Sun-circle flag) as the national flag of Japan and the song Kimigayo (君が代?) as the national anthem of Japan. Details about each symbol were provided in appendixes in the law, such as construction details of the flag and sheet music for Kimigayo. The law did not provide any protocols involving both symbols or how they should be used or respected. Due to the lack of rules about the usage of both symbols, different national and prefectural agencies and ministries came up with their own regulations.

Before the passage of this law, there was no official flag or anthem that represented Japan. From 1870, the Nisshōki (日章旗?) flag, also referred to as the Hinomaru (日の丸?), was used in various capacities to represent Japan; Kimigayo (君が代?) was used as Japan's de facto anthem since 1880. (more...)

Selected picture

A caricature of Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty

A caricature of Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, Garter Principal King of Arms, from the 1 December 1904 edition of Vanity Fair painted by Sir Leslie Ward.

Did you know...

William Peyton as Delhi Herald Extraordinary in 1911

  • ...that while the 126.8 metre Raghadan Flagpole is both earthquake and weather-resistant, the 60 metre by 30 metre Flag of Jordan that it flies must be lowered during high winds due to excessive noise?

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