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

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 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 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

A medieval ship flag

A medieval ship flag captured by forces from Lübeck in the 1420s showed the arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania. It remained in this city for 500 years, until destroyed in a World War II bombardment that damaged St. Mary's Church where the flag was kept. A 19th century copy remains in Frederiksborg Palace, Denmark. The saint accompanying the Virgin Mary and infant Christ is Saint James the Greater, identified by his scallop shell emblem. The flag was made of coarse linen; all figures and heraldic insignia were created using oil-based paint.

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Coat of arms of Toppenstedt

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