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 coat of arms

The coat of arms of Hungary

The Coat of Arms of Hungary was adopted in July 1990, after the end of the Socialist regime, although it has been used before, both with and without the crown, sometimes as part of a larger, more complex coat of arms, and many of its elements date back to the Middle Ages. It is usually said that the silver stripes represent four rivers (Duna, Tisza, Dráva, Száva) and the hills represent three mountain ranges (Mátra, Tátra, Fátra), but this theory is historically unfounded. (more...)

Selected flag

1892 version of flag of Puerto Rico with light blue tone

The Flags of Puerto Rico represent and symbolize the island and people of Puerto Rico. The origins of the current flag of Puerto Rico, adopted by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952, can be traced to 1868, when the first Puerto Rican flag, "The Revolutionary Flag of Lares", was conceived by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mariana "Brazos de Oro" Bracetti. The exiled Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee chose the Flag of Lares as their standard. In 1892, the Revolutionary Committee adopted a design modeled after the Cuban flag. The new flag consisted of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center.

The display of a Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952). In 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico declared the flag originally designed in 1892 to be the official flag, but without specifying the tones of colors to be used. The color of the triangle that was used by the administration of Luis Muñoz Marín was the dark blue that is used in the flag of the United States, instead of the original light blue, thus creating a political controversy which has lasted throughout the years. (more...)

Selected article

Arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The tradition and practice of heraldry in Poland dates from the 13th century. Although influenced by French and German heraldic practice, differs in a number of respects. One of the most striking is that a coat of arms does not belong to a single family. Many, sometimes hundreds of unrelated families may use a single coat of arms. Each coat of arms also has its own name. One side-effect of this unique arrangement was that it became customary to refer to members of the nobility (Polish: Szlachta) by both their family name and the name of their coat of arms. (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.

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Manuel Belgrano holding the Flag of Argentina

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