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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

A crest badge of a clan chief of a fictional Scottish clan. A clan chief is the only one entitled to three eagle feathers.

A Scottish crest badge, more commonly called a clan crest, is a heraldic badge worn to show one's allegiance to a specific Scottish clan. Crest badges may be worn by any member of a clan. Even though it is the most common name, the term clan crest is a misnomer. There is no such thing as a clan crest. Modern crest badges usually consist of the clan chief's personal crest surrounded by a strap and buckle and the chief's motto or slogan. Although "clan crests" are commonly bought and sold, the heraldic crest and motto belong to the chief alone and never the clan member. Crest badges, much like clan tartans, do not have a long history, and owe much to Victorian era romanticism, having only been worn on the bonnet since the 19th century. The original badges used by clans are said to have been specific plants worn in bonnets or hung from a pole or spear. (more...)

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Entrance of the College of Arms building in London

The College of Arms, in London, is an office regulating heraldry and granting new armorial bearings. As its name suggests, it is a corporate body (founded 1484) consisting of the professional heralds who are delegated heraldic authority by the Queen for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. (Note that Scotland is not included; that country has its own heraldic authority: Lord Lyon King of Arms and his office.) The college also grants arms to citizens of other Commonwealth countries that do not have their own heraldic authorities. (Canada and South Africa have their own heraldic authorities, the Canadian Heraldic Authority and the Bureau of Heraldry, respectively.) (more...)

Selected flag

The flag of Hong Kong

The flag of Hong Kong, or the Regional Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, features a stylised, white, five-petal Bauhinia blakeana flower in the centre of a red field. The flag was adopted on 16 February 1990. On 10 August 1996, it received formal approval from the Preparatory Committee, a group which advised the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to the PRC in 1997. The flag was first officially hoisted on 1 July 1997, in the handover ceremony marking the transfer of sovereignty. The precise use of the flag is regulated by laws passed by the 58th executive meeting of the State Council held in Beijing. The design of the flag is enshrined in Hong Kong's Basic Law, the city's constitutional document, and regulations regarding the use, prohibition of use, desecration, and manufacture of the flag are stated in the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance. (more...)

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The chapel of the Order of the Thistle

The chapel of the Order of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral. Above each stall the knight's helmet with crest and mantling (and, if a peer, the coronet of rank) is displayed. At the back of each stall is a plate bearing the knight's coat of arms.

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Thomas Hawley

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