Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology 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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The seal of Indiana

The seal of Indiana is used by the Governor of Indiana to certify official documents. The seal has gone through several revisions since the region was a part of the Northwest Territory. It is likely the original seal, which is similar to the current one, was created by William Henry Harrison during his administration of the Indiana Territory. The current design of the seal was standardized by the Indiana General Assembly in 1963.

The sun rising in the picture represents that Indiana has a bright future ahead and is just beginning. The mountains it rises over are a representation of the Allegheny Mountains showing that Indiana is in the west. The woodman represents civilization subduing the wilderness that was Indiana. The buffalo represents the wilderness fleeing westward away from the advancing civilization. (more...)

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Banner of the Republic of Poland.

Throughout most of the history of Poland, the banner of Poland was one of the main symbols of the Polish State, normally reserved for use by the head of state. Although its design changed with time, it was generally a heraldic banner, i.e., one based directly on the national coat of arms: a crowned White Eagle on a red field (Gules an eagle Argent crowned Or). A national banner is not mentioned in the current (2007) regulations on Polish national symbols, although today's presidential jack is based directly on the pre-war design for the Banner of the Republic. (more...)

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A well known example of German burgher arms: canting arms of Albrecht Dürer.

Burgher arms are coats of arms of commoners (i.e. non-nobles) in heraldry of the European continent. Although the term "burgher" arms refers to bourgeoisie, it is often extended also to arms of (Protestant) clergy and even to arms of peasants. In continental Europe, the use of armorial bearings has never been restricted to a particular social class (unlike in Britain). Every individual, every family and every community has been free to adopt and use arms and as they please, provided they have not wrongfully assumed the arms of another. The exception was arms in Portugal, where king Afonso V restricted burgher arms to the use of colours only.

Use of coats of arms by burghers and artisans began during 13th century and in the 14th century some peasants took to using arms. The arms of commoners bore a far wider variety of charges than the arms of nobility like everyday objects, in particular, tools. In burgher arms are met sometimes also house marks which are not met in arms of nobility. Most widespread burgher heraldry was and still is in Switzerland and in Netherlands. In Netherlands only a small percentage of the existing arms belong to the nobility. (more...)

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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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William Peyton as Delhi Herald Extraordinary in 1911

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