Portal:Heraldry

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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology 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.

Selected article

The frontispiece of the record of the heraldic visitation of Ulster King of Arms, Daniel Molyneux. This was undertaken in the city of Dublin in February 1607.

Heraldic visitations were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms in England, Wales and Ireland in order to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry and boroughs, and to record pedigrees. They took place from 1530 to 1688, and their records provide important source material for genealogists.The first provincial visitations were carried out under warrant granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms dated 6 April 1530. He was commissioned to travel throughout his province and was given authority to enter all homes and churches. Upon entering these premises, he was authorized to "put down or otherwise deface at his discretion...those arms unlawfully used". (more...)

Selected biography

William Camden

William Camden (May 2, 1551–November 9, 1623) was an English antiquarian and historian. He wrote Britannia, the first topographical survey of the island of Great Britain, and Annales, the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England. In 1597 he was appointed Clarenceux King of Arms to facilitate his research, the post carrying a salary, and the College of Arms at the time being a centre of antiquarian studies. The appointment, however, roused the jealousy of the herald Ralph Brooke, who in retaliation published an attack on Britannia, charging Camden with inaccuracy and plagiarism. Camden successfully defended himself against the charges in subsequent editions of the work. (more...)

Selected flag

Flag of the Italian Republic

The flag of Italy (bandiera d'Italia, often referred to in Italian as il Tricolore) is a tricolour featuring three equally sized vertical pales of green, white, and red, with the green at the hoist side. Its current form has been in use since 19 June 1946 and was formally adopted on 1 January 1948.

The first entity to use the Italian tricolour was the Repubblica Cispadana (Cispadane Republic) in 1797, after Napoleon's victorious army crossed Italy. During this time many small republics of Jacobin inspiration supplanted the ancient absolute states and almost all, with variants of colour, used flags characterised by three bands of equal size, clearly inspired by the French model of 1790. The colours chosen by the Republic were red and white, the colours of the flag of Milan, and green, which was the colour of the uniform of the Milanese civic guard. Some have attributed particular values to the colours, and a common interpretation is that the green represents the country's plains and the hills; white, the snow-capped Alps; and red, blood spilt in the Wars of Italian Independence. A more religious interpretation is that the green represents hope, the white represents faith, and the red represents charity; this references the three theological virtues. (more...)

Selected picture

The 719 quarterings of the Grenville Diptych

The Grenville Diptych was produced between 1822 and 1839 for Richard Temple-Grenville, Marquess of Chandos the son of the first Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. It shows 719 quarterings of the family, including ten variations of the English Royal arms. The left panel of the diptych lists the quarterings.

Did you know...

Manuel Belgrano holding the Flag of Argentina

  • ...that the Alphyn, a rare heraldic creature, was the badge of the Barons de La Warr?

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