The German Hyghalmen Roll was made in the late fifteenth century and illustrates the German practice of repeating themes from the arms in the crest. (See Roll of arms)

Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms.[1] Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander".[1] The word, in its most general sense, encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms.[2] To most, though, heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and heraldic badges.

Historically, it has been variously described as "the shorthand of history"[3] and "the floral border in the garden of history."[4] The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets.[5] Eventually a formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry.



To "blazon" arms means to describe them using the formal language of heraldry. This language has its own vocabulary and syntax, or rules governing word order, which becomes essential for comprehension when blasoning a complex coat of arms. The verb comes from the Middle English "blasoun," itself a derivative of the French "blason" meaning "shield." The system of blazoning arms used in English-speaking countries today was developed by heraldic officers in the Middle Ages. The blazon includes a description of the armourials contained within the escutcheon or shield, the crest, supporters where present, motto and other insignia. Complex rules apply to the physical and artistic form of new creations of arms, such as the Rule of tincture. A thorough understanding of these rules is a key to the art of heraldry. In Europe originally the rules and terminology were broadly similar from kingdom to kingdom, but several national styles had developed by the end of the Middle Ages. Most aspects, however, remain in common.

Though heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms. Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world. Heraldic societies exist to promote education and understanding about the subject.



There are various conjectures as to the origins of heraldic arms. As early as predynastic Egypt, an emblem known as a serekh was used to indicate the extent of influence of a particular regime, sometimes carved on ivory labels attached to trade goods, but also used to identify military allegiances and in a variety of other ways. It led to the development of the earliest hieroglyphs. This practice seems to have grown out of the use of animal mascots, whose pelts or bodies were literally affixed to staves or standards, as depicted on the earliest cosmetic palettes of the period. Some of the oldest serekhs consist of a striped or cross-hatched box, representing a palace or city, with a crane, scorpion, or other animal drawn standing on top. Before long, a falcon representing Horus became the norm as the animal on top, with the individual Pharaoh's symbol usually appearing in the box beneath the falcon, and above the stripes representing the palace.

The antiquity of standards and symbols may be illustrated by the Book of Numbers:[6]

And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts. (Numbers i. 2, 18, 52). Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their fathers house (Numbers ii. 2). And the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded to Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers. (Numbers ii. 34)

Army units of the Roman Empire were identified by the distinctive markings on their shields. These were not heraldic in the medieval and modern sense, as they were associated with units, not individuals or families.[7]

serekh emblem of Pharaoh Raneb, whose name appears between the falcon and the palace symbols 
Shields of Magister Militum Praesentalis II. Page from the Notitia Dignitatum, a medieval copy of a Late Roman register of military commands 

Origins in the High Middle Ages

At the time of the Norman conquest of England, heraldry in its essential sense of an inheritable emblem had not yet been developed. The knights in the Bayeux Tapestry carry shields, but there appears to have been no system of hereditary coats of arms. The seeds of heraldic structure in personal identification can be detected in the account in a contemporary chronicle of Henry I of England, on the occasion of his knighting his son-in-law Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, in 1127. He placed to hang around his neck a shield painted with golden lions. The funerary enamel of Geoffrey (died 1151), dressed in blue and gold and bearing his blue shield emblazoned with gold lions, is the first recorded depiction of a coat of arms.[8]

By the middle of the 12th century,[9] coats of arms were being inherited by the children of armigers (persons entitled to use a coat of arms) across Europe. Between 1135 and 1155, seals representing the generalized figure of the owner attest to the general adoption of heraldic devices in England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.[10] By the end of the century, heraldry appears as the sole device on seals.[11] In England, the practice of using marks of cadency arose to distinguish one son from another; it was institutionalized and standardized by John Writhe in the early 15th century.

Three soldiers on the Bayeux Tapestry (11th.c) bearing pre-heraldic shields. 
The tomb of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou (died 1151) is the first recorded example of hereditary armory in Europe. The same shield shown here is found on the tomb effigy of his grandson, William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury. 

Development of classical heraldry

In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, heraldry became a highly developed discipline, regulated by professional officers of arms. As its use in jousting became obsolete, coats of arms remained popular for visually identifying a person in other ways — impressed in sealing wax on documents, carved on family tombs, and flown as a banner on country homes. The first work of heraldic jurisprudence, De Insigniis et Armis, was written in the 1350s by Bartolus de Saxoferrato, a professor of law at the University of Padua.[12]

From the beginning of heraldry, coats of arms have been executed in a wide variety of media, including on paper, painted wood, embroidery, enamel, stonework and stained glass. For the purpose of quick identification in all of these, heraldry distinguishes only seven basic colors[13] and makes no fine distinctions in the precise size or placement of charges on the field.[14] Coats of arms and their accessories are described in a concise jargon called blazon.[15] This technical description of a coat of arms is the standard that is adhered to no matter what artistic interpretations may be made in a particular depiction of the arms.

The specific meaning of each element of a coat of arms is subjective. Though the original armiger may have placed particular meaning on a charge, these meanings are not necessarily retained from generation to generation. Unless canting arms incorporate an obvious pun on the bearer's name, it may be difficult to find meaning in them.

As changes in military technology and tactics made plate armour obsolete, heraldry became detached from its original function. This brought about the development of "paper heraldry" under the Tudors. Designs and shields became more elaborate at the expense of clarity.

Early modern and modern history

In Scottish heraldry, the Lord Lyon King of Arms in the Act of 1672 is empowered to grant arms to "vertuous [virtuous] and well deserving persons."[16]

During the 19th century, especially in Germany, many coats of arms were designed to depict a natural landscape, including several charges tinctured "proper" (i.e. the way they appear in nature).[17] This form has been termed "Landscape heraldry". The 20th century's taste for stark iconic emblems made the simple styles of early heraldry fashionable again.

The rules of heraldry

Shield and lozenge

The focus of modern heraldry is the armorial achievement, or the coat of arms, the central element of which is the escutcheon[18] or shield. In general, the shape of the shield employed in a coat of arms is irrelevant, because the fashion for the shield-shapes employed in heraldic art has changed through the centuries. Sometimes a blazon specifies a particular shape of shield. These specifications mostly occur in non-European contexts—such as the coat of arms of Nunavut[19] and the former Republic of Bophuthatswana,[20] with the arms of North Dakota (as distinguished from its seal) providing an even more unusual example,[21] while the State of Connecticut specifies a "rococo" shield[22]—but not completely, as the Scottish Public Register records an escutcheon of oval form for the Lanarkshire Master Plumbers' and Domestic Engineers' (Employers') Association, and a shield of square form for the Anglo Leasing organisation.

Women and coats of arms

Traditionally, as women did not go to war, they did not bear a shield. Instead, women's coats of arms were shown on a lozenge—a rhombus standing on one of its acute corners, an oval or a cartouche. This remains true in much of the world, though some heraldic authorities, such as Scotland's, with its ovals for women's arms, make exceptions.[23] In Canada, the restriction against women's bearing arms on a shield was eliminated. In Scotland and Ireland, women may, under certain circumstances, be permitted to display their arms on a shield. Non-combatant clergy also have used the lozenge and the cartouche – an oval – for their display.


Tinctures are the colors, metals, and furs used in heraldry, though the depiction of charges in their natural colors or "proper" are also regarded as tinctures, the latter distinct from any color that such a depiction might approximate. Heraldry is essentially a system of identification, so the most important convention of heraldry is the rule of tincture. To provide for contrast and visibility, metals (generally lighter tinctures) must never be placed on metals, and colors (generally darker tinctures) must never be placed on colors. Where a charge overlies a partition of the field, the rule does not apply. There are other exceptions - the most famous being the arms of the kingdom of Jerusalem, consisting of gold crosses on white.[24]

The names used in English blazon for the colors and metals come mainly from French and include Or (gold), argent (white), azure (blue), gules (red), sable (black), vert (green), and purpure (purple). A number of other colors (such as bleu-celeste, sanguine, tenné and murrey) are occasionally found, typically for special purposes.[25]

Certain patterns called furs can appear in a coat of arms, though they are (rather arbitrarily) defined as tinctures, not patterns. The two common furs are ermine and vair. Ermine represents the winter coat of the stoat, which is white with a black tail. Vair represents a kind of squirrel with a blue-gray back and white belly. Sewn together, it forms a pattern of alternating blue and white shapes.[26]

Heraldic charges can be displayed in their natural colors. Many natural items such as plants and animals are described as proper in this case. Proper charges are very frequent as crests and supporters. Overuse of the tincture "proper" is viewed as decadent or bad practice.

Variations of the field

The field of a shield, or less often a charge or crest, is sometimes made up of a pattern of colors, or variation. A pattern of horizontal (barwise) stripes, for example, is called barry, while a pattern of vertical (palewise) stripes is called paly. A pattern of diagonal stripes may be called bendy or bendy sinister, depending on the direction of the stripes. Other variations include chevrony, gyronny and chequy. For further variations, these are sometimes combined to produce patterns of barry-bendy, paly-bendy, lozengy and fusilly. Semés, or patterns of repeated charges, are also considered variations of the field.[27] The Rule of tincture applies to all semés and variations of the field.

Divisions of the field

The field of a shield in heraldry can be divided into more than one tincture, as can the various heraldic charges. Many coats of arms consist simply of a division of the field into two contrasting tinctures. These are considered divisions of a shield, so the rule of tincture can be ignored. For example, a shield divided azure and gules would be perfectly acceptable. A line of partition may be straight or it may be varied. The variations of partition lines can be wavy, indented, embattled, engrailed, nebuly, or made into myriad other forms; see Line (heraldry).[28]


In the early days of heraldry, very simple bold rectilinear shapes were painted on shields. These could be easily recognized at a long distance and could be easily remembered. They therefore served the main purpose of heraldry—identification.[29] As more complicated shields came into use, these bold shapes were set apart in a separate class as the "honorable ordinaries". They act as charges and are always written first in blazon. Unless otherwise specified they extend to the edges of the field. Though ordinaries are not easily defined, they are generally described as including the cross, the fess, the pale, the bend, the chevron, the saltire, and the pall.[30]

There is a separate class of charges called sub-ordinaries which are of a geometrical shape subordinate to the ordinary. According to Friar, they are distinguished by their order in blazon. The sub-ordinaries include the inescutcheon, the orle, the tressure, the double tressure, the bordure, the chief, the canton, the label, and flaunches.[31]

Ordinaries may appear in parallel series, in which case blazons in English give them different names such as pallets, bars, bendlets, and chevronels. French blazon makes no such distinction between these diminutives and the ordinaries when borne singly. Unless otherwise specified an ordinary is drawn with straight lines, but each may be indented, embattled, wavy, engrailed, or otherwise have their lines varied.[32]


A charge is any object or figure placed on a heraldic shield or on any other object of an armorial composition.[33] Any object found in nature or technology may appear as a heraldic charge in armory. Charges can be animals, objects, or geometric shapes. Apart from the ordinaries, the most frequent charges are the cross—with its hundreds of variations—and the lion and eagle. Other common animals are stags, Wild Boars, martlets, and fish. Dragons, bats, unicorns, griffins, and more exotic monsters appear as charges and as supporters.

Animals are found in various stereotyped positions or attitudes. Quadrupeds can often be found rampant—standing on the left hind foot. Another frequent position is passant, or walking, like the lions of the coat of arms of England. Eagles are almost always shown with their wings spread, or displayed.

In English heraldry the crescent, mullet, martlet, annulet, fleur-de-lis, and rose may be added to a shield to distinguish cadet branches of a family from the senior line. These cadency marks are usually shown smaller than normal charges, but it still does not follow that a shield containing such a charge belongs to a cadet branch. All of these charges occur frequently in basic undifferenced coats of arms.[34]


An extravagant example of marshalling: the 719 quarterings of the Grenville Armorial at Stowe

To marshal two or more coats of arms is to combine them in one shield, to express inheritance, claims to property, or the occupation of an office. This can be done in a number of ways, of which the simplest is impalement: dividing the field per pale and putting one whole coat in each half. Impalement replaced the earlier dimidiation – combining the dexter half of one coat with the sinister half of another – because dimidiation can create ambiguity between, for example, a bend and a chevron. "Dexter" (from Latin dextra, right) means to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the arms and "sinister" (from Latin sinistra, left) means to the left. The dexter side is considered the side of greatest honour (see also Dexter and sinister).

A more versatile method is quartering, division of the field by both vertical and horizontal lines. This practice originated in Spain after the 13th century.[35] As the name implies, the usual number of divisions is four, but the principle has been extended to very large numbers of "quarters".

Quarters are numbered from the dexter chief (the corner nearest to the right shoulder of a man standing behind the shield), proceeding across the top row, and then across the next row and so on. When three coats are quartered, the first is repeated as the fourth; when only two coats are quartered, the second is also repeated as the third. The quarters of a personal coat of arms correspond to the ancestors from whom the bearer has inherited arms, normally in the same sequence as if the pedigree were laid out with the father's father's ... father (to as many generations as necessary) on the extreme left and the mother's mother's ... mother on the extreme right. A few lineages have accumulated hundreds of quarters, though such a number is usually displayed only in documentary contexts.[36] The Scottish and Spanish traditions resist allowing more than four quarters, preferring to subdivide one or more "grand quarters" into sub-quarters as needed.

The third common mode of marshalling is with an inescutcheon, a small shield placed in front of the main shield. In Britain this is most often an "escutcheon of pretence" indicating, in the arms of a married couple, that the wife is an heraldic heiress (that is, she inherits a coat of arms because she has no brothers). In continental Europe an inescutcheon (sometimes called a "heart shield") usually carries the ancestral arms of a monarch or noble whose domains are represented by the quarters of the main shield.

In German heraldry, animate charges in combined coats usually turn to face the centre of the composition.

Helm and crest

German heraldry has examples of shields with numerous crests, as this arms of Saxe-Altenburg featuring a total of seven crests. Some thaler coins display as many as fifteen.

In English the word "crest" is commonly (but erroneously) used to refer to an entire heraldic achievement of armorial bearings. The technical use of the heraldic term crest refers to just one component of a complete achievement. The crest rests on top of a helmet which itself rests on the most important part of the achievement: the shield.

The modern crest has grown out of the three-dimensional figure placed on the top of the mounted knights' helms as a further means of identification. In most heraldic traditions, a woman does not display a crest, though this tradition is being relaxed in some heraldic jurisdictions, and the stall plate of Lady Marion Fraser in the Thistle Chapel in St Giles, Edinburgh, shows her coat on a lozenge but with helmet, crest, and motto.

The crest is usually found on a wreath of twisted cloth and sometimes within a coronet. Crest-coronets are generally simpler than coronets of rank, but several specialized forms exist; for example, in Canada, descendants of the United Empire Loyalists are entitled to use a Loyalist military coronet (for descendants of members of Loyalist regiments) or Loyalist civil coronet (for others).

When the helm and crest are shown, they are usually accompanied by a mantling. This was originally a cloth worn over the back of the helmet as partial protection against heating by sunlight. Today it takes the form of a stylized cloak hanging from the helmet.[37] Typically in British heraldry, the outer surface of the mantling is of the principal color in the shield and the inner surface is of the principal metal, though peers in the United Kingdom use standard colourings regardless of rank or the colourings of their arms. The mantling is sometimes conventionally depicted with a ragged edge, as if damaged in combat, though the edges of most are simply decorated at the emblazoner's discretion.

Clergy often refrain from displaying a helm or crest in their heraldic achievements. Members of the clergy may display appropriate headwear. This often takes the form of a small crowned, wide brimmed hat called a galero with the colors and tassels denoting rank; or, in the case of Papal arms until the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, an elaborate triple crown known as a tiara. Benedict broke with tradition to substitute a mitre in his arms. Orthodox and Presbyterian clergy do sometimes adopt other forms of head gear to ensign their shields. In the Anglican tradition, clergy members may pass crests on to their offspring, but rarely display them on their own shields.


An armorial motto is a phrase or collection of words intended to describe the motivation or intention of the armigerous person or corporation. This can form a pun on the family name as in Thomas Nevile's motto "Ne vile velis." Mottoes are generally changed at will and do not make up an integral part of the armorial achievement. Mottoes can typically be found on a scroll under the shield. In Scottish heraldry where the motto is granted as part of the blazon, it is usually shown on a scroll above the crest, and may not be changed at will. A motto may be in any language.

Supporters and other insignia

Supporters are human or animal figures or, very rarely, inanimate objects, usually placed on either side of a coat of arms as though supporting it. In many traditions, these have acquired strict guidelines for use by certain social classes. On the European continent, there are often fewer restrictions on the use of supporters.[38] In the United Kingdom, only peers of the realm, a few baronets, senior members of orders of knighthood, and some corporate bodies are granted supporters. Often, these can have local significance or a historical link to the armiger.

If the armiger has the title of baron, hereditary knight, or higher, he may display a coronet of rank above the shield. In the United Kingdom, this is shown between the shield and helmet, though it is often above the crest in Continental heraldry.

Another addition that can be made to a coat of arms is the insignia of a baronet or of an order of knighthood. This is usually represented by a collar or similar band surrounding the shield. When the arms of a knight and his wife are shown in one achievement, the insignia of knighthood surround the husband's arms only, and the wife's arms are customarily surrounded by a meaningless ornamental garland of leaves for visual balance.[39]

Differencing and cadency

Since arms pass from parents to offspring, and there is frequently more than one child per couple, it is necessary to distinguish the arms of siblings and extended family members from the original arms as passed on from eldest son to eldest son. Over time several schemes have been used.[40]

National styles

An example of an attributed coat of arms. Medieval officers of arms attributed this coat to Jesus, though he lived a good millennium before the development of heraldry.

The emergence of heraldry occurred across western Europe almost simultaneously in the various countries. Originally, heraldic style was very similar from country to country.[41] Over time, heraldic tradition diverged into four broad styles: German-Nordic, Gallo-British, Latin, and Eastern.[42] In addition it can be argued that newer national heraldic traditions, such as South African and Canadian, have emerged in the 20th century.[43]

German-Nordic heraldry

A Danish coat of arms in the German-Nordic tradition

Coats of arms in Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, Latvia, Czech lands and northern Switzerland generally change very little over time. Marks of difference are very rare in this tradition as are heraldic furs.[44] One of the most striking characteristics of German-Nordic heraldry is the treatment of the crest. Often, the same design is repeated in the shield and the crest. The use of multiple crests is also common.[45] The crest is rarely used separately as in British heraldry, but can sometimes serve as a mark of difference between different branches of a family.[46] Torse is optional.[47] Heraldic courtoisie is observed: that is, charges in a composite shield (or two shields displayed together) usually turn to face the centre.[48]

Coats consisting only of a divided field are somewhat more frequent in Germany than elsewhere.

Greek heraldry

Ancient Greeks were among the first civilizations to use symbols consistently in order to identify a warrior, clan or a state.[citation needed] The first record of a shield blazon is illustrated in Aeschylus' tragedy Seven Against Thebes. The Greek Heraldry Society is a useful source of information on Hellenic Heraldry and Byzantine etiquette.[49]

Dutch heraldry

The Low Countries were great centres of heraldry in medieval times. One of the famous armorials is the Gelre Armorial or Wapenboek, written between 1370 and 1414. Coats of arms in the Netherlands were not controlled by an official heraldic system like the two in the United Kingdom, nor were they used solely by noble families. Any person could develop and use a coat of arms if they wished to do so, provided they did not usurp someone else's arms, and historically, this right was enshrined in Roman Dutch law.[50] As a result, many merchant families had coats of arms even though they were not members of the nobility. These are sometimes referred to as burgher arms, and it is thought that most arms of this type were adopted while the Netherlands was a republic (1581–1806). This heraldic tradition was also exported to the erstwhile Dutch colonies.[51]

Dutch heraldry is characterised by its simple and rather sober style, and in this sense, is closer to its medieval origins than the elaborate styles which developed in other heraldic traditions.[52]

Gallo-British heraldry

The use of cadency marks to difference arms within the same family and the use of semy fields are distinctive features of Gallo-British heraldry (in Scotland the most significant mark of cadency being the bordure, the small brisures playing a very minor role). It is common to see heraldic furs used.[44] In the United Kingdom, the style is notably still controlled by royal officers of arms.[53] French heraldry experienced a period of strict rules of construction under the Emperor Napoleon.[54] English and Scots heraldries make greater use of supporters than other European countries.[45]

Furs, chevrons and five-pointed stars are more frequent in France and Britain than elsewhere.

Latin heraldry

The heraldry of southern France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy is characterized by a lack of crests, and uniquely shaped shields.[55] Portuguese and Spanish heraldry occasionally introduce words to the shield of arms, a practice disallowed in British heraldry. Latin heraldry is known for extensive use of quartering, because of armorial inheritance via the male and the female lines. Moreover, Italian heraldry is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, featuring many shields and achievements, most bearing some reference to the Church.[56]

Trees are frequent charges in Latin arms. Charged bordures, including bordures inscribed with words, are seen often in Spain.

Central and Eastern European heraldry

Austria-Hungary Coat of Arms (1850. - 1918.)

Eastern European heraldry is in the traditions developed in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. Eastern coats of arms are characterized by a pronounced, territorial, clan system — often, entire villages or military groups were granted the same coat of arms irrespective of family relationships. In Poland, nearly six hundred unrelated families are known to bear the same Jastrzębiec coat of arms. Marks of cadency are almost unknown, and shields are generally very simple, with only one charge. Many heraldic shields derive from ancient house marks. At the least, fifteen per cent of all Hungarian personal arms bear a severed Turk's head, referring to their wars against the Ottoman Empire.[57][58]

Modern heraldry

Heraldry flourishes in the modern world; institutions, companies, and private persons continue using coats of arms as their pictorial identification. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the English Kings of Arms, Scotland's Lord Lyon King of Arms, and the Chief Herald of Ireland continue making grants of arms.[59] There are heraldic authorities in Canada,[60] South Africa, Spain, and Sweden that grant or register coats of arms. In South Africa, the right to armorial bearings is also determined by Roman Dutch law, inherited from the 17th century Netherlands.[61]

Heraldic societies abound in Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Americas and Europe. Heraldry aficionados participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism, medieval revivals, micronationalism, et cetera. People see heraldry as a part of their national and personal heritages, and as a manifestation of civic and national pride. Today, heraldry is not a worldly expression of aristocracy, merely a form of identification.[62]

Military heraldry continues developing, incorporating blazons unknown in the medieval world. Nations and their subdivisions — provinces, states, counties, cities, etc. — continue building upon the traditions of civic heraldry. The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and other Churches maintain the tradition of ecclesiastical heraldry for their high-rank prelates, religious orders, universities, and schools.

Writers on British Heraldry

The main historical authorities on heraldry include the following:

  • Dame Juliana Berners (14/15th.c.), author of The Book of Saint Albans. Includes much fanciful invention.
  • Thomas Wriothesley (d.1534), Garter King of Arms. Depicted many arms.
  • Gerard Legh (d.1563)
  • John Ferne (d.1609)
  • John Guillim (d.1621), author of Display of Heraldry (1610)
  • John Gibbon, author of Introductio ad Latinam Blasoniam (1682)
  • Thomas Robson, author of The British Herald (1830). A complete listing of all known British armourials.
  • John Bernard Burke (1814–1892), author of Burke's Armorials (sic), (1884). This is an essential reference book which attempted to list every known British coat. Not always reliable.

See also

En-wikipedia arms 9.svg Heraldry and Vexillology portal
  • Attitude, for the poses of heraldic beasts
  • Heraldic authorities, a list of official authorities governing heraldry
  • Heraldic flag, for banners, standards, pennon and so forth
  • Heraldic societies, an extended list including non-official heraldic authorities and societies
  • Law of Arms, for laws and customs of heraldic practice
  • Mon, for the Japanese emblems likened to heraldry
  • Royal Supporters of England, for supporters and badges
  • Vexillology, for the practice of flag design
  • Roll of Arms
  • Byzantine heraldry
  • Socialist heraldry



  • Boutell, Rev. Charles. Boutell's Heraldry. John Brooke-Little, ed. London and New York: Frederick Warne, 1983.
  • Burke, Sir Bernard. The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; Comprising a Registry of Armorial Bearings from the Earliest to the Present Time. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967.
  • Dennys, Rodney. The Heraldic Imagination. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1975.
  • Elvins, Mark Turnham. Cardinals and Heraldry. London: Buckland Publications, 1988.
  • Fairbairn, James. Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain & Ireland. New York: Bonanza Books, 1986.
  • Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopedia of Armory.
  • Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles and Graham Johnston. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. London: TC & EC Jack, 1909.
  • Humphery-Smith, Cecil. General Armory Two. London: Tabard Press, 1973.
  • Innes of Edingight, Malcolm, revisor. Scots Heraldry. 3rd Ed. Johnston & Bacon, London, 1978
  • Le Févre, Jean. A European Armorial: An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe. Eds. Pinches and Anthony Wood. London: Heraldry Today, 1971.
  • Louda, Jiří and Michael Maclagan. Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1981.
  • Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, G. Scotland's Herauldrie: the Science of Herauldrie treated as a part of the Civil law and Law of Nations. Edinburgh: Heir of Andrew Anderson, 1680.
  • Moncreiffe of Easter Moncrieffe, Iain and Don Pottinger. Simple Heraldry - Cheerfully Illustrated. London and Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1953.
  • Neubecker, Ottfried. Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
  • Nisbet, Alexander. A system of Heraldry. Edinburgh: T & A Constable, 1984.
  • Parker, James. A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1970.
  • Paul, James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. Edinburgh: W. Green & Sons, 1903.
  • Reid of Robertland, David and Vivien Wilson. An Ordinary of Arms. Second vol. Edinburgh: Lyon Office, 1977.
  • Rietstap, Johannes B. Armorial General. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967.
  • Siebmacher, Johann. J. Siebmacher's Grosses und Allgemeines Wappenbuch Vermehrten Auglage. Nürnberg: Von Bauer & Raspe, 1890-1901.
  • Wagner, Sir Anthony R. Heralds of England: A History of the Office and College of Arms. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1967.
  • Woodcock, Thomas and John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.


  1. ^ a b American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. ISBN 0618082301. 
  2. ^ Stephen Friar, Ed. A Dictionary of Heraldry. (Harmony Books, New York: 1987), 183.
  3. ^ Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry, (Thomas Nelson, 1925).
  4. ^ Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk & Pottinger, Simple Heraldry (Thomas Nelson, 1953).
  5. ^ John Brooke-Little. An Heraldic Alphabet. (Macdonald, London: 1973),2.
  6. ^ A. C. Fox-Davies, The Art of Heraldry (ISBN 0906223342), chapter 1, "The origins of Armory", p.3, quoting Sloane Evans, Grammar of Heraldry, p.ix: "The antiquity of standards and symbols may be proved by reference to the Holy Writ."
  7. ^ Notitia Dignitatum, Bodleian Library
  8. ^ C. A. Stothard, Monumental Effigies of Great Britain (1817) pl. 2, illus. in Wagner, Anthony, Richmond Herald, Heraldry in England (Penguin, 1946), pl. I.
  9. ^ Beryl Platts. Origins of Heraldry. (Procter Press, London: 1980), 32.
  10. ^ Woodcock, Thomas & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 1.
  11. ^ Wagner 1946:8.
  12. ^ Squibb, George. (Spring 1953). "The Law of Arms in England". The Coat of Arms II (15): 244.
  13. ^ Jack Carlson. A Humorous Guide to Heraldry. (Black Knight Books, Boston: 2005), 22
  14. ^ David Williamson. Debrett's Guide to Heraldry and Regalia. (Headline Books, London: 1992), 24.
  15. ^ Arthur Fox-Davies. A Complete Guide to Heraldry (Grammercy Books, New York: 1993), 99.
  16. ^ "Lyon King of Arms Act 1672". François R. Velde. http://www.heraldica.org/topics/britain/lyondocs.htm#Act%201672. 
  17. ^ Fox-Davies (1909). pp. 74-5, 88.
  18. ^ William Whitmore. The Elements of Heraldry. (Weathervane Books, New York: 1968), p.9.
  19. ^ Government of Nunavut. n.d. About the Flag and Coat of Arms. Government of Nunavut, Iqaluit, NU, Canada. Accessed October 19, 2006. Available at GOV.nu.ca
  20. ^ Hartemink R. 1996. South African Civic Heraldry-Bophuthatswana. Ralf Hartemink, The Netherlands. Accessed October 19, 2006. Available at NGW.nl
  21. ^ US Heraldic Registry
  22. ^ American Heraldry Society - Arms of Connecticut
  23. ^ Stephen Slater. The Complete Book of Heraldry. (Hermes House, New York: 2003), p.56.
  24. ^ Bruno Heim. Or and Argent (Gerrards Cross, Buckingham: 1994).
  25. ^ Pastoureau, Michel. Heraldry: An Introduction to a Noble Tradition (Henry N Abrams, London: 1997), 47.
  26. ^ Thomas Innes of Learney. Scots Heraldry (Johnston & Bacon, London: 1978), 28.
  27. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (2004). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 101. ISBN 1417906308. 
  28. ^ Stephen Friar and John Ferguson. Basic Heraldry. (W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 1993), 148.
  29. ^ Carl-Alexander von Volborth. Heraldry: Customs, Rules, and Styles. (Blandford Press, Dorset: 1981), 18.
  30. ^ Stephen Friar, Ed. A Dictionary of Heraldry. (Harmony Books, New York: 1987), 259.
  31. ^ Stephen Friar, Ed. A Dictionary of Heraldry. (Harmony Books, New York: 1987), 330.
  32. ^ Woodcock, Thomas & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 60.
  33. ^ John Brooke-Little. Boutell's Heraldry. (Frederick Warne & Company, London: 1973), 311.
  34. ^ Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk and Don Pottinger. Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated. (Thomas Nelson and Sons, London: 1953), 20.
  35. ^ Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 14.
  36. ^ Edmundas Rimša. Heraldry Past to Present. (Versus Aureus, Vilnius: 2005), 38.
  37. ^ Peter Gwynn-Jones. The Art of Heraldry. (Parkgate Books, London: 1998), 124.
  38. ^ Ottfried Neubecker. Heraldry: Sources, Symbols, and Meaning. (Tiger Books International, London: 1997), 186.
  39. ^ Julian Franklyn. Shield and Crest. (MacGibbon & Kee, London: 1960), 358.
  40. ^ Baronage.co.uk
  41. ^ Davies, T.R. (Spring 1976). "Did National Heraldry Exist?". The Coat of Arms NS II (97): 16.
  42. ^ von Warnstedt, Christopher. (October 1970). "The Heraldic Provinces of Europe". The Coat of Arms XI (84): 128.
  43. ^ Alan Beddoe, revised by Strome Galloway. Beddoe's Canadian Heraldry. (Mika Publishing Company, Belleville: 1981).
  44. ^ a b von Warnstedt, Christopher. (October 1970). "The Heraldic Provinces of Europe". The Coat of Arms XI (84): 129.
  45. ^ a b Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 15.
  46. ^ Neubecker, Ottfried. Heraldry. Sources, Symbols and Meaning (London 1976), p. 158
  47. ^ Pinches, J.H: European Nobility and Heraldry. (Heraldry Today, 1994, ISBN 0-900455-45-4, p. 82
  48. ^ Carl-Alexander von Volborth. Heraldry: Customs, Rules, and Styles. (Blandford Press, Dorset: 1981), p. 88.
  49. ^ http://greekheraldry.com/
  50. ^ J.A. de Boo. Familiewapens, oud en nieuw. Een inleiding tot de Familieheraldiek. (Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague: 1977)
  51. ^ Roosevelt Coats of Arms: Theodore and Franklin Delano at American Heraldry Society. Accessed January 20, 2007.
  52. ^ Cornelius Pama Heraldiek in Suid-Afrika. (Balkema, Cape Town: 1956).
  53. ^ Carl-Alexander von Volborth. Heraldry of the World. (Blandford Press, Dorset: 1979), 192.
  54. ^ Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 21.
  55. ^ von Warnstedt, Christopher. (October 1970). "The Heraldic Provinces of Europe". The Coat of Arms XI (84): p.129.
  56. ^ Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), pp.24-30.
  57. ^ von Warnstedt, Christopher. (October 1970). "The Heraldic Provinces of Europe". The Coat of Arms XI (84): pp.129-30.
  58. ^ Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. (Oxford University Press, New York: 1988), 28-32.
  59. ^ See the College of Arms newsletter for quarterly samplings of English grants and the Chief Herald of Ireland's webpage for recent Irish grants.
  60. ^ See the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada at this page
  61. ^ Cornelius Pama. Heraldry of South African families: coats of arms/crests/ancestry. (Balkema, Cape Town: 1972)
  62. ^ Stephen Slater. The Complete Book of Heraldry. (Hermes House, New York: 2003), p.238.

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  • Heraldry — Her ald*ry, n. 1. The art or office of a herald; the art, practice, or science of recording genealogies, and blazoning arms or ensigns armorial; also, of marshaling cavalcades, processions, and public ceremonies. [1913 Webster] 2. A coat of arms… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • heraldry — art of arms and armorial bearings, late 14c., heraldy, from O.Fr. hiraudie heralds collectively, from hiraut (see HERALD (Cf. herald) (n.)). The spelling with r is attested from 1570s (Cf. poetry, pedantry) …   Etymology dictionary

  • heraldry — ► NOUN 1) the system by which coats of arms and other armorial bearings are devised, described, and regulated. 2) armorial bearings or other heraldic symbols. DERIVATIVES heraldist noun …   English terms dictionary

  • heraldry — [her′əl drē] n. pl. heraldries [< HERALD] 1. the art or science having to do with coats of arms, genealogies, etc. 2. the function of a HERALD (sense 2) 3. a) a coat of arms or heraldic device …   English World dictionary

  • heraldry — heraldist, n. /her euhl dree/, n., pl. heraldries. 1. the science of armorial bearings. 2. the art of blazoning armorial bearings, of settling the rights of persons to bear arms or to use certain bearings, of tracing and recording genealogies, of …   Universalium

  • HERALDRY — Seventeenth century writers on heraldry claimed that the origins of coats of arms could be found in Numbers 2:2: The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying The Israelites shall camp each with his standard under the banners of their ancestral house …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • heraldry — noun a) The profession or art of devising, granting and blazoning coats of arms, tracing genealogies and ruling on questions of protocol or rank Rouge Dragon Pursuivant is a specialist in heraldry at the College of Arms …   Wiktionary

  • heraldry — [[t]he̱rəldri[/t]] N UNCOUNT Heraldry is the study of coats of arms and of the history of the families who are entitled to have them …   English dictionary

  • heraldry — n 1. blazonry, emblazonry. 2. coat of arms, Heraldry. arms, escutcheon, scutcheon, Brit. hatchment; symbol, design, emblazonment, ensign, emblem; crest, badge, insignia, regalia, regale, device. 3. pomp, circumstance, pageantry, ceremony, Inf. to …   A Note on the Style of the synonym finder

  • Heraldry, Ecclesiastical — • Information on heraldry as it is used in and by the Catholic Church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

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