Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heraldry in its most general sense encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. Eventually a system of rules developed into the modern form of heraldry.
The system of blazoning arms that is used today was developed by the officers of arms since the dawn of the art. This includes a description of the escutcheon (shield), the crest, and, if present, supporters, mottoes, and other insignia. An understanding of these rules is one of the keys to sound practice of heraldry. The rules do differ from country to country, but there are some aspects that carry over in each jurisdiction.
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 thrive to promote understanding of and education about the subject.

Heraldic device The rules of heraldry
The main focus of modern heraldry is the armorial achievement, or coat of arms. The central element of a coat of arms is the escutcheon. In Canada the restriction against women bearing arms on a shield has been completely eliminated. Noncombatant clergy have also made use of the lozenge as well as the cartouche – an oval – for their display.

Shield and lozenge

Main article: Tincture (heraldry) Tinctures

Main article: Division of the field Divisions of the field

Main article: Ordinary (heraldry) Ordinaries

Main article: Charge (heraldry) Charges
Marshalling is the art of correctly arranging armorial bearings. Some traditions have a strong resistance to allowing more than four quarters, and resort instead to sub-quartering.


Main articles: Helmet and Crest (heraldry) Helm and crest
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." Mottos 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. A motto may be in any language.

Supporters are human or animal figures 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.

Supporters and other insignia
The emergence of heraldry occurred across western Europe almost simultaneously. Originally, heraldic style was very similar from country to country. In general there are characteristics shared by each of the four main groups.

National styles
Coats of arms in Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, Latvia, and northern Switzerland generally change very little over time. Marks of difference are very rare in this tradition as are heraldic furs.

German-Nordic heraldry
Coats of arms in the Netherlands were not controlled by an official heraldic system as in Britain, nor were they used solely by noble families. Any person could develop and use a coat of arms if they wished to do so. 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 (1501-1806).

Dutch 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. It is common to see heraldic furs used.

Gallo-British heraldry
The heraldry of southern France, Iberia, and Italy is characterized by a lack of crests and shields of unique shape.

Latin heraldry
Eastern heraldry is the tradition that developed in Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. These 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 arms of a horseshoe enclosing a cross. 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 least 15 percent of all Hungarian personal arms bear a decapitated Turk's head in reference to their wars against Turkey.

Central and Eastern Europe heraldry
Heraldry continues to flourish in the modern world. Institutions, companies, and individuals continue to use coats of arms as forms of pictorial identification. In the British Isles, the King of Arms, the Lord Lyon and the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland continue to make grants of arms.
Military heraldry continues to develop, incorporating blazons unknown to the medieval world. Nations and their subdivisions—provinces, states, counties, cities, and more—continue to build on traditions of civic heraldry. The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and other faiths maintain a tradition of heraldry known as ecclesiastical heraldry for its highest ranking prelates, holy orders, universities and schools.

Modern heraldry

Petrosomatoglyph See also


Heraldic device Authorities

The Academy of Heraldic Science Czech Republic
The American College of Heraldry
The American Heraldry Society
Bulgarian Heraldry and Vexillology Society
The Center for Research of Orthodox Monarchism
Croatian Heraldic and Vexillologic Association
Fryske Rie foar Heraldyk
Genealogical Society of Ireland
The Heraldry Society
The College of Dracology
The Heraldry Society (New Zealand Branch)
The Heraldry Society of Scotland
The Heraldry Society of Southern Africa
The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies
The International Association of Amateur Heralds
Lancashire Heraldry Group
Macedonian Heraldry Society
New England Historic Genealogical Society Committee on Heraldry
The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada
The Russian College of Heraldry
Serbian Heraldic Society
Societas Heraldica Scandinavica
Societas Heraldica Slovenica
United States Heraldic Registry
Hellenic Armigers Society
The Finnish Heraldic Society Heraldic organizations

Puncher Heraldry Program Heraldry-generating software

International Civic Heraldry
A Display of Heraldrie by John Guillim Other

Extended bibliography

Fox-Davies, A.C.. The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopedia of Armory.
Parker, James. A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry. Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1894 (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1970). United Kingdom

Le Févre, Jean. A European Armorial: An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe. (Edited by Rosemary Pinches & Anthony Wood) London: Heraldry Today, 1971.
Louda, Jiří and Michael Maclagan. Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1981. Reprinted as Lines of Succession (London: Orbis, 1984).
Rietstap, Johannes B. Armorial General. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1904-26 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967).
Siebmacher, Johann. J. Siebmacher's Grosses und Allgemeines Wappenbuch Vermehrten Auglage. Nürnberg: Von Bauer & Raspe, 1890-1901.

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