Portal:Heraldry

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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 coat of arms

Coat of arms of Germany

The coat of arms of Germany displays a black eagle (the Bundesadler "Federal Eagle", formerly Reichsadler "Imperial Eagle") on a yellow shield (Or, an eagle displayed sable). The current official design is due to Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) and was introduced in 1928. It is a re-introduction of the coat of arms of the Weimar Republic (in use 1919–1935) adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950. The Weimar Republic had re-introduced the medieval coat of arms of the Holy Roman Emperors, in use during the 13th and 14th centuries, before Sigismund of Luxemburg adopted the double-headed eagle beginning in 1433. The single-headed Imperial Eagle (on a white background, Argent, an eagle displayed sable) had also been used by the German Empire during 1889–1918, based on the earlier coat of arms of Prussia. (more...)

Selected article

Arms of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The tradition and practice of heraldry in Poland dates from the 13th century. Although influenced by French and German heraldic practice, differs in a number of respects. One of the most striking is that a coat of arms does not belong to a single family. Many, sometimes hundreds of unrelated families may use a single coat of arms. Each coat of arms also has its own name. One side-effect of this unique arrangement was that it became customary to refer to members of the nobility (Polish: Szlachta) by both their family name and the name of their coat of arms. (more...)

Selected flag

Heirlooms of Clan MacLeod of Dunvegan Castle, including Fairy Flag

The Fairy Flag (Scottish Gaelic: Am Bratach Sìth) is an heirloom of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod. It is held in Dunvegan Castle along with other notable heirlooms, such as the Dunvegan Cup and Sir Rory Mor's Horn. The flag is made of silk, is yellow or brown in colour, and measures about 18 inches (46 cm) square. Now ripped and tattered, it is extremely fragile. The flag is covered in small red "elf dots". In the early part of the 19th century, the flag was also marked with small crosses, but these have since disappeared. The flag may have been an important relic, perhaps from the Crusades, or it may have even been a raven banner.

There are numerous stories associated with the flag, most of which deal with its magical properties and mysterious origins. Clan tradition, preserved in the early 19th century, tells how the Fairy Flag was entrusted to a family of hereditary standard bearers. Tradition states that the flag was unfurled at several clan battles in the 15th and 16th centuries; the flag's magical powers are said to have won at least one of them. In the mid 20th century, the Fairy Flag was said to have said to have extinguished a fire at Dunvegan Castle, and to have given luck to servicemen flying bombing missions in the Second World War. (more...)

Selected picture

Blue and white banner of Zürich

The blue and white banner of Zürich was depicted in a 1585 painting by Humbert Mareschet. The red Schwenkel on top of the banner is typical of German heraldry.

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Flag of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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