Coat of arms

Coat of arms


A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design
on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. A surcoat, and subsequently a coat of arms
was used by medieval knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer. Thus these are sometimes called coat armory. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the
central element of the full heraldic achievement which consists of shield, supporters, crest,
and motto. The design is a symbol unique to an individual
person or family, corporation, or state. Such displays are commonly called armorial
bearings, armorial devices, heraldic devices, or simply arms. Sometimes the term coat of arms is used to
refer to the full achievement, but this usage is wrong in a strict sense of heraldic terminology. The ancient Romans used similar insignias
on their shields, but these identified military units rather than individuals. The first evidence of medieval coats of arms
is found in the Bayeux Tapestry from the 11th Century, where some of the combatants carry
shields painted with crosses. Coats of arms came into general use by feudal
lords and knights in battle in the 12th Century. By the 13th Century arms had spread beyond
their initial battlefield use to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher
social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next. Exactly who had a right to use arms, by law
or social convention, varied to some degree between countries. In the German-speaking region both the aristocracy
and burghers used arms, while in most of the rest of Europe they were limited to the aristocracy. The use of arms spread to Church clergy, and
to towns as civic identifiers, and to royally-chartered organizations such as universities and trading
companies. Flags developed from coats of arms, and the
arts of vexillology and heraldry are closely related. The coats of arms granted to commercial companies
are a major source of the modern logo. Despite no widespread regulation, and even
with a lack in many cases of national regulation, heraldry has remained rather consistent across
Europe, where traditions alone have governed the design and use of arms. Unlike seals and other general emblems, heraldic
achievements have a formal description called a blazon, expressed in a jargon that allows
for consistency in heraldic depictions. In the 21st century, coats of arms are still
in use by a variety of institutions and individuals; for example, many European cities and universities
have guidelines on how their coats of arms may be used, and protect their use as trademarks. Many societies exist that also aid in the
design and registration of personal arms. Some nations, like England and Scotland, still
maintain the same heraldic authorities which have traditionally granted and regulated arms
for centuries and continue to do so in the present day. Traditions and usage In the heraldic traditions of England and
Scotland an individual, rather than a family, had a coat of arms. In those traditions coats of arms are legal
property transmitted from father to son; wives and daughters could also bear arms modified
to indicate their relation to the current holder of the arms. Undifferenced arms are used only by one person
at any given time. Other descendants of the original bearer could
bear the ancestral arms only with some difference: usually a color change or the addition of
a distinguishing charge. One such charge is the label, which in British
usage is now always the mark of an heir apparent or an heir presumptive. Because of their importance in identification,
particularly in seals on legal documents, the use of arms was strictly regulated; few
countries continue in this today. This has been carried out by heralds and the
study of coats of arms is therefore called “heraldry”. Some other traditions are less restrictive
— allowing, for example, all members of a dynastic house or family to use the same
arms, although one or more elements may be reserved to the head of the house. In time, the use of arms spread from military
entities to educational institutes, and other establishments. According to a design institute article, “The
modern logo and corporate livery have evolved from the battle standard and military uniform
of medieval times”. In his book, The Visual Culture of Violence
in the Late Middle Ages, Valentin Groebner argues that the images composed on coats of
arms are in many cases designed to convey a feeling of power and strength, often in
military terms. The author Helen Stuart argues that some coats
of arms were a form of corporate logo. Museums on medieval armory also point out
that as emblems they may be viewed as precursors to the corporate logos of modern society,
used for group identity formation. When knights were so encased in armour that
no means of identifying them was left, the practice was introduced of painting their
insignia of honour on their shield as an easy method of distinguishing them. Originally these were granted only to individuals,
but were afterward made hereditary in England by King Richard I, during his crusade to Palestine. European tradition
British heraldry In Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms has
criminal jurisdiction to enforce the laws of arms. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales the
use of arms is a matter of civil law and regulated by the College of Arms and the Court of Chivalry. In reference to a dispute over the exercise
of authority over the Officers of Arms in England, Arthur Annesley, 1st Earl of Anglesey,
Lord Privy Seal, declared on 16 June 1673 that the powers of the Earl Marshal were “to
order, judge, and determine all matters touching arms, ensigns of nobility, honour, and chivalry;
to make laws, ordinances, and statutes for the good government of the Officers of Arms;
to nominate Officers to fill vacancies in the College of Arms; to punish and correct
Officers of Arms for misbehaviour in the execution of their places”. It was further declared that no patents of
arms or any ensigns of nobility should be granted and no augmentation, alteration, or
addition should be made to arms without the consent of the Earl Marshal. Irish heraldry
In Ireland, since 1552, the usage and granting of coats of arms has been strictly regulated
by the Government of Ireland, through the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland. German and Scandinavian heraldry The heraldic tradition and style of modern
and historic Germany and the Holy Roman Empire — including national and civic arms, noble
and burgher arms, ecclesiastical heraldry, heraldic displays and heraldic descriptions
— stand in contrast to Gallo-British, Latin and Eastern heraldry, and strongly influenced
the styles and customs of heraldry in the Nordic countries, which developed comparatively
late. In the Nordic countries, provinces, regions,
cities and municipalities have a coat of arms. These are posted at the borders and on buildings
containing official offices, as well as used in official documents and on the uniforms
of municipal officers. Arms may also be used on souvenirs or other
effects, given that an application has been granted by the municipal council. Other European countries At a national level, “coats of arms” were
generally retained by European states with constitutional continuity of more than a few
centuries, including constitutional monarchies like Denmark as well as old republics like
San Marino and Switzerland. In Italy the use of coats of arms was only
loosely regulated by the states existing before the unification of 1860. Since the Consulta Araldica, the college of
arms of the Kingdom of Italy, was abolished in 1948, personal coats of arms and titles
of nobility, though not outlawed, are not recognised. Among the states ruled by communist regimes,
emblems resembling the Soviet design were adopted in all the Warsaw Pact states except
Czechoslovakia and Poland. Since 1989, some of the ex-Communist states,
as Romania, have resumed their former arms, often with only the symbols of monarchy removed. Asia and Africa
Arab world With the formation of the modern nation states
of the Arab World in the second half of the 20th century, European traditions of heraldry
were partially adopted for state emblems. These emblems often involve the star and crescent
symbol taken from the Ottoman flag. Another commonly seen symbol is the eagle,
which is a symbol attributed to Saladin, and the hawk of the Qureish. Japanese Mon Japanese emblems, called kamon, are family
badges which often date back to the 7th century, and are used in Japan today. The Japanese tradition is independent of the
European, and thus very different in style; but as in Europe many abstract and floral
elements are used. Yet, even these simple designs often express
an origin. An example in recent use is the logo of Mitsubishi
corporation which started as a shipping and maritime enterprise and whose emblem is based
on a water chestnut derived from its maritime history with a military naval influence. The word mitsu means the number 3 and the
word hishi meaning “water chestnut” originated from the emblem of the warrior Tosa Clan. The battleships of the Tosa Clan had been
used in the late 19th century in the First Sino-Japanese War to reach Korea and their
name was given to a modern battleship. The Tosa water chestnut leaf mon was then
drawn as a rhombus or diamond shape in the Mitsubishi logo. New World practices
Canada The Queen of Canada has delegated her prerogative
to grant armorial bearings to the Governor General of Canada. Canada has its own Chief Herald and Herald
Chancellor. The Canadian Heraldic Authority is situated
at Rideau Hall. United States The Great Seal of the United States uses on
the obverse as its central motif an heraldic achievement described as being the arms of
the nation. The seal, and the armorial bearings, were
adopted by the Continental Congress on 20 June 1782, and is a shield divided palewise
into thirteen pieces, with a blue chief, which is displayed upon the breast of an American
bald eagle. The crest is thirteen stars breaking through
a glory and clouds, displayed with no helm, torse, or mantling. Only a few of the American states have adopted
a coat of arms, which is usually designed as part of the respective state’s seal. Vermont has both a state seal and a state
coat of arms that are independent of one another; the seal is used to authenticate documents,
whilst the heraldic device represents the state itself. Ecclesiastic practice Catholic Church Vatican City State and the Holy See each have
their own coat of arms. As the Papacy is not hereditary, its occupants
display their personal arms combined with those of their office. Some Popes came from armigerous families;
others adopted coats of arms during their career in the Church. The latter typically allude to their ideal
of life, or to specific Pontifical programmes. A well-known and widely displayed example
in recent times was Pope John Paul II’s arms. His selection of a large letter M was intended
to express the message of his strong Marian devotion. Roman Catholic dioceses also are assigned
a coat of arms, as do a basilica or papal church also gets a coat of arms, the latter
usually displaying these on the building. These may be used in countries which otherwise
do not use heraldic devices. In countries like Scotland with a strong statutory
heraldic authority, arms will need to be officially granted and recorded. Flags and banners Flags are used to identify ships, embassies
and such, and they use the same colors and designs found in heraldry, but they are not
usually considered to be heraldic. A country may have both a national flag and
a national coat of arms, and the two may not look alike at all. For example, the flag of Scotland has a white
saltire on a blue field, but the royal arms of Scotland has a red lion within a double
tressure on a gold field. Gallery See also
National emblem Seal
Insignia List of coats of arms
Baron and feme Siebmachers Wappenbuch
Notes References
Pimbley, Arthur Francis. Pimbley’s dictionary of heraldry. Pimbley.  This article incorporates text from a publication
now in the public domain: “Pimbley’s dictionary of heraldry”, Arthur Francis Pimbley
External links College of Arms: Repository of the coats of
arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their
descendants together with, and in principle under the control of, the legal body the Court
of Chivalry, both medieval in origin. The Court of the Lord Lyon: the statutory
heraldry office for Scotland The Armorial Register, International Register
of Arms: A fully illustrated record of contemporary Coats of Arms
Free access to Burke’s General Armory, Pimbley’s Dictionary of Heraldry and Blason des familles
d’Europe, Grand Armorial Universel Royal Dutch Library page for the “Wapenboek
Beyeren” written by Claes Heynenzoon around 1400, containing over 1000 drawings of coats
of arms General armorial of noble families in the
Russian Empire

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