Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!
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.
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.
Selected coat of arms
The coat of arms of Slovakia is composed of a silver (argent) double cross, elevated on the middle peak of a dark blue mountain consisting of three peaks. It is situated on a red (gules) early gothic shield. Extremities of the cross are amplificated, and its ends are concaved. The same symbol (with other colours and minor changes) is in the sinister portion of the Hungarian coat of arms. (more...)
Throughout most of the history of Poland, the banner of Poland was one of the main symbols of the Polish State, normally reserved for use by the head of state. Although its design changed with time, it was generally a heraldic banner, i.e., one based directly on the national coat of arms: a crowned White Eagle on a red field (Gules an eagle Argent crowned Or). A national banner is not mentioned in the current (2007) regulations on Polish national symbols, although today's presidential jack is based directly on the pre-war design for the Banner of the Republic.
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...)