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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

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

Royal Arms of England (1193-1340)

In heraldry, the Royal Arms of England is a coat of arms symbolising England and its monarchs. Its blazon (technical description) is Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure, meaning three identical gold lions with blue tongues and claws, walking and facing the observer, arranged in a column on a red background. This coat, designed in the High Middle Ages, has been variously combined with those of France, Scotland, Ireland, Nassau and Hanover, according to dynastic and other political changes affecting England, but has not itself been altered since the reign of Richard I. (more...)

Selected article

The shield blazoned Azure, a Bend Or, which was the subject of Scrope v. Grosvenor

Scrope v. Grosvenor was one of the earliest heraldic law cases brought in England. The case resulted from the fact that two different families were using the same undifferenced coat of arms. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the composition of coats of arms was very simple. Most shields consisted of only one charge and two tinctures, and there were times when two families bore the same coat of arms in the same jurisdiction. In the fourteenth century, though, cases of two unrelated families bearing the same coat of arms became less tolerated. When this happened, the monarch was usually called on to make a decision. (more...)

Selected flag

Flag of South Africa

The current flag of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on 27 April 1994, at the beginning of the 1994 general election, to replace the flag that had been used since 1928. The new national flag, designed by State Herald Frederick Brownell, was chosen to represent the new democracy.

According to official South African government information, the South African flag is "a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history." However, "no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colours." The only symbolism in the flag is the V or Y shape, which can be interpreted as "the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity". (more...)

Selected picture

coat of arms of Austria

The coat of arms of Austria was modified after World War II to include a broken chain signifying liberation from Nazism. It uses a single-headed eagle rather than the double-headed eagle of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Did you know...

Annunciation commissioned by Ferry de Clugny, 1465-75

  • ...that a bumerke is a house mark with relation to coats of arms as it was frequently used instead of them and used with a shield as a frame work for the mark?

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