Heraldry in its most general sense encompasses all matters
relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. To most,
though, heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and
recording coats of arms and badges. Historically, it has been variously
described as “the shorthand of history” (Fox-Davies) and “the floral border in
the garden of history” (Moncreiffe & Pottinger). The origins of heraldry lie in
the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by
iron and steel helmets. 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 ...