History Of Heraldry
History Of Heraldry
Peter O'Donoghue (Bluemantle Pursuivant ) gives expert video advice on: What is Heraldry?; What is a pedigree?; How do I begin to research my pedigree? and more...
What is Heraldry?
Heraldry is the hereditary, systematic use of an arrangement of devices such as lions, eagles or geometrical shapes, centred upon a shield. It began as a system of identification in war, in tournaments and on seals in an about 12th century, and seems to have arisen throughout Western Europe very quickly about that time.
What is a pedigree?
A pedigree is another word for a family tree. It comes from the French words 'pied de grue' meaning 'a crane's foot'. The reasoning is that a crane's foot starts with a thin line going down, and then spreads out with the crane's toes, and that's rather like the way a pedigree goes down and spreads out.
What are the origins of Heraldry?
Heraldry began as a system of signs and symbols on shields used by nobles and kings to identify themselves in the middle of the 12th century, in battle, tournaments - which were the great sort of outdoor sport at that time, and on seals. And it was a hereditary system of identification, but it was also an immensely useful way of displaying your social status. Coat of arms were only used by the upper classes - the land owning classes.
What is a Herald?
A herald is one of the Officers of Arms, appointed by the Crown, to oversee the use of arms, to grant new Coats of Arms, and to carry out heraldic and genealogical research.
How old is Heraldry?
Heraldry dates back to about the middle third of the 12th century. When it arose as a system of science, and symbols of identification throughout Western Europe.
Why is Heraldry important?
Heraldry is important for a number of reasons. It's all around us, in the world we live in. Heraldry is on buildings, on vehicles, and municipal corporations use it all the time, as do some commercial bodies. It's a representation in the world of our history. The arms of famous men and women are all over the country. It also adds color to genealogy. It's a way of bringing genealogy to life and making it more colorful and a more interesting subject.
What can I learn from Heraldry?
Heraldry can tell you about your own family's history and about the history of famous families throughout the ages. And it can be a fantastic window into the lives of men and women from medieval times right up to the present day.
Heralds are mostly male why is this?
Heralds are male, purely because it's an old fashioned business. It's a very small profession with not many people, and there haven't been that many changes since women managed to penetrate male dominance of employment 30 years ago. There are actually a number female Heralds. In particular, the most senior Herald in Canada is a woman, and there is a female Herald in Scotland as well.
What is a family crest?
Crests are the devices shown on top of the helmet. They arose in medieval times when knights took part in tournaments, and they wanted a way of adding to the heraldic display of the parades associated with tournaments. They seem to have originated in the plates attached to the tops of helmets to deflect blows. If somebody is going to hit you over the top of the head with a sword, it's a good idea to attach a big plate of metal to your head, to your helmet, to deflect the blow. Eventually those plates became more elaborate, became decorated, and they evolved into crests.
What is the difference a coat of arms and a crest?
The term coat of arms is usually used to refer to what's on the shield. Whereas a crest specifically refers to what's on top of the helmet. It's a popular misconception that the word crest denotes the whole heraldic achievement, the whole display or that you can use the word crest to refer to what's on the shield. But actually, if you use the term crest, it can refer only to what's on top of the helmet rather like a cochral.
Is Heraldry a science?
Heraldry is usually described as an art and a science, and it's very difficult to say precisely what that means.
Is Heraldry limited to people only?
Heraldry is not limited to people only. Lots of corporate bodies have coats of arms as well. These range from municipal bodies, local governments, county councils, professional bodies and trade associations, livery companies in the city of London, right up to great big commercial companies like Tesco's.