Coat of Arms Morgan Davis
The coat of arms is thought to have begun in the mid twelfth century. A coat of arms is the design displayed on a knights shield and helmet to help identify him in a battle.
Each coat of arms was unique to a family. The use of one symbol per family for identification sprouted into the system of heraldry. It is believed that the reason Heraldry spread so quickly is the crusades. People also think that the coat of arms got its name from the crusaders.
The coat of arms that we see today was not formed until the late thirteenth century. It was created when the knights began to wear full visor helmets. These new helmets did not show their faces at all. This made identification very essential.
At its most simple state a coat of arms is only a color. This is very rare. It used to be used by knights for tournaments. REDBLUEBLACKGREEN GOLDYELLOWSILVERWHITE The Golden Rule of creating a coat of arms: one color and one metal. No colors on colors and no metals on metals. Jerusalem is the only know exception to this rule.
The different colors were thought to mean different things: Gold-Generosity and elevation of the mind Silver orWhite-Peace and sincerity Red-Warrior or martyr; Military strength and magnanimity Blue-Truth and loyalty Green-Hope, joy, and loyalty in love Black-Constancy or grief Purple-Royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice Orange-Worthy ambition Maroon-Patient in battle, and yet victorious
All objects on the field of a shield are referred to as charges. The simplest geometric shapes are called ordinaries. Animals almost always face the right side of the shield. (from the shield bearers point of view) Most commonly used charges are animals. The lion meant courage.
Other animals and what they mean… A boar meant you were brave and would fight to the death. The bear represents strength, cunning, and ferocity. The dog represents someone who is brave as well as loyal. Having a bull meant you were brave and generous. A dear meant that you were peaceful and would only fight if provoked.
A few common symbols and their meanings… A lighting bolt meant swiftness and power. A castle meant safety. An anchor represented hope. A trumpet showed that you were ready for war. A drum meant that you were ready for war. The palm branch meant that you had some sort of royal power. A gavel showed that you were just and had legal authority.
The signs of the sons or cadency… Label - First born son -sixth son Fleur-de-lis -second born crescent Rose -seventh son Mullet -third son -eighth son Cross moline Martlet -fourth son Huitfoil -ninth son Annulet -fifth son
Sometimes charges were used as a pun on the owner. Castles for Castile and lions for Leon. A hog for Sir Nicolas Bacon.
In large households it was not ideal for every member to carry around a shield displaying the coat of arms. In these houses a symbol was chosen. The most well known are the Tudor Rose, the white rose of York, and the red rose of Lancaster.
The description of charges on a coat of arms is called a blazon. If a coat of arms has a complicated design then the blazon begins in the top right hand corner and spirals around. During the second half of the fourteenth century a shield was no longer necessary as battle gear so putting the coat of arms on flags and banners became more important. By the end of the sixteenth century the coat of arms had become largely decorated symbols.