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What is Heraldry?

The word "Heraldry" is derived from the German "heer" -- a host, an army -- and "held"—a champion. The term "blason," by which the science of heraldry is denoted in French, English, Italian, and German, is probably derived from the German word "blazen"—to blow the horn. Whenever a new Knight appeared at a Tournament, the herald sounded the trumpet, and as the competitors attended with closed visors, it was his duty to explain the bearing of the shield or coat-armour belonging to each.

This knowledge of the various devices and symbols was called Heraldry, and as the announcement was accompanied with the sound of a trumpet, it was termed "blazoning the arms." (Source: Burke, Bernard, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales (Heritage Books, Inc., 1996).)

Arms: Per pall, or and argent, a wolf salient azure, between eight crosses, crosslett fitchee gules.

Crest: A wolf's head erased azure, collared or, thereon a martlet sable.

Motto: Qui transtulit sustinet. (Approximately: "He who transplanted, still sustains").

Llarger image [53K]

From Americana Illustrated, Vol. XXI January,
1927 Number 1. Courtesy of David Phelps

Elements of a Coat of Arms

The colors and charges are a part of the blazon.Shield shapes vary according to the geographical origin as well as the time period.
This is said to represent the clothe that hung from the wreath and protected the back of the head and neck, even though it may often be depicted more like the leaves of a plant.
Two animals, birds or persons appearing on either side of shield.
The crest is whatever appears above the helm. (Note that there is not always a crest for every coat of arms.)
The helmet varies with the bearer's rank or the century.
The wreath usually consists of the primary color and metal.

Coat of Arms Glossary

azure: blue

argent: white or silver

dexter: 1.n. the side to the viewer's left, which would be the shield-bearer's right. 2.adj. (of a left-right pair) right (a dexter glove).

erased: 1.adj. (of a limb) severed with a jagged cut.

ermine: 1.adj. in white or silver, powdered with black ermine spots. 2.n. a weasel prized for its fur.

guardant: 1.adj. (of a creature) looking toward the viewer.

martlet: n. a bird with tufts of feathers in place of feet.

or: yellow or gold

pale: 1.n. a vertical stripe through the middle of the shield.

passant: 1.adj. (of creatures) with one foot in the air, as if walking to the viewer's left (e.g., "a wolf passant").

rampant: adj. (of a creature) standing upon one hind-limb, facing the viewer's left.

sable: black

salient: adj. (of a creature) standing upon both hind-limbs, facing the viewer's left.

shield: n. the conventional medium for heraldic display, a hand-held defensive armament.