Throughout history, Coats of Arms have been an important aspect of heraldry and are still used today to symbolize a family, organization, or nation. The design of a Coat of Arms typically includes a shield, charge, crest, supporters, motto, and more. But, what is the meaning behind all these various components? In this article, we will delve into the history of Coats of Arms, the elements that make up a Coat of Arms, as well as focus on the different divisions within a Coat of Arms. We will explore the symbolism behind each of these divisions, giving you a better understanding of what makes up a Coat of Arms and what each element represents. So, let’s get started!
History of Coats of Arms
Coats of Arms have a rich history dating back to the medieval times. These symbols were initially used by knights in battle to identify friend from foe. As time passed, Coats of Arms developed into a way for nobility to show their family’s status and achievements. The designs of Coats of Arms were carefully crafted and took into account various heraldic terms and meanings, such as the significance behind the colors and symbols used. Coats of Arms weren’t just reserved for nobility, as individuals and organizations also adopted these symbols to represent themselves. Today, Coats of Arms can still be seen on flags, government seals, and other places where a symbol of identity is needed. Studying the history of Coats of Arms provides insight into the evolution of heraldic achievements and their significance in society.
Coats of arms have a long and interesting history, dating back to medieval times in Europe. They were primarily used as a way for knights to identify themselves on the battlefield and display their allegiances. The concept of personal heraldry was born out of the need for distinguishing between knights during jousts and battles.
The use of symbols and colors as a form of identification can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians and their use of hieroglyphics. However, the formalized system of heraldry we know today originated in the 12th century in Europe. The practice quickly spread and became a way for noble families to display their status and lineage.
As the practice of heraldry evolved, rules and regulations were established to govern the design and use of coats of arms. These regulations helped ensure that each coat of arms was unique and accurately represented the individual or family it was associated with.
Over time, coats of arms became a symbol of prestige and power, associated with the nobility and aristocracy. Today, coats of arms are still used as a symbol of identity and tradition, often appearing on official documents, flags, and even on commercial products.
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Development and Usage
Coats of arms have a long and fascinating history that spans many centuries. They were first introduced in the 12th century in Europe and were used primarily by knights to identify themselves on the battlefield. However, their use quickly spread to other noble families and eventually became a symbol of status and identity.
As the use of coats of arms became more widespread, rules and guidelines were developed to ensure their proper use and design. These rules were established by heraldic authorities who were responsible for regulating and recording coats of arms.
During the Middle Ages, coats of arms were typically displayed on shields or banners. They were also frequently incorporated into architecture, such as on the façade of castles or cathedrals. With the advent of printing in the 15th century, coats of arms became even more widespread and were often included in books and other publications.
The use of coats of arms declined in popularity in the 19th century, but they have experienced a resurgence in recent years. Today, many individuals and organizations still use coats of arms as a way to convey their history and identity.
The development and usage of coats of arms over the centuries have played a significant role in shaping their design and meaning. To truly understand the symbolism behind different divisions in coats of arms, it’s important to understand the history and evolution of heraldry as a whole. For more information on heraldic terms and their meanings, check out our article on heraldic terms and their meanings.
Understanding Coats of Arms
Understanding coats of arms is essential for anyone interested in heraldry. A coat of arms is a unique symbol used to represent families, individuals or organizations. It consists of various elements, including charges, shields, crests, and supporters. What makes coats of arms particularly fascinating is the rich symbolism behind their design. Each element has a special significance, which is often related to the history, culture, and traditions of the owner. For example, the charge, which is usually placed on the shield, could be an animal, object, or even a person. It symbolizes the values, aspirations, and achievements of the owner. Another essential element of a coat of arms is the field, which refers to the background color or pattern of the shield. It is often associated with certain meanings, such as blue, which represents loyalty and truth. By understanding these elements, one can gain a deeper appreciation of the fascinating world of heraldry. For anyone interested in delving further into the topic, some helpful links can be found at /heraldry-animal-symbolism/ and /symbolism-of-colors-heraldry/.
What Is a Coat of Arms?
A coat of arms is a symbol used to identify individuals, families, and organizations. They were originally used to identify warriors in battles, but eventually became associated with families and the nobility. A coat of arms typically consists of several distinctive elements which can have different meanings. Some of the main elements include a shield, charge, crest, supporters, and motto.
The shield is the most important element of a coat of arms. It is the central component and serves as the background for other elements. Charges are symbols that are placed on the shield and can represent various things such as animals, objects, or geographic locations. The crest sits on top of the shield, and supporters are figures on either side of the shield, usually representing animals. The motto is a phrase written on a ribbon at the bottom of the coat of arms.
A coat of arms can also have different divisions such as colors, shapes, and patterns which have specific symbolism. Understanding the meaning behind these divisions can provide insights into the history and values of the person, family, or organization the coat of arms represents.
To learn more about the charges that can be placed on a shield, check out our beginner’s guide to coat of arms charges. Additionally, the heraldic mantling is an important element that can add ornamental flair to the coat of arms, as explained in our article on the importance of heraldic mantling. Finally, different types of heraldic shields can also have their own unique meanings, as outlined in our article on types of heraldic shields.
Elements of a Coat of Arms
There are several key elements that make up a coat of arms. These elements are used to create a unique and symbolic representation of a family or organization.
Firstly, a coat of arms consists of a shield. The shield is the central and most prominent part of the coat of arms and is usually the first thing people notice. It serves as a protective covering for the person or family represented by the coat of arms.
Secondly, there are various charges on the shield. These charges are images or symbols that are placed on the shield to represent different aspects of the family or organization. These symbols can be anything from animals, plants, and weapons to objects and mythical creatures.
Thirdly, a coat of arms may also include a crest. The crest is a decorative element usually placed above the shield. It can be in the form of an animal, such as a lion or eagle, or it can be an object or even a plant.
Fourthly, the coat of arms may also include supporters, which are figures placed on either side of the shield. These figures can be animals, mythical creatures, or even humans. They serve to symbolize the support or protection of the family or organization represented by the coat of arms.
Lastly, a coat of arms may have a motto, which is a phrase or saying that represents the core values or beliefs of the family or organization. The motto is usually written on a ribbon or scroll below the shield or above the crest.
The elements of a coat of arms work together to create a unique and symbolic representation of the family or organization they represent. Each element has its own meaning and significance, and together they convey the story and values of the family or organization.
Divisions of a Coat of Arms
The divisions of a coat of arms refer to the way in which the shield is divided into different sections, each with a distinct color or pattern. These divisions are often symbolic and can give clues to the history or background of the family or organization for whom the coat of arms was designed.
One of the most common divisions is the partition line. This is a vertical or horizontal line that divides the shield into two sections, with each section typically featuring a different color or design. Another popular division is the quartering, in which the shield is divided into four parts, each with its own design or symbol.
A bend is a diagonal line that runs from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the shield. A bend sinister runs from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. The fess is a horizontal line that runs across the middle of the shield, while a bar runs vertically down the center.
Other less common divisions include the chevron, which is made up of diagonal lines that form a V-shape, and pale, which is a vertical stripe down the center of the shield.
The design and placement of these divisions can have significant meaning. For example, a bend of a particular color may indicate a significant battle or military service, while a quartering may represent different regions or territories that had an influence on the family. Understanding the divisions of a coat of arms is an important step in interpreting and demystifying this fascinating symbol of heraldry.
Divisions of a Coat of Arms
When analyzing a coat of arms, it is important to understand the different divisions that make up this emblematic design. The field is the background of the coat of arms and is often divided into sections. The center of the field is called the charge, which can be a symbol or object that represents the owner. The shape of the shield can also provide important information about the owner’s history or values. The crest sits on top of the shield and can be a crown, helmet, or other object that represents the owner’s achievements or status. The supporters on either side of the shield can be animals or objects that hold up the coat of arms. Finally, the motto is a phrase in a particular language that expresses the owner’s values or beliefs. Understanding these divisions can provide insight into the meaning behind a coat of arms.
The Field is the background of the coat of arms, often divided into different sections known as “Fields of Division”. The Field can be divided into different colors, patterns, or even both, and each division has its own unique meaning and symbolism.
Here are some examples of Fields of Division:
|Party per bend||This division represents a diagonal line dividing the shield into two separate sections, and is often associated with the idea of division and separation.|
|Per chevron||This division has a shape like an inverted “V” and is often associated with the image of a roof. It represents protection and security.|
|Argent||This is a division that represents the color white, and is often associated with peace, purity, and innocence.|
|Gules||This is a division that represents the color red, and is often associated with power, passion, and strength.|
|Ermine||This is a division that is represented by a series of black spots on a white background, and is often associated with royalty, wisdom, and wealth.|
It’s important to note that the symbolism behind each division can vary depending on the region, culture, or family that it represents. The Field often serves as the foundation for the rest of the elements on the coat of arms, and can be used to convey a variety of different meanings and messages.
The charge is the central design element of a coat of arms. It sits on top of the field and is usually the most eye-catching part of the entire design. The charge can be any shape or object and may be placed on top of the field in a central or off-center location.
Charges can be living things, such as animals, birds, or fish, or non-living objects, such as crowns, weapons, or buildings. They can be naturalistic, such as a bear or eagle, or stylized, rendered in a more abstract way. Some charges are specific to certain families, such as the white rose of the House of York, while others are more general, such as the eagle or lion.
The charge is usually displayed on the shield that forms the basis of the coat of arms. A small number of charges can be displayed in a pattern across the field, giving a different type of visual impact.
In some cases, a coat of arms may have multiple charges. This is common in the arms of royalty or nobility, where each charge is often a representation of a specific historical event or achievement. Whether multiple charges or a single charge is displayed, the goal is always to create a visually appealing and meaningful representation of the family or organization being represented.
The charge is the central design element of the coat of arms and is usually the most eye-catching part. It can be any shape or object, living or non-living, and is intended to convey an important message about the family or organization being represented.
The Shield Shape
The shield shape in a coat of arms can convey a lot of information about the individual or organization being represented. Here are some of the most common shield shapes and their meanings:
|Heater||The heater shape is the most common shape for a shield. It is also sometimes known as the “French shield”. This shape is often associated with the medieval period and was commonly used by knights in battle.|
|Round||A round shield shape is often used in coats of arms to represent unity and completeness. It can also symbolize the sun or the moon.|
|Oval||The oval shield shape was popular during the Renaissance period and represents a shield that has been “softened” by time and use. It is often used to represent feminine qualities or a sense of refinement.|
|Triangular||The triangular shield shape is often associated with the Trinity, and is sometimes used to represent a religious faith or belief system.|
|Rectangular||The rectangular shield shape is often used for heraldic designs that include multiple charges or divisions. It is also sometimes used to symbolize stability and order.|
|Kite||The kite shape is similar to the heater shape, but with a slightly curved top and less pronounced waist. This shape is often used in Scottish heraldry and can represent loyalty and bravery.|
|Lozenge||The lozenge shape is often used to represent a female within a coat of arms, as it is thought to be a more feminine shape. It can also be used to represent a diamond shape or a sense of preciousness.|
The shield shape is often chosen based on the message that the individual or organization wants to convey through their coat of arms. It is an important element to consider when designing a coat of arms, as it can help to communicate the values, beliefs, and qualities that are most important to the individual or group being represented.
The crest is an important element of a coat of arms and is typically located above the shield. It usually consists of an animal or object and is often shown with a helmet or coronet. The crest was originally used to distinguish one knight from another on the battlefield.
Origin of the Crest
The use of crests in heraldry dates back to the 12th century, and they were originally worn on top of helmets during battle. They were used to identify individual warriors and to help allies recognize each other on the battlefield. Over time, crests became an important part of a coat of arms, and they were used to identify different families and nobility.
Design of the Crest
Crests can be designed with a variety of images, including animals, objects, and even mythological creatures. They are often accompanied by a helmet or coronet, and they may be positioned above a wreath of twisted fabric or leaves. The design of the crest can have a significant impact on the overall meaning of the coat of arms.
Symbolism of the Crest
The choice of the object or animal used in the crest can be symbolic of the individual or family that the coat of arms represents. For example, a lion or eagle may symbolize strength and courage, while a swan or dove may represent peace and harmony. The helmet or coronet also has its own symbolism and can be used to indicate rank, social status, or nobility.
Position of the Crest
The position of the crest on the coat of arms is just as important as the design itself. In general, the crest is positioned above the shield, and a wreath or ribbon may be used to connect the two elements. However, some coats of arms may feature multiple crests or display the crest in a more prominent position.
The crest is an important part of a coat of arms, and its design and position can have significant meaning. Whether you are designing your own coat of arms or trying to decipher the meaning behind an existing one, it is important to consider the symbolism behind the crest. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of the history, culture, and values of the individual or family that the coat of arms represents.
The supporters are the elements that hold the coat of arms together. They stand on either side of the shield, serving as a decorative feature as well as a symbol of strength and support for the family or organization represented by the coat of arms.
Supporters can take many forms, from basic geometric shapes and objects to complex mythological creatures and animals. They are usually portrayed in profile, facing the viewer with their full bodies visible.
Some of the most common supporters include lions, dragons, eagles, horses, and unicorns. These animals are often chosen for their symbolic associations with bravery, strength, and nobility.
In some cases, supporters can be inanimate objects such as columns, trees, or weapons. These objects are usually symbolic of the family or organization’s history, values, or achievements.
It is worth noting that the use of supporters is not mandatory in coats of arms. Some designs may choose to omit them or simply use a single supporter instead of a pair.
Below is a table summarizing some of the common supporters and their meanings:
|Lion||Strength, courage, and royalty|
|Eagle||Freedom, power, and keen sight|
|Dragon||Strength, wisdom, and ferocity|
|Horse||Grace, speed, and stamina|
|Unicorn||Purity, grace, and virginity|
|Column||Stability, support, and authority|
|Tree||Growth, renewal, and stability|
|Spear||Honour, bravery, and military prowess|
Supporters play an important role in the design of a coat of arms. They serve as decorative elements and symbolic representations of the values and history of the family or organization. Their use is not mandatory, but they can add an extra layer of meaning and interest to any coat of arms design.
The motto is another important component of a coat of arms. It is a brief phrase or sentence that accompanies the shield, usually written below it. The motto is meant to convey the values, principles, or ambitions of the individual or family that the coat of arms represents.
Origins of the Motto
While the use of mottos on coats of arms became popular in the medieval period, their origins can be traced back to ancient Rome. In Latin, a motto means “word” or “sentence,” and it was chosen to summarize the intended message of the coat of arms.
Importance of the Motto
The motto can be an essential part of the coat of arms, as it can add both meaning and visual interest to the design. In some cases, the motto may also be used as a guiding principle or a rallying cry for the family or organization it represents.
Examples of Mottos
Many famous and historic mottos have been used on coats of arms throughout history. For example, the motto “Semper Fidelis,” which means “always faithful” in Latin, is used by the United States Marine Corps and appears on its coat of arms. Similarly, the Australian coat of arms features the motto “Advance Australia,” which highlights the country’s progress and development.
Symbolism of the Motto
The symbolism behind the motto can vary depending on the message that it conveys. Some mottos may convey strength, loyalty, faithfulness, courage, or other values that are considered important by the individual or family. The language used in the motto can also provide context and insight into the individual or family’s heritage or background.
The motto is an essential component of the coat of arms, representing the values and principles of the individual or family it represents. It can be a powerful tool for conveying meaning and displaying pride in one’s heritage.
Symbolism Behind Divisions
When it comes to understanding the symbolism behind the different divisions in coats of arms, there are several factors to consider. The field color, number of divisions, charge image, shield shape, crest object, supporters animal/object, and motto language all contribute to the unique meaning behind each coat of arms. For example, a coat of arms with a red field commonly represents strength and bravery, while a blue field can symbolize loyalty and truth. The use of animals or objects as charges can also convey specific meanings such as a lion for courage or an eagle for strength and freedom. Even the motto language can provide insight into the values or beliefs of the family or organization represented. The divisions in a coat of arms serve as a visual representation of important characteristics or ideals, making them an important aspect of heraldry.
- Field color – commonly represents strength and bravery
- Number of divisions – has unique meanings for each
- Charge image – conveys specific meanings
- Shield shape – has different interpretation for each
- Crest object – stands for important characteristics or ideals
- Supporters animal/object – also convey specific meanings
- Motto language – provide insight into values or beliefs
The Field Color
The field color in coats of arms holds great significance as it represents the background of the shield where other charges or symbols are placed. The color of the field itself can convey a specific message and meaning.
Gules, which is red, represents strength, courage, and sometimes martyrdom. It is a popular color for military coats of arms and signifies readiness to fight.
Or, gold or yellow, represents wealth, prosperity, and sometimes constancy. It is often used in commercial coats of arms and represents business or trade.
Argent, which is white or silver, represents purity, innocence, and sometimes peace. It is a popular color for religious coats of arms and represents holiness.
Sable, which is black, represents grief, sorrow, and sometimes humility. It is often used to represent the darker side of life and death.
Azure, which is blue, represents truth and loyalty. It is often used in judicial coats of arms and represents loyalty to the law.
Vert, which is green, represents hope and joy. It is often used in coats of arms of those associated with agriculture or the countryside.
Purpure, which is purple, represents royalty, majesty, and sovereignty. It is often used in coats of arms of monarchs and high-ranking officials.
The use of different field colors can convey a powerful message about the values, beliefs, and history of the person or group represented by the coat of arms. These colors are often combined with other symbols and charges to create a complex and detailed coat of arms that tells a story about its owner.
The Number of Divisions
The number of divisions in a coat of arms is an important aspect of its overall symbolism and meaning. The division refers to the way the shield is divided into different sections, each with its own color and sometimes, charge. While there is no fixed rule about the number of divisions, certain numbers have been used more often than others in heraldry throughout history.
A coat of arms can be divided into one, two, three, four, five, six, eight, or more sections. One-divided shields are rare, but they do exist, and usually consist of one large area of the same color. They are often used for specific purposes such as a personal emblem or by the clergy. A two-division shield, on the other hand, is one of the most commonly used divisions in heraldry. It can be divided into two equal halves or two unequal halves. Two equal halves are usually referred to as “per pale” while two unequal halves are referred to as “party per bend” or “party per pale.”
A three-division shield is less common than the two-division shield. One popular version of a three-division shield is the “per fess” division, where the shield is divided horizontally into two equal parts, and a third section at the bottom. A four-division shield is also quite common. It usually consists of a cross with each arm stretched towards the edges of the shield, creating four equal sections.
A five-division shield is generally considered to be rare, and it is often used for arms that were granted to important dignitaries and nobles. It is usually divided into five equal parts, and the pattern usually consists of alternating colors. A six-division shield, creates six equal parts, is a more complex division and is rarely used in heraldry.
An eight-division shield, commonly known as “per cross,” is also a more complicated division of the shield, and is typically reserved for higher-ranked officials and offices, such as a Bishop. It creates eight sections by dividing the shield into quarters and then quarters again.
The number of divisions in a coat of arms plays a significant role in its overall meaning and symbolism. Different numbers of divisions have been used throughout history with varying degrees of frequency and usage. While some divisions are more common than others, each one holds a significance and can contribute to the overall message and symbolism of the coat of arms.
The Charge Image
The charge image in a coat of arms is a central element that represents the family, organization, or individual that it represents. This image can take on many different forms, from simple geometric shapes to complex mythical creatures or intricate designs. Sometimes, the charge is a combination of different images, arranged in a specific way to convey a specific message or meaning.
The images used as a charge can have a variety of meanings and associations, depending on the context in which they are used. For example, a lion is often used as a charge image and is associated with strength, courage, and bravery. Similarly, an eagle is often used to represent nobility and freedom.
Some charge images have historical significance, such as the fleur-de-lis, which was used by the French monarchy, or the cross, which has religious connotations. Others are more personal, such as a family emblem or symbol that has been passed down through generations.
In some cases, the charge image may be combined with other elements, such as a motto or crest, to create a more complex design that conveys a specific message or meaning. For example, the Scottish coat of arms uses a combination of different elements, including a lion rampant, a thistle, and the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit” (No one provokes me with impunity).
The charge image is a crucial element in the design of a coat of arms, and its meaning can provide important insight into the values, beliefs, and heritage of the individual or organization that it represents. Whether simple or complex, the charge image serves as a powerful symbol that has the ability to convey a wide range of meanings and associations.
The Shield Shapes
The shape of the shield is another important aspect of a coat of arms. There are a variety of shapes that can be used, each with their own meanings and symbolism. Here are some of the most common shield shapes used in coats of arms:
|Heater||A shield that tapers to a point at the bottom represents a foot soldier.|
|Kite||A shield that is elongated at the top and tapers to a point at the bottom represents a knight.|
|Diamond||A shield that is shaped like a diamond represents invincibility.|
|Round||A shield that is round represents defense and protection.|
|Oval||A shield that is oval in shape represents strength and steadfastness.|
|Escutcheon||A small shield that is used as the central symbol within a larger coat of arms.|
It’s important to note that while there are traditional meanings behind each shield shape, not all coats of arms use these traditional shapes. In fact, sometimes a unique shield shape can be used to represent a specific family or individual. The shield shape is just one of the many elements of a coat of arms that can be used to convey its message and symbolism.
The Crest Object
The Crest Object is one of the essential parts of a Coat of Arms. It is situated above the shield and typically takes the form of an object or a symbol that holds meaning for the individual, organization or region it represents. Here are some of the most common Crest Objects and their symbolic meanings:
|Crest Object||Symbolic Meaning|
|Lion||Often represents courage, strength, and nobility.|
|Eagle||Symbolizes strength, courage, and freedom.|
|Unicorn||Often represents purity, virtue, and wisdom.|
|Dragon||A popular symbol for guardianship, power, and wisdom.|
|Oak Tree||Represents strength, endurance, and stability.|
|Rose||Symbolic of love and beauty.|
Of course, these are not the only Crest Objects used in Coats of Arms, and their symbolic meanings often vary depending on the region, culture, or family that uses them. The Crest Object is an essential part of a Coat of Arms, often serving as a defining feature that helps distinguish it from others.
The Supporters Animal/Object
One of the divisions in a coat of arms is the supporters, which feature animals or objects that are positioned on either side of the shield. Supporters often have symbolic meanings and can provide insight into the values and beliefs of the person or family being represented. Here are some common examples of supporters and their meanings:
|Lions||Lions are a symbol of strength, courage, and royalty. They are often used as supporters in coats of arms for monarchs and nobles.|
|Unicorns||Unicorns are a symbol of purity, innocence, and power. They are often used as supporters in coats of arms for virgins and maidens.|
|Dragons||Dragons are a symbol of strength, wisdom, and power. They are often used as supporters in coats of arms for knights and warriors.|
|Horses||Horses are a symbol of strength, speed, and beauty. They are often used as supporters in coats of arms for equestrians and cavalry.|
|Eagles||Eagles are a symbol of courage, strength, and freedom. They are often used as supporters in coats of arms for countries and governments.|
Other supporters can include mythical creatures, such as griffins or mermaids, or real-life animals, such as dogs or bears. The choice of supporter can vary depending on the individual or family being represented and the values and beliefs that they hold dear.
In addition to their symbolic meanings, supporters can also simply add a decorative element to a coat of arms. They may be depicted in vibrant colors or intricate detail, which can make them a visually striking aspect of the overall design.
The supporters division of a coat of arms offers an opportunity for individuals and families to express their values and beliefs through the use of symbolic animals or objects.
The Motto Language
The motto is an essential feature of a coat of arms. It is a phrase that is meant to convey the ideals, values, and beliefs of the bearer. The motto language can be in any language the bearer chooses, but it is usually in Latin. Latin was the language of the educated elite in medieval Europe, and it was the language of the Church. Hence, many mottos are in Latin as it represented the values of piety and education.
Latin mottos often express noble values such as honor, courage, justice, and loyalty. For instance, the motto “Fortis cadere cedere non potest” (The brave may fall but cannot yield) embodies the medieval values of chivalry and bravery. Similarly, “Dulce periculum” (Danger is sweet) conveys the idea that taking risks can be rewarding.
However, not all mottos are in Latin. In recent times, many nobles and families have started using mottos in their native tongue. This change is partly due to the revival of interest in genealogy and the desire to express individuality.
The motto language can also speak to the profession or interests of the bearer. For example, a family of sailors might choose a nautical-themed motto like “Navigare necesse est” (To sail is necessary). A family of scholars might use the Latin motto “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), a phrase coined by philosopher René Descartes.
The motto is a meaningful addition to a coat of arms, conveying the ideals and beliefs of the bearer. It can be in any language the bearer chooses, but Latin is the traditional choice. The language and message of the motto often reflect the values, interests, and profession of the family or individual.
Understanding the meaning behind different divisions in coats of arms can provide insight into the values, history, and culture of a family, institution, or nation. Coats of arms may appear complex at first, but each element serves a purpose and tells a story.
The history of coats of arms dates back to medieval Europe when knights wore them on their armor as a form of identification. Over time, coats of arms became more elaborate and were used to represent families, institutions, and feudal lords.
To understand a coat of arms, it is important to recognize and interpret each element, including the division of the shield, charges, crest, supporters, and motto. The symbolism behind each division can also provide insight into the values and beliefs of the entity represented.
The field color, number of divisions, charge images, shield shapes, crest objects, supporters’ animals/objects, and motto language all contribute to the symbolism behind a coat of arms. For example, a red shield may represent courage or bravery, while a green shield may represent hope or freedom.
In addition, the choice of animals or objects used in the coat of arms can represent various qualities such as loyalty, strength, and intelligence. The motto, which is typically written in a language specific to the entity, may also provide insight into its beliefs and values.
Overall, understanding the meaning behind different divisions in coats of arms can provide a deeper appreciation for the history and culture of an entity. With its rich history and intricate symbolism, coats of arms continue to be an important part of heraldry and identity today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a coat of arms?
A coat of arms was originally used to identify knights and their personal and familial accomplishments. Today, many families and organizations use coats of arms as a symbol of their identity and history.
What are the origins of the coat of arms?
The coat of arms originated in medieval Europe among knights who needed a way to distinguish themselves on the battlefield and in tournaments.
What are the essential elements of a coat of arms?
The essential elements of a coat of arms include a shield, a charge (symbol or image on the shield), and a motto (phrase or saying associated with the coat of arms).
What are the different divisions of a coat of arms?
The main divisions of a coat of arms include the field (background), the charge (symbol or image), the shield shape, the crest (object above the shield), the supporters (animals or objects beside the shield), and the motto (phrase or saying).
How were colors and symbols chosen for a coat of arms?
Colors and symbols were chosen based on personal preference, familial history, and regional or national associations.
What is the symbolism behind the color of the field in a coat of arms?
The color of the field can represent anything from a geographical location to a moral or spiritual quality. For example, red may represent courage, while green may represent hope.
What is a crest in a coat of arms?
A crest is an object located above the shield in a coat of arms. It was originally worn on a helmet as a way to identify knights in battle.
What is the symbolism behind the number of divisions in a coat of arms?
The number of divisions can have different symbolic meanings depending on the culture and time period. For example, four quadrants may represent the four elements (earth, air, fire, water).
What are supporters in a coat of arms?
Supporters are animals or objects located beside the shield in a coat of arms. They were added later in the development of the coat of arms as a way to showcase familial alliances and relationships.
What is the motto of a coat of arms?
A motto is a phrase or saying associated with a coat of arms. It can represent the values, beliefs, or history of the family or organization the coat of arms represents.