Coat of Arms

A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which consists of shield, supporters, crest and motto. The design is a symbol unique to an individual person, and to his family, corporation, or state. Such displays are commonly called armorial bearings, armorial devices, heraldic devices, or simply armorials or arms.

Historically, armorial bearings were first used by feudal lords and knights in the mid-12th century on battlefields as a way to identify allied from enemy soldiers. As the uses for heraldic designs expanded, other social classes who never would march in battle began to assume arms for themselves. Initially, those closest to the lords and knights adopted arms, such as persons employed as squires that would be in common contact with the armorial devices. Then priests and other ecclesiastical dignities adopted coats of arms, usually to be used as seals and other such insignia, and then towns and cities to likewise seal and authenticate documents. Eventually by the mid-13th century, peasants, commoners and burghers were adopting heraldic devices. The widespread assumption of arms led some states to regulate heraldry within their borders. However, in most of continental Europe, citizens freely adopted armorial bearings.

Despite no widespread regulation, and even with a lack in many cases of national-level regulation, heraldry has remained rather consistent across Europe, where traditions alone have governed the design and use of arms. Unlike seals and other general emblems, heraldic achievements have a formal description called a blazon, expressed in a jargon that allows for consistency in heraldic depictions.

In the 21st century, coats of arms are still in use by a variety of institutions and individuals; for example, universities have guidelines on how their coats of arms may be used, and protect their use as trademarks. Many societies exist that also aid in the design and registration of personal arms, and some nations, like England and Scotland, still maintain to this day the mediæval authorities that grant and regulate arms.

Read more about Coat Of Arms:  Traditions and Usage, Arab World, Flags and Banners

Other articles related to "coat of arms, arms":

Coat Of Arms - Flags and Banners
... A country may have both a national flag and a national coat of arms, and the two may not look alike at all ... (St Andrew's Cross) has a white saltire on a blue field, but the royal arms of Scotland has a red lion within a double tressure on a gold (or) field ...
Valcolla - Coat of Arms
... The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Azure a garbe or on a base vert. ...
Vernate, Switzerland - Coat of Arms
... The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Azure a fess argent and overall in dexter an arrow point to base and in sinister a walking stick handle to chief both counterchanged ...
Königsfeld, Bavaria - Geography - Coat of Arms
... The community of Königsfeld has borne its current arms since municipal reform in 1973 ... The two flails come from the coat of arms borne by the Lords of Königsfeld, ministeriales from Bamberg in the service of the Counts of Truhendingen ...
187th Infantry Regiment (United States) - Heraldry, Lineage, and Honors - Coat of Arms
... The coat of arms was originally approved on 1952-12-15 for the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment ...

Famous quotes containing the words arms and/or coat:

    A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
    Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution (1791)

    I expect a time when, or rather an integrity by which, a man will get his coat as honestly and as perfectly fitting as a tree its bark. Now our garments are typical of our conformity to the ways of the world, i.e., of the devil, and to some extent react on us and poison us, like that shirt which Hercules put on.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)