Heraldry - an introduction
Coats of Arms were a means by which princes and knights from the 12th Century onwards, could identify one another on the battlefield and in tournaments. As the use of arms spread, the designs necessarily became more elaborate. Eventually a coat of arms became a matter of great family pride and prestige, awarded to knights and tradesmen for services to a sovereign.
Many thousands of designs were registered, each one different from the rest in each country and each one symbolic of the family it represented. You may or may not be related to the early namesake represented in your coat of arms (no genealogical relationship is intended or implied in supplying a coat of arms for decoration). It is not uncommon for one surname to have different coats of arms applicable to it, as many unrelated of the same name may have been awarded arms.
The decorative use of coats of arms is offically encouraged because it "inspires pride within the family" and offers a sense of medieval pride to the home. Take a look through the links below and find out answers to questions such as "which side is dexter and which side is sinister", and "what place does heraldry have in this modern world?"
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