How a Family Crest or Coat of Arms Leads to Family Discovery — Family Search

Family crests and coats of arms are powerful family symbols passed down through generations. They were commonly used throughout the 11–17th centuries, and they can still be meaningful reminders for families past, present, and future.

The symbolism in the design of a family crest or coat of arms can tell you about your ancestors’ achievements and status in society—a real testament to a family’s legacy. Here’s everything you need to know to understand, find, or create your family’s coat of arms. 

What Is Heraldry?

Heraldry is a system used to design, display, and record coats of arms and family crests. These symbols were often used to differentiate knights in tournaments—picture the brightly emblazoned shields carried by medieval knights in shining armor. But heraldry was used for more than just tournaments. It allowed people to recognize opposing sides on battlefields, family lineages, alliances, and more.

Today, heraldry is still used by some individuals, companies, and cities to display their heritage and achievements. In modern uses, it can also be used to portray family values and ambitions.

What Is a Coat of Arms?

A coat of arms is a symbol used to identify families or individuals. It is a detailed design that often includes a shield, crest, helmet, motto, and more. The image could be used as a whole, or the crest can be used as a simplified symbol.[…]

How a Family Crest or Coat of Arms Leads to Family Discovery — Family Search

About the Coats of ArmsThe Family Coat of Arms

A Family Coat of Arms, Crest or Shield is a Heraldry symbol based on a Surname taken from the surcoat knights used to protect themselves. Embodied on these surcoats were charges and armorial devices (very colorful crests, shields and symbols), which the knights used to identify themselves. Since any one knight in armor would look similar to another, this symbol was important in identifying a knight in battle. It made it easy to see who was a friend or foe with a quick glance. The family members of these knights and noblemen were also known by and associated with these same symbols. 

There are numerous family surnames that have such an associated symbol and there are hundreds of unique products available for use by individuals, groups, reunions or those with a family gift list. If you are interested, you can click on a link below to check if your family surname is included in the list of those available.[…]

About the Coats of Arms — The Family Coat of Arms

Heraldry Basics — Nicholas C. Rossis

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Any of you writing fantasy will appreciate Toni Šušnjar’s post on heraldry, shared on Mythic Scribes. The History of Heraldry As Toni explains, distinctive personal insignia on shields had been used to identify warriors in battle since 9th-century BC Phrygia. But this insignia was not heraldry as it was not hereditary (familial). Heraldry appeared in […]

Heraldry Basics — Nicholas C. Rossis