Coat of Arms
Heraldry and the Blazon of Arms and Crest
Heraldry in its broad meaning had to do with the functions of a herald whose duty was to announce tournaments, to carry messages from one manor to another and to record the various insignia borne by individuals. Heraldry arose almost spontaneously in the 12th century, coinciding with the development of armor, around the time of the crusades. In battle, a knight clad in armor from head to toe would barely be recognized by friend or foe. This resulted in distinctive insignia being painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat. It is generally accepted that these innovations led to the beginnings of heraldry.
The insignia thus adopted soon became jealously guarded and objects of pride. A son would inherit his father’s markings and carry them into battle with pride. After a battle or campaign, the knight would return to his castle and the vassal to his modest home and each would hang his shield or helmet on the wall. The belongings of those who perished in battle were brought back by a friend, and the scene was repeated in every humble cottage and magnificent abode. Heraldry, as we know it, had come into being.
The colorful medieval tournaments, which were held both for entertainment and to give practice in the use of the lance, provided a great stimulus to the development of heraldry. A Marshal and Constable supervised the armorial decorations at these tournaments and in this we find the origins of the College of Arms. This also resulted in heraldry becoming an organized and scientific art.
The decline of jousting in the 16th century and the introduction of gunpowder did away with armor but did not lead to a decline in the importance of heraldry. Arms were displayed on seals and this was useful because many of the nobility and common men were illiterate. Arms in stone and on stained glass, silver and elsewhere have provided countless clues for historians in dating and identifying buildings and objects.
As heraldry flourished and became regulated it was necessary to have a language whereby a herald could accurately describe arms and that other heralds understood the descriptions. The language used was Norman French.
Heraldry, therefore, is first a system of personal devices (i.e. symbols on the shield) appertaining to an individual and continuing, with certain restrictions, for his descendants. It is a hereditary distinction. It is also an art.
Armorial bearings are commonly called a Coat of Arms but, heraldically speaking, this term refers only to the insignia borne on the shield. The full display of all the insignia to which the armiger (legal bearer of arms) is entitled personally or by inheritance is an Achievement of Arms or simply an Achievement.
The Blazon of Arms and Crest described in the Family Name History and reproduced in a variety of artistic methods by My Lineage, Inc. are found in historically accurate armorial compendiums commonly accepted by heraldic scholars.
The Heraldic Insignia associated with products from My Lineage, Inc. comply with “The Law of Arms” responsible bodies: The Chief Herald, Ireland; The Officer in Waiting (College of Arms) London; The Lord Lyon King of Arms, Scotland; and Other Heraldic Colleges.