What Does My Coat of Arms Crest Mean?

Written by john briggs
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What Does My Coat of Arms Crest Mean?
Family crests have very specific meanings ("Davison Crest" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Simon Davison (Simon Davison) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

A coat of arms or family crest is steeped in symbolism usually representing national pride or family interests. Originally designed to resemble Roman battle flags, meaning varied from country to country before becoming standardised in the late Middle Ages.

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What Does My Coat of Arms Crest Mean?
Family crests have very specific meanings ("Davison Crest" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Simon Davison (Simon Davison) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Time Frame

European coat of arms first appeared in the 13th century to distinguish knights in battle and to represent kings and nobles. The family crest came into vogue during the Renaissance at the behest of wealthy families.

Features

Everything on a family crest has meaning, including the colours, the divisions or ordinaires, the border, the furs and the central object or charges marked by flora, fauna, tools, religious symbols, or mythical creatures.

Symbolism

Animals and mythical beasts could take passive positions but were most often poised to strike, indicating steadfastness and strength on the part of a knight or family.

Distinctions

Coat of arms contained two basic colours, gold and silver and five tinctures. Two tinctures were added during the Renaissance---orange, indicating a worthy goal, and maroon, symbolising patience in battle.

Misconceptions

The rebus, or motto on a family crest, can state a serious belief but was frequently a joke or play on words regarding the family name or village.

Fun Fact

The art of designing family crests is called heraldry, based on the German words heer, meaning army, and held, or champion.

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