The Lexicon

Here you will find various information and guidelines to heraldy in general and helpful tips how to use the editor. Heraldy in itself is a broad and complex field, esspecially if you have any ambition to stick to the historical rules and guidelines how and why certain coat of arms were designed from what colors could be combined to which symbols or beasts represented what kind of properties, ideals or virtues of its bearer.

The editor itself is meant to be kept rule free meaning that I want to provide a tool which allows people to run wild with their imagination. But to give some background this section will expand on various topics which the art of heraldy back in the middle ages was all about.

MEDIEVAL HERALDRY

Esspecially in our modern times where soldiers are supposed to look inconspicuous the idea of soldiers, particularly full time professional ones like mediveal knights were, seems at first pretty stupid. It further confuses that this tradition was essentially only abandoned with the start of ww1. Before that most field armies still used national uniform colors kind of continueing what the coat of arms did in the Middle ages which essentially was to give everyone a good idea where who was on a crowded, noisy and usually pretty dirty battlefield. Bright colors actually helped distinguishing indivdiual leaders and their units so commanders knew whose guys were where and what the hell was going on.

Added to this was the fact that the feudal system essentially created a hierarchical military system where all main army units were created by individual landlords who had pledged their loyality to a particular monarch. Kings were on top and knights essential the very bottom but every one of them fielded own troops. Knights maybe only numbering a handful in squires and men at arms but dukes and kings troops possibly numbered in the hundreds. The allegiance of all these people had to be somehow marked.

Essentially from this very basic military need of chaos management by clearly marking troop types which was not a new idea by any means - Romans and Greeks and virtually everyone had figured that one our centuries before - heraldy developed which started to not only mark groups of people belonging to a certain faction but also telling who the leader of this faction and his family was all about. In modern times one could call it branding, in medieval times the coat of arms was the embodiment and identity of the persons who wore it and particular it stood for. Leopold of Austria was not overreacting when king Richard tore his coat of arms down in a meeting, it was a pretty deliberate insult towards him, his family and his title as general of the imperial troops of the crusade. As we know it started a personal vendetta which landed Richard in a dungeon for a couple of years. This pretty wellknown episode kind of shows what the coat of arms and personal banners and flags meant back then.

Overall herarldy developed from the need to distinguish combatants who wore nearly complete armor including closed helmets easily. For the knights it was furthermore important since it was the only way to prove their superior combat prowress to their lords but as said, painting your shields or armor in distinguishable colors was common sense and this simply formalized it and went several steps further.

In essence heraldry developed into a distinctive form of meta science and art and by the late Middle Ages and early Rennaissance had become the highly developed discipline which history enthusiast and reenactors learn to love or hate.

BASICS

The coat of arms is composed from several different components which become particular important if a herald or other official were to describe it without a picture.

Tinctures
These are the colors the coat of arms is made of. These are however divided into subgroups of colors, metals and furs. Colors are generally darker tinctures of red, green, blue while metals are lighter tinctures representing gold aka yellow and silver aka white. Derived from French these translate into heraldic terms as follows: The colors azure (blue), gules (red), sable (black), vert (green), and purpure (purple). The metals Or (gold) and argent (white). Furs represent common patterns used for the coat of arms and the most common were ermine and vair. Ermine probably being the more famous one as it was essentially the black on white thingies seen in a lot of royal clothing,,, esspecially Hollywood etc.

Aside of these a number of other colors was also possible and usually had special meaning. These included bleu-celeste, sanguine, tenné and murrey.

A general rule was that you didn't put color on color or metal on metal to ensure a good deal of contrast in the coat of arms. Like with any rule this one was however deliberately ignored just like using non standard colors. The most prominent example would be the kingdom of Jerusalem with golden crosses on white ground. The French adopted something similar lateron with golden lilies on white ground as royal standard.