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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

Flags of the Nordic countries
Flags of the Nordic countries
A herald wearing a tabard
A herald wearing a tabard

Vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, a flag or banner) is the scholarly study of flags, including the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. Flags were originally used to assist military coordination on the battlefield, and have evolved into a general tool for signalling and identification, particularly identification of countries.

Heraldry encompasses all of the duties of a herald, including the science and art of designing, displaying, describing and recording coats of arms and badges, as well as the formal ceremonies and laws that regulate the use and inheritance of arms. The origins of heraldry lie in the medieval need to distinguish participants in battles or jousts, whose faces were hidden by steel helmets.

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Selected coat of arms

The coat of arms of Hungary
The coat of arms of Hungary

The Coat of arms of Hungary was adopted in July 1990, after the end of the Socialist regime, although it has been used before, both with and without the crown, sometimes as part of a larger, more complex coat of arms, and many of its elements date back to the Middle Ages. It is usually said that the silver stripes represent four rivers (Duna, Tisza, Dráva, Száva) and the hills represent three mountain ranges (Mátra, Tátra, Fátra), but this theory is historically unfounded. (more...)

Selected flag

The flag of Belarus
The flag of Belarus

The current national flag of Belarus was formally adopted on June 7, 1995, following the result of a referendum voted on by the Belarusian people in the previous month. This new design replaced a historical white and red flag used by the Belarusian People's Republic of 1918, before Belarus became a Soviet Republic, and again after it regained its independence in 1991. A few groups have continued to use the white and red flag, though its display in Belarus has been restricted by the government of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The current flag is a modification of the 1951 flag used while the country was a republic of the Soviet Union, mainly in the removal of the hammer and sickle and the red star, and the reversal of red and white in the hoist pattern. The Standard of the President of Republic of Belarus is identical to the national flag with a 5:6 ratio with the addition of the National emblem of Belarus. (more...)

Selected article

Two heralds at the funeral of King Johan III from 1594
Two heralds at the funeral of King Johan III from 1594

Swedish heraldry refers to the cultural tradition and style of heraldic achievements in modern and historic Sweden. It belongs culturally to the German-Nordic heraldic tradition, noted for its multiple helmets and crests which are treated as inseparable from the shield, repetition of colours and charges between the shield and the crest, and its scant use of heraldic furs. Swedish heraldry is similar to Danish heraldry; both were heavily influenced by German heraldry. The medieval history of the Nordic countries was closely related, so they developed their heraldic individuality rather late. Swedish and Finnish heraldry have a shared history prior to the Diet of Porvoo in 1809. Unlike the macaronic and highly stylized English blazon, Swedish heraldry is described in plain language, using only Swedish terminology.

In Sweden today, the official coats of arms of corporations and government offices are protected by Swedish law, if the coat of arms is registered with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office. Heraldic arms of common citizens (burgher arms), however, are less strictly controlled; these are recognised by inclusion in the annually published Scandinavian Roll of Arms. (more...)

Selected picture

The chapel of the Order of the Thistle

The tomb of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou is one of the first recorded examples of hereditary armory in Europe.

Did you know...

Flag of Trondheim

  • ...that the Norwegian heraldic authority forbade any other municipality to use the dog rose which appears on the Flag of Trondheim (pictured), because of the symbol's long association with that city?

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