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Welcome to the Heraldry and Vexillology Portal!

Flags of the Nordic countries
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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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...)

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The colors in the PACE flag (Italian for

A rainbow flag is a multi-colored flag consisting of stripes in the colors of the rainbow. The actual colors shown differ, but many of the designs are based on the traditional scheme of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, or some more modern division of the rainbow spectrum (often excluding indigo, and sometimes including cyan instead). The use of rainbow flags has a long tradition; they are displayed in many cultures around the world as a sign of diversity and inclusiveness, of hope and of yearning.

There are several independent rainbow flags in use today. The most widely known is perhaps the pride flag representing gay pride. The peace flag is especially popular in Italy and the cooperative flag symbolizes the international co-operative movement. It is also used by Andean people to represent the legacy of the Inca empire (Wiphala) and Andean movements. (more...)

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Sir Bernard Burke as Ulster King of Arms in 1867

Sir John Bernard Burke (January 5, 1814 - December 12, 1892) was a British officer of arms and genealogist. He was born in London, and was educated in London and in France. His father, John Burke (1787-1848), was also a genealogist, and in 1826 issued a Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom. This work, generally known as Burke's Peerage, has been issued annually starting in 1847. While practising as a barrister Bernard Burke assisted his father in his genealogical work, and in 1848 took control of his publications. (more...)

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The 719 quarterings of the Grenville Diptych


The Grenville Diptych was produced between 1822 and 1839 for Richard Temple-Grenville, Marquess of Chandos the son of the first Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. It shows 719 quarterings of the family, including ten variations of the English Royal arms. The left panel of the diptych lists the quarterings.

Did you know...

Thomas Hawley

  • ...that the flags hoisted by the Finnish icebreaker Tarmo on 3 March 1918 included a large white tablecloth?

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