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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

1892 version of flag of Puerto Rico with light blue tone
1892 version of flag of Puerto Rico with light blue tone

The Flags of Puerto Rico represent and symbolize the island and people of Puerto Rico. The origins of the current flag of Puerto Rico, adopted by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952, can be traced to 1868, when the first Puerto Rican flag, "The Revolutionary Flag of Lares", was conceived by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mariana "Brazos de Oro" Bracetti. The exiled Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee chose the Flag of Lares as their standard. In 1892, the Revolutionary Committee adopted a design modeled after the Cuban flag. The new flag consisted of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center.

The display of a Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952). In 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico declared the flag originally designed in 1892 to be the official flag, but without specifying the tones of colors to be used. The color of the triangle that was used by the administration of Luis Muñoz Marín was the dark blue that is used in the flag of the United States, instead of the original light blue, thus creating a political controversy which has lasted throughout the years. (more...)

Selected article

The frontispiece of the record of the heraldic visitation of Ulster King of Arms, Daniel Molyneux. This was undertaken in the city of Dublin in February 1607.
The frontispiece of the record of the heraldic visitation of Ulster King of Arms, Daniel Molyneux. This was undertaken in the city of Dublin in February 1607.

Heraldic visitations were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms in England, Wales and Ireland in order to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry and boroughs, and to record pedigrees. They took place from 1530 to 1688, and their records provide important source material for genealogists.The first provincial visitations were carried out under warrant granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms dated 6 April 1530. He was commissioned to travel throughout his province and was given authority to enter all homes and churches. Upon entering these premises, he was authorized to "put down or otherwise deface at his discretion...those arms unlawfully used". (more...)

Selected picture

A caricature of Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty

A caricature of Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, Garter Principal King of Arms, from the 1 December 1904 edition of Vanity Fair painted by Sir Leslie Ward.

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