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Additional Resources:
The Medieval Tournaments
The Heraldic Language













Heraldry, in its broad meaning, traditionally had to do with the functions of a herald. That is one whose duty it was to announce tournaments, to carry messages from one manor to another and to record the various insignia borne by individuals. Heraldry arose almost spontaneously in Medieval Europe around the 12th Century, coinciding with the development of armor, and the time of the crusades.



In battle, a knight, clad in armor from head to toe, would barely recognize friend from foe.  Imagine if you will, a warriors face, invisible behind closed helmets, and you may well appreciate why a new method of istant recognition became necessary.  In addition, changes in the methods of waging war also demanded instant recognition.  This resulted in distinctive Insignia's being painted on the knight's shield and embroidered on his surcoat, which were the only means by which the warrior could be identified.  It is generally accepted that these innovations led to the beginnings of Heraldry.



The insignia thus adopted soon became jealously guraded and objects of pride. A son would inherit his Father's markings and carry them into battle with pride. After a battle or campaign, the knight would return to his castle and the vassal to his modest home and each would hang his shield or helmet on the wall. The helmet was positioned above the shield. A friend brought the belongings of those who had died in battle back, and the scene was repeated in every humble cottage and magnificent abode. Heraldry, as we know it, had come into being.



The Medieval Tournaments
The Heraldic Language