What is a coat of arms?


Coat of arms were originally medieval designs on armor, used to identify knights in competition or battle, but they eventually became more elaborate and served as a badge of honor for a particular family or individual.

A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization or corporation. 


 Where did coat of arms come from?

The ancient Romans used similar insignia on their shields, but these identified military units rather than individuals. 

The first evidence of medieval coats of arms has been found on seals used by knights in the 12th and 13th centuries. 

The use of coats of arms spread to the clergy, nobles, townsfolk, and peasants. The practice spread from Europe to other countries all the way to Japan. 

The first recorded use of a coat of arms in England was on the Bayeux Tapestry in the 11th century. 

Heraldry developed in the 12th century and came into widespread use by the 13th century. 

The coat of arms then widely became a symbol of a family's prestige and honor. 

The term "coat of arms" is derived from the Old French word "coate d'armes". 

 Coat of arms today

Today, coat of arms designs can be found on many different modern items as a way for people to connect with their ancestors, including architecture, crest prints, furniture, dishes, and even clothing. 

Some families have a coat of arms that has been passed down for generations, while others have had their arms designed more recently. 

There are also companies that specialize in designing coats of arms for individuals and families.


Elements of a coat of arms

There are a few different elements that can be included in a coat of arms design, but not all of them are required. 

The most important element is the shield, which can be decorated with a variety of charges, which are the shapes and symbols that are displayed on the shield. 

The most common charges are geometric shapes, animals, and plants. 

The shield can also be divided into sections, called "fields", which can each be decorated with a different charge. 

The helm is the second most important element of a coat of arms. It is a type of helmet that would have been worn by the knight in armor. 

The helm is usually decorated with the crest, which is a sculpted figure or design that is placed on top of the helm. It is usually a representation of the knight's head, but it can also be a animal, plant, or other object. 

Not all coat of arms require a helm however.

Did you know most family names have a coat of arms?

Most family names can be traced back to early Europe, which means that most people have a coat of arms waiting to be discovered. 

At Crests&Arms, our team specializes in researching the earliest known version of your family crest using official literature. 

To get yours, view our coat of arms products here or learn more about our family crest services.