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Carey Coat Of Arms

 

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A Coat Of Arms
~ What Are They, Where Did They Come From ~
 
Page Index
The History Of Arms
The Heraldry
What's Behind Those Designs?
The Basic Components
The Shield
What Does It Mean?

Carey Coat Of Arms
The History of Arms
A practice that began in the early 13th century, the coat of arms was initially a way for knights to identify each other on a battlefield. With all the armor worn at the time, a knight's face and features were often hidden. As a means to ensure a knight wouldn't accidentally kill his neighbor on the field, the Coat of Arms was created.
 
At first colorful images were painted on shields, and later these patterns were woven into cloth surcoats which were often worn over a suit of armor. Thus the term "Coat of Arms" was born.
 
Eventually this identification was displayed with great pride. As more designs were created, it became necessary to register the insignia so that no two knights would claim the same design. These registrations were called "armorials" or "blazons".
 
By 1419 armorials became so complex that King Henry V of England found it necessary to impose legal regulations over the use of the Coat of Arms. In part due to the growing court battles between families over the rights of certain designs.
 
The forbade anyone from taking on an armorial unless it was handed down through ancestry or presented as a gift from the crown. Those nations that were not governed by the English Crown found it necessary to adopt the practice and imposed their own versions of this same law.
 
Heraldry
The armorials became synonymous with Heraldry during the height of the medieval age. During jousting contents each soldier was presented at the tournament with his coat of arms entering the field first. As the armorial was displayed and the knight entered, a herald sounded a trumpet and then cried out the list of the knight's achievements. Thus the coat of arms became the means to identify, acknowledge and honor the great knights of old.
 
What's Behind Those Designs?
An armorial could tell a great deal about a knight or honored noble. Some were artistic interpretations of a surname, for instance Lord Fisher used a dolphin across his coat of arms.
 
Some designs revealed a person occupation, or tangible characteristic. But in the early creations, the designs reflected more of the bearers hopes, dreams, aspirations or major characteristic.
 
The Basic Components
A Coat of Arms has 6 components.
  • The Shield.
  • The Band (a vertical, horizontal or diagonal pattern)
  • The Helmet (the style depended on the bearers country and status).
  • The Crest (add in the 13th century as a family identification, for instance two cousins may have completely different armorials, but share the same crest upon the top of the helmet.)
  • The Mantling or lambrequin (now represented in strips of cloth, the mantling was a cloth which hung down from the helmet and covered the back of the neck. It meant that the bearer had been to battle. It is secondary in importance to the shield and crest).
  • The Motto (In some cases the final component was a motto handed down through a family for generations.)
The Shield
The shield is divided into 3 parts. The Field which gives the basic design and as it happens the basic meaning behind the shields design. The Charge which is a design placed on the field. A good example of this is our Shield, which has 3 red roses across the field design. The roses are the Charge in this case. Lastly the Colors and Furs which have their own unique meanings as well. The combination of colors was determined by the the metals used for the shield, in the 13th century that would be silver or gold.
 
What Does It Mean?
Each component had it's own meaning and expression of the barer. Here we've compiled a few of the basics.

 The Field The Charge Colors & Furs

Horizontal Divide: "per-fess"

Vertical Divide: "per-pale"

Diagonal Divide (top left to bottom right): "per bend"

Diagonal Divide (top right to bottom left); "per bend sinister".

Equal Divide (divided in 4 parts) "quartered".

Other divides were called indented or raguly.

Charges include symbols of color, animals, people, monsters, divine beings or natural and manmade objects.

For instance a lion standing on one hind leg with the front paws raised is called "rampant".

An eagle looking over it's right shoulder with talons and wings extended is called "displayed".

The metals give rise to the color. Gold (or yellow) represents generosity, valor or perseverance.

Silver (or white) denotes serenity and nobility.

Red represents fortitude and creative power.

Green denotes hope, vitality and plenty.

Black means repentance or vengeance.

Blue & Purple denote loyalty and splendor.

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