In the 12th century, it was really hard to recognize knights and other people during a battle. Their whole bodies and faces were covered by armor, and people wanted to find a means of recognizing each other.
Then heraldry, also known as armory, was invented. Kings and knights soon began to wear their coat of arms, and everyone knew who was who on the battlefield.
A coat of arms served to show who belonged to which family. This type of symbol was personal and hereditary. Rulers and aristocracy had them on tunics and shields.
A typical coat of arm included such symbol as eagles, lions, various geometric forms, and crosses. The colors had some special heraldic names. Those were or (gold), argent (silver), gules (red), sable (black), vert (green), purpure (purple), murrey (mulberry) and tenné (orange).
First coats of arms were simple, but since so many knights – and even institutions such as guilds, universities, and towns – started to use them, they needed to become more complex. But at the same time, it was hard to remember and distinguish between so many similar symbols. The only people who knew how to identify a large number of coats of arms were heralds.
A herald was an official whose job was to list and announce ancient armorial bearings. This was very important at medieval tournaments. The herald had the important task of keeping track of all the coats of arms and to know unmistakably which arms belonged to which person and family.
Besides the tournaments, herald’s role was important in battles. In the 14th century, rulers realiyed how valuable sources of information these people represented to them. It was indeed useful to know who exactly you’re fighting against.
A century later, there were even some colleges of arms. Those were necessary because there were some conflicting arms, and there had to be some institution to settle disputes. Moreover, they needed to look at people’s claims to have a coat of arms.
The first coat of arms
One of the reasons to show off on the battlefields was to scare away the enemies. The plan was to let the enemy know that they were not fighting against just any knight. So when they saw the three lions that represent Richard I, they would get terrified, which would affect their readiness to fight. Besides the three lions, many trembled with fear when they saw the Black Prince’s black shield.
In the next generation, sons and daughters had the right to use their father’s coat of arms. Even the knights who fought for the king or a particular nobleman sometimes wore their master’s coat of arms.
King coat of arms
The coat of arms associated with the ancient name King, which means ‘ruler’ and is found in many medieval manuscripts, consists of distinct colors and symbols. Each of these elements has a special meaning.
- The blue (azure) color represents truth and loyalty.
- The yellow (or, gold) color stands for generosity.
- Chief represents wisdom, authority, dominion, and military achievement.
- The embattled line stands for the walls of a town or fortress. The open book symbolizes manifestation.
What is the coat of arms?
It is a symbol of a medieval noble family.
Who wore coats of arms?
Kings, knights, and other noblemen and women could use those symbols.
What was the role of a herald?
A herald could recognize different coats of arms and could identify knights at the battlefield or on a tournament.
Whose coat of arms had three lions?
It was the coat of arms of King Richard I.
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