Definitions & Origins
â€śHeraldryâ€ť is the practice of designing, displaying, and recording coats of arms and related badges. It originated in the Middle Ages out of the need to distinguish knights and other combatants when their identity was hidden by armor. Over time, a formal system of rules spawned a wide variety of forms of heraldic art.
Though heraldry dates back to 12th century Europe, it is still very much in use today by many countries, cities and towns, as well as organizations and families around the world. Heraldic societies exist to promote education and understanding about the subject. Today weâ€™re seeing a resurgence of interest in heraldry, due in large part to renewed interest in family history and ancestry.
There is a lot of confusion and miss-use of terms in the world of heraldry. Weâ€™ll try to clear that up here with some brief definitions paraphrased from Wikipedia (see their definitions for much more extensive information.)