Very Basic Heraldry Part One – Why Have a Coat of Arms?

I’m working on a new book right now. It’s a chapter book for young readers with a medieval theme. So in order to really get to know my main character, it always helps me (because I am a very visual person) to see what my character looks like. I started thinking about the character’s hair and eye color and face and height and all of those important things. Then I thought about his clothes, and while I was doing that, I realized that I wanted this character to have a coat of arms. That meant I had to do a little research on heraldry. I’ll share some of what I’ve learned in a three-part blog. Here’s part one:

Heraldry is (in part) the study and creating of coats of arms. A coat of arms, in its simplest form, is a personal design on a shield that identifies the knight that carries that shield. Why was this even necessary? Because from far away a bunch of knights in armor all look the same. It would be hard to tell who was who. You could compare that to trying to watch a football or soccer game where nobody was wearing a name or a number and you were too far away to see the players’ faces.

When a knight had a coat of arms painted on his shield, other people could recognize him right away. So knights and others would come up with their own personal coat of arms. They would have different colors or shapes or patterns or animals on their shields. Or maybe they would have different colors of shapes AND patterns AND animals. But whatever they chose, it had to be different from everyone else’s shields. Coming soon…Very Basic Heraldry Part Two – Variations, Animals, Colors and Metals.