- What is a Coat of Arms?

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  • What is a Coat of Arms?

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    What is a Coat of Arms?

    The Coat of Arms Arose in about the 12th century, around the time of the Crusades. A knight dressed in armour from head to foot could not be recognized by friend or enemy, so a new method of identification became necessary. This resulted in special markings being painted on the knight's shield, as it was the largest piece of equipment the knight had, and as the shield was easily seen,  people could see who was who at a distance on the battlefield. The markings were also embroidered on the tunic he wore over his Armour. The term comes from the design being on the tunic, hence 'Coat', this design was usually given to a knight once he became entitled to bear Arms, hence we get the term "coat of arms". The design was also used as a uniform for the servants of the household.

    A Coat of arms was not awarded to a family or a name, but to an individual. A coat of arms was probably granted to someone with your surname many hundreds of years ago. A Coat of arms usually started out as fairly simple in design, then subsequent generations added onto or made slight variations to the design to make it their own. Marriages often resulted in a combination of two different family lines' coat of arms.

    Is there a Coat of Arms listed under my name?
    Contrary to popular belief, over 90% of names we research have a Coat of Arms listed for them, so the odds are good that we will be able to find one under yours.

    Enter your surname below, then click search to see if we have your family name coat of arms and get a FREE summary of your family history.

    Do you have names from all over the world on your database?
    Yes, We currently have the surname history and oldest known coat of arms for over 1 million family names from all over the world on our database.

    Can a name have more than one Coat of Arms?
    Yes, there are often more than one Coat of Arms displayed with a particular family name. Different branches of a family or particular individual bearers of a name may often have been granted their own Coat of Arms. Our research normally makes reference to the earliest  known Coat of Arms associated with the surname.

    Can the same Coat of Arms be associated with more than one family name?
    Yes, there are often cases of a number of family names being associated with one particular Coat of Arms. Also due to the consistency and universality of heraldic art, the same Coat of Arms may be associated with two entirely different names in two different countries.

    Is it possible to establish when and where a particular Coat of Arms has been granted and to whom?
    Yes, however, not all source references give this much information regarding the granting of a Coat of Arms.

    Please note
    The bearing of a coat of arms is not regulated in most countries, including the United States. One main exception however, is in England, where direct descent is required for any heir to have the legal right to bear his ancestor's coat of arms. Further complicating the issue is that the source information for a coat of arms only lists a city and/or county of origin, and sometimes only a country. That is why, unless you can trace your family history back to one individual, and unless the sources list that individual, then the best that you can hope for is to find a coat of arms that is the oldest for a given surname, from a given region or the one most frequently used. While there is no reason we cannot enjoy the decoration of a coat of arms associated with someone centuries ago who shared our surname, we should be aware that this is all that it is, a decoration.

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