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Heraldry

(2,837 words)

Author(s): Alan V. Murray
Arms were originally intended for use by and on the person of the mounted knight. The shield, or coat of arms proper, formed the basic element, but in practical usage the painted device on a knight's shield was often reproduced on his surcoat, banner, and the trappings of his warhorse (see plate armour), usually by a combination of dyeing and painting on mostly linen fabrics. Monumental brasses and stone effigies also often represented their subjects in armour with heraldry. Beyond this direct personal use, arms of individuals or institutions were often displayed as marks of ownership and decoration in a wide range of different media, including seals, coins, manuscripts, sculpture, stained glass, jewellery, plate, ceramic tiles, tapestries and furniture. While a medieval seal commonly depicted its owner as a mounted knight in armour, most other artistic representations tended to employ individual heraldic elements; in addition to the shield, these included the helme…