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When Did Heraldry Start?

Many people interested in military culture, medieval history, and royalty are interested to know when did heraldry start. Heraldry was a way to use symbols to represent families, royalty, countries, territories, and other groups so they were well-represented and kept separate from one another.

When Did Heraldry Start

These symbols, looking back, were often beautiful and ornate and there are many well-preserved specimens today that let us understand more about the tradition. Some people, in fact, like to keep their traditions alive as the emblems, coats of armor and other symbols have been passed on to generations alive today. Keep reading below to learn more about heraldry and when did heraldry start.

Heraldry: What It Is and How It Works

Symbols are part of what defines humans: people use special symbols to let others know who they are, what they do, and where they are from. Heralds were people who would manage what coats of arms were owned and used by which families, tribes, groups, or kingships, and then they would be monitored over time so that the symbols were preserved. Families would carry on the tradition of the heraldry so that it would help them to be identified both near and far.

When Did Heraldry Start?

People often wonder when did heraldry start because today, the world seems so different: people are no longer only defined by badges and emblems, since many other symbols represent who they are. Can we really know when this process of making symbols to herald who humans are and what they do began?

Some scholars believe that the first instances of heraldry were in the ancient civilization of Egypt. You can see on old reliefs and in paintings that in battle, these ancient people would carry symbols that would represent which side of the battle they were on. The symbols they used were called serekhs and they would represent allegiance and power. The tradition has continued ever since—but, you might not be able to know whether earlier civilizations in fact used heraldry as well. The best guess is that people have known about the heraldic tradition for a while and that it has not been around for centuries, but millennia.

Why Was Heraldry Important?

Today, many people preserve their identities in special ways: they have social security identification information, signatures, bank codes and other personal data, and their face is often a key part of a person’s identity when applying for driver's licenses or other formal documentation. People are encouraged to carry around this identification at all times so that they can be recognized in case of emergency or in order to prove who they really are. However, back in older days when there was much less technology, symbols played a very important part in preserving the status of a family or giving validity to actions done in someone’s name.

Recognizing People and Places by Heraldic Symbols

Since traveling quickly was not feasible without modern transportation technology, it was important to find a way to recognize people, faces, and places that may have changed a great deal over time. For example, families may not have met together for many years and the individuals and their home may look different in comparison to the last meeting. The tell-tale emblem would help them distinguish who they were meeting. This is probably why the tradition of heraldry has been around for such a long time.

Heraldry might be an old tradition, but it continues to fascinate many today. Choosing animal, nature, and power symbols to represent a group of people is extremely meaningful and quite interesting for modern scholars to understand. For more information about when heraldry started, consider consulting with a historian who specializes in medieval history or looking through a historical collection of heraldic symbols.