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A blazon is the formal description of a coat of arms, flag or other emblem - a visual image put into words. Anyone familiar with heraldic terminology can read a blazon and accurately reconstruct the image it describes. Blazons were standardized in the 13th century and are written in anglicized version of Norman French, which can take some getting used to: “argent a cross Gules” (a silver background with a red cross) is the blazon of England, for example.
A coat of arms – or simply “arms” - is a distinctive arrangement of symbols officially recognized as the emblem of an individual, family, institution or country. The design of each coat of arms is unique and highly symbolic, revealing the values of the person, or group of people, it represents.
A blazon is the text that describes a coat of arms. Behind every coat of arms is a blazon setting out the colors, symbols and patterns that must be used. It's important to remember that a blazon never changes, while the coat of arms it describes can have many variations in style and presentation.
Heraldry is simply the profession, art or study of blazons and the coats of arms they describe. It also refers to the process by which blazons are formally registered and granted. The practice of heraldry is almost 900 years old, but many of its conventions developed during Victorian times where there was a revival of interest in coats of arms.
Blazons were first used by medieval knights to identify themselves in battle or tournament, but soon spread to all sections of society. Today, having a coat of arms - or the blazon that describes it - is like having your own personal logo. And it's a great way to learn about European cultural history too.
Yes! Anyone can have their own blazon, no matter what their occupation, background or location. And it's not just individuals or families – towns, cities, countries, societies, sports clubs and corporations can all have their own unique blazon too.
Of course not! It's true that in the early days of heraldry coats of arms wore worn chiefly by knights from so-called “noble” families. But the trend soon spread to all parts of society, with craftsmen, peasants and many others devising their own blazon. Today, coats of arms are adopted by people from all backgrounds.
We can be quite precise about that: the tradition began in Europe some time between 1130 and 1150. Intriguingly, the wearing of coats of arms appeared at the same time in many places of Europe - a fact which has puzzled historians.
The traditional symbols of heraldry come from the geometric shapes knights painted on their shields to identify themselves on the battlefield, since they were impossible to recognize under their heavy armor.
Not usually, but there are official heraldic authorities you should consult if you want to be absolutely sure your blazon is unique. The situation varies form country to country – in England and Wales, for instance, there still exists a High Court of Chivalry which has settled disputes over the use of heraldic arms since the 14th century, but such cases are very rare today.
Ideally your blazon will be unique – after all, that's the point of a coat of arms! But it's not quite that simple. If two people have the same blazon but live in different countries, for instance, it's very unlikely to cause any confusion.
Of course! Many sports teams wear coats of arms on their shirts, particularly soccer teams in the UK. Towns, cities and countries also have their own blazons, as do institutions, corporations and societies.
The system by which coats of arms are designed is called “heraldry”. It's a set of strict rules about the tinctures (colors), shapes and symbols that can be used in a blazon. The rules may seem restrictive, but they allow experts to recreate any coat of arms just from its description.
The shield is the most important and symbolic element of a coat of arms. The term and its shape come from heraldry’s military origins, when knights used to bear their blazon on their shields. Various other heraldic components - such as supporters, crests, mantling and a motto - can be added to the shield to create what's known as a full “achievement”. To learn more about heraldic shields read our “How-To" section.
Tincture simply means color or pattern. Remember, blazons are written in a specialized language derived from Norman French, so “gold” becomes “or” and “blue” becomes “azur”. Tinctures can also describe patterns found in animal fur, such as ermine.
A charge is any symbol used in the shield of a coat of arms. Hundreds of different charges are used in heraldry: geometric designs (called “ordinaries”), people, body parts, animals, plants, flowers, weapons, religious symbols – in fact, pretty much any object that's associated with the wearer. To learn more about heraldic charges read our “How-To" section.
Blazons are written using an anglicized form of Norman French, which reflects heraldry's origins in 12th century Europe. That's why it sounds like a strange mixture of Latin, French and English. Once you get used to it, however, it's very clear and concise.
Apart from a few rare exceptions, just five colors (called “tinctures”) are used in heraldry: gules (red), azur (blue), vert (green), sable (black) and purpure (purple). There are also two “metal” colors: or (yellow) and argent (white). To learn more about heraldic tinctures read our “How-To" section.
There are almost no limits on the kinds of charges that can feature in coats of arms - from the most traditional “lion rampant”, favored by many of Europe's royal houses, to a plane used by a region famous for its aeronautical industry.
Coats of arms are traditionally drawn in a highly stylized fashion that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. But you'll find lots of variation today – think of Peugeot's lion, for example, which was once depicted in the traditional heraldic style but is now a highly modernistic design. The really important thing is to ensure the image is an accurate reflection of its blazon.
The coat of arms used by Hogwarts, the fictional school in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, follows proper heraldic conventions. It depicts each house's mascot – a lion, serpent, eagle and badger – against its color. There is a long tradition of fictional and legendary characters being given their own coats of arms - King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, for example. Medieval artists even gave Jesus Christ his own coat of arms, usually based on the instruments of the passion.
MyBlazon.com is an app that generates personalized coats of arms. It works by taking three qualities that matter most to you – such as courage, luck and vigilance - and matching them up with their traditional heraldic symbols. It then creates a striking design that can be used as your own coat of arms.
MyBlazon.com also offers a wealth of information about heraldry in general, including a glossary.
Yes. You can create and download as many coats of arms as you like absolutely free. If you enjoy using our service, all we ask is that you share your coat of arms with your friends. If you'd like a high definition image you can purchase one for less than $10.
Our aim is for every blazon generated by MyBlazon.com to be unique – and the vast majority will be. However, we can’t guarantee that your design isn't already being used somewhere else in the world.
A lot! We haven't counted every possible combination but we estimate it's in the tens of millions.
Each heraldic charge holds a symbolic meaning. That's why we ask you to select three values before generating your coat of arms. MyBlazon.com then automatically picks the most suitable charges and arranges them into your personalized coat of arms.
Not yet, but you'll soon be able to to customize your shield with other charges that symbolize your chosen values.
You can change the ornaments around the shield on the edit my coat of arms page. The shield itself can’t be modified, sorry.
We love heraldry and put a lot of effort into researching it. But we're only human - there may be some minor mistakes in our blazons or in our historical references.
Tell us! We're constantly improving MyBlazon.com, so if you spot a mistake please contact us.
Yes. We're very strict about the colors, lines and charges we use and our blazons are always written in traditional heraldic language.
We draw on a huge range of traditional heraldic designs and layouts – and we're adding more all the time. However, there are a few techniques that aren't technically possible yet.
That's an interesting idea. If you’d like the option of adding your own charges to your coat of arms, feel free to drop us a line.
Not yet, but if the value you're thinking of is not on our list please feel free to suggest it to us.
Not yet, but soon you'll be able to choose between two styles: “traditional” and “modern”.
Not at the moment, but when we've introduced “traditional” or “modern” styles you'll have a choice of palettes.
Go ahead! After all, it's your own personal emblem. You don’t need even need to purchase a high definition version - just go to the homepage and click on “set profile picture”.
The easiest way is to invite them via Facebook to use the MyBlazon app themselves. If you prefer, you can create a new coat of arms from your own account and send it as a private message, or by email.
Get in touch via our contact form for further information.
That's easily fixed. Just edit the name in the appropriate field on the store page, then click on one of the pictures to go to Zazzle.
Yes you do. MyBlazon is a Facebook application so you'll need to be logged in. A web version will be available soon.
We strongly recommend that you use high definition image if you want to print your coat of arms. A standard definition image will look pixelated and blurry.
That's easy – just go to the “download and share” page and click on the “download HD” button. A Facebook payment popup will then open. Once your payment has been processed you can download your design as many times as you like.
Once you've purchased the high definition image of your blazon you can edit and download it as many times as you like. However, if you create a new blazon - through the “create new coat-of-arms” process - you'll need to purchase a new high definition image for that coat of arms.
Yes, but you must credit MyBlazon.com.
Unfortunately we can’t resolve any problems with Facebook's payment system. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/help/ to find a response to your query.
That's easy - just go to https://www.facebook.com/credits and follow the simple instructions. You can also purchase a Facebook Gift Card, which can be used to buy items in MyBlazon and thousands of other Facebook apps.
Yes! You can download the high definition version and then use your preferred printing service. Or you can visit our Zazzle shop and pick from a huge range of products bearing your name and coat of arms. Just choose the shop from the main menu.
We've made the process really easy by partnering with Zazzle. Just visit our store and pick from lots of exciting and original gift ideas, such as hats, t-shirts, watches, caps, keychains and aprons. You can also change or remove your name and choose whether to display your values.
No, all products in our Zazzle store are automatically printed with a high definition version of your blazon. However, if you want to use another printing service you will need to purchase your own high definition image.
MyBlazon's store is provided by Zazzle, who print the high definition images we provide on to the products you choose. They are also responsible for delivering your items.
You're very unlikely to encounter a problem but if you do please notify us and visit http://www.zazzle.co.uk/help to find a quick solution.
Our Zazzle store allows you to print a friend's coat of arms on to a keychain, t-shirt or any number of other products – a unique gift! To put your friend's name on to the coat of arms, simply edit the name field on the store page, then click on one of the pictures to go to Zazzle. You can also edit your name directly on Zazzle.