A motto (derived from the Latin muttum, 'mutter', by way of Italian motto, 'word', 'sentence')is the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form (unlike slogans, which may also be expressed orally), and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but Latin has been widely used, especially in the Western world.
In heraldry, a motto is often found below the shield in a banderole; this placement stems from the Middle Ages, in which the vast majority of nobles possessed a coat of arms and a motto. In the case of Scottish heraldry it is mandated to appear above the crest.Spanish coats of arms may display a motto in the bordure of the shield. In heraldic literature, the terms "rallying cry" respectively "battle banner" are also common, which date back to the battle cry, and is usually located above the coat of arms.
In English heraldry mottos are not granted with armorial bearings, and may be adopted and changed at will. In Scottish heraldry, mottos can only be changed by re-matriculation, with the Lord Lyon King of Arms.Although unusual in England and perhaps outside English heraldic practice, there are some examples, such as in Belgium, of the particular appearance of the motto scroll and letters thereon being blazoned; a prominent example is the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States (which is a coat of arms and follows heraldic conventions), the blazon for which specifies that the motto scroll is held in the beak of the bald eagle serving as the escutcheon's supporter.
Ships and submarines in the Royal Navy each have a badge and motto, as do units of the Royal Air Force.
Latin has been very common for mottos, but for nation states their official language is generally chosen. Examples of unusual choices in motto language include:
A canting motto is one that contains word play.For example, the motto of the Earl of Onslow is Festina lente (literally "make haste slowly"), punningly interpreting on-slow. Similarly, the motto of the Burgh of Tayport, Te oportet alte ferri ("It is incumbent on you to carry yourself high"), is a cant on "Tayport at auld Tay Ferry", also alluding to the local lighthouse. The motto of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity, is a backronym of the letters F.B.I.
In literature, a motto is a sentence, phrase, poem, or word prefixed to an essay, chapter, novel, or the like suggestive of its subject matter. It is a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle for the written material that follows.
For example, Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes uses mottos at the start of each section.
Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on a shield, helmet and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners and mottoes.
A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of: shield, supporters, crest, and motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization or corporation.
In heraldry, a compartment is a design placed under the shield, usually rocks, a grassy mount, or some sort of other landscape upon which the supporters are depicted as standing. Care must be taken to distinguish true compartments from items upon which supporters are merely resting one or more feet, or, sometimes, mere heraldic badges or pure decoration under the shield, and, conversely, care must also be taken in very unusual cases such as the coat of arms of Belize, in which what may be taken to be a crest, the mahogany tree rising above the shield, is really part of the compartment. It is sometimes said to represent the land held by the bearer. As an official part of the blazon it is a comparatively late feature of heraldry, often derived from the need to have different supporters for different families or entities, although sometimes the compartment is treated in the blazon separately from the supporters.
The coat of arms of Saskatchewan is the heraldic symbol representing the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
In heraldry, the term star may refer to any star-shaped charge with any number of rays, which may appear straight or wavy, and may or may not be pierced. While there has been much confusion between the two due to their similar shape, a star with straight-sided rays is usually called a mullet while one with wavy rays is usually called an estoile.
The coat of arms of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was designed by Robert Watt, the Chief Herald of Canada at the time, for the City of Toronto after its amalgamation in 1998. The arms were granted by the Canadian Heraldic Authority on 11 January 1999.
In heraldry, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon (shield). That may be a geometric design or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object, building, or other device. In French blazon, the ordinaries are called pièces, and other charges are called meubles.
Swedish heraldry encompasses heraldic achievements in modern and historic Sweden. Swedish heraldic style is consistent with the German-Nordic heraldic tradition, noted for its multiple helmets and crests which are treated as inseparable from the shield, its repetition of colours and charges between the shield and the crest, and its scant use of heraldic furs. Because the medieval history of the Nordic countries was so closely related, their heraldic individuality developed rather late. Swedish and Finnish heraldry have a shared history prior to the Diet of Porvoo in 1809; these, together with Danish heraldry, were heavily influenced by German heraldry. Unlike the highly stylized and macaronic language of English blazon, Swedish heraldry is described in plain language, using only Swedish terminology.
The royal arms of Scotland is the official coat of arms of the King of Scots first adopted in the 12th century. With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, James VI inherited the thrones of England and Ireland and thus his arms in Scotland were now quartered with the arms of England with an additional quarter for Ireland also added. Though the kingdoms of England and Scotland would share the same monarch, the distinction in heraldry used in both kingdoms was maintained. When the kingdoms of Scotland and England were united under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, no single arms were created, thereby maintaining the convention that the royal arms used in Scotland would continue to differ from those used elsewhere.
A Royal Badge for Wales was approved in May 2008. It is based on the arms borne by the thirteenth-century Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great, with the addition of St Edward's Crown atop a continuous scroll which, together with a wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the four countries of the United Kingdom, surrounds the shield. The motto which appears on the scroll, PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD, is taken from the National Anthem of Wales and is also found on the Welsh designs for £1 coins minted from 1985 until 2000. The badge formerly appeared on the covers of Assembly Measures; since the 2011 referendum, it now appears on the cover of Acts passed by the Senedd and its escutcheon, ribbon and motto are depicted on the Welsh Seal.
Heraldry in Scotland, while broadly similar to that practised in England and elsewhere in western Europe, has its own distinctive features. Its heraldic executive is separate from that of the rest of the United Kingdom.
Portuguese heraldry encompasses the modern and historic traditions of heraldry in Portugal and the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese heraldry is part of the larger Iberian tradition of heraldry, one of the major schools of heraldic tradition, and grants coats of arms to individuals, cities, Portuguese colonies, and other institutions. Heraldry has been practiced in Portugal at least since the 11th century, however it only became standardized and popularized in the 16th century, during the reign of King Manuel I of Portugal, who created the first heraldic ordinances in the country. Like in other Iberian heraldic traditions, the use of quartering and augmentations of honor is highly representative of Portuguese heraldry, but unlike in any other Iberian traditions, the use of heraldic crests is highly popular.
The rose is a common device in heraldry. It is often used both as a charge on a coat of arms and by itself as an heraldic badge. The heraldic rose has a stylized form consisting of five symmetrical lobes, five barbs, and a circular seed. The rose is one of the most common plant symbols in heraldry, together with the lily, which also has a stylistic representation in the fleur-de-lis.
The lion is a common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour, because historically the lion has been regarded as the "king of beasts". The lion also carries Judeo-Christian symbolism. The Lion of Judah stands in the coat of arms of Jerusalem. Similar-looking lions can be found elsewhere, such as in the coat of arms of the Swedish royal House of Bjelbo, from there in turn derived into the coat of arms of Finland, formerly belonging to Sweden.
Burgher arms or bourgeois arms are coats of arms borne by persons of the burgher social class of Europe since the Middle Ages. By definition, however, the term is alien to British heraldry, which follows other rules.
In my defens God me defend is the motto of both the royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Scotland and royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom used in Scotland. Contemporary versions of the royal arms show an abbreviated motto, in the form of in defens or, where English is used as an alternative, in defence. The motto appears above the crest of the arms, in the tradition of Scottish heraldry.
The wolf has been widely used in many forms in heraldry during the Middle Ages. Though commonly reviled as a livestock predator and man-eater, the wolf was also considered a noble and courageous animal, and frequently appeared on the arms and crests of numerous noble families. It typically symbolised the rewards of perseverance in long sieges or hard industry.
A slogan is used in Scottish heraldry as a heraldic motto or a secondary motto. It usually appears above the crest on a coat of arms, though sometimes it appears as a secondary motto beneath the shield. The word slogan dates from 1513. It is a variant of the earlier slogorn, which was an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm.
German heraldry is the tradition and style of heraldic achievements in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, including national and civic arms, noble and burgher arms, ecclesiastical heraldry, heraldic displays and heraldic descriptions. German heraldic style is one of the four major broad traditions within European heraldry and stands in contrast to Gallo-British, Latin and Eastern heraldry, and strongly influenced the styles and customs of heraldry in the Nordic countries, which developed comparatively late. Together, German and Nordic heraldry are often referred to as German-Nordic heraldry.
Icelandic heraldry is the study of coats of arms and other insignia used in Iceland. It belongs to the German-Nordic heraldic tradition, as the heraldry of Iceland has been primarily influenced by the heraldic traditions of Norway, Denmark and other Nordic countries. Iceland does not have a strong sense of heraldic tradition, however, because the country lacks a governing body to oversee this. As a result, coats of arms registered as such are virtually nonexistent in modern Iceland. While many municipalities use more or less heraldic logos, there are no heraldic standards to which these must adhere, and they are registered as graphic designs rather than as coats of arms.
Mottos are not necessarily hereditary and can be adopted and changed at will.
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