In heraldry, supporters, sometimes referred to as attendants, are figures or objects usually placed on either side of the shield and depicted holding it up.
Early forms of supporters are found in medieval seals. However, unlike the coronet or helmet and crest, supporters were not part of early medieval heraldry. As part of the heraldic achievement, they first become fashionable towards the end of the 15th century, but even in the 17th century were not necessarily part of the full heraldic achievement (being absent, for example, in Siebmachers Wappenbuch of 1605).
The figures used as supporters may be based on real or imaginary animals, human figures, and in rare cases plants or other inanimate objects, such as the pillars of Hercules of the coat of arms of Spain. Often, as in other elements of heraldry, these can have local significance, such as the fisherman and the tin miner granted to Cornwall County Council, or a historical link; such as the lion of England and unicorn of Scotland in the two variations of the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. The arms of nutritionist John Boyd-Orr use two 'garbs' (wheat sheaves) as supporters; the arms of USS Donald Cook, missiles; the arms of the state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, trees. Letters of the alphabet are used as supporters in the arms of Valencia, Spain. Human supporters can also be allegorical figures, or, more rarely, specifically named individuals.
There is usually one supporter on each side of the shield, though there are some examples of single supporters placed behind the shield, such as the imperial eagle of the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire. The coat of arms of the Republic of the Congo provide an extremely unusual example of two supporters issuing from behind the shield.While such single supporters are generally eagles with one or two heads, there are other examples, including the cathedra in the case of some Canadian cathedrals. At the other extreme and even rarer, the Scottish chief Dundas of that Ilk had three supporters: two conventional red lions and the whole supported by a salamander. The coat of arms of Iceland even has four supporters.
The context of the application of supporters may vary, although entitlement may be considered conditioned by grant of a type of augmentation of honour by admission in orders of chivalry or by heraldic authorities, such as in the case of traditional British heraldry.
Animal supporters are, by default, as close to rampant as possible, if the nature of the supporter allows it (this does not need to be mentioned in the blazon), though there are some blazoned exceptions. An example of whales 'non-rampant' is the arms of the Dutch municipality of Zaanstad.
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Older writers trace origins of supporters to their usages in tournaments, where the shields of the combatants were exposed for inspection, and guarded by their servants or pages disguised in fanciful attire. However, medieval Scottish seals afford numerous examples in which the 13th and 14th century shields were placed between two creatures resembling lizards or dragons. Also, the seal of John, Duke of Normandy, eldest son of the King of France, before 1316 bears his arms as; France ancient, a bordure gules, between two lions rampant away from the shield, and an eagle with expanded wings standing above it.
In Australia, Knights or Dames of the Order of Australia may be granted supporters. It is unclear whether supporters may only be used on arms granted by Garter Principal King of Arms, or whether other heraldic authority suffices.Further, as arms may be legitimately adopted upon an armiger's whim, there may be nothing limiting the adoption of supporters by any person, should they so choose.
In Canada, Companions of the Order of Canada, Commanders of the Order of Military Merit, Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order, people granted the style the Right Honourable, and corporations are granted the use of supporters on their coats of arms.Further, on his retirement from office as Chief Herald, Robert Watt was granted supporters as an honour.
In France, writers made a distinctive difference on the subject of supporters, giving the name of Supports to animals, real or imaginary, thus employed; while human figures or angels similarly used are called Tenants (i.e. 'holders'). Trees and other inanimate objects which are sometimes used are called Soutiens.
Knights Grand Companion and Principal Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit are granted the use of heraldic supporters.
Originally, in England, supporters were regarded as little more than mere decorative and artistic appendages.
In the United Kingdom, supporters are typically an example of special royal favour, granted at the behest of the sovereign.Hereditary supporters are normally limited to hereditary peers, certain members of the Royal Family, and to some chiefs of Scottish clans. Non-hereditary supporters are granted to life peers, Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter and Order of the Thistle, Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Order of St Michael and St George, Royal Victorian Order and Order of the British Empire, and Bailiffs and Dames Grand Cross of the Order of St John. Knights banneret were also granted non-hereditary supporters, but no such knight has been created since the time of Charles I.
Supporters may also be granted to corporations which have a royal charter.[ citation needed ]
Heraldry is a discipline relating to 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.
A motto is the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form, 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 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 Nova Scotia is the heraldic symbol representing the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is the oldest provincial achievement of arms in Canada, and the oldest British coat of arms in use outside Great Britain. It is blazoned as follows: Argent, a saltire azure charged with an escutcheon of the Royal Arms of Scotland.
In heraldry, an escutcheon is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses. First, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed; second, a shield can itself be a charge within a coat of arms.
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.
The coat of arms of Denmark has a lesser and a greater version.
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 tradition and art of heraldry first appeared in Spain at about the beginning of the eleventh century AD and its origin was similar to other European countries: the need for knights and nobles to distinguish themselves from one another on the battlefield, in jousts and in tournaments. Knights wore armor from head to toe and were often in leadership positions, so it was essential to be able to identify them on the battlefield.
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.
A crown is often an emblem of a sovereign state, usually a monarchy, but also used by some republics.
In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image. The verb to blazon means to create such a description. The visual depiction of a coat of arms or flag has traditionally had considerable latitude in design, but a verbal blazon specifies the essentially distinctive elements. A coat of arms or flag is therefore primarily defined not by a picture but rather by the wording of its blazon. Blazon is also the specialized language in which a blazon is written, and, as a verb, the act of writing such a description. Blazonry is the art, craft or practice of creating a blazon. The language employed in blazonry has its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax, which becomes essential for comprehension when blazoning a complex coat of arms.
The royal standards of England were narrow, tapering swallow-tailed heraldic flags, of considerable length, used mainly for mustering troops in battle, in pageants and at funerals, by the monarchs of England. In high favour during the Tudor period, the Royal English Standard was a flag that was of a separate design and purpose to the Royal Banner. It featured St George's Cross at its head, followed by a number of heraldic devices, a supporter, badges or crests, with a motto—but it did not bear a coat of arms. The Royal Standard changed its composition frequently from reign to reign, but retained the motto Dieu et mon droit, meaning God and my right; which was divided into two bands: Dieu et mon and Droyt.
English heraldry is the form of coats of arms and other heraldic bearings and insignia used in England. It lies within the so-called Gallo-British tradition. Coats of arms in England are regulated and granted to individuals by the English kings of arms of the College of Arms. An individual's arms may also be borne ‘by courtesy' by members of the holder's nuclear family, subject to a system of cadency marks, to differentiate those displays from the arms of the original holder. The English heraldic style is exemplified in the arms of British royalty, and is reflected in the civic arms of cities and towns, as well as the noble arms of individuals in England. Royal orders in England, such as the Order of the Garter, also maintain notable heraldic bearings.
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.
The Russian heraldry involves the study and use of coats of arms and other heraldic insignia in the country of Russia since its formation in the 16th century. Compare the socialist heraldry of the Soviet period of Russian history (1917–1991).
A national coat of arms is a symbol which denotes an independent state in the form of a heraldic achievement. While a national flag is usually used by the population at large and is flown outside and on ships, a national coat of arms is normally considered a symbol of the government or the head of state personally and tends to be used in print, on heraldic china, and as a wall decoration in official buildings. The royal arms of a monarchy, which may be identical to the national arms, are sometimes described as arms of dominion or arms of sovereignty.
Heraldry is the system of visual identification of rank and pedigree which developed in the European High Middle Ages, closely associated with the courtly culture of chivalry, Latin Christianity, the Crusades, feudal aristocracy, and monarchy of the time. Heraldic tradition fully developed in the 13th century, and it flourished and developed further during the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Originally limited to nobility, heraldry is adopted by wealthy commoners in the Late Middle Ages. Specific traditions of Ecclesiastical heraldry also develop in the late medieval period. Coats of arms of noble families, often after their extinction, becomes attached to the territories they used to own, giving rise to municipal coats of arms by the 16th century.
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