I have looked into many dictionaries to know the meaning of `coats of arms' but still I can't grasp it's meaning.
After I googled for its image, I got some idea that it's an inscribed art. But now I wonder for what purpose it is carved/inscribed.
Could you give me some knowledge and practical use of `coats of arms'?
Here is Prince William's coat of arms: http://www.fleurdelis.com/graphics/william_prince.gif
The design will tell the person who knows about it that (1) Prince William is a member of the British Royal Family and (2) that he is the older son of the Prince of Wales
Coats of arms contain much information if you know the language used to create the designs.
It has been about a century since coats of arms had any "practical" use. Their use in recent years is purely ceremonial.
I suspect that the nearest modern equivalent in common use is football strips, but read on
If you cast your imagination back perhaps 800 years, you will discover a Europe in which the influence of the Roman Empire had been forgotten, as hordes better equipped militarily coming from the East had all but dismantled the Empire. (The learnings, by the way, remained, but were passed on primarily only in the Arabian world for several more Centuries.)
Common pastimes included:
- For the vast majority of the population, living a short subsistence life, intermittently punctuated by being summoned into military service by your Lord.
- For a tiny aristocracy, a combination of living scarcely better than the masses in terms of health and life expectancy, but at least with better quality furniture. Also, regularly punctuated by being summoned into military service by a more senior Lord.
The vast majority of the population (of all classes apart from certain religious orders and a few civil servants) was illiterate. Hence pictures evolved as a means of determining which area or family the aristocracy came from.
On the battlefield, the need to rapidly identify combatants is, obviously, even more important.
So each noble family came up with a picture that could be used to uniquely identify them.
In an attempt to impose some authority over the aristocracy, the monarchs took to themselves the right to "grant" arms, and established bodies, or "colleges" that would look after this.
Normally, when a Lord died, then his eldest son (gender equality wouldn't come along for about 750 years) inherited his land, his indentured servants, and his "coat of arms".
A younger son generally had two career options - go into the Church (which involved at the time a life of celibacy) or go into the army (which didn't.) The more successful of those who took the army route would be granted their own coats of arms.
About 100 years ago, the pattern was broken. It is a fact largely forgotten when discussing the "excesses of the rich" that until the First World War (1914-1918) the role of the aristocrat was basically to go and die for the country. Aristocrats were generally picked as officers for the simple reason that they could read.
My wife's grandfather, who served as a junior officer in the First World War and a senior officer in the Second World War commented that the main difference between the two was that in the Second, enlisted men could read. It is a scarey thought to learn how recent mass literacy actually is.
With the advent of mass literacy, written words replaced pictures as a means of distinguishing people... (sports teams notwithstanding.)
Some celebrities still buy coats of arms; David Beckham got one a few years ago that everyone laughed at.
Each country has a Flag, a Coat of Arms and a Hymn.
A country's hymn is its National Anthem.