This passage discusses the art of heraldry.

Lexile Level: 970L

Categories: History Art & Music

Heraldry is the art of designing coats of arms, and more generally, it is the system of designing symbols that identify families, individuals, or institutions. Heraldry started in the Middle Ages to identify knights in battle whose faces were covered by helmets. The phrase "coat of arms" comes from a time when family emblems were sewn into the coat worn over a knight's chain mail. Heraldry is a complicated system of rules and terms. Usually a shield is the central element of a coat of arms. Some coats of arms include mottoes. Colors, geometric figures, helmets, and animals are often used. For example, the coat of arms of Canada features a shield supported by a lion and a unicorn. In countries such as England and Scotland, heraldry is regulated. In the United States, many institutions have adopted coats of arms. The District of Columbia has a flag that was inspired by George Washington's coat of arms.

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