Heraldry Symbols

Symbols of an Individual

Since the mid 1100s, heraldry symbols have been used to customize a coat of arms to an individual. The symbols are carefully chosen to depict specific personality traits and goals.

One frequently used symbol is the lion, the symbol for courage. It can be shown in any color with some colors having special meanings:
  • Red lion – Strong military fortitude
  • Purple lion – Royal majesty and courage

Crowns for Authority

A crown is the symbol for royal authority. The actual symbol used can be a simple crown or it can be a very elaborate crown. Frequently the crown will also have a cross at the top depicting the position of head of the church.

Helmets for Protection

A knight's helmet was a key piece of the knight's protection during a tournament. The helmet is frequently seen as a symbol of invulnerability during life.

Fleur de Lis for Purity

The fleur de lis is often called the floral badge of France. It is the symbol of purity and light. It is frequently used as part of a coat of arms as well as a decorative element on iron fencing.

Laurel Leaves for Peace

A wreath of laurel has traditionally depicted triumph and was used in the early Olympics as a sign of victory. The laurel leaf also is the symbol for peace and is frequently seen in the logos and signs of peace-oriented organizations.

Wings for Protection

Wings depict both swiftness and protection. They are a common element in individual coats of arms showing the protection which is provided by the individual. Wings are also used as key parts of country symbols. For example, the emblem of the Russian empire included wings of an eagle to show the strength and protection of the empire.

Heart for Sincerity

The heart is often included in a coat of arms to show the individual's sincerity and generosity. Usually the heart is depicted in a very simple style and is surrounded by other heraldry symbols.

Symbols Can Become Family Crests

A coat of arms is a custom combination of heraldry symbols such as this elaborate Royal Crest which hangs on the gates of Buckingham Palace. The crest includes:

  • An English lion for strength
  • A unicorn of Scotland
  • Crown for authority
  • Wheat for a bountiful harvest

A Custom Coat of Arms

There are hundreds of heraldry symbols, each with a special meaning. The symbols, when used in a coat of arms, can be used to describe a specific individual or family head.

Designing a custom coat of arms can be a fun family project and a great gift for a family member. A custom coat of arms can also provide an interesting design to include into a family history project.

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Heraldry Symbols