About this Site

 

Hubert de Vries, graduate in social Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam started this site 15 November 2006

It is about the heraldic emblems of all nations of the world and, when possible, about the emblems of their administrative units of the second level like federal states and provinces.

The main inspirator of this site has been Ottfried Neubecker who has pointed out in some of his publications the importance of public or civic heraldry, contrary to the heraldry of (european) families. The lemmata about national arm in reference books were also an inspiration.

It has been tried to trace the emblems back to their origins and sometimes these turned out to go back as far as millennia before our time

The gathering of the data started in the beginning of the seventies, mainly in the Universiteitsbibliotheek of Amsterdam but later also in several other libraries in Europe e.g. the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the libraries of Berlin, Brussels, Lissabon, Madrid, Stockholm, Venice etc..

Thus the main sources were secondary and almost no visits were made to national or other archives to do primary research. Nevertheless when travelling every opportunity was taken to photograph of as many freely accessible heraldic emblems as possible, resulting in a unique collection of primary data.

After the introduction of Internet in the nineties the gathering of data got much easier and many pictures could be downloaded and put into their places in the heraldic grid designed in the previous years. The classifying of the emblems was also facilitated by the improved accessibility of lists of rulers and data of political changes.  Many other case studies and important publications could be found which otherwise would have been difficult to consult in libraries before.  Without Internet we may state, this site never could have existed, being too time-consuming to do for just one scientist.

For many lemmata a model was used consisting of a socio-political division of society into the empire or realm, the ruler and the state, the state itself being divided into ranges of authority: the administrative authority, the armed authority and the religious authority. This division works well as a model until the development of new socio-political organizations after the French revolution and the introduction of the sovereignty of the people, that is to say until the end of the ‘era of the kings’.

 

It has been tried to make an inventarisation of the symbols used in the heraldic language, tracing their origins and trying to understand the changes in their significance.  In many cases we have to accept that symbols of almost universal validity have completely lost their meaning in the last few centuries and are not understood (and used) in their original meaning any more.

This very anthropological task which I  set myself, has proved to be somewhat too much for one life. Much research and analysis still has to be done.

 

Amsterdam, 19 September 2012

 

Hubert de Vries

 

 

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