Heraldry online

For any person interested in heraldry, the web is the place to start. One may even say that for the person interested in…pretty much “whatever”, the web is the place to start these days. And the pandemic we are living through just makes this even clearer.

The web is the place to start, but where to start on the web? There are no obvious entry points, other than “just Google it”. Each heraldry researcher has his or her own maps. This is my personal way of seeing it.

Since I have started as herald hobbyist, I have bookmarked more than 100 addresses and I keep finding new ones. You may think: “heraldry, what?”. Now thing is there is plenty of stuff on heraldry online and lots of people interested in it… relatively speaking, of course, as this comparison of search terms ‘heraldry’ (blue) and ‘covid’ (red) shows. By the way, I like to imagine there was time not too far away in time when people cared more about heraldry than covid. Let’s hope the same will happen again soon and let me move on to share some good web resources on heraldry.

In my opinion, a “must” visit online resource on heraldry is Wikipedia. Its heraldry portal is an entry point to an ocean of information, pictures, further resources on heraldry and vexillology. The page on rolls of arms is particularly useful, as rolls of arms or armorials are key databases for heraldry researchers. Some of the links given there bring value, such as this page by Coblaith Muimnech with links and annotations on a several armorials.

The website Heraldry of the World, which seems to be similar but not related directly to Wikipedia, has lots of material too, with a focus on civic heraldry. Wappenwiki is another example of digital armorial, with a very nice graphical layout I must say.

My favourite heraldry blog is Heraldica Nova. Content is published there fairly regularly, it is rather academic “and I like it”, it gives space to new research also in the domain of digital heraldry, as for instance the project led by Torsten Hiltmann on using machine learning to identify and classify coats of arms. It is thanks to Heraldica Nova that I found out about my first ever heraldic conference in 2019 at Buggiano. The blog has links to lots of other online resources on heraldry, and includes tips for heraldry research in particular on (digitised) armorials.

On the blogosphere, there are dozens of sites run by amateur heralds. For example: a blog in Italian by Antonio Conti mainly on central Italy heraldry, or this blog about a conference on Mobility and Space in the middle ages. The blog includes links to the conference papers of which one of clear heraldic content, by Marcus Meer, on the fascinating and perhaps underexploited topic of heraldic graffiti. Other top hit blogs, when searching for heraldry blogs on Google, are: the blog by David Appleton, far and large a sort of heraldic travelogue with links to his online heraldic shop; and the blog by J. Paul Murdock on royal heraldry,

Seals are crucial primary source of information on heraldry. Luckily for researches, a growing number of seals are made available online as part of digitised collections, as for instance: Sigilla, a digital, easily searchable collection of French seals, Digisig by historian John McEwan, a growing resource for ‘Digital Sigillography’ or this website with a collection of seals of the bishops of Salzburg,

Another very good resource are the websites of heraldry associations. The website of the French heraldry society is rich in content as it is the case for the one of the English Heraldry Society. There is quite a lot of freely accessible material on the site, including articles published on The Coat of Arms, the journal of the Society. The websites of other heraldry associations, as those listed on this web page of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, also provide useful information.

Yet, what I find by far most interesting, is old heraldic material such as armorials which has been digitized and is now online. There is LOT of it online and drawing a map to it would require time. Just to mention a few sites: HathiTrust. It is there that I am currently looking for information for my research on the Italian Consulta Araldica. The digitized collection of the Bavarian state library, where searching wappenbuch leads to more than 350 hits…

To be continued, the web keeps growing and with it online heraldry.

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