Are you interested in your family history? Well there could be a whole lot more information out there than you realise. You can find out more about your roots by researching your heraldry.

Readers of the Old Moore’s Almanac can now use our databases to research back deep into the history of their family line. And there are three options available to display information about your family line:

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So why is heraldry so important when it comes to family research? Well way back when, heraldry was VERY important. Heraldry came about in the 12th Century, about the time that battle armour came about. Around this time of the crusades, men would be covered from head to toe in metal, mostly to stop marauders from cutting out their organs with a lance or other weapons. The problem here is that nobody knew who the brave knight was, and a quick decision had to be made as to whether to murder the knight or not. To solve this problem, distinctive insignia was developed and painted all over the brave knight’s shield. It was also embroidered onto his coat, lest he got a bit too wasted on ale and left his shield in the local tavern.

The insignia that came about then became fiercely guarded, to thwart imposters but also as a matter of pride. A son would inherit his father’s insignia, and carry them into battle. After a battle, should the man have survived with all of his organs intact, such insignia would hang on the wall, on his coat (of arms) and on his shield. If the knight didn’t survive a lance to the kidney, then the objects bearing his insignia would be brought home to his family as proof of his passing.

Heraldry was also important to medieval tournaments, which were pulled together primarily for entertainment purposes. However they were also a good way for the knights to stay in practice with the use of a lance, which looks like a fairly difficult thing to wield from the back of a magnificent stallion. As these tournaments became more sophisticated, heraldry became more formal and organised. It is here that the insignia became recorded formally, and laws arose to protect ownership of the insignia.

Then along came gunpowder in the 16th century. This did away with the positively barbaric practice of jousting; however the heraldry tradition didn’t die with the joust sticks. They were simply used elsewhere – on seals, on stained glass, and on silver items. Whenever a historian finds such a seal or otherwise, they are always delighted at the information it can reveal. So when researching your family history, heraldry is an area that cannot be forgotten. In fact it can be a rich source of information about your genetic background.