What Goes Into a Family Crest?

A family crest, also known as a coat of arms, is a symbol that represents a family’s identity and heritage. It is typically passed down through generations and serves as a visual representation of the family’s history and values.

Origins of the Family Crest

The tradition of using a family crest dates back to medieval Europe, where knights and nobles would emblazon their shields with symbols and colors to identify themselves on the battlefield. These symbols, known as heraldic devices, were chosen to represent the characteristics and achievements of the individual or family.

Over time, the use of heraldic devices became more widespread, and it became common for families to use a family crest to represent themselves. The crest would be displayed on a shield or banner, and it would be used to represent the family in official documents and ceremonies.

Elements of a Family Crest

A family crest typically consists of several different elements, each of which has its own symbolism and meaning. These elements include:

  • The shield: The shield is the central element of a family crest. The shield has a specific color and can carry heraldic symbols.
  • The helm: The helm is the helmet that sits atop the shield, and it represents the family’s status and honor. The style of the helm, as well as its position on the shield, can convey different meanings.
  • The mantling: The mantling is a decorative cloak that hangs from the helm and drapes over the sides of the shield. It is typically adorned with the same colors and symbols as the shield.
  • The crest: The crest is a decorative element that sits on top of the helm and is typically a sculpted figure or symbol. The crest is often chosen to represent the family’s achievements or values.
  • The motto: The motto is a phrase or slogan that is associated with the family crest. It is usually inscribed below the shield and is meant to encapsulate the family’s guiding principles or values.

The Meaning of Colors and Symbols

The colors and symbols used in a family crest are chosen to represent specific aspects of the family’s history or values. For example, the color blue might represent loyalty, while the color red might represent courage or bravery.

Symbols can also be used to represent specific aspects of the family’s history or achievements. For example, a crest featuring a lion might symbolize strength and courage, while a crest featuring an eagle might symbolize nobility or freedom.


In conclusion, a family crest is a symbol that represents the heritage and history of a particular family. It typically includes elements such as a coat of arms, a motto, and various other symbols and motifs that are specific to the family. A family crest can be a source of pride and identity for members of a family, and is often passed down through generations.

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