In the 12th century, knights began wearing helmets that completely
concealed their faces except for two narrow slits for the eyes. It
made a knight unrecognizable to both his friends and his enemies.
Symbols such as lions or other beasts were painted on the knight’s shields and banners to aid
in recognition during battle. As time went on, these decorations were repeated on the
surcoat (a sleeveless garment that was worn over armor) – therefore the name, coat of arms.
By the 15th century, as the designs became more complex, it developed into a complicated
science called heraldry – a system of personal symbols by which a knight could be
Part 1: Using a piece of poster board, create a large decorated shield symbolizing your family
name or heritage. On the back of the shield should be a detailed ( a minimum of 8
sentences), typed explanation of the shield’s meaning (symbols used, reasoning behind layout,
Part 2: Research chivalry, the code of chivalry, and chivalric orders. In a two page essay
(minimum), explain what chivalry is, what the code of chivalry is and your reaction to it, and
a summary of the three most famous chivalric orders. Make sure you use spell check and
that you use proper writing techniques. Margins should be set to no more than 1 inch and
font size should not exceed 12.
I have done extensive research and have found some very useful websites and programs
that will help you. I would STRONGLY recommend that you do a little of your own
research before you begin this project. There are many different symbols used, ways of
dividing a shield, and meanings behind these methods.
www.digiserve.com/heraldry/ - Introduces you to heraldry. You can do a search for your
surname (last name) and see if a coat of arms exists for your name – click on “family name
coat of arms.” There is also a great section on heraldry clip art – click on “heraldry clip art”
www.heraldicclipart.com - provides free clipart. I didn’t really mess around with it – but it
could be helpful to some.
www.fleurdelis.com/meanings.htm - GREAT SITE! It tells you the meanings of colors used,
symbols of pictures used. I would recommend using this while you are planning your coat of
www.yourchildlearns.com/heraldry.htm - VERY COOL SITE! They have a program that you
can download for FREE that will provide you with the clipart for your shield. Once on the
site – click on “Download Shields, Knights, and Heraldry.” I downloaded this and it was safe
and easy to use. Follow the steps; you may need a parent’s help. Once the program is
installed, open it up and select a symbol and click on the print button. There are also other
links on the page that have helpful hints about heraldry.
http://www.yourchildlearns.com/div_examp.htm - shows you how you can divide your shield.
You should check them out.