Excerpts from the book
HERALDRY OF THE WORLD
Written and illustrated by
Carl Alexander von Volborth , K.St.J., A.I.H.
Internet version edited by Andrew Andersen, Ph.D.
Badges and Emblems
A badge is a figure or a device which in some cases can be used in the same way as a coat of arms, but it is not emblazoned on a shield and need not always be in any special colours. The earliest badges are probably older than systematic heraldry, and some may have been perpetuated as charges in early escutcheons. Both escutcheon and badge may be used at the same time, in some cases together as in Fig. 271, where Spain's royal arms are accompanied by two royal badges, a sheaf of arrows and a yoke.
Badges were common in Southern Europe and France; in Great Britain they always were, and are still, much in favour, their use having been revived early this century, but this is not the case in Germany and Scandinavia, where there is no native word for the term 'badge'. In England badges were also borne by retainers' or partisans of certain personages, and became in fact almost party emblems. In the Middle Ages the two rival lines of the royal house took their names from their badges, as did the royal dynasty itself (see Fig. 250). The white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster were united in 1485 to form the red and white Tudor rose (see Fig. 261). Other British badges based on plants can be seen on p. 70. In modern times badges are used extensively by institutions such as schools, regiments, clubs and so on.
A badge therefore is often used by a large number of persons who are not of the same family but have another form of mutual relationship. But from the fifteenth century onwards another type developed which, while resembling the badge, was in many respects quite different. This was a personal device or cognizance often consisting of a motto and a figure alluding to it which together would represent a person and express something about his character, ideals, interests and so on. See Figs. 249, 251, 255 and 256. Most of these devices referred originally to an individual, not to a family, but many of them were subsequently used by the descendants of the first owner. Heraldic language also changed and the word 'device' came in some countries to mean only a motto without any emblem.
An Italian form of the device is the impresa, the content of which was often full of learned and fanciful references. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the device and the impresa developed into what are called emblems. An emblem is a heraldic device or a symbolic or allegorical representation, often combined with a motto or slogan and as a rule of a religious or philosophical nature. Sometimes an emblem was quite a rebus, with Latin, Greek or Hebrew words and letters mixed with charges full of symbolism and subtlety.
The dividing line between badge, device, impresa and emblem is difficult to draw, and on these pages we have endeavoured to avoid using the ambiguous word 'device' and have kept mainly to the terms 'badge' and 'emblem'. See the Luther rose, Fig. 903.
In modern English heraldry the terms 'badge', 'motto' and 'rebus' have precise technical meanings, whereas the terms 'emblem' and 'device' are used more loosely—Ed.