If you were thinking the Lion is the most common charge in heraldry - then you are right.
However, a little known fact is that the very popular Lion Passant Guardant (lion striding with head turned toward viewer), was often referred to as a Leopard in early heraldry.
When the cold weather comes, we reach for our coats. You probably already know that you can’t wear a Coat of Arms to keep you warm.
But did you know your 12th century European ancestors may have worn their Coats of Arms to keep them warm, as well as to be easily identified in battle or tournaments.
Since earliest times, men have sought out feelings of acceptance and a need to belong. The hunters and gatherers formed groups in order to survive and prosper. As the population increased, members would branch out and form new groups.
With the advent of archeology, discoveries were unearthed that showed groups would decorate and make their pottery in unique ways from any other group. Historians and archeologists have argued that these pottery shards are in fact the first documented coats of arms.
The official, written description of the coat of arms is called the "blazon of arms." The blazon may seem like a foreign language, but it is simply a system of code words to denote colors, placement, and styling by using an economy of words.
The colors and charges (lions, designs, etc. that appear on the shield) are a part of the official blazon, but the shape of the shield is not. Shield shapes vary according to the geographical origin as well as the time period.
The colorful medieval tournaments, which were held both for entertainment and to give practice in the use of the lance, provided a great stimulus to the development of heraldry. A Marshal and Constable supervised the armorial decoration at these tournaments and in this we find the origins of the College of Arms This also resulted in heraldry becoming an organized and scientific art.
The decline in jousting in the 15th century and changes in methods of warfare did not however, lead to a decline in the importance of heraldry. Arms were displayed on seals and this was useful because many of the nobility were illiterate. Arms in stone and on stained glass, silver and elsewhere have provided countless clues for historians. In dating and identifying buildings and objects.