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NORDIC

Heraldry and Genealogy:
The Reference Library

      Nordic Heraldry is a sub-category of the German-Nordic classification of heraldic traditions that are primarily found in, Germany, Austria, the  Nordic or Scandinavian countries, as well as Estonia, Latvia, the Czech lands and northern Switzerland.  We’ve created this grouping to include the present day countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden based upon the geographical location of the countries as well as their common historical, and cultural-linguistic relationships.   

      The characteristics of coats of arms in Scandinavia maintained much consistency over the course of time.   One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Nordic style is represented by the treatment of the crest.  Often, the same design is repeated in the shield and the crest. The use of multiple crests is also common. The crest is rarely used separately as in British heraldry, but can sometimes serve as a mark of difference between different branches of a family.  Marks of difference are very rare in this tradition as are heraldic furs, and the use of a torse is optional. Pairs of buffalo horns (da. vesselhorn) are very common as crests in Scandinavian and German heraldry although virtually unknown in other heraldic traditions. As these horns were often drawn with an open ring at the tip, they have sometimes been altered into elephant trunks or trumpets.

- Table of Contents –

Translating Foreign Text

Pan-Nordic Heraldry

Danish Heraldry

Finnish Heraldry

Icelandic Heraldry

Norwegian Heraldry

Swedish Heraldry

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PAN-NORDIC HERALDRY

      The books and or websites listed herein are those that cover more than two or more of the several geographical areas included within this heraldic classification.

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

HERALDRY:

Books:

Websites:

An Outline of Nordic Heraldry

Images of German-Nordic Heraldry

Scandanavian Heraldry and Flags

Societas Heraldica Scandinavica

A searchable database of Scandinavian arms

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES: 

Books:

Websites:

Nordic Noble Surname List

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Scandinavia 

Timeline of Scandinavian History

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DANISH HERALDRY

      Danish heraldry has its roots in medieval times when coats of arms first appeared in Europe.   The national coat of arms was originally the coat of arms of the royal family but by time it became associated with the Danish territory. The oldest known depiction of the insignia dates from a seal used by King Canute VI c. 1194. The oldest documentation of the tinctures of the coat of arms are from a depiction in the Armorial Gelre from 1370-86.  Personal Heraldry first appeared among the warrior class and thus became linked to nobility. But other groups of society quickly took up the heraldic tradition. The first Scandinavian burgher arms is from 1320.

      The tinctures and metals used in Danish heraldry are the same as in other European heraldic traditions. The tinctures gules, azure and sable are most common with vert and purpure being less common and furs very rare.  Danish heraldry uses the same divisions as are common in other heraldic traditions. The most simple charge is the division of the field by a straight line. These divisions are called skjolddelinger (lit. divisions of the shield) in Danish.  Ordinaries are called heroldsfigurer (lit. herold figures) in Danish.  Pairs of buffalo horns (da. vesselhorn) are very common as crests in Scandinavian and German heraldry although virtually unknown in other heraldic traditions. As these horns were often drawn with an open ring at the tip, they have sometimes been altered into elephant trunks or trumpets.

      The Danish military has a long heraldic tradition. Every regiment and naval vessel have a coat of arms. Also most current Danish municipalities have their own coat of arms.  As the assumption of arms is free in Denmark not only noble families have coats of arms and today it is estimated that up to 80% of Danish private coats of arms are burgher arms.

      Official Danish coats of arms are specially protected by Danish law.  In general they may only be used in official duties by offices of state and municipalities.  The National Heraldic Consultant is an officer under the Danish National Archive.  His job is to ensure that official coats of arms adhere to the rules of heraldry and to approve municipal coats of arms. He has no jurisdiction over private coats of arms.  Private coats of arms are not regulated and need no official sanction. 

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

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HERALDRY:

Books:

Websites:

Danish and foreign nobility family heraldry symbols

Danish Coats of Arms A-Z Galleries

Danish Heraldry - Wikipedia

Danish Nobility Yearbook: Images of Arms, 1884-1920

Danish Noble Family Coat-of-Arms Database

Denmark– Arms & Badges Database

Orders and Medals Society in Denmark

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES:

Books:

Danish Nobility Yearbook, (Danmarks adel aarbog), by Dansk Adelsforening , publisher, from 1884 to present.

Volume 12, 1895

Volume 16, 1899

Volume 17, 1900

Volume 18, 1900

Volumes 22-23, 1906

Danish Nobility Yearbooks Database: 1884-2011, by Dansk Adelsforening,  (names & accounts of 720 individuals)

Complete List families from the Danish Nobility Yearbooks by Dansk Adelsforening

Index to the Danish Nobility Yearbook, 1884-2011, by Dansk Adelsforening

Index to the Danish Nobility Yearbooks: 1884 to 2002, PDF manuscript, 24 pages

The higher Danish nobility, by Ferdinand Christian Herman von Krogh, 1866, 265 pages

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Denmark

Great Danish Encyclopedia – History search

Timeline of Danish History

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FINNISH HERALDRY

      Finnish heraldry had a common past with Swedish heraldry until 1809.  The oldest known coat of arms in Finland is in the 1297 seal of Bertold, sheriff) of Hame Castle. After the renaissance of municipal heraldry, burgher arms also became popular. Burgher arms were used in Finland in the 17th and 18th centuries by wealthy merchants, priests, officers and magistrates, but in many cases by one generation only and they became rare after a 1762 royal statute banned the use of ‘noble shield and open helmet’ by burghers.  

      The coats of arms of the Finnish nobility are recorded by the Finnish House of Nobility. The last ennoblement was 1912.  Coronets of rank are the same as in Swedish heraldry.  The Heraldic Society of Finland began to keep an unofficial register of burgher arms, which was published in 2006 as an armorial containing 1,356 arms. The aforementioned Swedish edict against “use of ‘noble shield and open helmet’ by burghers" is still respected.  Thus the Heraldic Society of Finland will only register burgher arms with a tilting helmet.

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

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HERALDRY:

Books:

Finlands chivalrous Community and Nobility Coats-of-Arms in 1888,  George Fredrik Granfelt, ‎et.al., - 1888

Websites:

Finnish Heraldry - Wikipedia

Heraldry Society of Finland (Finska Heraldiska Sällskapet)

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES:

Books:

Websites:

Finnish House of Nobility

Finnish Nobility

History of the Finnish Nobility

House of Hesse – Kingdom of Finland

House of Nobility (Finland)

List of Finnish Noble Families

The Genealogical Society of Finland

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Finland

Timeline of Finnish History

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ICELANDIC HERALDRY

      The heraldry of Iceland has been primarily influenced by the heraldic traditions of Norway, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.  As in other Nordic countries, the use of heraldry started with seals in the 13th century.  The earliest known use of the seal in Iceland was that of Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson, who died in 1213.  Personal coats of arms were rare in medieval Iceland, and these had a distinctive character in comparison to other heraldic traditions, reflective of Iceland's distinctive flora and fauna. After Iceland became part of the Kingdom of Norway in 1262, some Icelandic nobles were granted arms by the king of Norway.

      Because Iceland lacks a governing body to create policy and guide style, as well as the island nation's relative isolation from mainland Europe, the heraldic forms and styles found in Iceland are often in sharp contrast to those of other European countries. Thus, Icelandic heraldry has several distinguishing features, including the widespread use of vaguely heraldic landscape-type logos for civic bodies, the prominence of fish and maritime symbols (e.g. lighthouses), and the peculiar charge of the stockfish (a headless cod, sometimes flattened). Appropriately for a country whose primary export has always been fish, the stockfish crowned with an open crown was even the country's own heraldic symbol from the 1590s up to the 19th century.

      In keeping with the German-Nordic tradition, the tinctures (colors) used in Icelandic heraldry include silver, gold, blue, red, black and green. Notably absent are purple and furs, which are also rare in other Scandinavian heraldic traditions.

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

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HERALDRY:

Books:

Heraldry In Iceland, by Magnus Arni Magnusson, a manuscript, published 1997, 4 pages

Websites:

Coats of Arms of Iceland

Iceland: Heraldry of the World

Icelandic heraldry - Wikipedia

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES: 

Books:

Websites:

Nobility in Iceland

Norwegian Biographical Encyclopedia (includes Iceland)

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Iceland

Norwegian Encyclopedia - History

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NORWEGIAN HERALDRY

       Norwegian heraldry has roots in early medieval times, soon after the use of coats of arms first appeared in continental Europe.  Some of the medieval coats of arms are rather simple of design, while others have more naturalistic charges. The king-granted coats of arms of later times, were usually detailed and complex.  Especially in the late 1600s and the 1700s, many ennobled persons and families received coats of arms with shields containing both two and four fields, and some even with a heart shield above these.

      The Norwegian nobility had no real heraldic privileges, as it was allowed for all citizens to assume their own coats of arms. In letters patent to the nobility, however, it was expressly granted a legal protection for their new arms. After 1814 there has been no such granting of nobility and arms in Norway.  Unlike in Sweden, the use of open helmets was not reserved for the nobility. Coronets and supporters were formally reserved for the nobility, but they were used also by a number of others, without any protests from the public authorities. Supporters were normally granted to counts and higher ranks, but they were also granted to untitled nobility.  Noble coronets (adelskrone or rangkrone) were in principle for the nobility only. There were specific coronets for counts, barons, and untitled nobles. In addition, the Gyldenløver ("Golden Lions"), who were illegitimate royal descendants, had an exclusive coronet. The coronets for the nobility were, however, also used in arms and monograms by many burghers and peasants, e. g. in seals on the Norwegian Constitution of May 17, 1814, for the peasants Syvert Eeg and Christopher Hoen.

      There are very few civic arms dating from before 1900, and the main part of todays governmental and civic arms are from the last decades of the 20th century. Today the public arms are popular in Norway and they are used quite much by the official authorities.

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

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HERALDRY:

Books:

Personal Marks In Norway, by Hans Cappelen, (a manuscript), published 2001, 31 pages

Norse Medieval Seals, by Henrik Jørgen Huitfeldt-Kaas - 1809

Websites:

Coat of arms of Norway

Images of Norwegian Heraldry

List of Norwegian Coats-of-Arms

Norway: Heraldry of The World

Norwegian Heraldry Society

Norwegian heraldry-wikipedia

Norway– Arms & Badges Database

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES:

Books:

Websites:

Aristocracy of Norway

History & Register of Norwegian Nobility

Nobility of Norway

Norway, Kings

Norway, Nobility

Norwegian Biographical Encyclopedia

Norwegian Genealogical Society

Norwegian Nobility (category list)

Norwegian Nobility Titles

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Norway

Norwegian Encyclopedia – History search

Timeline Norway

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SWEDISH HERALDRY

      The earliest known achievements of arms in Sweden dates from 1219.  The earliest example of Swedish civic heraldry is the city arms of Kalmar, which originated as a city seal in 1247.   The seal (Swedish sigill), used extensively in the Middle Ages, was instrumental in spreading heraldry to churches, local governments, and other institutions, and was the forerunner of the coat of arms in medieval Sweden.  Armorial seals of noblewomen appeared in the 12th century, burghers and artisans began adopting arms in the 13th century, and even some peasants took arms in the 14th century.

      Swedish heraldry has a number of characteristics that distinguish the Swedish style from heraldry in other European countries.  One of these is the use of multiple helmets and crests, which cannot be displayed separately from the main shield. These helmets and crests are considered to be as important as the shield, each denoting a fief over which the bearer holds a right.  In Scandinavia (as distinct from the German custom), when an even number of helmets is displayed, they are usually turned, with their crests, to face outward; when an odd number, the center helmet is turned affronté and the rest turned outward (whereas in Germany the helmets are turned inward to face the center of the escutcheon).   Additionally, the crests are often repetitive of charges used on the main shield, and marks of cadency typically occur in the crest, rather than on the shield as in Gallo-British heraldry.  Also, the use of heraldic furs on the shield, while common in Gallo-British heraldry, is rare in German-Nordic heraldry.  Furs in Scandinavia are generally limited to ermine and vair, which sometimes appear in mantling, supporters, or the trimmings of crowns, but rarely on the shield.

      Today, heraldry in Sweden is used extensively by corporations and government offices; the rights of these private entities and of official bodies are upheld by Swedish law.  In order to become legally registered and protected under Swedish law, an official coat of arms must be registered with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), and is subject to approval by the National Herald (Statsheraldiker) and the bureaucratic Heraldic Board of the National Archives of Sweden. Heraldic arms of common citizens (burgher arms), however, are less strictly controlled. These are recognized by inclusion in the annually published Scandinavian Roll of Arms.

Heraldry Books

Heraldry Websites

Bio-Gen Books

Bio-Gen Websites

Geography Books

Geography Websites

History Books

History Websites

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HERALDRY:

Books:

Swedish Heraldry, by Bernhard Schlegel, ‎Carl Arvid Klingspor - 1874

Websites:

 

Armorial of Swedish Commoners (A-C)

Armorial of Swedish Commoners (S-Ö)

Images for Swedish Heraldry

National Herald of Sweden (Statsheraldiker)

Sweden– Arms & Badges Database

Sweden Heraldry - FamilySearch.org - heraldry books

Swedish heraldry - Wikipedia

Swedish Heraldry DB - Heraldiska Källan

Swedish Heraldry Society

Swedish Nobility Arms: Database

 

BIOGRAPHIES AND GENEALOGIES:

Books:

Swedish Nobility Family-Descriptions Edition, Svenska adelns ättar-taflor utgifna, by Gabriel Anrep, 4 volumes, 1858-1864

Volume 1, 1858 (Abrahamsson – Granfelt)

Volume 2, 1861 (Granfelt frân Dal - Mörner af Tuna

Volume 3, 1862 (von Nackrel – Skytte)

Volume 4, 1864 (Skyette af Duderhoff – Östner, Jemte  Tillăgg, Răttelser och Slutord)

Swedish Clan Book, (Svenska slägtboken), Volume 1, 1871, Volume 2, 1872, by Gabriel Anrep

Register of the old Swedish kingdom of chivalry and nobility, (Matrikel öfwer Swea rikes ridderskap och adel ...),  

Register of the old Swedish kingdom of chivalry and nobility, by Johan Henrich Werner, 1731

Register of the old Swedish kingdom of chivalry and nobility: Vol. 1, by Anders Anton von Stiernman,1754

Register of the old Swedish kingdom of chivalry and nobility: Vol. 2, by Anders Anton von Stiernman,1755

Register of the old Swedish kingdom of chivalry and nobility: Vols. 6-8, by Carl Fredric Rothlieb1807

Websites:

DIS Genealogical Society of Sweden

House of Nobility, Sweden

Sweden, Kings

Sweden, Nobility

Swedish Nobility (category list)

Swedish noble families

The History and Register of the Nobility of Sweden

GEOGRAPHY:

Books:

A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, & Historical of the various countries, places, and principal natural objects in the world, by John Ramsay M'Culloch, four volumes, published 1866

Volume 1:  AA - Caspe 

Volume 2:  Caspian Sea - Iona

Volume 3:  Ionian Islands -  Poole

Volume 4:  Poonah – Zytomiers

Websites:

Our Favorite Map and Atlas Webpages

Our Favorite Gazetteers

HISTORY:

Books:

Websites:

History of Sweden

History Timeline of Sweden

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