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Middle Ages
Heraldry



Heraldry
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.91

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    heraldry, inescutcheon, long-standing, passant, rampant, knight, battlefield, medieval, warfare, diagonal, griffin, battle, design, motto, armor, scroll
     content words:    Middle Ages


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Heraldry
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     A knight dressed for battle was covered from head to toe in shiny metal armor. So were all of the other knights - friends and enemies. There were no uniforms to distinguish one side from the other, and even their faces were covered.
 
2     When knights were fighting, they needed some way to tell who were their friends and who were their enemies. So they began to paint designs on their shields. The design on his shield identified each knight. Shield designs were passed down from father to son. Each son might add something to the design too, so that even individual members of a family could be recognized.
 
3     Shield designs had to be easily recognized on the battlefield, and soon, a particular style developed with certain patterns, shapes, and colors that could be seen clearly. This system of creating designs that represented particular families is known as heraldry.
 
4     The colors used in heraldry include two light colors - yellow and white, and five dark colors - red, blue, black, green, and purple. One rule of heraldry was that light colors should not be used next to other light colors and dark colors should not be used next to other dark colors. This made the colors show up better on the battlefield.
 
5     The background of a shield was often divided into sections. It might be divided by a line straight down the middle. The dividing line might run across the shield or from corner to corner. The background might be divided into four sections by a straight or a diagonal cross. Or, a "V" shaped piece might be marked off on the top or bottom of the shield. The sections would each be painted in one of the colors of heraldry, usually following the rule of painting lights next to darks. This background was known as the field.

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