Annotated Heraldry Bibliography


Purchasing Books

An excellent source for purchasing books about heraldry is Heraldry Today, a bookseller in England. Another good source is the Amazon bookstore. Many of the useful books are out-of-print and can only be found through used bookstores.

To locate one of the books listed in this bibliography on Alibris, click on the little banner 

Many of the books listed here are difficult or impossible to purchase, or very expensive if you only want to look up a single name or item. You can track down a book in research or university libraries, and then use Interlibrary Loan to borrow them; inquire with your local public library.


Bibliographies are lists of books on a topic. They are always necessary when searching for particular books within that topic. I have myself made use of several bibliographies in composing this one.
  • Filby, P. William: American & British genealogy & heraldry : a selected list of books. 3rd ed. Boston : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1983.
  • Saffroy, Gaston: Bibliographie généalogique, héraldique et nobiliaire de la France; des origines à nos jours, imprimés et manuscrits. Paris, G. Saffroy, 1974-1988. 5 volumes.
  • Henning, Eckart and Gabriele Jochums: Bibliographie zur Heraldik : Schriftum Deutschlands und Österrreichs bis 1980. Köln : Bohlau, 1984.
  • Pastoureau, Michel: Traite d'Héraldique. Paris: A. Picard, 1979. Revised edition 1987. (Note: contains a small but important critical bibliography).
  • Spreti, Vittorio and Giustiniano degli Azzi Vitelleschi: Saggio di bibliografia araldica italiana : supplemento a l'Enciclopedia storico-nobiliare italiana. Milano : Editrice Enciclopedia storico-nobiliare italiana, 1936.
On-line, see the following:

Online library catalogs

To track down books or get precise details on a book whose author or title you partially remember, it is extremely useful to consult on-line library catalogues. There are some problems with using on-line catalogs: some are friendlier than others, some require a telnet interface (although most now have a Web interface). A collection of links to East Coast catalogues is useful. The Library of Congress catalogue is obviously very broad and now has a very nice interface. The University of California catalogue is friendly and quite rich. The Harvard University catalogue is very rich, but requires a telnet interface.

General Books on Heraldry

Heraldry is a language with many dialects, and there aren't many major differences between national styles of heraldry (with a few exceptions, like Polish heraldry). I have nevertheless divided this section into General, British and non-British heraldry for a variety of reasons. English being currently the language of the Internet, and this site being in English, this bibliography is biased toward books in English. But heraldry books in English tend to be mostly concerned with British heraldry, which, because of its historical development, includes a large number of rules and practices which are very specific to Britain. I have therefore set aside books with a more international outlook.


Fox-Davies, A. C. The Art of Heraldry. London: Bloomsbury Books, 1986. (First published 1904, publisher unknown.)
An extensive study of heraldry both in England and on the Continent. Many good examples of medieval usage. Much of the text material and many of the plates are taken from Heraldischer Atlas by H. G. Strohl (Stuttgart, 1899) and many of the text illustrations are from Fox-Davies' Armorial Families. (JG)

Galbreath, Donald L. and Léon Jéquier. Manuel du Blason. Lausanne, 1977.
A revised and much-enlarged edition of Galbreath's 1942 treatise. Pastoureau considers it to be the best introductory textbook to heraldry in general (but that may be among French-language texts only). Very hard to find.

Neubecker, Ottfried. Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Book Co. (UK) Limited, 1976.
Splendidly illustrated introduction to all aspects of European (and even non-European) heraldry. Given its length and the breadth of the topic, it is not a complete reference book (although it is seriously written, full of interesting facts, and contains a bibliograsphy), but it will whet your appetite with an abundance of illustrations, diagrams, maps, etc. Written by one of the foremost heralds of this century in German, translated in several languages. Recommended as a great introduction to heraldry. (That's the book that hooked me!)

Pastoureau, Michel. Heraldry: its origins and meaning. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
English translation of a book published in Paris by Gallimard in 1996. I have not seen the English version, but the French version is abundantly illustrated. Pastoureau is a student of heraldry from a historian's point of view, rather than from a herald's point of view. This small book covers heraldry both as a "science" and as a historical and cultural phenomenon. An excellent introduction. (His treatise is recommended to French-speakers).

Pine, Leslie Gilbert: International Heraldry.
A slender book, but very useful overview of heraldic regulation and practice in various European countries.

Slater, Stephen: The Complete Book of Heraldry. Lorenz Books, 2002. ISBN 0754810623.
Excellent recent book, with plentiful illustrations and a wide geographical coverage.

Volborth, Carl-Alexander von. Heraldry - Customs, Rules and Styles. Poole: Blandford Press, 1981. (229 p.)
An excellent scholarly examination of heraldry throughout the world. A good second book (after Boutell or Fox-Davies). The charges from the illustrations are well worth emulation. (JG)

Volborth, Carl-Alexander von. Heraldry of the World. Poole: Blandford Press, 1973.
A pocket book of limited usefulness. (JG)

Woodward, John, and George A. Burnett. A Treatise on Heraldry British and Foreign with English and French Glossaries.
Originally published 1891. Reprinted 1969, with new introduction by L.G. Pine, Rutland (Vermont): Charles E Tuttle Co., and Newton Abbot: David & Charles Reprints, 1969.
An excellent, exhaustive treatise, covering heraldry from its origins to the 19th century. The approach is decidedly scientific: heraldry practice is ascertained with archaeological evidence, not just the assertions of earlier writers. Another great virtue of this book: it is just as interested in Continental as in British heraldry. To top it all, it contains excellent English and French glossaries of heraldic terms. Recommended, although it's rather scarce.



The emphasis of British books (especially slightly older ones) is also very often on enouncing rules, rather than on describing actual practice. A remarkable exception to both traits is Woodward's Treatise, which is more concerned with how things were done in practice, and which is interested in Continental heraldry as much as in British heraldry. More recent books (Beningfield and Gwynn-Jones), while retaining the British focus, take a more varied and observant approach than, for example, Fox-Davies' manual (which sometimes reads like a penal code).

Bedingfeld, H. and Gwynn-Jones, P. Heraldry. London: Magna Books, 1993.
Splendidly illustrated book, by two English heralds, drawing from the College's archives. Excellent introduction to English heraldry.

Boutell's Heraldry, revised by J.P. Brooke-Little. London: Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., 1983.
One of the standard, basic books on heraldry. Originally written by Charles Boutell in 1863, it underwent many editions and revisions:
  • A Manual of Heraldry, historical and popular, London: Winsor and Newton, 1863.
  • 2d ed: Heraldry, Historical and Popular, 1863, 3d edition 1864.
  • English Heraldry, 1st ed. 1867; 3d ed. 1875. London: Cassel Peter and Galpin. 5th ed. 1883. London: Reeves and Turner. Revised in 1890, 1892, 1898 by S. T. Aveling and included in Heraldry, Ancient and Modern, London: Warne. Revised by A-C Fox-Davies in 1907 (9th ed), 1908 (10th ed), 1914 (11th ed), all London: Reeves and Turner.
  • Boutell's Manual of Heraldry, revised by V. Wheeler-Holohan. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1931.
  • Boutell's Heraldry, revised by C.W. Scott-Giles. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1950. Other printings 1954, 1958.
  • Boutell's Heraldry, revised by C.W. Scott-Giles and J.-P. Brooke-Little. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1963. Other printing 1966.
  • Boutell's Heraldry, revised by J.-P. Brooke-Little. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1970. Other printings 1973, 1983.

Dennys, Rodney. The Heraldic Imagination. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1975.
A very useful study of the origins and development of heraldry, with many illustrations both medieval and modern. Particularly worthwhile for its examples of the more fabulous aspects of heraldry. (JG)

Fox-Davies, A. C. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. New York: Dodge Publishing Co., 1909. Reprinted - New York: Bonanza Books, 1978. Revised by J.P. Brooke-Little, New York: Bonanza Books, 1985. Paperback printing: Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1999.
One of the standard, basic books on heraldry. This book has much of the text of The Art of Heraldry, but most of the continental illustrations have been deleted. A good general book on British heraldic usage. (JG)    1999 paperback edition:  

Franklyn, Julian. Shield & Crest. London: Macgibbon & Kee, 1960. Revised edition 1967.
An enjoyably discursive, if not rigorous, examination of English heraldry.

Friar, S. and Ferguson, J. Basic Heraldry. London: Herbert Press, 1993.
As the name indicates, a basic textbook.

Lynch-Robinson, Sir Christopher, and Adrian Lynch-Robinson. Intelligible Heraldry. London: Macdonald & Co., 1948.
A highly eccentric view of heraldry, this work should be reserved for use by experienced heralds. Take everything it says with a grain of salt and do not try to apply its philosophy to SCA heraldic usage. (JG)

Moncreiffe, Iain, and Don Pottinger. Simple Heraldry, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: John Bartholomew and Son Limited, 1978.
Probably the best available introduction to heraldry. This book should be at every heraldic consulting table. It is simple and amusing, but its visual mnemonics help make learning the various heraldic terms much easier. (JG)

Pine, Leslie Gilbert: Heraldry, Ancestry and Titles: Questions and Answers. New York: Gramercy Publishing Co, 1965.
The original FAQ! Written in the classic questions-and-answers format, it covers heraldry (47 questions), genealogy (43) and titles (71). Pine was the longtime editor of Burke's Peerage (see below) and wrote a number of basic books for the broad public.

Rothery, Guy Cadogan. An ABC of Heraldry. London: Stanley Paul, 1915. Reprinted as Concise Encyclopaedia of Heraldry. London: Bracken Books, 1985.
An old-fashioned heraldry textbook, in the style of Fox-Davies.

Woodcock, Thomas, and John Martin Robinson. The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. ppaerback edition: 1990.
A modern examination of the development of heraldry in England. It draws heavily on the records of the College of Arms of England and much of the material has not been published anywhere else previously. It is less reliable in its brief chapter on non-British heraldry.    


Scotland developped heraldry separately from England, and retained its own Law of Arms and heraldic authority to the present day.

Grant, Francis J.: The Manual of Heraldry. Edinburgh: John Grant, 1937. Other editions up to 1962. Reprint in paperback, 1998, Genealogical Publishing Company.
A concise (less than 140 pages) and basic book with some emphasis on Scotland, since the author was Lyon King of Arms from 1929 to 1945.

Innes of Learney, Sir Thomas. Scots Heraldry. 1st Ed: 1934. 2nd Ed, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1956. Reprint: Baltimore Publishing Co., 1971. 3d edition revised by Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, Edinburgh: Johnston and Bacon, 1978.
The modern reference on Scottish heraldry, written by the man who was Lyon King of Arms from 1945 to 1969 (the 3d edition was revised after his death by his son, who was also Lyon King of Arms).

Nisbet, Alexander. (1657-1725). A system of heraldry, speculative and practical: with the true art of blazon, according to the most approved heralds in Europe [...] Edinburgh: J. Mackeven, 1722-42. (2 vols., with plates). New edition, Edinburgh: Alex. Lawrie, 1804; W. Blackwood, 1816. Reprint: 1984.
A classic on Scottish heraldry, hard to find. The same author previously wrote An Essay on the Ancient and Modern Use of Armories Edinburgh: William Adams Jr, 1718 (224 p.).

Seton, George: The Law & Practice of Heraldry in Scotland. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1863.

Stevenson, John Horne: Heraldry in Scotland, including a recension of 'The law and practice of heraldry in Scotland,' by the late George Seton, advocate. Glasgow: J. Maclehose and sons, 1914. (2 volumes).
A very rare work (only 540 copies were printed), and the most complete treatment of Scottish heraldry after Nisbet and until (and perhaps even after) Innes of Learney. Seton started work on a revision of his own work, and the project was taken over and completed by Stevenson.

See also a much more detailed annotated bibliography of Scottish heraldic material.

United States

Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelhpia, 1895. Repr. 1977, Genealogical Publishing Co. 1984, New York; Greenwhich House.
The best textbook devoted to the subject, with emphasis on official heraldry of the US and the states, and on societies.


See also the excellent bibliography at Karolus (in French; note that the site disappeared in 2000; the link is to the page as it was archived by the Wayback Machine).

French heraldry is very important, in particular because many usages and most terms in British heraldry are of French origin. Unfortunately (but understandably) most texts are in French. To translate French blazon into English blazon, use the on-line glossary or see the excellent glossary in Woodward and Burnett's Treatise.

Duhoux d'Argicourt, L.A. Dictionnaire du Blason. Paris: L. Joly, 1896. Reprint Paris: La Place Royale, 1996.
Excellent dictionary of heraldic terms in French. It contains over 480 illustrations. The recent reprint in paperback can be found in France for about $40.

Foras, Amédée de. Le blason: dictionnaire et remarques. Grenoble: 1883.

Grandmaison, C. de. Dictionnaire héraldique. Petit-Montrouge: 1852.

Menestrier, Charles-François. La Méthode du Blason. 1688 edition reprinted 1976.
Menestrier (a Jesuit) was perhaps the most influential heraldic writer in the 17th century. His little treatise, proceeding by questions and answers, was reprinted numerous times in the 17th and 18th centuries. I believe there is an even more recent reprint.

Palliot, P. La vraye et parfaicte science des armoiries. Dijon: 1660. Reprint Paris 1895.
A classic.

Pastoureau, Michel. Traite d'Héraldique. Paris: A. Picard, 1979. Revised edition 1987.
A remarkable book, in French unfortunately. Written by France's leading heraldist, it exemplifies the scholarly and scientific approach to heraldry seen as a historical cultural practice. Questions such as the origins of heraldry or the rule of tincture are treated as historical questions, to be adjudicated on the basis of evidence drawn from historical, archaeological, literary sources. Also contains an extensive annotated bibliography, which was relied upon in writing this one. The 2d edition is out-of-print, but a 3d is in preparation for 1997.


Gritzner, M. Handbuch der heraldischen Terminologie in zwölf Zungen. Nürnberg: 1890.
A dictionary of heraldic terms with definitions in German but translations of the terms in 11 other languages. Cross-indexed with ordinaries like Renesse and Papworth.

Hildenbrand, A.M. Wappenfibel. Handbuch der Heraldik. Neustadt an der Aisch: 1970.
Very clear, basic textbook on heraldry.

Oswald, G. Lexicon der Heraldik. Leipzig: 1984.
Fairly elementary.


Bascapè, Giacomo and Marcello del Piazzo. Insegne e Simboli: Araldica pubblica e privata medievale e moderna. Rome: 1983.
A large volume consisting of a collection of articles covering most heraldic topics (including Napoleonic heraldry, corporations, the Church, cities, Jews, etc). Unfortunately, no index, but a great source on Italian heraldry and practices.

Guelfi Camajani, Piero. Dizionario Araldico. Milan: 1940. Reprint Arnaldo Forni, 1978.
A basic dictionary, with close to 1000 entries.


See a bibliography.


Cadenas y Vicent, V. de. Dicconario heraldico. Madrid: 1954.
Easy to use dictionary because each term is illustrated and translated in other languages.

Popoff, Michel. L'Héraldique Espagnole et Catalane à la fin du Moyen-âge. Paris: Léopard d'Or, 1989.
An armory of late medieval Spain and Catalonia based on 7 manuscript rolls.

Riquer, M. de. Heraldica Española. Barcelona: 1942.
Excellent introduction to Spanish heraldry.

Riquer, M. de. Heraldica Catalana. Barcelona: 1983.
Excellent presentation of Catalan heraldry in a European context.


Most heraldic treatises will contain a glossary of some form. To interpret obscure terms, or translate from one language to another, one must resort to specialized glossaries.

Brault, Gerard J. Early Blazon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Reprint 1997.
This is a very scholarly work; as it names indicates, it is concerned with early (i.e. 12th-13th c.) heraldic usage. Its sources are literary texts as well as armories, so it includes real coats of arms as well as fictional ones. The focus is on heraldry as a language. It is in the form of a dictionary, with illustrative quotes. Indispensable for anyone interested in medieval heraldry and blazoning.

Brooke-Little, J. P. An Heraldic Alphabet. London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1973. Revised edition 1985.
A good basic dictionary of heraldic terms with illustrations

Duhoux d'Argicourt, L.-A.: Dictionnaire du Blason. Paris: L. Joly, 1896. Revised edition by Frédéric Luz, Paris: La Place Royale, 1996.
A handy glossary for French blazon. Each term is defined and there are nearly 500 illustrations from the original edition.

Elvin, Charles Norton. A Dictionary of Heraldry. London: Heraldry Today, 1969, 1977 (Reprints). (First published 1889, publisher unknown.)
If you want to find a name for something on a shield, especially if it's geometric, this is the place to look. The drawings are very naturalistic, and therefore not suitable for use in SCA heraldic art. Many of the field divisions and modifications/combinations of ordinaries are strictly Victorian creations. A book both useful and dangerous. (JG)

Friar, Stephen, ed. A Dictionary of Heraldry. New York: Harmony Books, 1987.
A very recent book, already available through remainder shops. An excellent work and a useful addition to every herald's bookshelf. (JG)

Guelfi Camajani, Piero. Dizionario Araldico. Milan: 1940. Reprint Arnaldo Forni, 1978.
An Italian dictionary, with close to 1000 entries, some illustrations.

Parker, James. A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry. Oxford & London: James Parker and Co., 1894. Reprinted: Rutland (Vermont): James Tuttle and Co., 1970.
Very useful, extensive dictionary of heraldic terms, probably the best in English. Available in a recent reprint, also online. Each entry is exemplified and illustrated with a variety of blazons from medieval rolls, monuments, as well as later grants or Burke's General Armory. Mostly British heraldry, with occasional notes on Continental heraldry.

Rietstap, Johannes Baptist: Armorial général.
Listed under General Armorials. It contains a short glossary with illustrations; useful to identify some exotic terms. In French.

J. Siebmacher: Großes Wappenbuch, Band B: Wappenbilderordnung oder Symbolorum Armorialium Ordo. Neustadt an der Aisch: Bauer & Raspe, 1990.
This is a re-edition of Maximilian Gritzner's Handbuch der heraldischen Terminologie of 1890, prepared by Jürgen Arndt and Werner Seeger, as part of the new Siebmacher collection. All terms in eleven languages (German, Medieval High German, Danish, English, French, Italian, Latin, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish) are listed alphabetically, with translations and references to the location of the terms in Renesse and Papworth (see ordinaries). Volume I contains the illustrations, Volume II the lexicon itself.

Stalins, G.F.L., baron: Vocabulaire-Atlas Héraldique en Six Langues. Paris, 1952; Société du Grand Armorial de France.
Published by the Académie International d'Héraldique, this is a multi-lingual heraldic dictionary, providing equivalents in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian and (old) Dutch for about 500 terms. It does not define terms but it illustrates them. This glossary is available on-line with the illustrations.

Woodward, John, and George Burnett. Woodward's A Treatise on Heraldry British and Foreign with English and French Glossaries. Newton Abbot: David & Charles Reprints, 1969. (Originally published 1892.)
Mentioned above under General Books on Heraldry, this treatise contains an excellent pair of glossaries, one of French and one of English heraldic terms. The terms are only defined, not illustrated; but one can turn to the general index and often find the terms discussed in the main body of the Treatise.

Armorials or Armories


An armorial or armory goes from name to arms: it lists family names alphabetically and provides the blazon (verbal description) of a coat of arms. An ordinary goes from arms to names: it lists coats of arms analytically and provides the name(s) of families who bore those arms.


The most general armory was compiled by Johannes Baptist Rietstap (1828-91) in the late 1800s, and it covers all of Europe, over 100,000 arms. The Rietstap is far from complete, it is not free of errors (though it is on the whole reliable). The biggest problem is that it gives no references. The information is limited to name, origin (country or province) and arms (often with supporters, crest and motto); occasionally some information on title creation (for titled nobility).

Rietstap's Armory is now online in searchable form.

Victor Rolland (1843-1912) and Henri Rolland (1887-1970) added several volumes of supplement, and also illustrated all the arms in the Rietstap (the illustrated general armorial listed below, which contains only plates of coats of arms).

Rietstap, Johannes Baptist: Armorial général.

  • Original Editions:
    • First edition: Gouda: G. B. van Goor, 1861.
    • New edition: Amsterdam: Theod. Bom, 1875 (1 vol.).
    • Second edition, much enlarged: Gouda: G. B. van Goor, 1884-87 (2 vols).
      available online at Gallica (note: in image format, not as searchable text!)
  • Reprints:
    • Berlin: Stargardt, 1934.
    • Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co, 1965.
    • London: Heraldry Today, 1965; also 1972.
  • Supplement:
    • Victor and Henri Rolland: Armorial général de J. B. Rietstap, Supplément. La Haye: M. Nijhoff, 1926-54 (7 volumes).
  • Illustrations:
    • Rolland, Victor: Armoiries des familles contenues dans l'Armorial général de J. B. Rietstap. Paris: Institut Héraldique Universel, 1903-1926 (6 volumes).
    • Reprints:
      • General Illustrated Armorial. Lyon, 1953-54: Sauvegarde Historique.
      • V. & H. V. Rolland: Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Co., 1967 (6 volumes in 3).
      • Reprinted London: Heraldry Today, 1967, 6 volumes in 3; also 1991.

There are many armories for various countries and for various regions within countries. To find an armory for a specific region, consult a heraldic bibliography. Here are a few general suggestions.

Central Europe


The main armory for the former lands of the German and Austrian empires is J. Siebmacher's großes Wappenbuch.

Johann Siebmacher (d. 1611) published in 1605 in N&uum;rnberg a New Wapenbüch with 3320 arms fully illustrated (reprinted in Dortmund: Harenberg, 1988). This armory was continually enlarged and reprinted over the years by Paul Fürst (who added a 2nd part in 1612, then a 3d and 4th part in 1655) and then by his heirs (with varying titles such as Das neue teutsche Wappenbuch, Das erneuerte teutsche Wappenbuch Das erneuerte und vermehrte teutsche Wappenbuch, Erneuert und vermehrtes Wappen-Buch , etc). The 1701-05 edition, with all additions up to 1772, was reprinted in facsimile in a single volume (Munchen: Battenberg, 1975). In 1734, a new edition was done by the the publisher Raspe in Nürnberg (restoring Siebmacher's name to the title page) with 12 supplemental volumes issued from 1753 to 1806 (reprinted in facsimile: München: Battenberg, 1979), at which point the collection contained 19,000 fully illustrated arms (it is known as the "old" Siebmacher).

In 1854, the same publisher (now Bauer u. Raspe) began a new edition, called Siebmacher's großes und allgemeines Wappenbuch, which continued until 1961, totalling 101 volumes (known as the "new" Siebmacher). The publisher Degener, Bauer and Raspe in Neustadt-an-der-Aisch has reprinted the original volumes in facsimile, but condensed into 35 volumes, from 1970 to 1985. A microfilm edition exists in 178 reels (Wooster, OH: Micro Photo Division, Bell & Howell, 1971).

Both the old and the new Siebmacher have been published as a set of 441 microfiches:

  • Die Siebmacherschen Wappenbücher der "alte" Siebmacher (XVIII Teile) und der "neue" Siebmacher (101 Bände), neu zusammengeführt und alphabetisch geordnet. Erlangen: 1998, Fischer (ISBN 3891312938).

How does one find a name in this mass of books? An index of the 130,000 names in all editions of Siebmacher from 1605 to 1961 has been published:

  • Jäger-Sünstenau, H. General-Index zu den Sibmacher'schen Wappenbücher (1605-1967). Graz: 1964 (General-Index), 1969 (Nachtrag). Second edition (enlarged) 1984.

The Siebmacher collection begins with the arms and flags of the states of the world (vol. 1), arms of the German rulers (vol. 2), of the German high nobility or mediatized houses (vol. 3-4), of European princes (vol. 5), cities (vol. 6), guilds and universities (vol. 7), sees and abbeys (vol. 8), and burgher arms (vol. 9-13), that is, arms of non-noble citizens of cities. The rest of the collection (vols. 14-35) covers the provincial nobilities, by area (Germany first, then the Autro-Hungarian empire in volumes 26-35).

The currently reprinted volumes are as follows (with corresponding volume and part numbers of the original edition):

  • 1. Die Wappen und Flaggen der Herrscher und Staaten der Welt, 1978
    1.Bd., 1.Abt. (1856), 1.Bd., 2.Abt. (1870), 1.Bd., 6.Abt. (1878), 7.Bd., 1.Abt. (1859).
  • 2. Die Wappen der deutschen Landesfürsten, 1981
    Band, 1. Abteilung, 2.-5. Teil (1909-29)
  • 3-4. Die Wappen des hohen deutschen Adels, 1972-74.
    1. Bd., 1.-3. Reihe mit Anh., (1878-1888)
  • 5. Die Wappen der europäischen Fürsten, 1975
    I. Bd., 3. Abt., III. Reihe, C, (1894)
  • 6. Wappen der Städte und Märkte in Deutschland und den angrenzenden Ländern, 1974
    Bd., 1 Abt. 4 (1885)
  • 7. Berufswappen; Die Siegel der deutschen Universitäten, 1976
    Bd. 1, Abt. 7 (1898); Abt. 8 (1906)
  • 8. Die Wappen der Bistümer und Klöster, 1976
    1. Bd., 5. Abt., 1. Reihe mit Anh. u. 2. Reihe (Nurnberg 1881/82)
  • 9-13. Die Wappen bürgerlicher Geschlechter Deutschlands und der Schweiz (5 vol.), 1971-75
    5. Bd., 1.-12. Abt. ; 5. Bd., n. F., 1.-3. Abt., Nurnberg 1857-1961.
  • 14-16. Die Wappen des preussischen Adels, 1973-
  • 17. Die Wappen des schlesischen Adels, 1977
    Bd. 4, Abt. 11 (1885) u. Bd. 6, Abt. 8, Teil 1-3 (1887-1894)
  • 18. Die Wappen des Adels in Pommern und Mecklenburg, 1978
    VI. Bd., 9. Abt. (1894); VII, Bd., 3. Abt., c (1900); III. Bd., 6. Abt. (1858); VI. Bd., 10. Abt. (1902); VII. Bd., 1 Abt. (1859)
  • 19. Die Wappen des niederdeutschen Adels : (Schleswig-Holstein-Lauenburg, Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck, Oldenburg, Lippe, Schaumburg, Hannover, Braunschweig, Anhalt), 1977
    Bd. 2, Abt. 2 (1869), Bd. 2, Abt. 9 (1870), Bd. 3, Abt. 3 (1871), Bd. 3, Abt. 5 (1872), Bd. 3, Abt. 7 (1869), Bd. 3, Abt. 8 (1877), Bd. 3, Abt. 10 (1872) and Bd. 6, Abt. 11 (1905)
  • 20. Die Wappen des hessischen und thüringischen Adels, 1977
    Bd. II, III, VI, and VII (1856-1908)
  • 21. Die Wappen des sächsischen Adels, 1972
  • 22. Die Wappen des bayerischen Adels, 1971
    2. Bd., 1 Abt. (1856); 6. Bd., 1. Abt., 1-3. T. (1884, 1906 u. 1911); 7. Bd., 1. Abt. (1859)
  • 23. Die Wappen des Adels in Württemberg, 1982
    Bd. 2, Abt. 5 (1856), Bd. 6, Abt. 2 (1911) and Bd. 7, Abt. 1 (1858)
  • 24. Die Wappen des Adels in Baden, Elsass-Lothringen und Luxemburg, 1974
    2. Bd., 6 Abt. (1878), 10. Abt. (1871), 11. Abt. (1873), 3. Bd., 9. Abt. (1871)
  • 25. Der Adel der russischen Ostseeprovinzen (Estland, Kurland, Livland, Oesel), 1980
    Bd. 3, Abt. 11 (1898)
  • 26. Die Wappen des Adels in Niederösterreich, 1983
    4. Bd, 4. Abteilung (1909-18)
  • 27. Die Wappen des Adels in Oberösterreich, 1984
    4. Bd., 5. Abt (1904)
  • 28. Die Wappen des Adels in Salzburg, Steiermark und Tirol, 1979
    Bd. VI, 1. Abt. (1857), 6. Abt. (1883), 7. Abt. (1919-1921); Bd. VI, 3. Abt. (1858); Bd. VII., 1. Abt. (1859)
  • 29. Der Adel in Kärnten, Krain und Dalmatien, 1980
    Bd. 4, Abt. 2 (1859), Abt. 3 (1873), and Abt. 8 (1879)
  • 30. Die Wappen des böhmischen Adels, 1979
    4. Bd., 9. Abt. (1886)
  • 31. Die Wappen des mährischen Adels, 1979
    4. Bd., 10. Abt. (1899)
  • 32. Der Adel von Galizien, Lodomerien und der Bukowina, 1985
    IV. Bd, 14. Abt. (1905)
  • 33. Die Wappen des Adels in Ungarn, 1982
    IV. Band, 15. Abteilung (1885-1894)
  • 34. Der Adel von Siebenburgen, 1984
    4. Bd., 12. Abt. (1898)
  • 35. Der Adel von Kroatien und Slavonien, 1985
    4. Bd., 13 Abt (1899)

The new Siebmacher collection also contains volumes on heraldry:

  1. Seyler, Gustav Adelbert: Geschichte der Heraldik (Wappenwesen, Wappenkunst, Wappenwissenschaft). Neustadt an der Aisch, Bauer & Raspe, 1970.
  2. Arndt, Jurge and Werner Seeger: Wappenbilderordnung, herausgegeben vom Herold, Verein für Heraldik, Genealogie und Verwandte Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Neustadt an der Aisch : Bauer & Raspe, 1986-1990.
  3. Hefner, Otto Titan von: Grundsätze der Wappenkunst : für den Leser des Siebmacherschen Wappenwerkes besonders geschrieben. (Nürnberg 1855.) Neustadt an der Aisch : Bauer und Raspe, 1976.
  4. Berchem, Egon, Freiherr von, Donald L. Galbreath, Otto Hupp: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Heraldik. (Berlin 1939.) Neustadt (an der Aisch) : Bauer und Raspe, 1972.
  5. Alberti, Otto von: Württembergisches Adels- und Wappenbuch. (Stuttgart, 1889-1916). Neustadt an der Aisch : Bauer und Raspe, 1975.
  6. Scholer, Eugen: Historische Familienwappen in Franken : 1860 Wappenschilde und familiengeschichtliche Notizen von Geschlechtern des Adels und der Reichsstädte in Franken. Neustadt an der Aisch : Bauer und Raspe, 1975.
  7. Meyer, Eduard Lorenz: Hamburgische Wappenrolle : nach hamburgischen Wappenbuchern. Neustadt an der Aisch : Bauer & Raspe, 1976.

For the nobility, the following is very useful, as it contains all patents of nobility for the Holy Roman Empire and the Austrian hereditary lands up to 1806:

  • Frank, Karl Friedrich von: Standeserhebungen und Gnadenakte für das Deutsche Reich [i.e. für das Heilige Römische Reich] und die Österreichischen Erblande bis 1806, sowie kaiserlich österreichische bis 1823, mit einigen Nachträgen zum "Alt-Österreichischen Adels-Lexikon" 1823-1918. [s. l.] Selbstverlag, Schloss Senftenegg, Niederosterreich, 1967-74. (5 vol.).


See also the excellent bibliography at Karolus (in French).

To research a family of the French nobility, consult the French nobility bibliography. In practice, most of the names in armories are for noble families.

General Armories

The most comprehensive source for French personal coats of arms is:

  • Jougla de Morenas, Henri: Grand Armorial de France, Paris: Société du Grand Armorial de France, 1936-49 (supplement 1952). Reprint: Paris, Frankelve, 1975 (7 volumes).
It contains 50,000 names with the coats of arms and sources. For a large number of families, genealogical sketches are provided as well, extending to the mid-19th c. when applicable.

A useful 18th c. little armorial, illustrated, is:

  • Dubuisson, Pierre-Paul: Armorial alphabétique des principales maisons et familles du royaume et particulièrement de celles de Paris et de l'Isle de France. Paris : J. de Bonnot, 1987 (reprint).

The D'Hozier Armories

In 1696, a royal edict made registration of arms mandatory, for a fee (the revenues from the fees being the real motivation for the edict). Although discontinued after a few years, the enterprise, carried out by the king of arms d'Hozier, yielded a large number of registers. The 35 volumes, with 34 volumes of color plates, are at the Bibliothèque Nationale.

An index containing 60,000 names (including cities, corporations, etc) was published:

  • Paris, Louis: Indicateur du grand armorial général de France. Paris: Bachelin-Deflorenne, 1865, in-8°.
    online at Gallica
It will allow you to determine in which province (généralité) a particular name can be found.

The registers themselves have been partially published on a regional basis. The following list is taken from Karolus with the addition of links to the scans available at Gallica:

  • Bouchot, Henry: Armorial général de Bourgogne . Dijon, Darantière, 1875.
    online at Gallica
  • Bouchot, Henry: Armorial général de Franche Comté (en 1696). 1875, in-8°.
  • Chassin du Guerny: Armorial général de France (édit de novembre 1696) Bretagne, publié d'après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque nationale. Rennes: Larcher, 1930, reprint 1977, 2 volumes in-8°.
  • Des Gozis: Armorial de la généralité de Bourges (en 1696). Mémoires de la Société des antiquaires du Centre, 1883, in-8°.
  • Dufau de Maluquer, Armand et Jean de Jaurgain: Armorial de Béarn, 1696-1701, extrait du recueil officiel dressé par ordre de Louis XIV. Marseille: Laffitte Reprints, 1976, 3 volumes in-8°.
  • d'Izarny Gargas, Louis: Armorial général en 1696 des généralités de Toulouse, de Montauban et de Montpellier. 1987-1990, 3 volumes in-8°.
  • Meurgey de Tupigny, Jacques: Armorial de la généralité de Paris dressé par Charles d'Hozier en exécution de l'édit de novembre 1696 et publié d'après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque Nationale avec une introduction et des notes. Paris et Mâcon: l'auteur, 1965-1967, 4 volumes in-4°.
  • Montgrand, Geoffroy de: Armorial de la ville de Marseille (en 1696). 1864, in-8°.
  • Moreau de Pravieux, J.: Armorial général de France, généralité de Limoges. Marseille: Laffitte Reprints, 1980, in-8°.
  • Passier, Henri: Armorial général du Poitou, recueil officiel dressé en vertu de l'édit de 1696. Niort: L. Clouzot, 1887.
  • Prevost, G.A.: Armorial général de France (Edition de Novembre 1696). Généralité de Rouen, publié d'après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque nationale, avec introduction et notes. Rouen: Lestringant et Paris, Picard, 1910, 2 volumes in-8°.
  • Prevost, G.A.: Armorial général de France (Edition de Novembre 1696). Généralité de Caen, publié d'après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque nationale, avec introduction et notes. Rouen: Lestringant et Paris, Picard, 1913, 2 volumes in-8°.
  • Prevost, G.A.: Armorial général de France (Edition de Novembre 1696). Généralité d'Alençon, publié d'après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque nationale, avec introduction et notes. Rouen: Lestringant et Paris, Picard, 1922, 3 volumes in-8°.
  • Tricou, Jean: Armorial de la généralité de Lyon. 1958, 2 volumes in-4°.
  • Barthelemy, Anatole de: Armorial de la généralité d'Alsace, recueil officiel dressé par les ordres de Louis XIV. Paris: Aubry, 1861.
  • Labrouche, Paul: Armorial général de 1696, partie de Guyenne et de Béarn. (only the élections de Mont-de-Marsan, Dax et Bayonne were published). Revue de Béarn, Navarre et Lannes, 1883-1884.
  • Borel d'Hauterive: Armorial de Flandre, Hainaut, Cambrésis. Paris: Bureau de l'annuaire de la noblesse, 1856-78, grand in-8°.
    online at Gallica
  • Borel d'Hauterive: Armorial d'Artois et de Picardie (Généralité d'Amiens). Paris: Bureau de l'annuaire de la noblesse, 1866, grand in-8°.
    online at Gallica
  • Borel d'Hauterive: Armorial de Picardie (Généralité de Soissons). Paris: Dentu, Dumoulin, 1878, grand in-8°.
    online at Gallica
  • Souancé, Hector and Henri Tournoüer: Armorial de la province du Perche. Mortagne, 1897-1903.
    online at Gallica
  • Armorial Général. 3e série: Alsace, Lorraine, Bourgogne, Champagne, Dauphiné, Provence. Paris: Bureau de l'annuaire de la noblesse, 1903.
    online at Gallica
  • Armorial Général. 4e série: Bretagne, Flandres, Picardie, Normandie-Caen, Normandie-Rouen, Soissonnais. Paris: Bureau de l'annuaire de la noblesse, 1903.
    online at Gallica

19th C. Titles

For grants of arms and all confirmation of titles from 1808 to 1908, the best source is :

  • Révérend, Albert, vicomte: Armorial du Premier Empire. Paris,1894-97. (4 vol.)
  • Révérend, Albert, vicomte: Titres, anoblissements et pairies de la restauration, Paris, H. Champion, 1901-06 (6 vol.).
  • Révérend, Albert, vicomte: Titres et confirmations de titres: monarchie de juillet, seconde République, Second Empire, Troisième République. Paris, 1908 (2 vol.).
The complete set of 12 volumes, titled Familles titrées et anoblies au 19e siècle (over 4800 pages!) was reprinted in 6 volumes in 1974. Révérend also published an album of color plates of Napoleonic heraldry in 1911.

Confirmation of titles from 1908 to 1958 were listed by Jacques Descheemaeker in Les titres de noblesse en France et dans les pays Étrangers; Paris, 1958, Les Cahiers Nobles. A list covering 1958 to 1987 is in Texier, Qu'est-ce que la noblesse?; Paris, 1987, pp. 407-10.

Regional Armories

There are armories for the different provinces of France; if you know the region you are interested in, it makes sense to search these more specialized books. Some are merely listings of names and coats of arms, others contain genealogical information as well. In addition to the d'Hozier armories, here are some examples. Note that a nobiliaire or armorial de la noblesse is an armory that is limited to the nobility.

Denais, Joseph: Armorial général de l'Anjou. Angers, 1885.
Potier de Courcy, Pol Louis: Nobiliaire et armorial de Bretagne. Rennes, 1890 (3 vol.).
Soultrait, Georges de: Armorial du Bourbonnais. Moulins, 1890 (2 vol.).
Gaudeffroy-Penelle: Armorial chartrain. Chartres, 1909. Reprint, Paris, Editions du Palais-Royal, 1973.
Aliquot, Hervé and Robert Merceron: Armorial d'Avignon et du Comtat Venaissin. Avignon : Aubanel, 1987.
Colonna de Cesari Rocca, Pierre-Paul Raoul: Armorial corse. Paris, 1892. Reprint, Marseille, Laffitte Reprints, 1975.
Gauthier, Jules: Armorial de Franche-Comté. Paris, 1911. Reprint, Marseille, Laffitte Reprints, 1975.
Cabannes de Cauna, Bernard: Armorial des Landes. Bordeaux, 1862-9. Reprint Paris, Editions du Palais-Royal, 1973. (4 vol.).
La Roque, Louis de: Armorial de la noblesse de Languedoc. 1860. Reprint, Marseille, Laffitte Reprints, 1972. (4 vol.).
Bergues La Garde, Joseph de: Nobiliaire du Bas-Limousin. Tulle, 1872.
online at Gallica
Nadaud, Joseph: Nobiliaire du diocèse et de la généralité de Limoges. Limoges, 1863-72 (4 vols.).
online at Gallica: vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4
Georgel, Joseph Alcide: Armorial historique et généalogique des familles de Lorraine. Elbeuf, 1882.
Pelletier, Ambroise and Félix Collin de Paradis: Nobiliaire de Lorraine et Barrois, ou Dictionnaire des familles anoblies et leurs alliances. Nancy, 1878.
online at Gallica
Tricou, Jean: Armorial et repertoire Lyonnais. Paris, Saffroy, 1965-. (7 vol.).
Steyert, André: Armorial général du Lyonnais, Forez et Beaujolais . Paris : Éditions du Palais royal, 1974.
Soultrait, Jacques de: Armorial historique et archeologique du Nivernais. Nevers, 1879.
Magny, E. de: Nobiliaire de Normandie. Rouen: Lebrument, 1863.
online at Gallica: vol. 1, vol. 2
Pays Basque
Lamant, H: Armorial de Bayonne, pays Basque et Sud-Gascogne. Bayonne, 1981-4.
Froidefond de Boulazac, Alfred de: Armorial de la noblesse du Perigord. Périgueux, 1891 (2 vol.).
Carré de Busseroles.
Gouget, A.: Armorial du Poitou et état des nobles réservés dans toutes les élections de la généralité. Niort: Robin et L. Fabre, 1866.
online at Gallica
Belleval, René de: Nobiliaire de Ponthieu et de Vimeu. Amiens, 1861-4.
online at Gallica: vol. 1, vol. 2
Borricand, René: Nobiliaire de Provence : armorial général de la Provence, du Comtat Venaissin, de la Principauté d'Orange. Aix-en-Provence : R. Borricand, 1974-[1976].
Cazes, Albert: Armorial du Roussillon. Prades, France : Revue "Conflent", 1982-1985

See also the list of regional armories at Karolus.

Civic, Corporate and Misc.

For cities, see the separate page on French civic heraldry.

French ecclesiastical heraldry is comprehensively treated in Jacques Meurgey: Armorial de L'Eglise de France : évêchés, chapitres, paroisses, abbayes, prieurés, couvents, corporations et communautés religieuses. Mâcon, Protat Fr., 1938. The arms are for the most part taken from d'Hozier's armory, so it is not always clear to what extent they were actually used.


  • Koller, Fortuné and S. Melia: Armorial général de Belgique. Bruxelles, 1958.
  • Janssens, Paul and Luc Duerloo: Armorial de la noblesse belge du XVe au XXe siècle. Bruxelles : Crédit communal, 1992.
  • Raadt, Jean-Théodore de. Sceaux armoriés des Pays-Bas et des pays avoisinants. Brussels, 1893-1907.
    Armory of families of the Low Countries based on seals. With interesting general remarks on heraldic practice as manifested in these seals. Available online.


  • Loutsch, Jean-Claude: Armorial du pays de Luxembourg : contenant la description des armes des princes de la maison de Luxembourg, de tous les souverains d'autres maisons ayant régné sur ce pays, des gouverneurs ayant exercé le pouvoir en leur nom, ainsi que celles des familles nobles, bourgeoises ou paysannes, pour autant qu'elles ont pu être retrouvées. Luxembourg : Ministère des arts et des sciences, 1974. (869 p., [4] leaves of plates : illus. ; 29 cm.).
  • Siebmacher: Die Wappen des Adels in Baden, Elsass-Lothringen und Luxemburg. Neustadt (an der Aisch) : Bauer und Raspe, 1974. Reprint of Siebmacher's Wappenbuch, 2. Bd., 6. Abt. (Nurnberg 1878), 10. Abt. (Nurnberg 1871), 11. Abt. (Nurnberg 1873), 3. Bd., 9. Abt. (Nurnberg 1871).


  • Baud, John: Armorial du Chablais. Genève : Slatkine Reprints ; Thonon-les-Bains : Archives de l'Académie chablaisienne, 1993.
  • Dumont,:Eugène-Louis. Armorial genevois. Genève : Editions Slatkine, 1977.
  • Galbreath, Donald Lindsay: Armorial vaudois. Genève : Slatkine, 1977.
  • Rappard, François J.: Heraldica helvetica. Genève : MRO Heraldica, c1993.
    A large illustrated armorial of Swiss families.

United States

Bolton, Charles K. Bolton's American Armory. 1927, repr. 1964, Baltimore; Heraldic Book Co.
Contains more than 2,000 names, based on tombstones, bookplates, silverware etc, and is therefore a good source on what arms were actually used by each family.

Burke's Landed Gentry. 16th ed., London, 1939.
Contains a separate section ""American families with British ancestry" with 1,600 families of British origin.

Crozier, William A. Crozier's General Armory. 1904, repr. 1966, Baltimore; Heraldic Book Co.
Describes 3,500 names with genealogical data.

Mackenzie, Georg N. and N. O. Rhodes. Colonial Families of the United States. 7 volumes. 1907-20, repr. 1966, Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co.
Devoted to families tracing their roots to colonial times. Contains coats of arms where applicable (although no sources are given for the arms, nor is one assured that the families actually use them).

Matthews, John. Complete American Armoury and Blue Book. 1903-23, repr. 1965, New York; Heraldic Publishing Co.
More than 1,000 names, with some coats of arms. There were various editions of this work composed by a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, printed in London: 1901?, 1903, John Matthews, 1907 (352p.), C. Mitchell, 1908 (275+118p.), 1911-23. The 1903, 1907 and 1911-23 editions were condensed by Louis R. Sosnow and reprinted, New York, Heraldic Publishing Co., 1965.

A Roll of Arms Registered by the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Genealogical Society. 8 volumes. Boston, 1928-58; The Society.
the arms were entered by the Society once it was satisfied that the family was entitled to using them. Only names and arms (but with illustrations).

Spofford, Ernest. Armorial Families of America. Philadelphia, 1929: Bailey, Banks and Biddle. 402 p.

Vermont, E. de V. America Heraldica. 1886, repr. 1965, New York; Heraldic Publishing Co.
500 families settled before 1800.


For Quebec:

  • Massicotte, E. Z. and Regis Roy: Armorial du Canada Français. Montreal, 1915-18. Reprint, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co, 1970.



The most convenient source for British coats of arms is Burke's General Armory [...], produced by the Burke dynasty: John Burke (1787-1848), Sir (John) Bernard Burke (1814-92) who was Ulster King of Arms from 1854 to his death, and Peter Ashworth Burke (1864-1919). The General Armory went through several editions in the 19th century:

  • 1st edition: General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland, London: Ed. Churton, 1842. Revised 1843.
  • 3d edition: Encyclopaedia of Heraldry, or General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland, London, H.G.Bohn, 1844. Reprints in 1847 and 1851.
  • Enlarged edition: General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison and Sons, 1878. New editions (with supplements): 1883, 1884 (this was the last edition).
  • Reprint (of the 1884 ed) Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1961, also 1967, 1969, 1976. London: Clowes and Sons, 1962. London: Heraldry Today, 1984.

The last edition of Burke's (1884) contains 60,000 names. Burke's is the most easily accessible British armory. It should be noted, however, that sources are infrequently given, and that Burke's editors collected as many blazons as they could, regardless of origin or accuracy. It is therefore not to be taken as the final word on who is or was using which arms in Great Britain.

The Burkes wrote extensively and produced a number of genealogical reference books. These books are worth consulting because they usually contain heraldic information for the families that are listed:

  • General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom
    founded 1826 (2:1828, 3:1829, 4:1832-34, 5:1837), renamed ... of the British Empire (2nd ed.), Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire (6:1840, 7:1843, annual 8-79:1846-1917, 80:1921, 81-98:1923-40, 99:1949, 100:1953, 101:1956, 102:1959, 103:1963, 104:1967, 105:1970 [reprints with supplement 1975, 1978, 1980], 106:1999, 107:2003)
  • Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland
    started in 1833 as [...] of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, became [...] of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain with the 9th ed. in 1900; 15th ed. 1937, 16th ed. 1939, 17th ed. in 2 vols 1952, 18th and last ed. in 3 vols 1965-72; separate Irish edition [...] of the Landed Gentry of Ireland in 1899, 1904, 1912, and 1958, continued by Burke's Irish Family Records
  • A genealogical and heraldic history of the colonial gentry
  • A general and heraldic dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, extinct, dormant, and in abeyance (1831), renamed A genealogical history of the dormant, abeyant, forfeited, and extinct peerages of the British empire
    1st ed. 1846, 2d ed. 1866, 3d and last ed. 1883 reprinted 1969 by Burke's Peerage Ltd, London and 1978 by Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore; continued by L. G. Pine as: The new extinct peerage, 1884-1971, 1973
  • A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland, 1838, 1841, 1844 reprinted 1977

A Note of Caution: Fake and Real Burke's

The last edition of the old Burke's Peerage was the 105th, in 1970. Soon after, the company that published it went into liquidation, and its assets were sold off. Among the assets were two separate pieces of property:

  • The name "Burke's Peerage" and the rights to various other titles
  • the copyright to the 105th edition and the rights to the book itself under the name "Burke's Peerage & Baronetage"
(See a detailed history of these matters in Charles Mosley's introduction to the 1999 Burke's.) The name ultimately was acquired by Brooks Marketing, which leased it for a while to Halbert's Family Heritage, specialized in packaging excerpts of telephone directories into "family histories" (for more on Halbert's Family Heritage, see this opinion, that opinion (in French) as well as a general statement by the National Genealogical Society). That particular joint venture has ended, however, although the firm "Burke's Peerage", which is totally unconnected to the book by that name, is still in business. To quote from the introduction to the 106th edition of Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, "From the mid-1980s onwards its authority and prestige have been exploited for crudely commercial ends by persons of dubious antecedents displaying minimal concern for scholarship or indeed serious genealogical publishing generally. It cannot be stated too emphatically that such persons have nothing whatever to do directly with Burke's Peerage & Baronetage. Though technically legal, their imposture has misled many members of the public into thinking that such people were associated with a quality production. They were not."

In 1999, a new edition of Burke's Peerage (the book) came out under the editorship of Charles Mosley. It is called the 106th edition, and its imprint is "Crans, Switzerland : Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. ; Hove, UK : distributed by Morris Genealogical Books SA ; Chicago, Ill. : published for libraries worldwide by Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999." This is the "real" thing. A 107th edition will come out in November 2003.

It is now available online on a subscription basis.

An excellent reference is Fox-Davies' Armorial Families. He limited his book to those families for which he could conclusively prove their right to arms (from a visitation or a grant of arms), so the scope of the book is rather narrow.

One book is responsible for more confusion in the general public's mind than any other:

  • Fairbairn, J. Fairbairn's Book of Crests of the Families of Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh: Thomas C. Jack, 1905. Reprinted in 1 vol - Rutland (Vermont): James Tuttle and Co, 1968.

From the British gentry's frequent use of crests alone on its silverware (as opposed to the full achievement of shield and crest), the notion that a crest was an alternative name for a coat of arms became popular. Fairbairn's book contributed to this misconception, because it is an illustrated armorial of crests only, without shields. People then came to believe that a crest identified a family. This book is still useful as an auxiliary in identifying a coat of arms.

The Visitations of the English Heralds

From about 1530 to 1688, English heralds carried out Visitations, during which they roamed about the English countryside and required the gentry to provide documentation for their use of arms. The records of these Visitations consist mostly of descriptions of arms and of pedigrees of the families using them. See my discussion of the Visitations for the limitations of these records. They are being published mostly by the Harleian Society (which now has a website) but also by other organizations. They are arranged by county and in chronological order.

Note: some Visitations are available online. Many can also be found on CD through the Archive CD Books.

  • Bedfordshire
    1566, 1582, 1634. HS vol. 19, 1884.
  • Buckinghamshire
    1566, 1634. HS vol. 58, 1909.
  • Cambridgeshire
    1575, 1619. HS vol. 41, 1897.
  • Cheshire
    1533, 1566, 1580, 1591. HS vol. 18, 1882.
    1613. HS vol. 58, 1909.
    1663. HS vol. 93, 1941.
  • Cornwall
    1530, 1573, 1620. Exeter, 1887.
    1620. HS vol. 9, 1874.
  • Cumberland
    1615. HS vol. 7, 1872.
  • Derbyshire
    1662-4. HS NS v. 8, 1989.
  • Devonshire
    1531, 1564, 1620. (ed. by John Lambrick Vivian). Exeter, 1895.
    1620. (ed. by Frederic Thomas Colby). HS vol. 6, 1872.
  • Dorset
    1623. (ed. by John Paul Rylands). HS vol. 20, 1885.
    1677. HS vol. 117, 1977.
  • Essex
    1552, 1558, 1570, 1612, 1634. HS vol. 13-14, 1878-9.
  • Gloucestershire
    1569, 1582-3, 1623. HS vol. 21, 1885.
    1682. Exeter: Pollard, 1884.
  • Hampshire
    1530, 1575, 1622-34. HS vol. 64, 1913.
    1686. HS NS v. 10, 1986.
  • Hertfordshire
    1572, 1634. HS vol. 22, 1886.
  • Huntingdonshire
    1613. London: Camden Society vol. 43, 1849.
    1684. HS NS v.13, 1993.
  • Kent
    1619-21. HS vol. 42, 1898.
    1668-9. HS vol. 54, 1906.
  • Lancestershire
    1533. Manchester: Chetham Society vol. 98, 110, 1876-82.
    1567. Manchester: Chetham Society vol. 81, 1870.
    1613. Manchester: Chetham Society vol. 82, 1871.
    1664-5. Manchester: Chetham Society vol. 84, 85, 88, 1872-3.
  • Leicestershire
    1619. vol. 2, 1870.
  • London
    1568-9. HS vol. 1, 1869.
    1568. HS vol. 109-110, 1963.
    1633-5. HS vol. 15, 1880-3.
    1664. HS vol. 92, 1940.
  • Norfolk
    1563. Norwich: Miller and Leavins, 1878-95.
    1563, 1613. HS vol. 32, 1891.
    1664. HS vol. 85-86, 1933-34.
  • Northamptonshire
    1564, 1618-9. HS vol. , 1887.
  • Northern Counties
    1530. Durham: Surtees Society vol. 41, 1863.
    . Durham: Surtees Society vol. 122, 133, 144, 146, 1912-32.
  • Nottinghamshire
    1569, 1614. HS vol. 4, 1871.
    1662-4. HS NS vol. 5, 1986.
  • Oxfordshire
    1566, 1574, 1634. HS vol. 5, 1871.
    1669, 1675. HS NS vol. 12, 1993.
  • Rutland
    1618-19. HS vol. 3, 1870.
    1681. HS vol. 73, 1922.
  • Shropshire
    1569, 1584, 1623. HS vol. 28-29, 1889.
  • Somerset
    1531, 1573, 1591. 1885.
    1623, 1672. (ed. by Frederic Thomas Colby). HS vol. 11, 1877.
  • Staffordshire
    1662-3. HS vol. 63, 1912.
  • Suffolk
    1561, 1577, 1612. HS vol. 17, 1882.
    1561. HS NS vol. 2-3, 1981.
    1664-8. HS vol. 61, 1910.
  • Surrey
    1530, 1572, 1623. HS vol. 43, 1899.
    1662-8. HS vol. 60, 1910.
  • Sussex
    1530, 1633-4. HS vol. 53, 1905.
    1662. HS vol. 89, 1937.
  • Warwickshire
    1619. HS vol. 12, 1877.
    1682. HS vol. 62, 1911.
  • Wiltshire
    1623. HS vol. 105-6, 1954.
  • Worcestershire
    1569. HS vol. 27, 1888.
    1634. HS vol. 90, 1938.
    1682. Exeter: Pollard, 1883.
  • Yorkshire
    1563-4. HS vol. 16, 1881.
    1584, 1612. London: Joseph Foster, 1875.

In conjunction with this, the following may be useful:

  • Bridger, Charles: Index to Printed Pedigrees contained in County and Local Histories, the Heralds' Visitations and the more important Genealogical Collections. London: J.R. Smith, 1867.
  • Foster, Joseph: Grantees of arms named in docquets and patents to the end of the seventeenth century,in the manuscripts preserved in the British museum, the Bodleian library, Oxford, Queens college, Oxford, Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, and elsewhere. London: [s.n.], 1915.
  • Foster, Joseph: Grantees of arms named in docquets and patents between the years 1687 and 1898, preserved in various manuscripts. London: Boworth and Co., 1916-17.
  • Humphery-Smith, Cecil R.: Armigerous Ancestors: A Catalogue of sources for the study of the Visitations of the Heralds in the 16th & 17th centuries with referenced lists of names. 1997.


Scotland is partly covered by Burke's Armory (with the usual problems about reliability and the absence of references). There is also a Scottish-specific literature as well. Before 1673, the types of sources are the same as elsewhere, mainly seals (Laing, Macdonald, Macdonald et al.), but also armories and other documents (Stodard). After 1673, the Lyon Register is the official source (Paul).

Laing, Henry (1803-83): Descriptive Catalogue of Impressions from Ancient Scottish Seals.... Edinburgh: T. Constable, 1850. followed by: Supplemental Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Scottish Seals. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1866.

Macdonald, William Rae (Carrick Pursuivant): Scottish Armorial Seals. Edinburgh: William Green and Sons, 1904.
About 2900 seals are listed.

Macdonald, William Rae, John Horne Stevenson, and Marguerite Wood: Scottish Heraldic Seals: royal, official, ecclesiastical, collegiate, burghal, personal. Glasgow: R. Maclehose and Co, 1940. (3 volumes).
The most complete collection of Scottish seals, begun by Macdonald (1843-1923) and completed by Stevenson (1855-1939), the author of Heraldry in Scotland. But this is a very rare book, privately printed and only 38 copies were made! The University of Minnesota has a copy, and a microfilm also exists in some libraries (e.g., the Library of Congress).

Stodard, Robert R: Scottish arms; being a collection of armorial bearings, A.D. 1370-1678, reproduced in facsimile from contemporary manuscripts, with heraldic and genealogical notes. Edinburgh, 1881. (2 volumes).

Paul, Sir James Balfour: An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, Edinburgh: 1st edition 1893, 2nd edition, 1903. Reprint: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969.
Extended by An Ordinary of Arms contained in the public register of all arms and bearings in Scotland, 1902-73. Edinburgh: Lyon Office, 1977. Extends the previous work to 1973.


There seems to be very little, if anything, written specifically on Irish heraldry. As Scotland, Ireland is in principle covered in Burke's Armory (and Sir Bernard Burke, being Irish, had a particular interest in Irish families, which is manifest in his Vicissitudes of Families, and other essays, London, 1861). See also the Irish section of Burke's Landed Gentry. There are several books on Irish family names (MacLysaght), which often contain indications of coats of arms.

Kelly, Patrick: Irish family names with origins, meanings, clans, arms, crests and mottoes; collected from the living Gaelic and from authoritative books, manuscripts and public documents and edited with introduction, notes and Gaelic script by Captain Patrick Kelly. Chicago: O'Connor and Kelly, 1939. 2d edition, 1958.

MacLysaght, Edward: Irish Families: their names, arms, and origins. Dublin, 1957. 2d ed, 1972. 4th ed., 1985.
Continued with More Irish families. Galloway, 1960, revised edition: 1982 which incorporated Supplement to Irish families. Dublin, 1964.
MacLysaght was Chief Herald of Ireland for decades (although he confessed to not being particularly knowledgeable about heraldry per se). He wrote a lot on Irish families.


García Carraffa, Alberto and Arturo: Diccionario Heráldico y Genealógico de Apellidos Españoles y Americanos. Madrid, 1919-63. 88 volumes.
Colossal work, unfortunately unfinished (letters A-U). Much more than an armory, since it provides coats of arms as well. See more information and an index to the entries.


South Africa

  • Brownell, Frederick Gordon: Die Suid-Afrikaanse wapenboek : synde §n gerekenariseerde registeer van heraldiese voorstellings wat kragtens die bepalings van die heraldiewet, 1962 (wet 18 van 1962), soos gewysig, by die Buro vir Heraldiek geregistreer is / saamgestel in die Buro vir Heraldiek en Geredigeer deur Frederick Gordon Brownell = The South African armorial : being a computerized register of heraldicrepresentations registered with the Bureau of Heraldry under the Heraldry Act, 1962 (Act 18 of 1962), as amended / compiled in the Bureau of Heraldry and edited by Frederick Gordon Brownell. Pretoria : Buro vir Heraldiek, 1996.


Just as there is no complete armory, there is no complete ordinary. But ordinaries have been published for specific armories:

  • For England, the ordinary which corresponds to Burke's General Armory is:
    John Woody Papworth: Ordinary of British Armorials: An Alphabetical Dictionary of Coats of Arms Belonging to Families in Great Britain & Ireland. London: T. Richards, 1874. Reprints:
    • London: Tabard Publications, 1961.
    • Baltimore: Genealogy Publishing Co., 1965.
    • Bath: Five Barrows, 1977.
    • London: Heraldry Today, 1985.
  • For Scotland, there is (also serving as an armorial)
    • Sir James Balfour Paul (Lord Lyon King of Arms): An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, Edinburgh: 1st edition 1893, 2nd edition, 1903. Reprint: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969.
    • An Ordinary of Arms contained in the public register of all arms and bearings in Scotland, 1902-73. Edinburgh: Lyon Office, 1977. Extends the previous work to 1973.
  • For Europe, there is an ordinary which corresponds to Rietstap's armory:
    • comte Théodore de Renesse: Dictionnaire des figures héraldiques. Bruxelles: O. Schepens, 1894-1903. (7 volumes).
    • reprint in one volume (Leuven: 1992, Jan van Helmont).

    You need to have the Rietstap (2nd edition) in hand as well, because Renesse will not give the full blazon for each name.

  • For Germany, Neubecker has produced an ordinary of the non-noble arms in Siebmacher (vols. 9-13). It contains pictures of the arms only, arranged by principal charge, and contains 21,000 arms with a nominal index:
    • Neubecker, Ottfried: Großes Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München, 1985. (1147 p.)
For arms of cities and states, an ordinary was published in the late 19th c. by Wilhlem Rentzmann to help numismatists identify coats of arms on coins. It was completed and published by Neubecker in 1974, in 3 languages, with a second edition in 1989:
  • Rentzmann, Wilhelm: Numismatisches Wappen-Lexicon des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit. 1876. Facsimile reprint: Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1967.
  • Neubecker, Otffried and Wilhelm Rentzmann: Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon. München: Battenberg, 1974. 418 p.
  • Neubecker, Otffried and Wilhelm Rentzmann: 10,000 Wappen und Embleme von Staaten und Stadten nach Bildmotiven angeordnet. München: Battenberg, 1989.

In addition, many of the publications of medieval rolls of arms or regional armorials will include an ordinary at the end, but these will be difficult to use, since they are dispersed in many publications.


Under construction. This section will discuss the publications of medieval rolls and armories, notably the Aspilogia I, II, III in England, the Marches d'Armes series in France, the Weijnbergen Armorial, the Gelre armorial, etc.

The Business of Being a Herald

Dennys, Rodney. Heraldry & the Heralds. London: Jonathon Cape, 1982.
A recent work covering the workings of the College of Arms and the work of a modern herald. Worth reading, but better to use inter-library loan than to purchase. (JG)

Wagner, Anthony Richard. Heralds & Heraldry in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1956.
A study of the evolution of the functions of heralds in the 14th and 15th c., with special emphasis on France and England. A good scholarly work.

Wagner, Anthony Richard. Heralds of England: A History of the Office and College of Arms. London: HM's Stationery Office, 1967.
This 600-page tome is a detailed history of the English College of Arms and its officers' lives. It's really for those interested in the minutiae of the C of A.

Heraldic Art

Allcock, Hubert. Heraldic Design. New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1962.
Generally good drawings. Reasonable information. A variety of styles of artwork. Useful for the heraldic artist. (JG)

Child, Heather. Heraldic Design. London: Bell & Hyman, 1965.
Worth using the inter-library loan to get the use of this book. Probably not necessary to buy for permanent use. Limited to modern British usage. (JG)

Eve, G. W. Decorative Heraldry. London: George Bell and Sons, 1897.
A good Victorian study of the decorative use of heraldry. A specialist's work. (JG)

Eve, G. W. Heraldry as Art. London: B. T. Batsford, 1907.
As with Decorative Heraldry, a specialist's work. (JG)

Hope, W. H. St. John. Heraldry for Craftsmen & Designers. London: John Hogg, 1913. Part of the 'Artistic Crafts Series of Technical Handbooks'.
Examples from many periods. (JG)

Leonhard, W. Das große Buch der Wappenkunst. Munich: 1976.
Splendid illustration of German art.

Louis, Robert and J. Meurgey de Tupigny. L'art héraldique: ses applications modernes. Nancy, 1949.
Robert Louis is the most important French heraldic artist. He worked closely with the French state for a number of years and was influential in the revival of heraldry in French governmental organisations.

Ströhl, H. G. Heraldischer Atlas. Stuttgart, 1899.
Splendid and influential collection of designs.

Vinycomb, John. Fictitious & Symbolic Creatures in Art with Special Reference to Their Use in British Heraldry. London: Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1906.
Everyone steals the illustrations from this work. The text is more directed toward 'natural history' than heraldry. (JG)

Von Volborth, Carl-Alexander. The Art of Heraldry. Poole: Blandford Press, 1987.
An excellent modern work with many examples of good style from this century. Traces the development of heraldry as art from its beginnings with examples from most European countries presented. Most worthwhile for any heraldic artist's bookshelf. (JG).
Currently out of print.

Other Heraldry Bibliographies on the Web


This annotated bibliography was originally written by Judy Gerjuoy (<>), and it was mainly oriented toward medieval heraldry. I have since then considerably modified it. Those of Judy's original annotations that remain are signed JG.

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François Velde

Last modified: Jul 03, 2010