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The herald ( heralt in late Middle High German , heralde from old French héraut , haraut , hiraut , which may go back to an unassigned Germanic word) was an official messenger of a liege lord in the Middle Ages , a forerunner of the diplomat .

Heralds of Windsor (2006)
Prussian heralds (Hugo Gerard Ströhl: Heraldischer Atlas, 1899)
Bavarian Herald (Jörg Rügen) around 1510
Coat of arms show: Heralds emblazon the crests of the tournament society Grünenbergs Wappenbuch . 1483


Heralds were experts in the relevant law (beginnings of war, document and constitutional law). They enjoyed diplomatic immunity and were bound by their own code of honor , which prohibited the carrying of weapons or spying on enemy positions. Heralds wore as a herald costume a special, with the coat of arms adorned their masters coat that Tappert . For this purpose, like the heraldic kings and persevantes, they adopted an official name. The name of the region, the name of the ancestral seat of his master, was chosen. An example is the official name Bairland of Persevante Duke Georgs of Bavaria-Landshut (1479–1503).

The heralds were u. a. responsible for the identification of the knights based on their coat of arms in tournaments or in war. For this purpose, heraldic rolls and heraldic books were recorded, which made it easier to distinguish between coats of arms. These lists were drawn up in a special technical language that made it easier to describe them clearly, the blazon (from French blason , coat of arms). The assistant and the preliminary stage to the herald is the Unterherold, Persevant or Persefant (from poursuivant , the (the herald) successor (herald), candidate for office).

Heraldry emerged from the style of the coat of arms ; the management of the coat of arms registers was taken over by state herald offices .

List of earlier coats of arms kings, heralds and persevantes

  • Brüninghausen (Brunshoffen), Hermann von, coat of arms king the Duke of Jülich, coat of arms king of the Ruwieren, 1461–1500, author of the herald book of the Jülich Order of Hubert.
  • Burggraf, Hans, Persevant of Margrave Friedrich II of Brandenburg, around 1450.
  • Frankolin, Johann , Hungarian herald from 1522 to 1580.
  • Gymnich, Johann, Herold am Rhein, 16th century
  • Heinenzn Claes, called Gelre, * around 1345, † 1414, King of the Arms of Geldern, herald to Duke Wilhelm VI, around 1380–90, author of the Armorial Gelre , later called Beyeren, King of the Arms of the Ruwieren, under Duke Albrecht I of Bavaria.
  • Heessel, Heinrich von, † 1470, called Austria, king of the arms of the Ruwieren, king of arms under Emperor Sigismund, Friedrich III., And Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy.
  • Holland, Johann , Herald in Bavaria, around 1420.
  • Ingeram, Hans , Persevant of the tournament society for donkeys , 1459.
  • Königsberg, Johann, called Ungarlant, Herold and from 1412 king of arms in Hungary, appointed by Dietrich II von Moers.
  • Landsberger, Lorenz, called Theutschland, Herold (Augsburg), 1541.
  • Lutz, Hans, herald of the field captain Georg Truchseß von Waldburg, 1525.
  • Marburg, Wigand von , Herald of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.
  • O'Kelly d'A (u) ghrim of Cullagh and Ballynahown, Sir William († 1751), Imperial Knight and Count Palatinate ( Comes palatinus ), since 1750 adoptive father of Wilhelm Mac Neven O'Kelly from Aghrim
  • Pesl, Paul, called Austria, 'Ehrenhold' Ferdinand I, † 1526.
  • Rügen, Jörg, Bavarian Herald, 1492, identical to Georg Rüxner
  • Sturm, Caspar , called Teutschland, Reichsherold; * 1475, † 1552.
  • Jan van Steensel, King of the Ruwier coat of arms, under Albrecht I of Bavaria, Duke of Bavaria-Straubing and Count of Holland, Zealand and Hainaut, 1362-1366.
  • Search host, Peter , Austrian herald, 1356–1396.

Reigning heraldic kings

England and Northern Ireland




  • Nils Bock: The Heralds in the Roman-German Empire. Study on noble communication in the late Middle Ages (= Medieval Research 49), Jan Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2015. ( digitized version )
  • Holger Kruse: Heralds . In: Courtyards and residences in the late medieval empire. Images and terms. Edited by Werner Paravicini , arr. by Jan Hirschbiegel and Jörg Wettlaufer. Residency research 15 II, vol. 1 + 2, Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2005.
  • E. Frhr. v. Berchem, DL Galbreath, Otto Hupp: Chronological directory of heralds up to 1668 . In: Contributions to the history of heraldry, Neustadt a / d Aisch 1972, pp. 222–223.
  • Stillfried-Alcantara, R. Graf von / Hildebranbt, O .: "Des Conrad Grünenbergs , Knight and Citizen of Constenz, Wappenbuch - done on the ninth day of the Abrellen, do you zalt do four hundred drü and eighty jar", newly published in color print, Görlitz 1875, CLXVII, With colored title page, two colored frontispieces and 331 colored heraldic panels with 2000 coats of arms; Newly published as a facsimile Fines Mundi Verlag, Saarbrücken 2009.

Web links

Commons : Illustrations of Heralds  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Herold  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 25th updated and expanded edition edited by Elmar Seebold . de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-022365-1 ( Kluge Online for a fee from Verlag Walter de Gruyter ).
  2. Lexicon of Heraldry, Gert Oswald, VEB Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig, 1984
  3. Bernkopf's song