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Medieval Knight and the Heraldry
Heraldry arose, almost spontaneously, throughout Europe in a short space of time between 1130-1160, coinciding with the development of a more sophisticated armour.
The medieval knight would be unrecognisable in the encasing helmet, but easily spotted at a distance by the distinctive markings on his shield and on his horse's drapings. Competitive meets developed into full fledged spectacles and the tourneys (or tournaments) became splendid affairs, in which knights and their entire contingent of servants, squires and pages were known from afar by their "colors".
It is generally supposed that heraldic markings were
adopted when the face became invisible behind closed helmets, but equally
the methods of warfare themselves demanded a system of instant recognition;
after all, faces can only be discerned at relatively close quarters.