Vexillology (from the Latin vexillum, a flag or banner) is the scholarly study of flags, including the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. Flags were originally used to assist military coordination on the battlefield, and have evolved into a general tool for signalling and identification, particularly identification of countries.
Heraldry encompasses all of the duties of a herald, including the science and art of designing, displaying, describing and recording coats of arms and badges, as well as the formal ceremonies and laws that regulate the use and inheritance of arms. The origins of heraldry lie in the medieval need to distinguish participants in battles or jousts, whose faces were hidden by steel helmets.
There are 26 modern cantons of Switzerland, each of which has an official flag and coat of arms.The history of development of these designs spans the 13th to 20th centuries. With the exception of Lucerne, Schwyz and Ticino, the cantonal coats of arms are simply arrangements of the cantonal flags in a shield shape. This fashion originates in the 15th century. (more...)