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(Normally the arms of the wife would be impaled with those of the husband a convention known as Baron and Femme).In similar fashion, one may bear one's own arms inescutcheon en surtout over the territorial arms of his/her domains, such as in the arms of the Danish Royal Family, the greater coat of arms of Sweden, or the arms of the Commonwealth of England 1649-1660.Truly heraldic devices seem to have been first used in Carolingian times.Seals and banners confirm that they were being used in the Flemish area of Europe during the reign of Charlemagne (768–814 AD).This prohibits certain colour combinations, as described below.Understanding these rules is a key to the art of heraldry.Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world.Certain heraldic rules apply, the most important of which is the Rule of Tincture.

Instead, their arms were shown on a lozenge — a rhombus standing on one of its acute corners or a cartouche.Although heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still in use.Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world make use of arms.Army units of the Roman Empire were identified by the distinctive markings on their shields (see left).These were not heraldic in the medieval sense, as they were associated with military units, not individuals or families.

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A formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry to ensure that each knight's arms were unique (at least within the same jurisdiction).