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In heraldry, an armiger is a person entitled to use a heraldic achievement (e.g., bear arms, an "armour-bearer") either by hereditary right, grant, matriculation, or assumption of arms. Such a person is said to be armigerous.


The Latin word armiger literally means "arms-bearer"; in high and late medieval England, the word referred to an esquire attendant upon a knight, but bearing his own unique armorial device. [1]

Armiger was also used as a Latin cognomen, and is now found as a rare surname in English-speaking countries.

Modern period[edit]

Today, the term armiger is well-defined only within jurisdictions, such as Canada, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom, where heraldry is regulated by the state or a heraldic body, such as the College of Arms, the Chief Herald of Canada, the Court of the Lord Lyon or the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland. A person can be so entitled either by proven (and typically agnatic) descent from a person with a right to bear a heraldic achievement, or by virtue of a grant of arms to himself. Merely sharing the same family name of an armiger is insufficient.

Most of the time, the usage of a heraldic achievement is governed by legal restrictions; these restrictions are independent of the copyright status and independent of a coat of arms depiction. A coat of arms represents its owner. Though it can be freely represented, it cannot be appropriated, or used in such a way as to create a confusion with or a prejudice to its owner.

In the Netherlands, titles of nobility are regulated by law but heraldry is not; in Sweden and Finland the nobility has had, since 1762, the prerogative to use an open helmet, while others use a closed helmet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dictionary of Chivalry, Uden. Kestrel Books, Harmondsworth, 1968. ISBN +70904221030 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.

Further reading[edit]

  • Coss, Peter R. "Knights, esquires and the origins of social gradation in England." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series, 5 (1995): 155-78.