For most of its history, the
Byzantine Empiredid not know or use heraldryin the West European sense. Various emblems were used in official occasions and for military purposes, such as banners or shields displaying motifs such as the cross, the " labarum", images of saints, the imperial eagleand geometric patterns, but, unlike the Western feudallords, Byzantine aristocratic families did not, as far as is known, use specific symbols to designate themselves and their followers. Only from the 12th centuryonwards, when the Empire came in increased contact with Westerners because of the Crusades, did heraldry begin to be used among Byzantines. Even then however, the thematology was largely derived from the symbols employed in earlier ages, and its use was limited to the major families of the Empire.
Other Arms, Flags, and Emblems
* [http://www.christopherlong.co.uk/per/vlasto.byzantium.html Heraldry In Byzantium & The Vlasto Family]
* [http://www.heraldica.org/topics/national/byzantin.htm Byzantine Heraldry] at "heraldica.org"
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