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Coat of Arms mottoes – some have mottoes and some don’t. They are an optional component of a Coat of Arms. In England, they are not alluded to or mentioned in a patent of arms. However, a herald will happily add it if so desired.

There are two main schools of thought as to where the motto originated. The first being that they were a war cry of battle which is evident in many Highland Coats of Arms. However, many war cries never evolved as mottoes.

It is more likely that the real origin can trace back to the badge. This was used for personal and household purposes and seldom for war.

Mottoes can be based on legend too

For example the coat of arms motto of West “Jour de ma vie”. This was formerly the motto of the Le Warr family to commemorate the capture of the King of France at the battle of Poictiers.

Some coat of arms mottoes are very mysterious and it’s impossible to know where they came from eg., Pilkington “Now Thus! Now Thus!”

Coat of arms mottoes can also be punning in nature, taking aspects of the name or of the blazon of arms. For example the Roche motto is “Mon Dieu est ma roche”.

The colour and shape of the coat of arms motto ribbon are governed by no heraldic laws. As such they are likely to be present in a variety of ways, being left at the discretion of the artist.

Find out if your coat of arms has a motto.

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