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National styles

The emergence of heraldry occurred across western Europe almost simultaneously in the various countries. Originally, heraldic style was very similar from country to country.[42] Over time, heraldic tradition diverged into four broad styles: German-Nordic, Gallo-British, Latin, and Eastern.[43] In addition it can be argued that newer national heraldic traditions, such as South African and Canadian, have emerged in the 20th century.[44] [edit]German-Nordic heraldry A Danish coat of arms in the German-Nordic tradition. Main articles: Danish heraldry, Finnish heraldry, German heraldry, Icelandic heraldry, Norwegian heraldry, and Swedish heraldry Coats of arms in Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, Latvia, Czech lands and northern Switzerland generally change very little over time. Marks of difference are very rare in this tradition as are heraldic furs.[45] One of the most striking characteristics of German-Nordic heraldry is the treatment of the crest. Often, the same design is repeated in the shield and the crest. The use of multiple crests is also common.[46] The crest is rarely used separately as in British heraldry, but can sometimes serve as a mark of difference between different branches of a family.[47] Torse is optional.[48] Heraldic courtoisie is observed: that is, charges in a composite shield (or two shields displayed together) usually turn to face the centre.[49] Coats consisting only of a divided field are somewhat more frequent in Germany than elsewh

re. [edit]Greek heraldry Ancient Greeks were among the first civilizations to use symbols consistently in order to identify a warrior, clan or a state.[citation needed] The first record of a shield blazon is illustrated in Aeschylus' tragedy Seven Against Thebes. The Greek Heraldry Society is a useful source of information on Hellenic Heraldry and Byzantine etiquette.[50] [edit]Dutch heraldry Main article: Dutch heraldry The Low Countries were great centres of heraldry in medieval times. One of the famous armorials is the Gelre Armorial or Wapenboek, written between 1370 and 1414. Coats of arms in the Netherlands were not controlled by an official heraldic system like the two in the United Kingdom, nor were they used solely by noble families. Any person could develop and use a coat of arms if they wished to do so, provided they did not usurp someone else's arms, and historically, this right was enshrined in Roman Dutch law.[51] As a result, many merchant families had coats of arms even though they were not members of the nobility. These are sometimes referred to as burgher arms, and it is thought that most arms of this type were adopted while the Netherlands was a republic (15811806).[citation needed] This heraldic tradition was also exported to the erstwhile Dutch colonies.[52] Dutch heraldry is characterised by its simple and rather sober style, and in this sense, is closer to its medieval origins than the elaborate styles which developed in other heraldic traditions.