on Mythic Scribes:
Distinctive personal insignia on shields had been used to identify warriors in battle since 800 BC in Phrygia. But this insignia was not heraldry as it was not hereditary (familial).
Heraldry appeared in mid-12th century, and flourished during 13th and 14th centuries. First formal heraldry in England appeared in 1127 when Henry I gave a shield to his son-in-law, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, as a wedding present. Geoffrey’s shield would descend to his grandson.
Development of heraldry was given impetus in 12th century crusades, especially the Third Crusade.
Early shields were simple devices with one or two colours, and had no principles of heraldry or any semblance of standardization. This changed only in 1484 when Richard III founded College of Arms.