Law of heraldic arms
The law of heraldic arms (or laws of heraldry) governs the ""bearing of arms"", that is, the possession, use or display of arms, also called coats of arms, coat armour or armorial bearings. Although it is believed that the original function of coats of arms was to enable knights to identify each other on the battlefield, they soon acquired wider, more decorative uses. They are still widely used today by countries, public and private institutions and by individuals. The earliest writer on the law of arms was Bartolus de Saxoferrato. The officials who administer these matters are called pursuivants, heralds, or kings of arms (in increasing order of seniority). The law of arms is part of the law in countries which regulate heraldry, although not part of common law in England and in countries whose laws derive from English law.