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Polish clans (Polish: Rody) differ from most others in being a collection of families bearing the same coat of arms, as opposed to actually claiming a common descent. This is discussed under the topic of Polish Heraldry.


Polish nobility, the szlachta, has its origins in Middle Ages warrior clans who provided military support to the King, the Dukes or the Overlords.

Exceptions apart, all Polish families belonging to the same noble clan used/use the same coat of arms. Polish original word Herb makes reference to the clan as well to the coat of arms at the same time.

The Polish clan does not mean consanguinity nor territoriality, as do Scottish clan, but to the fact to belong to a same warrior group (or Knight´s Brotherhood). For that reason, there are hundreds of different families in the same clan and all of them were/are entitled to use the same coat of arms. Perhaps they may be considered closer to the Scandinavian clan.

Coats of armsEdit

Polish coats of arms have their own name, becoming usually from its old War cry or it own drawing. The German word Wappengemeinschaft (Crest-Association), as difficult as it seems to be, may be the best simple description of the concept of Polish Herb and the Polish institution of the clan / coat of arms.


Nevertheless, in daily life, (from the 17th to the 20th centuries), the sense of belonging to a family predominated. This is indicated by the organization of most of Polish armorial, which are arranged by specific families and not by Coat of arms. It is known that a sense of belonging and attachement to the crest lineage existed in the old Polish consciousness and had survived from the Middle Ages, but it was probably more ceremonial and symbolic than "everyday". Especially since there were fairly frequent instances, particularly among the poorer nobility in 19th century, of accidentally (and sometimes deliberately) identifying themselves with various Coat of arms to the heraldry offices of the partitioning countries. In this way, members of a single family sometimes formally became members of various Coats of arms. [1]. Also in those times, Magnate families and some middle Landowners families obtained titles (Prince, Count, Baron) and “own” Coats of arms, (variations of their original Herb), from the partitioning monarchies, the French empire, the Pope and other kingdoms.

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Polish clans. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.