Poland is the only Slav country to come into the fold of the Latin Church,
and then not until 956, the date of its conversion to Christianity. Prior to
that Poland had many primitive forms of beliefs and religion.
The nobles of Poland formed clans along the lines of the Scottish Highland
model, where all clansmen were supposed to be related to each other. The Poles
all bore the same undifferenced arms and they are very different from western
heraldry. An arms design was granted to an entire family rather than an
individual. As in other cultures the insignia of the clan was placed on the
In theory the chiefs of clans were related to the monarch. The heraldic
symbols borrowed heavily on Nordic and runic symbols which have since lost their
meaning and are difficult to describe in proper heraldic terms.
Most of Polish heraldry or designs are unknown outside of Poland, and many of
the commonly used European designs are unknown in Poland.
As far as heraldry goes, all polish arms had the same type of helmet,
surmounted by the same crest of three silver ostrich feathers. The arrow-like
sign used on many arms was the emblem of the Norse God Thor, the god of war.
This arrow is often referred to as a fleche. This combined with other runic
signs make up most of Slovaic heraldry. With Christianity coming into play the
church decided to add the pagen symbols and add a few cross pieces to them to
make them look more like the form of the Christian cross rather than discourage
their use, or disregard the original designs. In modern heraldry some of these
arches, arrows and crosses have been transposed into fleches, arrows, crescents,
There are thought to be approximately five thousand Coats of Arms that were
preserved in Poland. Unfortunately, the majority of Polish heraldry was
destroyed by the Germans and Russians during World War II, the Germans
destroying any seals they discovered. The Russians used the suppression of
heraldry as a means of squashing the Polish nationality.