The Heraldry or Armory of England, an honourable and honoured member of the illustrious family of mediaeval European Heraldry, may be defined as a symbolic and pictorial language, in which figures, devices, and colours are employed instead of letters.

From The Handbook to English Heraldry by Charles Boutell, p31

[Heraldry] came into existence, because it was needed for practical use; it was accepted and cherished, because it did much more than fulfil its avowed purpose. At first, simply useful to distinguish particular individuals, especially in war and at the tournament, English Heraldry soon became popular; and then, with no less rapidity, it rose to high honour and dignity.

From The Handbook to English Heraldry by Charles Boutell, p31