The coat of arms of Germany displays a black eagle (the Bundesadler "Federal Eagle", formerly Reichsadler "Imperial Eagle") on a yellow shield (Or, an eagle displayed sable). It is a re-introduction of the coat of arms of the Weimar Republic (in use 1919–1935) adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950. The current official design is due to Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) and was introduced in 1928.
The German Empire of 1871-1918 had re-introduced the medieval coat of arms of the Holy Roman Emperors, in use during the 13th and 14th centuries (a black single-headed eagle on a golden background), before the emperors adopted the double-headed eagle, beginning with Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1433. The single-headed Prussian Eagle (on a white background, Argent, an eagle displayed sable) was used as an escutcheon to represent the Prussian Kings as dynasts of the German Empire. The Weimar Republic introduced a version in which the escutcheon and other monarchical symbols were removed.
The German Reichsadler (Imperial Eagle) dates back to the time of Charlemagne, the first Frankish ruler to be crowned emperor by the pope (AD 800), ultimately derived from the eagle standard of the Roman army.
By the 13th century, the black eagle icon on a gold field was generally recognised as the imperial coat of arms. During the medieval period, the imperial eagle was mostly single-headed. A double-headed eagle is attributed to Frederick II in the Chronica Majora (ca. 1250). In 1433 the double-headed eagle was adopted by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. Since then the double-headed eagle came to be used as the symbol of the German emperor, and hence as the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. From the 12th century, the Emperors would have a personal coat of arms separate from the imperial one. Starting with Albert II (r. 1438–39), each Emperor bore arms with an inescutcheon of his personal arms on the torso of a two-headed eagle.