Fleurs-de-lis: Wikis

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A fleur-de-lis

The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys; plural: fleurs-de-lis; French pronunciation: [flœʁ də lis]) is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in heraldry.[1] It is represented in Unicode at U+269C (⚜) in the Miscellaneous Symbols block.

Contents

Usages

While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in a historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any of the French republics. In North America, the fleur-de-lis is often associated with areas formerly settled by France, such as Quebec, St. Louis, Louisville, and Louisiana, and with French-speaking people in other Canadian provinces.

It is also the emblem of the city of Florence, and of the Swiss municipality of Schlieren.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1998 contained six fleurs-de-lis and is used as a national symbol of Bosniaks taken from old medieval bosnian flag that represented bosnian kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, a fleur-de-lis has appeared in the official arms of the Norroy King of Arms for hundreds of years.

The Welsh poet Hedd Wyn used Fleur de Lys as his pen name when he won his chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru), the national poetry contest.

Fleurs-de-lis appear on military insignia and the logos of many organizations. During the 20th century the symbol was adopted by various Scouting organizations worldwide for their badges. Architects and designers use it alone and as a repeated motif in a wide range of contexts, from ironwork to bookbinding, especially where a French context is implied. As a religious symbol it may represent the Trinity, or be an iconographic attribute of the archangel Gabriel, notably in representations of the Annunciation.[2] In such contexts, the fleur-de-lis is associated with the Virgin Mary.

The symbol is also often used on a compass rose to mark the north direction, a tradition started by Flavio Gioja, a Neapolitan mariner of the fourteenth century.

Earliest usage

Iris compared with fleur-de-lis ornament in French Dictionary of Architecture

In French, fleur de lis literally means "lily flower". It is widely thought to be a stylized version of the species Iris pseudacorus. Decorative ornaments that resemble the fleur-de-lis have appeared in artwork from the earliest human civilizations.

The use for ornamental or symbolic purposes of the stylised flower usually called fleur de lis is common to all eras and all civilizations. It is an essentially graphic theme found on Mesopotamian cylinders, Egyptian bas-reliefs, Mycenean pottery, Sassanid textiles, Gaulish and Mameluk coins, Indonesian clothes, Japanese emblems, and Dogon totems. The many writers who have discussed the topic agree that it has little resemblance to the lily, but they disagree as to whether it derives from the iris, the broom, the lotus, or the furze; others believe it represents a trident, an arrowhead, a double axe, or even a dove or a pigeon. It is in our opinion a problem of little importance. The essential point is that it is a very stylised figure, probably a flower, that has been used as an ornament or an emblem by almost all civilizations of the old and new worlds.[3]
—Michel Pastoureau, Traité d'Héraldique

It has consistently been used as a royal emblem, though different cultures have interpreted its meaning in varying ways. Gaulish coins show the first Western designs which look similar to modern fleurs-de-lis.[4] In the East it was found on the gold helmet of a Scythian king (illustration) uncovered at the Ak-Burun kurgan and conserved in Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Museum.[5]

Fleur-De-Lis is also the name of a small village in the South Wales Valleys, known as "The Flower of the Valley".

Royal symbol

15th century manuscript illumination of an angel sending the fleurs-de-lis to Clovis
Charlemagne, by Albrecht Dürer, the anachronistic coat-of-arms above him show the German eagle and the French Fleur-de-lis.
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King Clovis I

By the 12th century the fleur-de-lis had become the heraldic emblem of the Capetian kings of France, whose court propaganda traced the first adoption of the fleur-de-lis to the conversion of the Frankish King Clovis I in 493.[6] The story takes various forms, many of which relate to Clovis' conversion, and support the claim of the anointed Kings of France that their authority came directly from God, without the mediation of either the Emperor or the Pope.

Anne Lombard-Jourdan[7] traces the fleur-de-lis to a transformation of the Merovingian crista, a symbol evoking the rising sun (word derived from crescere, "to grow", alluding to the newborn Sun) represented on their coinage, which had the form of a Greek cross with the horizonals curved upwards on either side. Though Lombard-Jourdan associates the emblem with a Romano-Gallic sanctuary Christianized as the Basilica of Saint-Denis in a seamless continuity, most scholars[8] would hesitate to pursue the sign so far.

Some versions of the legend enhance the mystique of royalty by describing a vial of oil sent from heaven to anoint and sanctify Clovis at his coronation,[9] perhaps brought by a dove to Saint Remigius. Another variation says a lily appeared at Clovis' baptismal ceremony as a gift of blessing from an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is often associated with the flower.[10]

Clovis' Burgundian wife, Clotilde, later to be Saint Clothilda, is usually significant in these stories. As well as her part in encouraging her husband to become a Christian, her presence helps emphasise the importance of Burgundy's support for the monarch.[11]

A story which places less emphasis on Christianity and the divine right of the French kings tells of Clovis putting a flower in his helmet just before his victory at the Battle of Vouillé, leading him to choose the fleur-de-lis as a royal symbol.[12]

From Frankish to French kings

The graphic evolution of crita to fleur-de-lis was accompanied by textual allegory. By the late 13th century, an allegorical poem by Guillaume de Nangis (d. 1300), written at the abbey of Joyenval at Chambourcy, relates how the golden lilies on an azure ground were miraculously substituted for the crescents on Clovis' shield, a projection into the past of contemporary images of heraldry. Through this propagandist connection to Clovis, the fleur-de-lis has been taken in retrospect to symbolize all the Christian Frankish kings, most notably Charlemagne.

In the 14th century French writers asserted that the monarchy of France, which developed from the Kingdom of the West Franks, could trace its heritage back to the divine gift of royal arms received by Clovis. This story has remained popular, even though scepticism started in the 17th century and modern scholarship has established that the fleur-de-lis was a religious symbol before it was a true heraldic symbol.[13] Along with true lilies, it was associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the 12th century Louis VI and Louis VII started to use the emblem, on sceptres for example, so connecting their rulership with this symbol of saintliness. Louis VII ordered the use of fleur-de-lis clothing in his son Philip's coronation in 1179,[14] while the first visual evidence of clearly heraldic use dates from 1211: a seal showing the future Louis VIII and his shield strewn with the "flowers".[15] Until the late 14th century the French royal coat of arms was Azure semé-de-lys Or (a blue shield "seeded" (semé) with small golden fleurs-de-lis), but Charles V of France changed the design from an all-over scattering to a group of three in about 1376.[a][b] These two coats are known in heraldic jargon as France Ancient and France Modern respectively.

In the reign of King Louis IX (St. Louis) the three petals of the flower were said to represent faith, wisdom and chivalry, and to be a sign of divine favour bestowed on France.[16] During the next century, the 14th, the tradition of Trinity symbolism was established in France, and then spread elsewhere.

In 1328, King Edward III of England inherited a claim to the crown of France, and about 1340 he accordingly quartered France Ancient with the arms of the Kingdom of England.[c] After the kings of France adopted France Modern, the kings of England imitated them from about 1411.[17] The monarchs of England (and later of Great Britain) continued to quarter the French arms until 1801, when George III abandoned his formal claim to the French throne.

King Charles VII ennobled Joan of Arc's family on 29 December 1429 with an inheritable symbolic denomination. The Chamber of Accounts in France registered the family's designation to nobility on 20 January 1430. The grant permitted the family to change their surname to du Lys.

France Modern remained the French royal standard, and with a white background was the French national flag until the French Revolution, when it was replaced by the tricolor of modern-day France. The fleur-de-lis was restored to the French flag in 1814, but replaced once again after the revolution against Charles X of France in 1830.[d] In a very strange turn of events after the end of the Second French Empire, where a flag apparently influenced the course of history, Henri, comte de Chambord, was offered the throne as King of France, but he would agree only on condition that the French give up the tricolor and bring back the white flag with fleurs-de-lis.[18] His condition was rejected and France became a republic.

France Modern was also on the coat of arms of the old French province of Île-de-France (for instance, as a badge on the uniforms of the local gendarmerie).

Other European monarchs and rulers

Fleur-de-lis on an old concrete wall

Fleurs-de-lis feature prominently in the Crown Jewels of England and Scotland. In English heraldry, they are used in many different ways, and can be the cadency mark of the sixth son.

The tressure flory-counterflory (flowered border) has been a prominent part of the design of the Scottish royal arms and Royal Standard since James I of Scotland.[e]

The treasured fleur-de-luce he claims

To wreathe his shield, since royal James

In Florentine fleurs-de-lis,[f] the stamens are always posed between the petals. This heraldic charge is often known as the Florentine lily to distinguish it from the conventional design. As an emblem of the city, it is therefore found in icons of the bishop Zenobius.[20] The currency of Florence, the fiorino, was decorated with it, and it influenced the appearance and name of the Hungarian forint and other florins. Elsewhere in Italy, fleurs-de-lis have been used for some papal crowns[g] and coats of arms, Farnese Dukes of Parma, and by some doges of Venice.

The fleur-de-lis was also the symbol of the House of Kotromanić, a ruling house in medieval Bosnia allegedly in recognition of the Angevin, where the flower is thought of as a Lilium bosniacum. It was used on the Bosnia and Herzegovina flag between 1992 and 1998.[h] Today, fleur-de-lis is a national symbol of Bosniaks,[i] one of three Bosnian constitutive ethnic groups, the other two being Serbs and Croats.

Other countries using the emblem heraldically include Serbia and Spain in recognition of the Bourbons.

The heraldic fleur-de-lis is widespread: among the numerous cities which use it as a symbol are some whose names echo the word 'lily', for example, Liljendal, Finland. This is called canting arms in heraldic terminology. As a dynastic emblem it has also been very widely used: not only by noble families but also, for example, by the Fuggers, a medieval banking family.

North America

Fleurs-de-lis crossed the Atlantic along with Europeans going to the New World, especially with French settlers. Their presence on North American flags and coats of arms usually recalls the involvement of French settlers in the history of the town or region concerned, and in some cases the persisting presence there of a population descended from such settlers.

The fleur-de-lis appears on the Canadian coat of arms, the flags of Quebec[j] and Nova Scotia in Canada, and south of the border on that of Detroit (originally a French name, though at present pronounced quite differently), New Orleans, and elsewhere. The Acadiana[k] region and various cities in southern Louisiana, such as Lafayette, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, also use the fleur-de-lis. On 9 July 2008, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law making the fleur-de-lis an official symbol of the state.[21] Following Hurricane Katrina, the fleur-de-lis has been widely used in New Orleans as a symbol of grassroots support for New Orleans' recovery.[22]

It is also used in several places whose name came from one of the French King Louis: amongst them, the Flag of Louisville, Kentucky and of St. Louis, Missouri, where the three-petalled symbol also denotes the convergence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers.

Coats of arms and flags

^ French arms before 1376
(France ancienne)



France Ancient.svg
^ French arms after 1376
(France moderne)



Blason France moderne.svg
^ The arms of Edward III (from 1340),
including the fleur-de-lis; similar
arms were used by subsequent
English monarchs until 1800

England Arms 1340.svg
^ Standard of the French
royal family prior to 1789
and from 1815 to 1830


Pavillon royal de France.svg
^ Scottish royal arms




Royal coat of arms of Scotland.svg
^ Fleur-de-lis of Florence




FlorenceCoA.svg
^ Fleur-de-lis in the coat
of arms of Pope Paul VI


Paul 6 coa.svg
^ Zlatni ljiljan (en: Golden lily) of
Bosnia and Herzegovina



Coat of Arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1998).svg
^ National symbol of the Bosniaks




Bosniak Coat of Arms.svg
^ Flag of Quebec (Fleurdelisé)




Flag of Quebec.svg
^ Flag of Acadiana




Flag of Acadiana.svg
^ Coat of Arms of Wiesbaden,
Capital of Hessen, Germany



Wappen Wiesbaden.svg

Symbolism in religion and art

Fleur-de-lis on 14th century Syrian albarello.

In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis (lis is French for "lily") overlapped considerably in religious art. Michel Pastoureau, the historian, says that until about 1300 they were found in depictions of Jesus, but gradually they took on Marian symbolism and were associated with the Song of Solomon's "lily among thorns" (lilium inter spinas), understood as a reference to Mary. Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin.

In medieval England, from the mid-12th century, a noblewoman's seal often showed the lady with a fleur-de-lis, drawing on the Marian connotations of "female virtue and spirituality".[23] Images of Mary holding the flower first appeared in the 11th century on coins issued by cathedrals dedicated to her, and next on the seals of cathedral chapters, starting with Notre Dame de Paris in 1146. A standard portrayal was of Mary carrying the flower in her right hand, just as she is shown in that church's Virgin of Paris statue (with lily), and in the centre of the stained glass rose window (with fleur-de-lis sceptre) above its main entrance. The flowers may be "simple fleurons, sometimes garden lilies, sometimes genuine heraldic fleurs-de-lis".[15] As attributes of the Madonna, they are often seen in pictures of the Annunciation, notably in those of Sandro Botticelli and Filippo Lippi. Lippi also uses both flowers in other related contexts: for instance, in his Madonna in the Forest.

The three petals of the heraldic design reflect a widespread association with the Holy Trinity, with the band on the bottom symbolizing Mary. The tradition says that without Mary you can not understand the Trinity since it was she who bore The Son. [24] a tradition going back to 14th century France,[4] added onto the earlier belief that they also represented faith, wisdom and chivalry.

"Flower of light" symbolism has sometimes been understood from the archaic variant fleur-de-luce (see Latin lux, luc- = "light"), but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests this arose from the spelling, not from the etymology.[25]

Architecture

Fleurs-de-lis on railings at Buckingham Palace

In building and architecture, the fleur-de-lis is often placed on top of iron fence posts, as a pointed defence against intruders. It may ornament any tip, point or post with a decorative flourish, for instance, on finials, the arms of a cross, or the point of a gable. The fleur-de-lis can be incorporated in friezes or cornices, although the distinctions between fleur-de-lis, fleuron, and other stylized flowers are not always clear,[26] or be used as a motif in an all-over tiled pattern, perhaps on a floor.

Fleur-de-lis floor at Saint Denis Basilica

It may appear in a building for heraldic reasons, as in some English churches where the design paid a compliment to a local lord who used the flower on his coat of arms. Elsewhere the effect seems purely visual, like the crenellations on the 14th century Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan.

Modern usage

Fleurs-de-lis in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Also see North America section above.

Some modern usage of the fleur-de-lis reflects "the continuing presence of heraldry in everyday life", often intentionally, but also when users are not aware that they are "prolonging the life of centuries-old insignia and emblems".[27]

Fleurs-de-lis feature on military badges like those of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force, the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Corps of Cadets at Louisiana State University. They may be chosen for sports teams, especially when it echoes a local flag, as with the former Quebec Nordiques National Hockey League team and the former Montreal Expos Major League Baseball team, the Fiorentina association football team, the New Orleans Saints American football team and the New Orleans Hornets basketball team, and in coats of arms and logos for universities (like the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Saint Louis University and Washington University in Missouri), schools (in St. Peter, Minnesota) and companies (like the Royal Elastics shoe company). The Lady Knights of the University of Arkansas at Monticello have also adopted the fleur de lis as one of the symbols associated with their coat of arms. The flag of Lincolnshire, adopted in 2005, has a fleur-de-lis for the city of Lincoln. It is one of the symbols of the American woman's fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma, the American men's fraternities Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon as well as the international co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. It is also used by the high school and college fraternity Scouts Royale Brotherhood of the Philippines. Marc-André Fleury, a Canadian ice hockey goaltender, has a fleur-de-lis logo on his mask.

The symbol may be used in less traditional ways. After Hurricane Katrina many New Orleanians of varying ages and backgrounds were tattooed with "one of its cultural emblems" as a "memorial" of the storm, according to a researcher at Tulane University.[28] The US Navy Blue Angels have named a looping flight demonstration manoeuvre after the flower as well, and there are even two surgical procedures called "after the fleur."

The emblem of the Chevrolet Corvette also includes the fleur-de-lis.

The current UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St. Pierre, has a tattoo of the fleur-de-lis on his right calf.

In the "Warhammer 40,000" universe, the Fleur-de-lis is the symbol of the "Sisters of Battle", often tattood on their cheeks or present on their helmets and the shoulders of their armor. In the video games "Saints Row" and "Saints Row 2" the Fleur-de-lis is the symbol of the Third Street Saints street gang.

The Campbells soup company uses it on it's soup can labels.

Symbol of Scouting

The fleur-de-lis is the main element in the logo of most Scouting organizations, representing a major theme in Scouting: the outdoors and wilderness. The World Scout Emblem of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, has elements of which are used by most national Scout organizations. The symbol was chosen by Sir Robert Baden-Powell as it had been the arm-badge of those soldiers qualified as "Scouts" (reconnaissance specialists) when he served in the British Army. The classical description of this shape in Scouting literature connects the compass rose with the purpose of Scouting's principles—namely that Scouting gives one's life direction.

In literature

The symbol has featured in modern fiction on historical and mystical themes, as in the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code and other books discussing the Priory of Sion. It recurs in French literature, where examples well-known in English translation include the fleur-de-lis character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, and the reference in Dumas' The Three Musketeers to the old custom of branding a criminal with the sign. (Fleurdeliser in French). During the reign of Elizabeth I of England, known as the Elizabethan era, it was a standard name for an iris, a usage which lasted for centuries,[29] but occasionally refers to lilies or other flowers. It also appeared in the novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole on a sign composed by the main character.

The lilly, Ladie of the flowring field,
The Flowre-deluce, her louely Paramoure
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 1590[30]

In film

  • In the movie L.A. Confidential (1997), "Fleur-de-Lys" is the name of an underground service employing call-girls altered by plastic surgery to look like movie stars.
  • In The Da Vinci Code the fleur-de-lis appears as a one of a series of clues that leads to discovery of the supposed Holy Grail.
  • In the movie The Three Musketeers (1993), a traitor is branded with a fleur-de-lis.
  • In the first three seasons of the television series Weeds, a fleur-de-lis is the emblem of the housing development Agrestic.
  • In Death Note, the anime, it is seen as Misa Amane's jewelry.

See also

References

  1. ^ Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: Its Origins and Meaning, Francisca Garvie trans. (Thames and Hudson 1997), ISBN 0-500-30074-7, p. 98.
  2. ^ Hall, James (1974). Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-433316-7. p. 124.
  3. ^ Michel Pastoureau (2006) Traité d'Héraldique (Treatise on Heraldry, translated by François R. Velde
  4. ^ a b Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.99
  5. ^ Gold helmet of Scythian chief found at Ak Burun, 6th century B.C.
  6. ^ Lewis, Philippa and Gillian Darley (1986) Dictionary of Ornament
  7. ^ Lombard-Jourdan, 1991. Fleur-de-lis et oriflamme:signes céleste du royaume de France (Paris: C.N.R.S.); Lombard-Jourdan traces an archaeology of beliefs through material representations.
  8. ^ Such as Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, reviewing Lombard-Jourdan in Speculum 69.1 (January 1994):205-207).
  9. ^ Ralph E. Giesey, "Models of Rulership in French Royal Ceremonial" in Rites of Power: Symbolism, Ritual, and Politics Since the Middle Ages ed. Wilentz (Princeton 1985) p43
  10. ^ A.C. Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry (London 1909) p273
  11. ^ British Library commentary on the legend presented in the Bedford Book of Hours.
  12. ^ François R. Velde
  13. ^ Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.99-100
  14. ^ Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry p274
  15. ^ a b Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.100
  16. ^ Chronicles of Guillaume de Nangis quoted in Nouvelle collection des mémoires pour servir a l'histoire de France (1839)]
  17. ^ Fox-Davies
  18. ^ Pierre Goubert, The Course of French History, translator Maarten Ultee, (Routledge 1991) p.267
  19. ^ Sir Walter Scott (1833) The Complete Works of Sir Walter Scott, Volume 1 of 7, Canto Fourth, VIII, NY: Conner and Cooke
  20. ^ Hall, James (1974). Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-433316-7. p.124.
  21. ^ Fleur-de-lis Now Official State Symbol KTAL NewsChannel 6 - NBC. Accessed 09 July 2008
  22. ^ "Frenzy on for fleur de lis", AP in The Advertiser (Lafayette, La.), November 26, 2009.
  23. ^ Susan M. Johns, Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm (Manchester 2003) p130
  24. ^ F.R.Webber, Church Symbolism 1938 (Kessinger 2003) p.178
  25. ^ A "fanciful derivation", Oxford English Dictionary (1989)
  26. ^ fr:wikisource
  27. ^ Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.93-94
  28. ^ Times-Picayune, July 16, 2006
  29. ^ OED
  30. ^ Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene 2:vi

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