Fleur De Lis

Fleur de Lis

The English translation of “fleur-de-lis” (sometimes spelled “fleur-de-lys”) is “flower of the lily.” This symbol, depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings. Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life.

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 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 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. Following Hurricane Katrina, the fleur de lis has been widely used in New Orleans as a symbol of grassroots support for New Orleans’ recovery.

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 and Missouri rivers.

The emblem of the Chevrolet Corvette and Caprice 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.

The Campbells soup company uses it on its soup can labels.

New Orleans based metal band Down use the symbol frequently on t shirt designs and it features on their album Nola.

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 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.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

In the twelfth century, either King Louis VI or King Louis VII (sources disagree) became the first French monarch to use the fleur de lis on his shield. English kings later used the symbol on their coats of arms to emphasize their claims to the throne of France. In the 14th century, the fleur de lis was often incorporated into the family insignia that was sewn on the knight’s surcoat, thus the term, “coat of arms.”

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.  According to French historian Georges Duby, the three leaves represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed.

In North America, the fleur de lis is often associated with areas formerly settled by France, such as Quebec, St. Louis, Louiville and Lousiana 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 the United Kingdom, a fleur de lis has appeared in the official arms of the Norroy King of Arms for hundreds of years.

In Mauritius, slaves were branded with a fleur de lis.

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.

The symbol is also often used on a compass rose to mark the north direction, a tradition started by a Neapolitan mariner of the 14th century.

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. In the East it was found on the gold helmet of a Scythian king uncovered at the Ak-Burun kurgan and conserved in Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

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.

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

The Fleur de Lis has been a distinguished symbol through the ages.  Visit www.wikipedia.com for more fascinating Fleur de Lis history!

November 2017
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