Last modified: 2003-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: ancien regime | fleur-de-lys (yellow) | cross (white) | white flag | bastille | royal standard | angels: 2 | echelles du levant |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
by Mario Fabretto
The ancient banner of France (France Ancient)
by Pierre Gay
The Azur, Semé de lis Or made its first royal appearance on Louis VIII's seal, but we know that Philip II (1180-1223) already used it on his banners; his cloak was blue, embroidered with golden lilies (to recall the stars of heaven: it was actually called the "cosmic cloak"). Besides, the stylized lys pattern could be found on coins of the times of Louis VI (1081-1137) and Louis VII (1120-1180).
Pierre Gay, 29 September 1998
The modern banner of France (France Modern)
by Rick Wyatt
Charles V modified the arms of France in 1365 to honor the Holy Trinity. The modification was adopted progressively: Charles VI (1368-1422) used the old disposition, called France Ancient, on his counter seal, but also used France Modern on every other occasion. Nevertheless, it is considered that Charles V made the first official use of France Modern.
Pierre Gay, 29 September 1998
As Royal battle flag
Prior to 1792 the notion of a French flag is itself fuzzy. The usual story told is this: during the Crusades, various nations adopted crosses of various colours. Brittany was black, Flanders and Lorraine green, Italy and Sweden yellow, Burgundy a red Saint Andrew's, Gascony a white Saint Andrew's. France (it is alleged) had a red cross and England a white cross. (The first crusaders all had red crosses: this scheme was adopted in 1188, at least for France, England and Flanders). It appears that the English switched to the red cross of Saint George sometime in the late 14th century. And then, in 1420, King of France Charles VI disowned his son the Dauphin Charles and chose Henry V of England as his successor, and the English 'took over' the French red cross as their own. I'm not sure how much sense this all makes, but one thing seems clear from the iconography: in 1356 and 1380, the English had white crosses and the French red; in 1415 and after, the colours were inverted.
Anyway, Dauphin Charles had to find an emblem of his own. In 1422, when Charles VI died, he became Charles VII, adopted a white cross as emblem and a white flag as banner. Joan of Arc's famous banner was white with religious figures embroidered on it. Thereafter the three parties to the civil wars of 1420-36 are distinguished by the cross: white for the French, red for the English and red saltire for the Burgundians.
The White Flag itself was the flag of commanding officers, such as Colonel Generals, and later Colonels. In particular, it was the flag of the King when he was with the troops.
François Velde, 30 June 1995
As 'state' flag in the Echelles du Levant
The white flag was hoisted on the French consulates in the Echelles du Levant by ordinance of 3 March 1781. Echelles du Levant ('Ports of Levant') were trading posts established by the Christian nations in Islamic countries from XVIth century onwards. Echelle means 'ladder' and was used to name the trading posts because access to land was done through ladders. The word comes from Italian scala, whichalso gave in French escale (port of call).
The use of the white flag on the consulates was the first reported use of the white flag on land. The consulates administratively depended on the State Secretary of Navy.
Source: Encyclopaedia Universalis, Thesaurus, p.564 Drapeaux dans l'Ancien Régime.
Ivan Sache, 3 February 2001
by Timothy Boronczyk
Smith [smi75c] states that it is the flag flown over the Bastille on that fateful day more than two centuries ago (14 July 1789).
Edward Mooney, 14 July 1998 (sic!)
by Randy Young
Source: Flags of the World [cra89]
This flag is not correct since it should be square. It is a regimental flag, thus explaining the square pattern and the white cross in the canton. It was used by the defenders of the Bastille, which was a Royal fortress.
Ivan Sache, 20 January 1999