The English translation of "fleur-de-lis"
(sometimes spelled "fleur-de-lys") is "flower of the lily." This
depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings.
has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is
signify perfection, light, and life. Legend has it that an angel
Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, with a golden lily as a
his purification upon his conversion to Christianity. Others claim
adopted the symbol when waterlilies showed him how to safely cross a
thus succeed in battle.
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
of arms to emphasize their claims to the throne of France. In the
the fleur-de-lis was often incorporated into the family insignia
that was sewn
on the knight's surcoat, which was worn over their coat of mail,
thus the term,
"coat of arms." The original purpose of identification in battle
a system of social status designations after 1483 when King Edmund
established the Heralds' College to supervise the granting of armor
Religion and War
- Joan of Arc carried a white banner that showed God blessing the
French royal emblem, the fleur-de-lis, when she led French troops
over the English in support of the Dauphin, Charles VII, in his
quest for the
- The Roman Catholic Church ascribed the lily as the special
emblem of the Virgin Mary.
- Due to its three "petals," the fleur-de-lis has also been used
to represent the Holy Trinity.
- Military units, including divisions of the United States Army,
have used the symbol's resemblance to a spearhead to identify
martial power and