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The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys (plural: fleurs-de-lis)[pron 1] 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, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in French heraldry. It is represented in Unicode at U+269C (⚜) in the Miscellaneous Symbols block.
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 and 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 petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.
In France it is widely used in city emblems like in the coat of arms of the city of Lille, Saint-Denis, Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, Boulogne-Billancourt and Calais. Some cities that had been particularly faithful to the Crown were awarded an heraldic augmentation of two or three fleurs-de-lis on the chief of their coat of arms; such cities include Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Reims, Le Havre, Angers, Le Mans, Aix-en-Provence, Tours, Limoges, Amiens, Orléans, Rouen, Argenteuil, Poitiers, Chartres and Laon among others. The fleur-de-lis was the symbol of Île-de-France, the core of the French kingdom. It appeared on the coat-of-arms of other historical provinces of France, like Burgundy, Anjou, Picardy, Berry, Orléanais, Bourbonnais, Maine, Touraine, Artois, Dauphiné, Saintonge and the County of La Marche. Many of the current departments uses the ancient symbol on its coat to express this heritage.
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. The currency of Florence, the fiorino, was decorated with it, and it influenced the appearance and name of the Hungarian forint and other florins. The Tuscan towns of Firenzuola and Castelfiorentino inherited the red Florentine lily on their coat. The Finnish city of Turku uses a fleur-de-lis similar to the Florentine one on its coat.
The heraldic fleur-de-lis is still widespread: among the numerous cities which use it as a symbol are some whose names echo the word 'lily', for example, Liljendal, Finland, and Lelystad, Netherlands. This is called canting arms in heraldic terminology. Other European examples of municipal coats-of-arms bearing the fleur-de-lis include Lincoln in England, Morcín in Spain, Wiesbaden in Germany, Skierniewice in Poland and Jurbarkas in Lithuania. The Swiss municipality of Schlieren and the Estonian municipality of Jõelähtme also have a fleur-de-lis on their coats.
The coat of arms of the medieval Kingdom of Bosnia contained six fleurs-de-lis, understood as the native Bosnian or Golden Lily, Lilium bosniacum. This emblem was revived in 1992 as a national symbol of Bosniaks, and was the flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1998. Although the state insignia were changed in 1999 on request of two other ethnic groups (Serbs and Croats), the flag of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina still contains a fleur-de-lis alongside the Croatian chequy. Fleurs also appear in the flags and arms of many cantons, municipalities, cities and towns. It is still used as official insignia of the Bosniak Regiment of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the United Kingdom, a fleur-de-lis has appeared in the official arms of the Norroy King of Arms for hundreds of years. A silver fleur-de-lis on a blue background is the arms of the Barons Digby.
In Mauritius, slaves were branded with a fleur-de-lis.
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.
Earliest usage 
The fleur de lis 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. According to Pierre-Augustin Boissier de Sauvages, an 18th-century French naturalist and lexicographer:
"The old fleurs-de-lis, especially the ones found in our first kings' sceptres, have a lot less in common with ordinary lilies than the flowers called flambas [in Occitan], or irises, from which the name of our own fleur-de-lis may derive. What gives some colour of truth to this hypothesis that we already put forth, is the fact that the French or Franks, before entering Gaul itself, lived for a long time around the river named Luts in the Netherlands. Nowadays, this river is still bordered with an exceptional number of irises —as many plants grow for centuries in the same places—: these irises have yellow flowers, which is not a typical feature of lilies but fleurs-de-lis. It was thus understandable that our kings, having to choose a symbolic image for what later became a coat of arms, set their minds on the iris, a flower that was common around their homes, and is also as beautiful as it was remarkable. They called it, in short, the fleur-de-lis, instead of the flower of the river of lis. This flower, or iris, looks like our fleur-de-lis not just because of its yellow colour but also because of its shape: of the six petals, or leaves, that it has, three of them are alternatively straight and meet at their tops. The other three on the opposite, bend down so that the middle one seems to make one with the stalk and only the two ones facing out from left and right can clearly be seen, which is again similar with our fleurs-de-lis, that is to say exclusively the one from the river Luts whose white petals bend down too when the flower blooms."
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 (illustration) uncovered at the Ak-Burun kurgan and conserved in Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Museum.
Another (debated) hypothesis is that the symbol derives from the Frankish Angon. The angon, or sting, was a typical Frankish throwing spear. A possibly derived symbol of Frankish royalty was the bee, as found in the burial of Childric I. A 9th-century mosaic, from San Giovanni church in Rome, shows St Peter handing the Oriflamme, the imperial banner, to Charlemagne. The finial of the oriflamme is clearly a spearhead and very like the earliest depictions of the fleur-de-lis, on the seals of Robert II (around 1000 AD) and Phillip II (around 1180 AD).
As a side note to this debate, the river Luts runs in Frisia; the Frisians were not Franks.
Also of note is that the red and green circles on the oriflamme are often said to depict.....flowers. Whereby a fleur de luce becomes flower of light, where light might allude to the little golden flames that give the banner its name. A conflation, over time, of the lance, the flowers and the flames with the conserved spearhead, used as a sceptre, seems altogether more likely than the symbol of royalty of France deriving from a flower growing near an obscure little river in Frisia.
Royal symbol 
Frankish to the French monarchy 
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.
The fleur-de-lis' true origins with French monarchs may stem from the baptismal lily used in the crowning of King Clovis I. The French monarchy adopted the Fleur-de-lis for their royal coat of arms as a symbol of purity on the conversion of Clovis I.  A legend enhances the mystique of royalty by informing us that a vial of oil—the Holy Ampulla—descended from Heaven to anoint and sanctify Clovis as King,  descending directly on Clovis or perhaps brought by a dove to Saint Remigius. One version explains that an angel descended with the Fleur-de-lis ampulla to anoint the king. The thus "anointed" Kings of France later maintained that their authority was directly from God. Another story tells of Clovis putting a flower in his helmet just before his victory at the Battle of Vouillé  Through this connection to Clovis, the fleur-de-lis has been taken to symbolize all the Christian Frankish kings, most famously 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 modern scholarship has established that the fleur-de-lis was a religious symbol before it was a true heraldic symbol.  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, 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". Until the late 14th century the French royal coat of arms was Azure semé-de-lis Or (a blue shield "sown" (semé) with a scattering of 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 terminology 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. 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 in about 1340 he quartered France Ancient with the arms of Plantagenet, as "arms of pretence". [c] After the kings of France adopted France Modern, the kings of England adopted the new design as quarterings from about 1411. 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 
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 agreed only if French gave up the tricolor and bring back the white flag with fleurs-de-lis. His condition was rejected and France became a republic.
Other European monarchs and rulers 
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. Additionally, it features in a large amount of royal arms of the House of Plantagenet, from the 13th century onwards to the early Tudors (Elizabeth of York and the de la Pole family.)
The treasured fleur-de-luce he claims
To wreathe his shield, since royal James
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. [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 rulers from the House of Bourbon. Coins minted in 14th century Romania, from the region that was the Principality of Moldova at the time, ruled by Petru I Mușat, carry the fleur-de-lis symbol ().
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.
Other continents 
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 flag of Quebec[j] and also those of Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières. The Queen of Canada's personal flag also features it. There are many French-speaking people in other Canadian provinces for whom the fleur-de-lis remains a symbol of their cultural identity. Franco-Ontarians, for example, feature the fleur-de-lis prominently on their flag.
In the US, the fleur-de-lis symbols tend to be along or near the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Some of the places that have it in their flag or seal are the cities of St. Louis[m], Louisville, Detroit, Mobile, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. 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.
The fleur-de-lis appears on the coat of Guadeloupe, an overseas département of France in the Caribbean, Saint Barthélemy, an overseas collectivity of France, and French Guiana. The overseas department of Réunion in the Indian Ocean uses the same feature. It appears on the coat of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius which was named in honour of King Louis XV. On the coat of arms of Saint Lucia it represents the French heritage of the country.
In Saskatchewan the Western Red Lily appears on the provincial flag and is sometimes used as a symbol of the province. Some representations resemble a fleur de lis but the traditional version itself is rarely used.
Coats of arms and flags 
Symbolism in religion and art 
In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis overlapped considerably in Christian 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. It was also believed that the fleur-de-lis represented the Holy Trinity.
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". 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". 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. A tradition going back to 14th century France 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.
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, or can be used as a motif in an all-over tiled pattern, perhaps on a floor. 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. It can also be seen on the doors of 16th-century Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
Modern usage 
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".
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 Serie A team Fiorentina, the Major League Soccer team, the Montreal Impact, the sports teams of New Orleans, Louisiana in the NFL, NBA, and the Pacific Coast League, 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 sororities Kappa Kappa Gamma and Theta Phi Alpha, the American fraternities Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Mu, 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. 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 Campbells soup company uses it on its soup can labels.
A fleur-de-lis also appears in some of the logos of local Louisiana media. Such as in the logo of WGNO-TV, the local ABC-affiliated television station in New Orleans, and WVUE-TV, the local Fox-affiliated television station in New Orleans.
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. The stars stand for truth and knowledge, the encircling rope for unity, and its reef knot or square knot, service.
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 Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, a character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, and the mention in Dumas's The Three Musketeers of the old custom of branding a criminal with the sign (fleurdeliser). 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, 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
See also 
- Gallery of French coats of arms
- Black Madonna of Częstochowa
- Prince of Wales's feathers
- Pronounced / / or / /; French: [flœʁ də lis]. The Oxford English Dictionary gives both pronunciations for English. In French, Larousse and Robert have the former: [lis]. The CNRTL has that pronunciation for the plant itself, but, following Barbeau-Rodhe 1930, [li] for the compound fleur-de-lis.
- Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise, Lexis, Paris, 1993
- Petit Robert 1, Paris, 1990
- Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: Its Origins and Meaning, Francisca Garvie trans. (Thames and Hudson 1997), ISBN 0-500-30074-7, p. 98.
- Georges Duby, France in the Middle Ages 987–1460: From Hugh Capet to Joan of Arc
- Hall, James (1974). Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-433316-7. p.124.
- "Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998". Flagspot.net. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- "Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1998". Flagspot.net. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Moncrieffe, Ian, and Pottinger, Don. Simple Heraldry Cheerfully Illustrated. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. p. 54.
- Moncrieffe, Ian, and Pottinger, Don. Simple Heraldry Cheerfully Illustrated. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. p. 20.
- "Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle - Tome 5, Flore - Wikisource" (in (French)). Fr.wikisource.org. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Pierre-Augustin Boissier de Sauvages, Dictionnaire Languedocien-François, contenant un Recueil des principales fautes que commettent, dans la diction et dans la prononciation françoises, les habitans des Provinces Méridionales, connues autrefois sous la dénomination générale de la Langue-d'Oc, 1765, p. 253 
- Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.99
- [dead link]
- Lewis, Philippa & Darley, Gillian (1986) Dictionary of Ornament
- 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
- Michel Pastoureau: Traité d'Héraldique, Paris, 1979
- François R. Velde
- Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.99-100
- Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry p274
- Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.100
- Nouvelle collection des mémoires pour servir a l'histoire de France: depuis ... - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. 28 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- The Course of French History - Pierre Goubert - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Sir Walter Scott (1833) The Complete Works of Sir Michael Scott, Volume 1 of 7, Canto Fourth, VIII, NY: Conner and Cooke
- Petru Musat Coins image
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "The Fleur-de-Lys". Heraldica.org. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Post, W. Ellwood (1986). Saints, Signs, and Symbols. Wilton, Connecticut: Morehouse-Barlow. p. 29.
- Susan M. Johns, Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm (Manchester 2003) p130
- Church Symbolism - F. R. Webber, Ralph Adams Cram - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- A "fanciful derivation", Oxford English Dictionary (1989)
- Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle - Tome 5, Flore
- Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning p.93-94
- "New Orleans LA Living & Lifestyle". NOLA.com. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Troop 25. "Origin of the World Scouting Symbol "Fleur-de-lis"". Web. USA: Troop 25, Scouting of America. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Fleur-de-lis|
- Paintings of Mary, Gabriel, Annunciation and lilies
- Hudson's Fluer-de-Lis
- Fleur-de-Lis Flag with 3 gold emblems on purple field
- Flag with 3 gold emblems on white field
- Gold emblems on white field, "Kings Flag" popular on warships and fortresses from 1590-1790