Cockade of France

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Cockade of France

The cockade of France (French: Tricolor cocarde) is the national ornament of France, obtained by circularly pleating a blue, white and red ribbon. It is composed of the three colors of the French flag with blue in the center, white immediately outside and red on the edge.


Camille Desmoulins, who devised the first French cockade
The Phrygian cap with a French tricolor cockade, symbols of the Revolution
Officer of the gendarmerie nationale of the revolutionary era wearing a hat with a tricolor cockade

The French tricolor cockade was devised at the beginning of the French Revolution. On 12 July 1789 – two days before the storming of the Bastille – the revolutionary journalist Camille Desmoulins, calling on the Parisian crowd to revolt, asked the protesters what color to adopt as a symbol of the revolution, proposing either green (representing hope) or the blue of the American revolution, symbol of freedom and democracy. The protesters responded "The green! The green! We want green cockades!"[1] Desmoulins then took a green leaf from the ground and pinned it to his hat.[1] However, the green was abandoned after just one day because it was also the color of the king's brother, the reactionary Count of Artois, later King Charles X.[2]

The following day, 13 July, an opportunity arose to create a cockade with different colors when those bourgeois who hoped to limit revolutionary excesses established a citizen militia.[3] It was decided that the militia should be given a distinctive badge in the form of a two-colored cockade in the ancient colors of Paris, blue and red.[3]

On 17 July, King Louis XVI went to Paris to meet the new French National Guard: its members wore the blue and red cockade of the militia, to which it would appear that the Marquis of Lafayette, commander of the Guard, had added a white band representing loyalty to the Sovereign.[4] Louis XVI put it on his hat and – with some reluctance – approved the appointment of the revolutionary Jean Sylvain Bailly as mayor of Paris, and the formation of the National Guard led by Lafayette.[5] Thus was born the French tricolor cockade. On the same day, the Count of Artois left France, along with members of the nobility supportive of absolute monarchy.[6]

The tricolor cockade became the official symbol of the revolution in 1792, with the three colors now said to represent the three estates of French society: the clergy (blue), the nobility (white) and the third estate (red).[2] The use of the three colors spread, and a law of 15 February 1794 made them the colors of the French national flag.[4]

From August 1789, Italian demonstrators in sympathy with the French revolution began to use simple cockades of green leaves inspired by the primitive French cockade. From these evolved the red, white and green Italian tricolor cockade.[7]


Use on institutional vehicles[edit]

Detail of a presidential Citroën SM
A Dassault Rafale with a French tricolor cockade

The decree nº89-655 of September 13th 1989 forbids the use of the French tricolor cockade on all land, sea and air vehicles except for the relative ones [8]:

The use of the French tricolor cockade is prohibited for mayors' vehicles: in the case of use, they risk up to one year imprisonment and a fine of € 15,000[9].

Use on state planes[edit]

The first use of the French tricolor cockade on airplanes dates back to the World War I, when it was used on military aircraft participating in the conflict[10]. The cockades were, and still are, painted on the fuselages of airplanes[10].

Cockades continue to be used on French state aircraft[11]. After the World War II a yellow border was added to the cockade, which was eliminated in 1984[12]

Other uses[edit]

The French tricolor cockade is also used on some high uniforms, both military and civilian, which include a headdress decorated with the tricolor cockade [13][14]. The latter is also characteristic of the Marianne, the national allegorical representation of France, who wears the Phrygian cap sometimes decorated with a tricolor cockade[15]. The French national ornament is then used also on the badge of the mayors[16] and on the band of Miss France[17].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Giovani del terzo millennio, di Giacomo Bolzano" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Il verde no, perché è il colore del re. Così la Francia ha scelto la bandiera blu, bianca e rossa ispirandosi all'America" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Presa della Bastiglia, il 14 luglio e il rosso della first lady messicana Angelica" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Le drapeau français - Présidence de la République" (in French). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Le Mystère de la Cocarde" (in French). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  6. ^ Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette: the Journey, 2002, pp. 113–116.
  7. ^ Ferorelli, Nicola (1925). "La vera origine del tricolore italiano". Rassegna storica del Risorgimento (in Italian). 12 (fasc. 3): 668.
  8. ^ "Décret n°89-655 du 13 septembre 1989 relatif aux cérémonies publiques, préséances, honneurs civils et militaires" (in French). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Apposition de la cocarde tricolore sur les véhicules des élus locaux" (in French). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b Patoz, Jacques; Saint-Ouen, Jean-Michel (1999). L'Armée de l'air (in French). Méréal. ISBN 978-2-84480-017-6..
  11. ^ "La cocarde nous fait toute une histoire : évolution de la cocarde d'aviation française (1912 - aujourd'hui)" (in French). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  12. ^ Ehrengardt, Christian J. (1983). "La chasse française en Afrique du nord 1942-1945" (in French). 53: 21, 24 e 29. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "La TEnue de TRAdition (TETRA)" (in French). Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Paris Politecnico: Qual è il più breve del mondo un soprannome?" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  15. ^ "1944 - 2008 - Les représentation de la Marianne républicaine sur les timbres" (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  16. ^ "L'insigne des maires" (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Miss France: ce soir, je serai la plus belle" (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2017.