French heraldry

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A fleur-de-lis, the most common symbol in French heraldry

French heraldry is the use of heraldic symbols in France. Although it had a considerable history, existing from the 11th century, such formality has largely died out in France, as far as regulated personal heraldry is concerned. Civic heraldry on the other hand remains a visible part of daily life.

The role of the herald (héraut) in France declined in the 17th century. Today the law recognises both assumed and inherited arms, considering them under law to be equivalent to a visual representation of a name, and given the same protections. However, there is no central registry of arms; in case of dispute, the individual who can prove the longest right to the blazon must be decided in court.

Many of the terms in international heraldry come from French.

Characteristics[edit]

Like the British system of heraldry, the French follow the Rule of Tinctures. This states that there are two types of Tinctures (heraldic colors): the colors Sable (black), Gueules (red), Sinople (green) and Azur (blue) and metals Or (gold or yellow) and Argent (silver or white). For sake of visibility (the whole point of the system), no Charges of a color can be used on a field of a color and no Charges of a metal can be used on a field of a metal, nor can the divisions of the field be color-on-color or metal-on-metal. Arms that do not follow the Rule of Tinctures are referred to as Armes pour enquérir (a "Coat of Arms to be investigated").

French heraldry has a set system of crown and coronets.[1] Supporters are not linked with any rank or title, unlike the coronets, and are far less common than in other forms of European heraldry, such as English heraldry.[1] Even the Royal Arms' angelic supporters are not shown in most depictions. Crests are rare in modern depictions, again in contrast to England.[1]

Napoleonic heraldry[edit]

Arms of Joseph Fouché (1759-1820) as a Count. The quarter azure in chief dexter charged with a lion's head indicates his positions as a count and a minister

Along with a new system of titles of nobility, the First French Empire also introduced a new system of heraldry.

Napoleonic heraldry was based on traditional heraldry but was characterised by a stronger sense of hierarchy. It employed a rigid system of additional marks in the shield to indicate official functions and positions. Another notable difference from traditional heraldry was the toques, which replaced coronets. The toques were surmounted by ostrich feathers: dukes had 7, counts had 5, barons had 3, and knights had 1. The number of lambrequins was also regulated: 3, 2, 1 and none respectively. As many grantees were self-made men, and the arms often alluded to their life or specific actions, many new or unusual charges were also introduced.[2]

The most characteristic mark of Napoleonic heraldry was the additional marks in the shield to indicate official functions and positions. These came in the form of quarters in various colours, and would be differenced further by marks of the specific rank or function. In this system, the arms of knights had an ordinary gules, charged with the emblem of the Legion of Honour; Barons a quarter gules in chief sinister, charged with marks of the specific rank or function; counts a quarter azure in chief dexter, charged with marks of the specific rank or function; and dukes had a chief gules semé of stars argent.[2]

The said 'marks of the specific rank or function' as used by Barons and Counts depended on the rank or function held by the individual. Military barons and counts had a sword on their quarter, members of the Conseil d'Etat had a chequy, ministers had a lion's head, prefects had a wall beneath an oak branch, mayors had a wall, landowners had a wheat stalk, judges had a balance, members of Academies had a palm, etc.[2]

A decree of 3 March 1810 states: "The name, arms and livery shall pass from the father to all sons" although the distinctive marks of title could only pass to the son who inherited it. This provision applied only to the bearers of Napoleonic titles.[2]

The Napoleonic system of heraldry did not outlast the First French Empire. The Second French Empire (1852–1870) made no effort to revive it, although the official arms of France were again those of Napoleon I.[2]

French crowns and coronets[edit]

Mural Crown of a French Commune.svg Mural Crown of a French City.svg Mural Crown of a French Capital.svg
Commune Department Capital Capital

Ancien Régime[edit]

Crown of a Baron of France.svg Crown of a Vidame of France.svg Crown of a Viscount of France (variant).svg Crown of a Count of France (variant).svg Crown of a Count of France.svg Crown of a Marquis of France (variant).svg Crown of a Marquis of France.svg
Baron Vidame Vicomte (Viscount) Comte (Count) Comte et Pair de France (Count and Peer of France) Marquis Marquis et Pair de France (Marquis and Peer of France)
Crown of a Duke of France (variant).svg Crown of a Duke of France.svg Crown of a Prince of the Blood of France.svg Crown of a Royal Prince of the Blood of France.svg Crown of the Dauphin of France.svg Royal Crown of France.svg
Duc (Duke) Duc et Pair de France (Dukes and Peer of France) Prince du Sang (nobles in the descendance of a former French king) (Petit-) Fils de France (Royal Prince, children or grandchildren of the King) Dauphin (heir apparent), (Dauphin de Viennois) Roi (King)

National Emblem of France[edit]

National Emblem of France
Armoiries république française.svg
Details
Armiger The French Republic
Escutcheon RF, standing for République française
Other elements Fasces, laurel branch, oak branch

The current emblem of France has been a symbol of France since 1953, although it does not have any legal status as an official coat of arms. It appears on the cover of French passports and was originally adopted by the French Foreign Ministry as a symbol for use by diplomatic and consular missions in 1912 using a design drawn up by the sculptor Jules-Clément Chaplain.

In 1953, France received a request from the United Nations for a copy of the national coat of arms to be displayed alongside the coats of arms of other member states in its assembly chamber. An interministerial commission requested Robert Louis (1902–1965), heraldic artist, to produce a version of the Chaplain design. This did not, however, constitute an adoption of an official coat of arms by the Republic.

Technically speaking, it is an emblem rather than a coat of arms, since it does not respect heraldic rules—heraldry being seen as an aristocratic art, and therefore associated with the Ancien Régime. The emblem consists of:

Fleur-de-lys[edit]

A golden fleur-de-lis, the most common colour in French heraldry

The fleur-de-lys (or fleur-de-lis, plural: fleurs-de-lis; /ˌflɜːrdəˈl/, [ˌflœː(ʀ)dəˈlɪs] in Quebec French), translated from French as "lily flower") is a stylized design of either an iris or a lily that is now used purely decoratively as well as symbolically, or it may be "at one and the same time political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic and symbolic",[3] especially in heraldry.

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 on a historical context, and nowadays with the Spanish monarchy and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as the only remaining monarchs of the House of Bourbon.

It is an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps but has not been adopted officially by any of the French republics.

Arms of major cities[edit]

All cities within France have coats of arms; these are often intertwined with local traditions over history.

Regions of France[edit]

Each region of France has its own coat of arms, although usage varies:

Arms Name
Blason région fr Alsace.svg Alsace
Arms of Aquitaine and Guyenne.svg Aquitaine
Blason de l'Auvergne.svg Auvergne
Blason fr Bourgogne.svg Burgundy
Armoiries Bretagne - Arms of Brittany.svg Brittany
Blason fr Centre-Val de Loire.svg Centre-Val de Loire
Arms Name
Blason région fr Champagne-Ardenne.svg Champagne-Ardenne
Coat of Arms of Corsica.svg Corsica
Blason fr Franche-Comté.svg Franche-Comté
France moderne.svg Île-de-France
Arms of the French Region of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg Languedoc-Roussillon
Blason région fr Limousin.svg Limousin
Arms Name
Blason Lorraine.svg Lorraine
Blason Languedoc.svg Midi-Pyrénées
Blason Nord-Pas-De-Calais.svg Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Blason duche fr Normandie.svg Lower Normandy
Blason duche fr Normandie.svg Upper Normandy
Blason région fr Pays-de-la-Loire.svg Pays de la Loire
Arms Name
Blason région fr Picardie.svg Picardy
Blason Poitou-Charentes 3D.svg Poitou-Charentes
Blason région fr Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.svg Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Blason Rhône-Alpes Gendarmerie.svg Rhône-Alpes

Départments[edit]

Few départments have official arms. There may be substantial disagreements with this table.

Arms Department
Coat of arms of département 01 Ain
Coat of arms of département 02 Aisne
Coat of arms of département 03 Allier
Coat of arms of département 04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Coat of arms of département 05 Hautes-Alpes
Coat of arms of département 06 Alpes-Maritimes
Coat of arms of département 07 Ardèche
Coat of arms of département 08 Ardennes
Coat of arms of département 09 Ariège
Coat of arms of département 10 Aube
Coat of arms of département 11 Aude
Coat of arms of département 12 Aveyron
Coat of arms of département 13 Bouches-du-Rhône
Coat of arms of département 14 Calvados
Coat of arms of département 15 Cantal
Coat of arms of département 16 Charente
Coat of arms of département 17 Charente-Maritime
Coat of arms of département 18 Cher
Coat of arms of département 19 Corrèze
Coat of arms of Corsica Southern Corsica
Coat of arms of Corsica Upper Corsica
Coat of arms of département 21 Côte-d'Or
Coat of arms of département 22 Côtes-d'Armor
Coat of arms of département 23 Creuse
Coat of arms of département 24 Dordogne
Arms Department
Coat of arms of département 25 Doubs
Coat of arms of département 26 Drôme
Coat of arms of département 27 Eure
Coat of arms of département 28 Eure-et-Loir
Coat of arms of département 29 Finistère
Coat of arms of département 30 Gard
Coat of arms of département 31 Haute-Garonne
Coat of arms of département 32 Gers
Coat of arms of département 33 Gironde
Coat of arms of département 34 Hérault
Coat of arms of département 35 Ille-et-Vilaine
Coat of arms of département 36 Indre
Coat of arms of département 37 Indre-et-Loire
Coat of arms of département 38 Isère
Coat of arms of département 39 Jura
Coat of arms of département 40 Landes
Coat of arms of département 41 Loir-et-Cher
Coat of arms of département 42 Loire
Coat of arms of département 43 Haute-Loire
Coat of arms of département 44 Loire-Atlantique
Coat of arms of département 45 Loiret
Coat of arms of département 46 Lot
Coat of arms of département 47 Lot-et-Garonne
Coat of arms of département 48 Lozère
Coat of arms of département 49 Maine-et-Loire
Arms Department
Coat of arms of département 50 Manche
Coat of arms of département 51 Marne
Coat of arms of département 52 Haute-Marne
Coat of arms of département 53 Mayenne
Coat of arms of département 54 Meurthe-et-Moselle
Coat of arms of département 55 Meuse
Coat of arms of département 56 Morbihan
Coat of arms of département 57 Moselle
Coat of arms of département 58 Nièvre
Coat of arms of département 59 Nord
Coat of arms of département 60 Oise
Coat of arms of département 61 Orne
Coat of arms of département 62 Pas-de-Calais
Coat of arms of département 63 Puy-de-Dôme
Coat of arms of département 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Coat of arms of département 65 Hautes-Pyrénées
Coat of arms of département 66 Pyrénées-Orientales
Coat of arms of département 67 Bas-Rhin
Coat of arms of département 68 Haut-Rhin
Coat of arms of département 69 Rhône
Coat of arms of département 70 Haute-Saône
Coat of arms of département 71 Saône-et-Loire
Coat of arms of département 72 Sarthe
Coat of arms of département 73 Savoie
Coat of arms of département 74 Haute-Savoie
Arms Department
Coat of arms of département 75 Paris
Coat of arms of département 76 Seine-Maritime
Coat of arms of département 77 Seine-et-Marne
Coat of arms of département 78 Yvelines
Coat of arms of département 79 Deux-Sèvres
Coat of arms of département 80 Somme
Coat of arms of département 81 Tarn
Coat of arms of département 82 Tarn-et-Garonne
Coat of arms of département 83 Var
Coat of arms of département 84 Vaucluse
Coat of arms of département 85 Vendée
Coat of arms of département 86 Vienne
Coat of arms of département 87 Haute-Vienne
Coat of arms of département 88 Vosges
Coat of arms of département 89 Yonne
Coat of arms of département 90 Territoire de Belfort
Coat of arms of département 91 Essonne
Coat of arms of département 92 Hauts-de-Seine
Coat of arms of département 93 Seine-Saint-Denis
Coat of arms of département 94 Val-de-Marne
Coat of arms of département 95 Val-d'Oise
Coat of arms of Guadeloupe Guadeloupe
Coat of arms of Martinique Martinique
Coat of arms of Guyane Guyane
Coat of arms of Réunion La Réunion

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c François Velde (2003-02-06). "French Heraldry: National Characteristics". Heraldica. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e François R. Velde. Napoleonic Heraldry
  3. ^ Michel Pastoureau, Heraldry: its origins and meaning translated by Francisca Garvie (Thames and Hudson 1997), ISBN 0-500-30074-7, p.98
  4. ^ Faure, Juliet (2002). L'arsenal de Paris: histoire et chroniques (in French). L'Harmattan. p. 35. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Ralph Schor, Histoire du Comté de Nice en 100 dates, Alandis Editions, 2007, p. 22-23 (in French)
  6. ^ Histoire du blason de Grenoble Archived 2008-11-12 at the Wayback Machine. (in French)