Arms of France ancien

France ancien

In use from at least 1211 until 1376

Blazon: Azure semé de lis or

According to legend, the former (ancien) arms of France originated when Clovis I, first king of the Franks, was baptized. He adopted the lily as his new emblem to symbolize the purity of the Virgin Mary and his new faith. However, despite this legend and its name, the fleur-de-lis (literally, lily flower) doesn’t actually look very much like a lily. Most credible authorities, including Boutell, Dalloway, and numerous French heralds, assert that the depiction is intended as some form of flower, probably an iris, that was later confused with a lily. However, there is a poorly-supported but persistent theory that it is actually a stylized spearhead. While this would explain the bizarre figure of leopard’s heads jessant-de-lis, there isn’t much else to recommend it.

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