due to travel. Regular schedule will resume tomorrow!
Today is Quatorze Juillet, or Bastille Day, the national holiday of France. This year marks the 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. The Bastille was an armory and prison in the center of Paris, and a symbol of monarchical authority, it was a natural target for the burgeoning French Revolution. Roughly one thousand civilians attacked the fortress, which contained a significant amount of ammunition (and seven prisoners). Obviously, the attackers succeeded in taking the Bastille, and the first major outbreak of violence in the French Revolution eventually convinced Louis XVI to (temporarily) capitulate.
It’s a bit tricky to talk about the “heraldry of the French Revolution,” since it resulted in a mass repudiation of pretty much everything associated with the nobility. However, at the risk of talking about flags again, I do think it’s worth pointing out that the Revolution holds the roots of the current French tricolore – and yes, it does ultimately go back to heraldry.
The arms of Paris are gules a single masted-ship, sails unfurled on a sea in base argent, a chief azure semé de lis or. The chief is derived from the arms of France ancien, and the ship is from the marchands de l’eau¸ a powerful merchant guild operating on the Seine since 1170. The Parisian coat of arms has been pretty much the same since 1358, with some changes (the addition of the sea waves, a brief change to France moderne in the 15th century). The arms are the source for the city colors of Paris – red and blue. I think you probably see where this is going.
Cockades were a popular way of displaying political allegiance in the eighteenth century – sort of like campaign buttons today. It was, therefore, perfectly natural for the Paris militia to wear a cockade of blue and red when they formed on July 13th, 1789. The blue and red design had a run of about two weeks before Lafayette proposed the addition of a white stripe to make it clear that this was a national movement, and not something confined to Paris. His suggestion was implemented on July 27th as part of the uniform of the National Guard.
The rest is, as they say, history. October 24th, 1790 saw the National Assembly adopt a red, white, and blue standard as the national flag, which was changed to blue, white, and red on February 15th, 1794. I’m not sure why this change was made, but it clearly stuck; with the exception of about 15 years during the Bourbon Restoration, when they went with a plain white flag, the tricolore has been the iconic symbol of the French nation ever since.
I know it’s been a while since the last time I’ve posted here, and honestly, I really miss it. I’m excited to be back in the weird world of heraldry research, and I can’t wait to get back to regular posting. That being said, three posts per day was not really working out for me. I also want to have a more predictable schedule of what posts when. I’ve decided to do one post per day, but to make up for the lack of frequency, they will be longer and more detailed, with more of my voice in them (so to speak). So going forward, here’s what to expect:
On Mondays, I will be revisiting the regional and municipal arms of France. It’s been a few years since I’ve done this, and I’m looking forward to seeing them with more experienced eyes. Tuesdays will feature English arms; I’ll probably continue going through the Dering Roll for now, but I’d like to get back into their municipal arms sometime soon. On Wednesdays, you can look forward to German armory, followed by Italian arms on Thursdays. Fridays will feature Austrian arms, and on Saturdays, we’ll return to the Iberian Peninsula for your weekly fix of Spanish heraldry. Finally, on Sundays, I’ll post something from whatever heraldic book I’m currently working through. Tomorrow, June 30th, will feature the first post from William Wyrley’s True Use of Arms, initially published in 1592. I will also be doing occasional special-feature posts, so keep an eye out for those too!
Arms of Saer de Quincy, Earl of Winchester and (1170 – 1219) and Margaret de Beaumont (unknown)
From p81 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)
Blazon: Per pale baron and femme gules seven mascles 3, 3, and 1 or and gules a cinquefoile ermine
Since Saer de Quincy married one of the two heiresses of the de Beaumont family, he was entitled to bear the arms of the Beaumonts marshalled with his own. (Margaret’s brother, Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester, died in 1204.) However, since Margaret was the younger sister, the title Earl of Leicester passed to her older sister’s husband.
Blazon: Gules a cross patonce between four oak leaves each enfiled by a ducal coronet or
Crest: On a wreath of the colors a raven wings addorsed and displayed sable, beaked, membered, gorged with a ducal coronet, and chained or, the dexter claw resting on a gad of steel proper
Mantling: Gules lined or
Motto: Deeds not words