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  • F_Meignant's Profile Photo

    Fleur de Louis...

    by F_Meignant Written Feb 5, 2004

    Scientific name: Iris pseudacorus.
    English: Yellow iris, or Water-flag.
    French: Iris sauvage.
    German: Gelbe Schwertlilie.
    Dutch: Gele lis.

    Belongs to the family of the IRIDACEAE. Grows in humid places: marshes, rivers banks…

    I remember a drawing from the book of French History of my childhood.
    Showing king Philippe-Auguste (1165-1223) caracoling on his ceremonial horse covered with a blue cloth dressed with golden “Fleurs de Lis” (Lily flowers).
    These ornaments don’t really look like lily flowers. Even considering stylizing.
    They rather look like yellow iris ones, just a bit modified by the “designers” of that time.
    And that’s actually what they are…

    The French kings were descended from Frankish tribes from the banks of the Ijssel river, an arm of the Rhine’s delta. A region of marshes where the most majestic flower was the great water-flag... A logical emblem for the chief of the tribe.

    So, why the hell call it “Fleur de Lis” when it actually is “fleur d’iris”?

    Let’s ask the question to Philippe-Auguste’s father: king Louis VII (1120-1180)… A guy who took part to many, many fights and to the second Crusade (1147-1149) led by the lunatic and fanatical Saint Bernard.

    At this period, there were no real uniforms in the armies. Every knight was wearing clothes at his own coat of arms. Very complicated heraldry…
    So, one of the worries of warriors was:
    “How to undoubtedly recognize friends and enemies in the mess of a battle?”
    It’s always better to know to whom belongs the head you are hammering with your mace…!

    Remembering his ancestors’ emblem, king Louis VII took it up again and ordered his knights to wear it…
    The emblem was therefore called “Fleur de Louis” (Louis’ flower), which little by little evolved in “Fleur de Lis”…

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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