Flag of France

Last updated

France
Flag of France.svg
Name Tricolour
Use National flag
Proportion2:3
AdoptedJune 1976 [1] (Dark version first adopted on 15 February 1794)
DesignA vertical tricolour of blue, white, and red
Designed by Lafayette, Jacques-Louis David
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg
Variant flag of France
Use National flag
Proportion2:3
Adopted5 March 1848
(First time adopted 15 February 1794)
DesignAs above, but with the dark shades
Civil and Naval Ensign of France.svg
Variant flag of France
Use National ensign
Proportion2:3
Adopted17 May 1853 (Previously the same as the national flag)
Used in the darker shade [1]
DesignAs above, but with bars in proportion 30:33:37. (See French ensigns.)

The flag of France (French: Drapeau français) is a tricolour flag featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French Tricolour or simply the Tricolour (French : Tricolore). The Tricolour has become one of the most influential flags in history, with its three-colour scheme being copied by many other nations, both in Europe and the rest of the world. [2]

Tricolour (flag) flag with three bands of colour

A tricolour or tricolor is a type of flag or banner design with a triband design which originated in the 16th century as a symbol of republicanism, liberty or indeed revolution. The flags of France, Italy, Romania, Mexico, and Ireland were all first adopted with the formation of an independent republic in the period of the French Revolution to the Revolutions of 1848, with the exception of the Irish tricolour, which dates from 1848 but was not popularised until the Easter Rising in 1916 and adopted in 1919.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Contents

The royal government used many flags, the best known being a blue shield and gold fleur-de-lis (the Royal Arms of France) on a white background, or state flag. Early in the French Revolution, the Paris militia, which played a prominent role in the storming of the Bastille, wore a cockade of blue and red,[ citation needed ] the city's traditional colours. According to French general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, white was the "ancient French colour" and was added to the militia cockade to create a tricolour, or national, cockade. [3] This cockade became part of the uniform of the National Guard, which succeeded the militia and was commanded by Lafayette. [4] The colours and design of the cockade are the basis of the Tricolour flag, adopted in 1790.[ citation needed ] The only difference was that the 1790 flag's colours were reversed. A modified design by Jacques-Louis David was adopted in 1794. The royal white flag was used during the Bourbon restoration from 1815 to 1830; the tricolour was brought back after the July Revolution and has been used ever since 1830, except with a brief interruption for a few days in 1848. [5]

<i>Fleur-de-lis</i> stylized lily, heraldic symbol

The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys is a stylized lily that is used as a decorative design or motif. Many of the Catholic saints of France, particularly St. Joseph, are depicted with a lily. Since France is a historically Catholic nation, the fleur-de-lis became "at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in French heraldry.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Storming of the Bastille part of the French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789.

Design

Article 2 of the French constitution of 1958 states that "the national emblem is the tricolour flag, blue, white, red". [6] In modern representations, two versions are in use, one darker and the other lighter: both are used equally, but the light version (i.e. the main version used by Wikipedia) is far more common on digital displays. The light version was introduced in 1976 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing for use in televised governmental speeches. It is sometimes even used on official State buildings, while town halls, public buildings and barracks are adorned with the darker version of the flag. [1]

Constitution of France French Constitution adopted in 1958

The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth Republic, while the text was drafted by Michel Debré. Since then the constitution has been amended twenty-four times, through 2008.

Valéry Giscard dEstaing President of France from 1974 to 1981

Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing, also known as Giscard or VGE, is a French elder statesman who served as President of the French Republic from 1974 to 1981.

SchemeBlueWhiteRed
Pantone [7] Reflex blueSafeRed 032
CMYK [7] 100.80.0.00.0.0.00.100.100.0
RGB [7] (0,85,164)(255,255,255)(239,65,53)
HEX [7] #0055A4#FFFFFF#EF4135
NFX 08002 [8] A 503A 665A 805
NCS S 2565 R80Bbase colourS 0580 Y80R

Currently, the flag is one and a half times wider than its height (i.e. in the proportion 2:3) and, except in the French Navy, has stripes of equal width. Initially, the three stripes of the flag were not equally wide, being in the proportions 30 (blue), 33 (white) and 37 (red). Under Napoleon I, the proportions were changed to make the stripes' width equal, but by a regulation dated 17 May 1853, the navy went back to using the 30:33:37 proportions, which it now continues to use, as the flapping of the flag makes portions farther from the halyard seem smaller.

French Navy Maritime arm of the French Armed Forces

The French Navy, informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.

Halyard rope used in ships rigging

In sailing, a halyard or halliard is a line (rope) that is used to hoist a ladder, sail, flag or yard. The term halyard comes from the phrase, 'to haul yards'. Halyards, like most other parts of the running rigging, were classically made of natural fibre like manila or hemp.

A comparison of the light and dark versions of the flag. Flag of France (shade comparison).svg
A comparison of the light and dark versions of the flag.

Symbolism

Multiple French flags as commonly flown from public buildings. Note that these flags use the lighter shades of blue and red. Drapeaux francais.jpg
Multiple French flags as commonly flown from public buildings. Note that these flags use the lighter shades of blue and red.

Blue and red are the traditional colours of Paris, used on the city's coat of arms. Blue is identified with Saint Martin,[ citation needed ] red with Saint Denis.[ citation needed ] At the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the Paris militia wore blue and red cockades on their hats. White had long featured prominently on French flags and is described as the "ancient French colour" by Lafayette. [3] White was added to the "revolutionary" colours of the militia cockade to "nationalise" the design, thus creating the tricolour cockade. [3] Although Lafayette identified the white stripe with the nation, other accounts identify it with the monarchy. [9] Lafayette denied that the flag contains any reference to the red-and-white livery of the Duc d'Orléans. Despite this, Orléanists adopted the tricolour as their own.

Flag of Paris flag

The flag of Paris is vertically divided between the traditional colours of Paris, blue and red, both of which also feature in the city's coat of arms. Blue is identified with Saint Denis, red with Saint Martin.

Coat of arms of Paris coat of arms

The coat of arms of the city of Paris shows a silver sailing ship on waves of the sea in a red field, with a chief showing the Royal emblem of gold-on-blue fleur-de-lis. Originally introduced in the 14th century, its current form dates to 1853. The city motto is Fluctuat nec mergitur. The traditional colors of the city of Paris are red and blue.

Martin of Tours Christian saint

Saint Martin of Tours was the third bishop of Tours. He has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints in Western tradition.

Blue and red are associated with the Virgin Mary, the patroness of France, and were the colours of the oriflamme. The colours of the French flag may also represent the three main estates of the Ancien Régime (the clergy: white, the nobility: red and the bourgeoisie: blue). Blue, as the symbol of class, comes first and red, representing the nobility, comes last. Both extreme colours are situated on each side of white referring to a superior order. [10]

Oriflamme battle standard of the King of France in the Middle Ages, or a similarly-shaped banner

The Oriflamme was the battle standard of the King of France in the Middle Ages. It was originally the sacred banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, a monastery near Paris. When the oriflamme was raised in battle by the French royalty during the Middle Ages, most notably during the Hundred Years War, no prisoners were to be taken until it was lowered. Through this tactic they hoped to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, especially the nobles, who could usually expect to be taken alive for ransom during such military encounters.

Estates of the realm broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society recognised in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe

The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social hierarchy used in Christendom from the medieval period to early modern Europe. Different systems for dividing society members into estates developed and evolved over time.

Ancien Régime Monarchic, aristocratic, social and political system established in the Kingdom of France from approximately the 15th century until the later 18th century

The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from the Late Middle Ages until 1789, when hereditary monarchy and the feudal system of French nobility were abolished by the French Revolution. The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The term is occasionally used to refer to the similar feudal systems of the time elsewhere in Europe. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts, and civil wars, but they remained and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars. Much of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of "absolute monarchy" and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, the Kingdom of France retained its irregularities: authority regularly overlapped and nobles struggled to retain autonomy.

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was one of many world landmarks illuminated in the French flag colors after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Brandenburg Gate in French flag colours after Paris attack (23028317551).jpg
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was one of many world landmarks illuminated in the French flag colors after the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Lafayette's tricolour cockade was adopted in July 1789, a moment of national unity that soon faded. Royalists began wearing white cockades and flying white flags, while the Jacobins, and later the Socialists, flew the red flag. The tricolour, which combines royalist white with republican red, came to be seen as a symbol of moderation and of a nationalism that transcended factionalism.

The French government website states that the white field was the colour of the king, while blue and red were the colours of Paris.

The three colours are occasionally taken to represent the three elements of the revolutionary motto, liberté (freedom: blue), égalité (equality: white), fraternité (brotherhood: red); this symbolism was referenced in Krzysztof Kieślowski's three colours film trilogy, for example.

In the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks, many famous landmarks and stadiums were illuminated in the flag colours to honour the victims.

History

Kingdom of France

During the early Middle Ages, the oriflamme, the flag of Saint Denis, was used—red, with two, three, or five spikes. Originally, it was the royal banner under the Capetians. It was stored in Saint-Denis abbey, where it was taken when war broke out. French kings went forth into battle preceded either by Saint Martin's red cape, which was supposed to protect the monarch, or by the red banner of Saint Denis.

Later during the Middle Ages, these colours came to be associated with the reigning house of France. In 1328, the coat-of-arms of the House of Valois was blue with gold fleurs-de-lis bordered in red. From this time on, the kings of France were represented in vignettes and manuscripts wearing a red gown under a blue coat decorated with gold fleurs-de-lis.

During the Hundred Years' War, England was recognised by a red cross, Burgundy, a red saltire, and France, a white cross. This cross could figure either on a blue or a red field. The blue field eventually became the common standard for French armies. The French regiments were later assigned the white cross as standard, with their proper colours in the cantons.

The French flag of a white cross on a blue field is still seen on some flags derived from it, such as those of Quebec and Martinique.

The flag of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years' War is described in her own words, "I had a banner of which the field was sprinkled with lilies; the world was painted there, with an angel at each side; it was white of the white cloth called 'boccassin'; there was written above it, I believe, 'JHESUS MARIA'; it was fringed with silk.". [11] Joan's standard led to the prominent use of white on later French flags. [11]

From the accession of the Bourbons to the throne of France, the green ensign of the navy became a plain white flag, the symbol of purity and royal authority. The merchant navy was assigned "the old flag of the nation of France", the white cross on a blue field. [12]

The Tricolore

The national flag of France at the Arc de Triomphe.
The White flag of the monarchy transformed into the Tricolore as a result of the July Revolution, painting by Leon Cogniet (1830). Lar7 cogniet 001z.jpg
The White flag of the monarchy transformed into the Tricolore as a result of the July Revolution, painting by Léon Cogniet (1830).
Lamartine, before the Hotel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag, 25 February 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux. Lar9 philippo 001z.jpg
Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag, 25 February 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux.

The tricolour flag is derived from the cockades used during the French Revolution. These were circular rosette-like emblems attached to the hat. Camille Desmoulins asked his followers to wear green cockades on 12 July 1789. The Paris militia, formed on 13 July, adopted a blue and red cockade. Blue and red are the traditional colours of Paris, and they are used on the city's coat of arms. Cockades with various colour schemes were used during the storming of the Bastille on 14 July. [13] The blue and red cockade was presented to King Louis XVI at the Hôtel de Ville on 17 July. [3] Lafayette argued for the addition of a white stripe to "nationalise" the design. [3] On 27 July, a tricolour cockade was adopted as part of the uniform of the National Guard, the national police force that succeeded the militia. [14]

A drapeau tricolore with vertical red, white and blue stripes was approved by the Constituent Assembly on 24 October 1790. Simplified designs were used to illustrate how the revolution had broken with the past. The order was reversed to blue-white-red, the current design, by a resolution passed on 15 February 1794. Despite its official status, the tricolore was rarely used during the revolution. Instead, the red flag of the Jacobin Club, symbolizing defiance and national emergency, was flown. The tricolore was restored to prominence under Napoleon.

When the Bourbon dynasty was restored following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the tricolore—with its revolutionary connotations—was replaced by a white flag, the pre-revolutionary naval flag. However, following the July Revolution of 1830, the "citizen-king", Louis-Philippe, restored the tricolore, and it has remained France's national flag since that time.

On 25 February 1848 Lamartine, during the Revolution of 1848, said about the Tricoloured Flag :

"I spoke as a citizen earlier, Now listen to me, your Foreign Minister. If I remove the tricolor, know it, you will remove me half the external force of France! Because Europe knows the flag of his defeats and of our victories in the flag of the Republic and of the Empire. By seeing the red flag, they'll see the flag of a party! This is the flag of France, it is the flag of our victorious armies, it is the flag of our triumphs that must be addressed before Europe. France and the tricolor is the same thought, the same prestige, even terror, if necessary, for our enemies! Consider how much blood you would have to make for another flag fame! Citizens, for me, the red flag, I am not adopting it, and I'll tell you why I'm against with all the strength of my patriotism. It's that the tricolor has toured the world with the Republic and the Empire with your freedoms and your glory, and the red flag was that around the Champ-de-Mars, dragged into the people's blood". [15]

Following the overthrow of Napoleon III, voters elected a royalist majority to the National Assembly of the new Third Republic. This parliament then offered the throne to the Bourbon pretender, Henri, comte de Chambord. However, he insisted that he would accept the throne only on the condition that the tricolour be replaced by the white flag. As the tricolour had become a cherished national symbol, this demand proved impossible to accommodate. Plans to restore the monarchy were adjourned and ultimately dropped, and France has remained a republic, with the tricolour flag, ever since.

The Vichy régime, which dropped the word "republic" in favour of "the French state", maintained the use of the tricolore, but Philippe Pétain used as his personal standard a version of the flag with, in the white stripe, an axe made with a star-studded marshal's baton. This axe is called the "Francisque" in reference to the ancient Frankish throwing axe. During this same period, the Free French Forces used a tricolore with, in the white stripe, a red Cross of Lorraine.

The constitutions of 1946 and 1958 instituted the "blue, white, and red" flag as the national emblem of the Republic.

Regimental flags

Colonial flags

Most French colonies either used the regular tricolour or a regional flag without the French flag. There were some exceptions:

Other

Many provinces and territories in Canada have French-speaking communities with flags representing their communities:

Many areas in the United States have substantial French-speaking and ancestral communities:

Although part of France, the flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon does not incorporate the current national flag. The island's flag is based on the historic regional emblems of France. This flag lacks official status.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 "Drapeau Français". promo-drapeaux.fr. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  2. Smith, Whitney. "Flag of France". Encyclopædia Britannica . Chicago. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier Lafayette (marquis de), Memoirs, correspondence and manuscripts of General Lafayette, vol. 2, p. 252.
  4. Gaines, James (September 2015). "Washington & Lafayette". Smithsonian Magazine.
  5. 1 2 https://www.persee.fr/doc/r1848_1155-8806_1931_num_28_139_1209_t1_0237_0000_2
  6. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/Droit-francais/Constitution/Constitution-du-4-octobre-1958
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Die Symbole der französischen Republik" (in German). Embassy of the French Republic in Germany. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  8. "France". Flags of the World. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  9. "Le drapeau français" (in French). Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  10. "France, the tricolour banner" . Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  11. 1 2 Whitney Smith, Flags through the ages and across the world, McGraw-Hill, England, 1975 ISBN   0-07-059093-1, pp. 66–67, The Standard of Joan of Arc, after quoting her from her trial transcript he states: "it was her influence which determined that white should serve as the principal French national colour from shortly after her death in 1431 until the French Revolution almost 350 years later."
    • "...the standard of France was white, sprinkled with golden fleur de lis..." ( Ripley & Dana 1879 , p. 250).
    • On the reverse of this plate it says: "Le pavillon royal était véritablement le drapeau national au dix-huitième siecle...Vue du chateau d'arrière d'un vaisseau de guerre de haut rang portant le pavillon royal (blanc, avec les armes de France)" ( Vinkhuijzen collection 2011 ).
    • "The oriflamme and the Chape de St Martin were succeeded at the end of the 16th century, when Henry III., the last of the house of Valois, came to the throne, by the white standard powdered with fleurs-de-lis. This in turn gave place to the famous tricolour"( Chisholm 1911 , p. 460).
  12. Crowdy, Terry, French Revolutionary Infantry 1789–1802, p. 42 (2004).
  13. Clifford, Dale, "Can the Uniform Make the Citizen? Paris, 1789–1791," Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2001, p. 369.
  14. Alphonse de Lamartine, Trois mois au pouvoir, Paris, Michel Lévy, 1848.
  15. La France du Renouveau - Bourbon Royalist design.
  16. Whitney Smith. Flags through the ages and cross the world. McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1975. p. 75.
  17. Royal Air Force Museum Archived 2 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine

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References

Further reading