Photographer's Note

White lily flower.

This flower has a long and sophisticated signification
in european history ( especially in France ).

The lily was claimed to have sprung from the tears shed by Eve as she left Eden (just as that unrelated flower, the lily of the valley, was said to have grown from the tears of the Virgin at the foot of the Cross).

In Europe, Lily flower has been the symbol of purity and was accordingly adopted by the christian Church to associate the Virgin Mary's sanctity with events of special significance.

When Pope Leo III in 800 crowned Charlemagne as Emperor, he is reported to have presented him with a blue banner covered (semé) with golden fleurs-de-lys.
An event which may have given birth to the legend of the Virgin's gift to Clovis, as it formed the basis of Nicolas Upton's reference, around 1428.

Clovis is the same name as Lois, Loys and Louis, and as Loys was the contemporary spelling used by the Kings of France until Louis XIII (AD 1610), ":fleur-de-lys" has been claimed as a corruption of "fleur-de-Loys".

The French kings used the fleur-de-lys as an emblem of their sovereignty throughout centuries.
On his seal of 1060 (before heraldry became formalised), the king Philip I sits on his throne holding a short staff that terminates in a fleur-de-lys. The same staff appears in the great seal of Louis VII ( 1137-1180 ), whose signet ring was charged with a single fleur-de-lys. The great seals of Philip II and Louis VIII show them seated, holding in one hand a flower and in the other a sceptre on which is mounted an heraldic fleur-de-lys within a lozenge.
But long before this, although it may perhaps be merely coincidence and unrelated to later practice, the Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) issued a coin which represented Gaule (as France then was) with a woman holding a lily in her hand.

Louis VII is believed to have been the first to use Azure semé of fleurs-de-lys ( designated as France ancient ) on his shield, but its use on a banner, and especially on the French royal standard, may have been earlier than this. The reduction to three fleurs-de-lys, today designated as "France Modern", was commanded by Charles V in 1376, reportedly in honour of the Holy Trinity.

This was copied by Henry IV of England who, following Edward III, had symbolised the English claim to France by placing the French lilies in his first quarter.

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Additional Photos by Jean Renaud Leborgne (jrleborgne) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 155 W: 55 N: 82] (1554)
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