Fleur de lis

The Fleur de lis has an unmistakable connection to France in most modern minds. For this reason it may come a surprise to find that similar symbols have appeared in many cultures and may have even date back to Mesopotamian itself. Though it is equally probable that the often-sited Mesopotamia and Egyptian connections are actually stylized lotuses and not actually related to French Fleur de lis.

Throughout history, this symbol has been connected to both kings and rebels, but in almost every case the Fleur de lis retains a strong link to France or its ruling families. It is said that Louis VII originally adopted Fleur de lis seen on early French banners (c1179) after having a dream about irises prior to the crusades; Charles V officially adopted the Fleur de lis as a symbol of France in the 1300s. This symbol was later added to the coat of arms of English kings, starting with the Plantagenets, to assert their claim to the French throne, during the 100 years war.

There is some disagreement as to what the symbol was supposed to represent, though most historians dismiss non floral theories outright. Often mistranslated as "Lily Flowers", a more plausible translation would be Flowers of Liesch, a shortened name for Lieschblume the German word for Sweet Flag, a golden Iris found in marshland, often spelled Lies and Leys during the early Middle Ages when this symbol was first adopted and identified by that name. So a direct translation would have been more accurate as "Flowers of the Sweet Flag". This theory is further supported by the fact that the original Fleur de lis were pictured as gold on a blue field.

The Fleur de lis is also thought to represent purity, the trinity, and as an iris, the Virgin Mary.
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