Understanding Fleur-de-lis: History and Representation

Flowers aren’t just a thing of beauty and joy. In fact, they are being used as symbols and heraldic symbols all over the world since centuries. Here in this section, Arenaflowers brings you an interesting lowdown on French Fleur-de-lis or ‘Flower of Light.’


Fleur-de-lis, the symbol of French royalty and sign of many saints particularly St. Joseph, is a stylized and creative depiction of lotus or lily. Said to be the sign of light, life and perfection, its English translation is ‘flower of the lily.’ In France, which was once the hub of Catholic saints and religious views, the Fleur-de-lis became the symbol of representing the symbolism and emblems in politics, dynasty and artistry. In the Miscellaneous Symbols block, it holds Unicode at U+269C.

fleur de lis

According to the legends, the symbol was presented to the Merovingian king of the Franks, Clovis by an angel. The golden lily signified his purity after his conversion to the Christianity. Some folklore has it that Clovis took the symbol as his kingdom’s emblem when he was guided by the flowers of water lilies to cross a river only to succeed in battle afterwards.

However, it was only in the twelfth century when either King Louis VI or his successor, King Louis VII used the symbol of lily on his shield. After English acquired French, they started to wear it on the coats.

This fleur-de-lis is also the national symbol of the countries such as Netherlands, Finland and Lijendal. Spain’s Morcín, Lithuania’s Jurbarkas, Germany’s Wiesbaden and England’s Lincoln also bear the fleur-de-lis on the coats of arms of municipal bodies.

The Roman Catholic Church has also attributed Lily as the special emblem of the Virgin Mary. It is also the symbol of Holy Trinity because of its three petals. It is said that one can’t attain the Trinity without Mary because she was the one who bore Jesus. The symbol represents chivalry, faith and wisdom through its three petals.

However, the symbol has a dark side too as it was also used to mark slaves.