There are few French symbols more recognizable than the fleur-de-lis. Since the time of antiquity the “lily flower” has represented the authority of the Crown and Royal Family of France. Legend in France states that the fleur-de-lis represents a Lily given to Clovis, King of the Franks, at his baptism by the spirit of the Virgin Mary. 300 years later the fleur-de-lis was prominent on the banner of the king when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. While other c countries (notably Albania and Italy), the symbol became strongly associated at that time with both the hereditary rulers of France and the predominance of the Catholic Church in the French court and aristocracy. Due to the commonplace acceptance of the Divine Right of Kings, the fleur-de-lis thus was a powerful reminder of the sovereignty of the French Royal Family.
While color and style of the fleur-de-lis could vary, the traditional coloration was gold lilies on a blue background. Indeed, Charlemagne’s banner was said to have been in this style. Many French monarchs since
have used the fleur-de-lis in heraldic artistry, on shields, banners, and the like. It was depicted on the official coat of arms of France for centuries until the Advent of the French Revolution relegated it to history. Despite it falling out of use in its heraldic function, surviving examples do exist in stone and iron on buildings constructed over the centuries. As such, even to Modern people around the world the fleur-de-lis remains a symbol strongly associated with French history and culture.
The French Royal Shield bears three fleur-de-lis in a style first commissioned in 1376 by Charles V, now known as the France Modern. This representation was purportedly inspired by the Holy Trinity, and makes its appearance to this day in art and culture across France. This design was chosen due to its prominence on the French national flag for many years, and the gold-on-blue color was chosen in honor of Charlemagne and the many kings who came after. When paired with any sword from the High Middle Ages and onward, this shield makes a striking statement at the heart of a collection.