Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση


composed of red silk, without ornament of gold or silver, “de cendal roujoyant et simple, sans pourtraicture d'aucune affaire,' writes Guillaume Guyart in his Royal Lignage.

Red, which the church devoted to her martyrs, became thus in its turn the color of the Kings of France: they bore it on their coat of arms during the period of the Holy Wars; to the end of the fourteenth century they were still faithful to this glorious livery. "Du Guesclin," writes M.Rey, "carried the Red Cross in 1380 against the White Cross of the English in Poitou." But when the Oriflamme ceased to appear at the head of the French army after the defeat at Agincourt, when above all the king of England, Henry VI., became master of Paris and of the Abbey of Saint Denis, and had taken the title of King of France, and hoisted with this title the national standard, France was. obliged to abdicate a color that had become antagonistic. Red disappeared from their flags, and, by an odd interchange, it was the white, abandoned by the English, that took its place.

The pious devotion which Charles the Seventh, and his son Louis the Ninth, offered to the Blessed Virgin, was perhaps one of the causes which induced them to select this color, and which preserved it on their flags as an immaculate symbol of the protection of the Virgin, which the vows of the two kings, Charles VII. and Louis XIII. had invoked on France. White was not, however, always, even during the time of the last of the Valois and of the Bourbons, the exclusive color of France. Thus we know that, during the religious wars, Charles IX., and Henry III. gave their soldiers red scarfs and standards, whilst the King of Navarre and the Calvinistic troops hoisted the white banner. The tricolor, adopted in France during the Revolution, was merely by accident chosen by the kings, if not as a standard, at least for a livery. Francis I. Henry II., Francis II., and Henry III. having given those colors to their pages, at a period when partisan costumes were more in vogue than ostentatious dress. Under Henri Quatre, the three colors were still preserved in the uniform of the halberdiers, and the costume of the king's footmen; and it was not in this instance a capricious choice for Henri Quatre, as the tricolor thus adopted by his household, had become really the national livery of France.

Towards the end of his reign, Holland, having accomplished the crisis of its nationality, demanded from Henry the right


to assume the French colors, to which he consented, and the standard he sent as a proof of his satisfation to the Stadtholder of Amsterdam was a flag with three colors. Since then Holland has had no other.

At the period of the marriage of Louis XIV., the royal livery presented the singular appearance of a square draught board with the tricolor interwoven through it. The costume borne since this time by the king's people, and in which we always discover a red ground with white and blue lace, is but a souvenir of this tricolor livery.

Here we may note a stranger fact. At the commencement of the eighteenth century, nearly one hundred years before the Revolution, the French soldiers bore for a time the three colors; this was at the period of the triple alliance between the kings of France and Spain and the Elector of Bavaria. When the three armies were being combined, they agreed to give the soldiers a cockade in which, as an emblem of the union of the three people they reproduced the color of each. Thus the white of France, the red of Spain, found itself fatally blended with the blue, the national color, of Bavaria.

We would not, however, wish to attribute to these facts, more casual than premeditated, the origin of the standard and tricolor cockade adopted during the Revolution. In 1789, green, popularised by Camille Desmoulins at the Palais-Royal, was about to become the national emblem; but on recollecting that it was the color of the livery of the Count D'Artois, the most unpopular of the princes, they sought another cockade. It was then that they endeavored to appropriate the colors of the city of Paris; the red and blue, already celebrated in more than one popular émeute, though both were borrowed from the heraldry of the ancient kings, aud were the same that Etienne Marcel had hoisted in 1458.

The new standard of the people soon re-united white to the two former colors; this had been the choice of the national guard, still faithful to royalty and its emblems. It was, however, some months after the taking of the Bastille, that the tricolor cockade was definitely adopted. Bailly and Lafayette offered it to Louis XVI., in the grand municipal hall of the Hotel de Ville. The Convention supported this choice of colors, and consecrated it, even in the Assembly, by the following decree :

"That the national flag shall be formed of three national

colors, arranged in three equal strips, in such a manner as that the blue shall be attached to the staff, the white in the centre, and the red floating in the air."

We see that the disposition adopted at the present day in the arrangement of the colors, is the only good one, the only historical one. The motion of M. de Caussidière, tending to overturn this order after February, far from being revolutionary, was in flagrant contradiction to the revolutionists of the Convention.

Several decrees, amongst others, the law of the 30th of June, 1791, on the Republican flag, and that of the 14th of October, 1791, on the flags of the National Guard, sanctioned still and at all times, according to the arrangement before described of the three colors of this flag. But what tells more for their glorification, are the innumerable victories and the three revolutions by which they are consecrated. A patriot would not ask for them under any other title. If the archæologist, indulging his love of ancient origins, does not feel satisfied, and demands more real antiquity, for a standard of a nation old as France,, we would reply to him, that the tricolor flag was alone worthy to wave its pennons over the soil of centralised France, composed altogether of the parcellings and the ruins of ancient Gaul. Only, in effect, strange fatality! they re-unite on the ground of the banner the three colors adopted, nearly eighteen centuries back, by the three great Gallic nations: the blue of Celtic Gaul, the white of Belgic Gaul, and the red of Aquitania.

We will here subjoin some details relative to the Oriflamme and to Scarfs.

At first the Counts de Vexin, who, as head vassals to the Abbey of Saint Denis, had alone the right to take from the abbatial altar, and display at the head of the Oriflamme, the monk's banner. When Louis VI. had become Count de Vexin, he used the privilege which this title gave him over the Holy Standard, and made it the banner of the Kings of France. Every time that he appeared at the head of the armies, the Oriflamme was borne by them.

To finish all that has has been stated in our quotation from the Royaux Lignages cited above, we will repeat with André Duchesne, that the Oriflamme was 66 a vermilion banner bespangled with golden lilies," and he adds that the banner, or rather the pennon of red silk, was terminated by three pend

ants ornamented with green tassels without gold fringe, and that the shaft was of gilt wood or only whitened. However, the Oriflamme was renewed age after age, its form being each time modified.

In an ancient inventory of the treasures of Saint Denis drawn up in 1470, and which by the real fact of the description given in it, would serve to give the lie to those who pretend that this standard was taken at Agincourt in 1415, the old and abandoned Oriflamme is thus described:"A standard of sandalwood, very thick, split through the centre, enclosing a flag staff in a case of copper gilt, and having a rather long iron, pointed at the end."

When the king set out to join the army he went himself to receive on his knees the Oriflamme from the hands of the Abbé of Saint Denis, and then confided it to the care of one of his bravest barons. Sometimes, according to Galand, he carried it himself around his neck, without displaying it. On returning from the campaign, they carried back the sacred palladium to Saint Denis with the same pomp. We have read in a manuscript in the Bibliothèque Impériale, having for a title, le Jardin des Nobles, by Pierre le Gros, and bearing the No. 6853, the description of the ceremonial observed at Saint Denis on taking the Oriflamme.

These were at first a

We now come to speak of the Scarfs. chivalric device. Those of the knights who were most valiant had the colors most esteemed by their ladies. Frequently the lady herself presented a scarf as a token to her knight; it then became a gage, and, according to a chivalric rule already in use amongst the Germans, as M. Dureau de la Malle relates, they kept it till some more fortunate champion had gained a victory over them in the tourney, or even until the enterprise prescribed by the lady to her knight was accomplished.

When the Orders of Chivalry were established, the Scarf, by its form and color, served as a distinctive emblem between themselves; as it was also a characteristic badge, both of the chiefs of the army and of the party. The Scarf was for them and for their soldiers what the cockade is for us. The Crusader's scarf was white, and they wore it cross-wise, as they continued to do up to the seventeenth century; it was this oblique position of the scarf that originated the term prendre en écharpe, applied to an oblique attack.

Between the war of the Armagnacs and the Orléanists, the Scarf of the former was red, and that of the latter a simple band of white linen. Some historians, and amongst others Paradin,thought that the custom of wearing white scarfs in the royal armies commenced with Charles VII. and is derived thence. Up to the reign of Henry II., the different corps were distinguished amongst themselves by the color of their regimental surtouts; but from that time it was the Scarf only that made the difference.

Besides the National Scarf which they began to attach to their standard or flag staff, each corps had also their own particular Uniform Scarf, the colors chosen always according to the fancy of the commanding officer.

During the party wars that followed this reign, the colors of the Scarfs were even more variable. Those of the Hugenots being red; that of the Leaguers black, in consequence of the death of Guise, but it was changed to green when the assassination of Henry III. permitted them to change this symbol into a symbol of hope.

During the Fronde, Mazarine's Scarf was green, that of the Condé was a light bay. Then, in place of saying as at present, changer de cocarde, they said changer d'écharpe, a saying still perpetuated by La Fontaine, and frequently used in the pamphlets of the time of Henri Quatre. It was not until 1692, after the battle of Steinkirk, that the Scarf having become a cravat was replaced by the cockade as the national device of the French army.

As National Emblems we find in France the Cock, which has, at least, the pretension of being Gallic, and the Eagle which can be no other than Roman in its origin.

The Cock forms no part in the gallic monuments, nor even on strange monuments bearing any reference to these people, neither have the authors who have written on the usages and husbandry of Gaul even mentioned it.

It has been found only amongst the barbarians who, on ravaging Gaul, renewed its population, its customs, and by that means imposed on them one of their devices. The only barbarians amongst whom the cock has been met with as an emblem, were the Goths, and we know that they were also the only ones who indulged themselves by a hasty invasion on the Gauls, without, however, being able to establish a a long residence amongst them.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »