National emblem of France

This article outlines the heraldic and non-heraldic national emblems used to represent France.

Coat of armsEdit

Coat of arms of France
Lesser version[1]
Escutcheon-only version
Adopted1905 (1953 with present collar)[3]
BlazonAzure, a Fasces surrounded by on the dexter, a wreath of laurel, and to the sinister, a wreath of Oak, over all a ribbon bearing the motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité, all Or.
CompartmentWheat, weapons, flowers and musical instruments
Order(s)Collar of the Legion of Honour
(1953 version)
Other elementsAll surrounded by wheat mantling, Cockade of France, Flag of France, flowers
The national coat of arms (left) displayed on the Church of Saint Nicholas of the Lorrainers in Rome, dedicated to France

Timeline of usageEdit

Disks in the United Nations General Assembly hall for which France submitted its heraldic device.[4] The disks were removed in 1956.[5][6]
  • 1905: The arms was introduced as a national symbol at the occasion of King Alfonso XIII's official visit to France. It was displayed on the steps of the king's residence.
  • 1925: A greater version of the arms was depicted on a painted tapestry by Gustave Louis Jaulmes, titled "Les armes de France". Commissioned by the city of Strasbourg,[7] this piece was to be installed at the Commissariat General of the Republic in the city.
  • 1928: German encyclopedias gave a color reproduction of Jaulmes' greater arms.
  • 1929: On 10 May the German embassy in France inquired what was the official coat of arms of France was. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied that "there is no, in principle, official coat of arms or emblem," but that such a composition was used for the French embassies and consulates.
  • 1935: The annual edition of Le Petit Larousse reproduced a monochrome reproduction of the arms as a symbol of the French Republic.
  • 1953: The United Nations Secretariat requested that France submit a national coat of arms that were to adorn the wall behind the podium in the General Assembly hall in New York, alongside the other member states' arms. On 3 June, an interministerial commission met at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to select this emblem. It requested Robert Louis (1902–1965), heraldic artist, to produce a version of the Jules-Clément Chaplain design. In the end, Louis chose the 1905 design.
  • 2009: Used to represent France in the Hanseatic Fountain in Veliky Novgorod, Russia.[8]

The coat of arms is still used, e.g. in relation to presidential inaugurations, including that of Emmanuel Macron in 2017.[9]

Previous versionsEdit

Period Escutcheon Greater version (with achievement) Description and blazon Dates used
Kingdom     The arms of France Ancient: Azure semé-de-lis or The historical coat of arms of France were the golden fleurs-de-lys on a blue field, used continuously for nearly six centuries (1211–1792). Although according to legend they originated at the baptism of Clovis, who supposedly replaced the three toads that adorned his shield with three lilies given by an angel, they are first documented only from the early 13th century. They were first shown as semé, that is to say without any definite number and staggered (known as France ancient), but in 1376 they were reduced to three, (known as France modern). With this decision, King Charles V intended to place the kingdom under the double invocation of the Virgin (the lily is a symbol of Mary), and the Trinity, for the number. The traditional supporters of the French royal arms are two angels, sometimes wearing a heraldic dalmatic.

The fleur-de-lis, a popular symbol during monarchical times, is still used by overseas people of French heritage, like the Acadians, Québécois or Cajuns.

Before 1305
    Arms of France Ancient dimidiated with the arms of Navarre, after king Louis X inherited Navare from his mother Joan I of Navarre in 1305. 1305–1328
    The arms of France Ancient: Azure semé-de-lis or. After the death of the last direct Capetian in 1328, the kingdom of France passed to the house of Valois through the Salic law, and Navarre passed to the house of Evreux through female line. 1328–1376
    The arms of France Modern: Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or, a simplified version of France Ancient 1376–1469
  The arms of France Modern. After the creation of the Order of Saint Michael in 1469, its collar was added to the royal arms. 1469–1515
  The arms of France Modern. King Francis I changed the open crown traditionally used by his predecessors for a closed one. 1515–1578
  The arms of France Modern. After the creation of the Order of the Holy Spirit in 1578, its collar was added to the royal arms. 1578–1589
    The royal arms of the Kingdom of France after the conclusion of the French Wars of Religion. Again the arms of the Kingdom of Navarre impaled with France Moderne, indicating the personal union of the two realms as a result of Henry IV becoming king. 1589–1792
    Alternative Royal Arms of France. 1790–1792
First Republic     Putative heraldic emblem of the First French Republic 1791–1804
First Empire     The arms of the First French Empire of Napoleon I, featuring an eagle, the Crown of Napoleon and inset with "golden bees" as in the tomb of King Childeric I. 1804–1814/1815
Kingdom (Bourbon Restoration)     After the Bourbon Restoration, the royal House of Bourbon once more assumed the French crown. 1814/1815–1830
Kingdom (July Monarchy)     During the July Monarchy, the arms of the House of Orléans were used. 1830–1831
    From 1831 onward, the arms of Louis-Philippe were used, depicting the Charter of 1830. (Stars were eventually added to the Mantling; along with addition of Supporters, a decrease of the flags to two, the addition of a helmet, the reversion to the Fleur-de-Lys Crown as one of the two Crowns, the flagpoles having spearheads and at the base were two cannons surmounted by floral branches.) 1831–1848
Second Empire     The arms of the Second French Empire of Napoleon III, again featuring an eagle, but now with the Crown of Napoleon III. 1852–1870
Third, Fourth and Fifth Republic     Between 1905 and 1953, the middle version of the present coat of arms displayed the 1881 version of the grand collar of the Legion of Honour. 1905–1953 (greater version), 1905–present (escutcheon)

Non-heraldic emblemsEdit

Diplomatic emblemEdit

It was adopted in 1913 by the French Foreign Ministry as a symbol for use by French diplomatic missions and was based on an earlier design by the sculptor Jules-Clément Chaplain.[10] The emblem also appears on the cover of French passports. It consists of: 1) A wide pelte shield with, on the one end, a lion-head and on the other an eagle-head, bearing a monogram "RF" standing for République Française (French Republic). 2) An olive branch symbolises peace. 3) An oak branch symbolises perennity or wisdom. 4) The fasces, a symbol associated with the exercise of justice (the bundle of rods and an axe were carried by Roman lictors) and the republic; note that this use of the fasces predates the adoption of this symbol by Benito Mussolini as the emblem of Italian Fascism.

Other RF and Tricolor-based emblemsEdit

Historical symbolsEdit

One has been a symbol of France since 1912, although it does not have any legal status as an official coat of arms. It appears on the cover of French passports and was adopted originally by the French Foreign Ministry as a symbol for use by diplomatic and consular missions using a design by the sculptor Jules-Clément Chaplain.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
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  3. ^ "Les symboles de la République française". Site de la présidence de la République.
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  9. ^
  10. ^

External linksEdit