What Does The French Flag Mean? So this right here is the Flag of France.
If there was a flag contest for the number of other flags inspired or just ripped off of it, then this thing would be in the definite first place.
Just look at all these other attempts.
Some are cool, and others just kind of look like knockoff brand versions of mountain lightning.
You can’t even tell the difference between half of these other flags.
But France, you recognize because it’s the original–and because maybe it’s been all over your Facebook feed in the last few months.
So where did it come from, and why do we instantly think of France when we see it, and we don’t instantly think of Chad when we see this or Romania when we see this.
Blue, white, and red are colors that are generally associated with republicanism or democracy.
The French flag wasn’t the first that used them and neither was the United States.
Technically, the Dutch used this similar-ish flag starting in 1572 early on into a rebellion against their Spanish overlords.
What Does The French Flag Mean?
The French flag looks like this when it’s flipped on its side.
But France isn’t one for cheap knock-offs, and there’s another reason to be had other than ripping off the Dutch.
When France exploded into revolution in 1789, the revolutionaries couldn’t be seen using the same flag as their royal oppressors.
The number one rule of rebellions, or revolutions, is to not use a flag that looks similar to your enemies.
Looking right at you, Confederate States of America.
So with that in mind, the flag of pre-revolutionary France looked like this.
The color of white that you see was very closely linked with the monarchy in France, dating back to Joan of Arc.
This teenage freedom fighter, nicknamed the maid, charged into battle against the English with a white flag and a picture
of Jesus blazoned on its side.
Because everybody loves Joan of Arc as probably, probably the most badass teenage girl of all time, the color of white began getting used a lot more in France.
French Protestants also really like white and used color to represent themselves a lot.
And then this guy, Henry IV, became the king.
He was a Protestant but converted to Catholicism and thought that white was a really good color to unite the two faiths
inside the country.
And holy hell did the French really dig white.
Look at paintings of the French army before the revolution, and you see white everywhere.
The soldiers are even wearing white uniforms.
Imagine how hard that must have been to keep clean marching around.
But nope, sorry pal, still got to wear white, even when it’s raining and muddy outside because it’s awesome.
There’s a bunch of flags that were used in France before the white takeover, like this one, and this one, and this one.
But when the Bourbon family took power in 1589, after the previous Valois family, they whitewashed the historic blue color associated with French flags and turned them into their white.
Very unfortunately for the Bourbon family, however, they were still the kings of France in 1789 when the revolution began.
The revolutionaries initially sought inspiration for their symbols from the flag of Paris, a stripe of blue and a stripe of red.
But they couldn’t just completely steal that idea and make the flag of Paris the flag of all of France, so the idea was born to place the historic white color, symbol of the monarchy, into the middle being crushed by the two sides Paris.
This symbol placed the color of monarchy into submission under the people.
But this familiar version wasn’t the first edition of the French flag, this was.
It stayed that way for four years, from 1790 until 1794 when this fashionista had the idea of switching the blue and white colors.
He painted all of this stuff, though, so maybe he was on to something.
Anyway, from 1794 on, this flag was the official flag of the French Republic, and Napoleon liked it just as much, so he kept it around after he took over.
People didn’t really like Napoleon’s marauding, though, or his spread of three-color flag designs, so everybody relevant in the world basically ganged up on him and kicked him out of France in 1814.
After they did that, they thought that the best idea possible for France, after 26 years of chaotic revolution, was to bring back these
guys, the Bourbons.
And with them came back the old white flag that we all know and love.
Except people in France didn’t like that.
And Napoleon really didn’t like that.
So he escaped from his time-out chair, riled up the French people, and became the emperor again.
The Bourbons ran away with their flag after just a few months of being kings again.
The tricolor became the national flag again, and the French were happy.
But everybody ganged up on Napoleon again, and beat him down pretty quickly, this time sending him to a really far away island
in the middle of nowhere, right here.
Thinking that they were safe from that shenanigans the word.
Bourbons came back to France again in 1815 and, once again, forced the white flag on the people of France.
This was a Bourbon restoration flag.
Yep, it’s a plain and simple white flag.
For 15 years until 1830, France was literally known around the world as that country whose flag is a plain white rectangle.
But that nonsense changed after the July revolution in 1830, when the most down-to-earth sounding guy, Louis-Philippe, the citizen king, took power and restored the tricolor.
Ever since that date in 1830, the tricolor has remained the flag of France, although it wasn’t always so certain.
In 1848, socialist revolutionaries demanded that the flag be changed to a plain red flag, but that failed when this badass Frenchman said to them, the tricolor has toured the world with a republic and the empire with your freedoms and your glory, and the red flag was that around the Champ de Mars dragged in the people’s blood.
And then, after the last Bonaparte Emperor, Napoleon III, was overthrown in 1870, a royalist majority was elected to the National
Assembly of the newly found French third republic.
The assembly offered the throne to this dude, named Henri, Comte de Chambord.
He was a pretender, with a legitimate claim to the throne, and he really could have been he wanted to.
But he absolutely insisted that he would only accept the throne if the tricolor was replaced with a Bourbon white flag again.
Considering that to be pretty ridiculous, since France had already changed lives six times in the last 80 years, and because the people clearly love the tricolor more, the assembly told him to get lost.
Since Henry was adamant about it and wouldn’t drop the issue, he never got to be king, and the tricolor has remained intact ever since.
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