LOTUS

At the heart of symbolism

The French flag

(Summary)

French flag

The tricolour flag

The French flag was created in 1790, but with the colours in reverse order of what they look today. It was adopted in its present form by the decree of 27 Pluviôse year II of the Republican calendar (15th February 1794). The tricolour has been used ever since, apart from the Bourbon restoration period (1815-1830) where the monarchical white flag was in use. The constitutions of the IVth (1946) and Vth (1958) French Republics made official the tricolor flag as the national emblem of the Republican Land.

The three colours are identical to the colours of the American Revolution and the flag of the United States of America. Blue and red would have found their origin in the colours of Paris and surrounded white associated with monarchy.

However, blue and red also correspond to extreme colours of the visible light spectrum, which are unified within the middle white colour. This unified aspect makes us inclined to see in the colours of the French flag, the three main functions of the Ancient Regime society (clergy or white, nobility or red and producers or blue). The end of the 18th century signalled the end of the old political and economical order with the advent of the “bourgeoisie”. Blue, as the symbol of the producer class, comes first within the colour enumeration and red, representing the royal power, comes last. Both extreme colours are situated on each side of white referring to a superior order. Keeping the balance between oppositions was always the key issue in French History, where conservative and revolutionary periods alternate regularly.

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