Sunday, September 18, 2011


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The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys (plural: fleurs-de-lis)  is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in heraldry. It is represented in Unicode at U+269C in the Miscellaneous Symbols block.

While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in a historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any of the French republics. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three leaves represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed.

In North America, the fleur-de-lis is often associated with areas first named or settled by the French. In the US, they tend to be along or near the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Some of the places that have the fleur-de-lis in their flag or seal are the cities of St. LouisLouisvilleDetroit, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge and the states of Louisiana and Missouri. In Canada, the coat of arms for the provinces of (officially monolingualQuebec and (officially bilingual) New Brunswick contain the fleur-de-lis. There are many French-speaking people in other Canadian provinces for whom the fleur-de-lis remains a symbol of their cultural identity.

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