The Surprising Origin of the Fleur-de-Lis
No doubt you have noticed the beautiful golden Fleurs-de-Lis positioned on the four corners of the St Edward’s Crown. Many heraldic experts and historians over the ages have puzzled over the origins of this most royal of royal emblems. Most experts consider the Fleur-de-Lis to be a purely French royal symbol, and yet it appears amongst the royal paraphernalia of our ancient Saxon kings. The earliest appearance of the Fleur-de-Lis in England was featured on the crown of Aethelred I, who reigned from 866 to 871 A.D. as King of Wessex. He was the fourth son of King Egbert, whose reign in 802 A.D. started out as King of Wessex and ended 37 years later as King of the English and overlord of Wales. It is fair to assume that if the son wore the royal mark of the Fleur-de-Lis; his father would have done so before him. If this is the case then the Fleur-de-Lis has played an important part in the royal insignia of Great Britain for no less than 1,200 years. Alfred the Great, too, would have been familiar with this most special of all royal emblems, and yet none of these Anglo-Saxon kings had any involvement or connection with France.
(St. Edwards Coronation Crown)
(Fleur de Lis detail of the St. Edwards Coronation Crown)
Countless origins have been suggested – far too many to cover in this brief outline – but one point all the scholars are agreed on is that the Fleur-de-Lis is deeply intertwined with France. In the days prior to the French Revolution it was generally looked upon as the definitive emblem of the kings of France. Even today, over two hundred years later, most people when they see this most gracious lily emblem still automatically associate it with France. The French connection seems to go back a long time, as on a coin of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, Gaul (e.g. France) is depicted as a female figure holding a lily. As Hadrian commenced his rule in 117 A.D., we thus have historical confirmation, going back nearly 1,900 years, which associates the lily with France. The obvious questions are: “How did the French come by this emblem? How did they acquire it? How did it come to be associated with royalty? Why was it associated with royalty? How on earth did it transpire that, even the early Anglo-Saxon kings of England, also used this most royal of all heraldic symbols?” In fact, once you research this subject you find that most of the royal houses of Europe at some time or other used the Fleur-de-Lis. It surely is a mystery, and yet even the greatest scholars in heraldry and antiquity have not been able to solve this puzzle. Nevertheless, just because the experts do not know the answer, it by no means implies that there is no answer! So, what could the answer be?
Might it be possible that the reason the experts in heraldry have not been able to understand the origins of the Fleur–de-Lis is because they, to a man, have overlooked the only source of research material that could give them the answer?
The Fleur-de-Lis has been adopted as the ultimate emblem of royalty. Its use in the royal dynasties of Europe goes back well over a thousand years, and in the case of France it goes back nearly 2,000 years. The emblem must have come from somewhere! The answer to this mystery is to be found in the Bible, that superb history book of Israel. It is the one textbook all the heraldic researchers have overlooked, presumably thinking that the answer could not possibly be found there. Yet, when we examine the pages of this book, we discover that the emblem of this noble lily originated with King Solomon, the wisest, greatest, richest and most glorious king who ever lived. There are many references in the Bible that associate the lily with King Solomon. The lily is first mentioned in connection with the building of Solomon’s Temple. The front entrance of Solomon’s Temple was adorned with two giant bronze pillars called respectively Jachin and Boaz, one on each side. These huge pillars were approximately thirty-nine feet in height and twenty feet in circumference. Now notice how these pillars were decorated:
“The capitals which were on top of the pillars in the hall were in the shape of lilies.” ..... “The tops of the pillars were in the shape of lilies.”
(1 Kings 7:19 – editor’s emphasis)
The bronze altar for burnt offerings stood in the inner court in front of the porch of the Temple, and between the altar and the porch there was a huge bronze laver holding no less than 22,000 litres of water for ritual washing. This laver or bath rested upon twelve bronze oxen, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, arranged in four groups of three oxen, each group facing one of the four points of the compass. Let us notice how the rim of this giant ritual bath was decorated:
“It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained three thousand baths.”
(2 Chronicles 4:5 – editor’s emphasis)
In King Solomon’s own book, Song of Songs, the lily is featured no less than eight times. Chapter two starts with:
“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”
(Chapter 2:1-2 – editor’s emphasis)
Solomon here mentioned the lily in connection with the rose of Sharon, which is an emblem of Israel. In fact he sees himself as the embodiment of not only of the lily but also of the rose of Sharon.
The prophet Hosea, when speaking about the final restoration of Israel, conveys the very heart of God as he speaks the following words of comfort:
“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon.”
(Hosea 14:5 – editor’s emphasis)
Even the New Testament makes the most amazing connection between the lily and Solomon. Yeshua in his famous Sermon on the Mount mentions lilies and Solomon in the same breath:
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
(Matthew 6:28-29 – editor’s emphasis)
All together there are some fourteen references to lilies in the Bible. Thirteen of the fourteen references are referring to King Solomon, and one is a direct reference to a yet future, restored Israel. This takes us to the Law of Probability;
“When something happens only once it has no meaning. When the same thing occurs twice it may just be a coincidence, yet when exactly the same thing presents itself for the third time it has meaning.”
In this case the Scriptures of the Bible mention the lilly fourteen times. Once it is mentioned in the Book of Hosea, as quoted above, where it refers to Israel. On all other occasions it is mentioned thirteen times in connection with King Solomon, who ruled over the United Kingdom of Israel. This surely represents overwhelming evidence that the Fleur-de-Lis originates with King Solomon of Israel. This most simple of all royal emblems is also the most distinguished, as it was the personal emblem of the most distinguished king who ever lived. How like the French to abrogate it and pretend it belongs to them!