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The Standard of France

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The Standard of FranceThe Standard of France

The legend of the French Standard, which was the major banner of the Kings of France, is that it be given by Saint Peter himself to Charlemagne in Rome. A banner, in the Middle Ages, is a standard which is used during fight for tactical and recognition purposes. When given in Rome, the French Standard was reportedly blue, with three points, imprinted with six red roses as it would have been called 'Romaine'. The French chanson de geste, 'The Song of Roland,' tells that the standard's name turned into 'Montjoie' after the battle of Roncevaux -- 'Montjoie' being the war cry of the Carolingians. It was thence conserved in the abbey of Saint-Denis, close to Paris as it became the war banner of the count of Vexin, offically the advocate for the abbey. How the Standard had been entrusted to Charlemagne was figured on a mosaic of the Lateran Palace's triclinium, which has been ordered by pope Leo III. St Peter was seen entrusting the pope with the pallium and Charles with the banner. The Standard replaced the Merovingian banner, which was that, blue, of St Martin as the latter turned back solely the lordly banner of the abbey of St. Martin of Tours. It was in 1124 A.D., under King Louis VI of France that the banner became to be used like the French Standard, with the war cry 'Montjoie Saint Denis!', and named the 'oriflambe' as it was made of red silk. Kings of France also used another famed banner, the one with the lilies, as that one however was the king's personal and tactical one, hinting to where the king was during a battle as the French Standard is superior. The French Standard, or oriflamme, was the symbol of the royal legitimacy and the fundamental sign that one was recommending the kingdom of Farnce to God in cas it was threatened, or for a crusade. According to another tradition, it was King Dagobert, a Merovingian, who had favoured the abbey of St-Denis, who would have the Standard manufactured as Pippin the Short and Charles would have raised it against the Saracenes. The French Standard in that case would not have been Charles' anymore but the one of St-Denis and raised by Charles. The French Standard, further, would represent a flame flaming at the head of Charlemagne's spear inside the dream of Constantine the Great or Manuel Comnene, a Byzantine emperor. The French Standard in any case is the standard of the abbey of St-Denis and the one of Charlemagne! That double legitimicay was higly prized under the Capetian kings. When they lost the Standard in the mud, under King Philippe the Fair, at the battle of Mons-en-Pévèle, in 1304 A.D., they had to designate like the new oriflamme another, ancient banner which was kept in the abbey. When it was first raised by 1316, one called a bishop to bless it and, since that, one mostly used a mere copy during battles. The prestige of the Standard eventually will get lost during the events which marked the history of France during the first half of the 15th century

The abbey of St-Denis, North of Paris and where the remains of St Denis, first bishop of Paris and martyr, were kept, had been a abbey immediate to the pope and king as soon as by 650 A.D. The importance of St-Denis already existed under the Merovingians as the abbey hold many lands in the Frankish kingdom. That abbey had a pecular relationship with the Carolingians as it is there that, by 754 A.D. Pippin the Short and his sons had been coronated and anointed. The abbey of St-Denis, during the Middle Ages, developed a whole series of Carolingian legends and tales as it eventually served like a linking trait between the Frankish era and the one of the kingdom of France. The monks exalted the link which would have existed between their abbey and Charlemagne. Charles, for example, was paying a census of 4 gold coins each year to the abbey, he had recognized the abbot of St-Denis like the primate over all the abbeys of France, or he would have laid his imperial diadem, when returning from the Holy Land and thus recognized St Denis like the sovereign of the Frankish kingdom. Charlemagne too was recognizing that he held his kingdom self from God and St Denis or that the abbey of St-Denis always had to be heard to name a new Frankish king. The abbey further became the place where most important regalia were kept, like 'Joyeuse', the sword of Charlemagne, which was later used like the sword for the anointment of Capetian kings in Reims. Since the 8th century A.D. on the other hand, the abbey was warding too the crowns of France and when Reims became the city where the Capetians used to be anointed, they invented the amazing custom that the abbot of St-Denis, for each ceremony, had to go to Reims and bring the crowns as he was taking those back one the ceremony over! That was well marking the continuity held by St-Denis. St-Denis at last was too a famed royal burial site, meeting its apogee under the Capetians. The St-Denis abbey at last was the place were the 'chape' of St Martin was kept. The 'chape' was the Roman legionar's mantle which St Martin, one of the major contributor to the evangelization of the Gauls, had cut in two and given a part to a poor in Amiens

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 12/28/2010. contact us at
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