Monday, 30 November 2015

Lions on the flag of Normandy


If you are in Normandy you cannot help but see many flags flying with three in particular that are most prominant - the French Tricolour,  the European 12 star circle and the flag of Normandy consisting of 2 lions ... which bears a significant resemblance to the 3 lions of the coat of arms of England.

Normandy Flag (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

In heraldry terms the lions are in fact referred to as leopards and are in a position known as passant guardant.  It is said they date back to the time of William the Conqueror and represent the regions of Normandy and Maine that he lorded over and when he conquered England in 1066 he added the third which remained the coat of arms of the UK.  However, two facts prove this story to actually be false.  One, there is no evidence of the 2 lions on flags on the Bayeux Tapestry and the second, heraldry did not exist in William's time.  This story is actually most likely to made up and the first time they are known to have appeared in Normandy is on the shield of Henry Plantagenet or Richard I in the mid or late 1100's and depending on which source you read.  I have, however not been able to find out why 2 lions were chosen.

What-ever its history, Normandy is very proud of its 2 lion flag and you will see it flying in many places including Falaise Castle, William' birthplace.  The coat of arms of various towns also include one or more lions, including a single lion for Bayeux.   

The single lion on the coat of arms of Bayeux

The two lions also appears on food products such as Camembert, one of Normandy's local cheeses.

Camembert cheese with 2 lions on the box

Once you start looking you will see the lions everywhere.  Have you seen the 2 lions of Normandy on any other food products or elsewhere?  Or do you know why they were chosen in the first place?



Lou MessugoANIMALTALES


28 comments :

  1. I'm not very good at flags or history to be honest but I had no idea there were lions on the flags of normandy (and as you can imagine I have no idea why) but I love cheese and I will now keep an eye out :) Thanks for hosting another great #AnimalTales

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  2. Love the cheese, that is something France really does do well

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that post. I love a bit of history.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Adam. I have a few more history ones in the pipeline so keep an eye out for them.

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  4. Lions/leopards used on flags are world wide, depending on whether they are standing, sitting, lying down or looking left or right has different meanings. Lions/Leopard were described as being Kings with strength and power from very early on and somewhere it is written in latin, this is why King's adopted them on their shields and flags to show their strength, from what I understand/know is that the English flag originated from the norman flag which had two lions/leopards on it on a red back ground and it was Richard the 1st who added the 3rd lion/leopard

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    1. That's excellent, Susanne and thanks for the extra information. I know absolutely nothing about heraldry except it uses odd names for colours etc. Now I know a little bit more.

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  5. Now I'm going to be looking out for two lions in the cheese section. Actually it's rather fascinating that there's no clearcut history on why the lions appeared.

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    1. Do let me know if you find any in the UK cheese aisle. I have since seen the 2 lions on one of the 3 shields Président Cheeses uses as it's logo.

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  6. fascinating bit of history - thanks! I love this sort of thing.

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    1. Me too. I gave up history in favour of geography but would really have loved to have studied both.

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  7. Hi Rosie, caught out good and proper! I do recognize the Normandy flag, but I don't recall seeing two lions on any food stuff (only eggs, but that was back in the UK, something to do with them being salmonella free if my memory serves me well - which it rarely does!). Guess what I'll be doing next time I go shopping?

    I have no idea why Lions were chosen to be put on flags, but I would hazard a guess at it being because they represent power and strength and are creatures that demand respect.

    An interesting post.

    xx

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    1. Do let me know if you find our Normandy Lions in Greece. I saw them on the back of the Président Cheese lorry I was following today.

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  8. Now I've got "3 lions on a shirt" The Lightning Seeds 1996 football anthem ear worming around my head! One of the biggest producers of (commercial) camembert is Coeur de Lion with 2 lions on the box and I recognise it instantly but I must admit I'd never noticed the Normandy flag in all my visits there. I must pay more attention next time. Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance

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    1. I was out and about today. I saw the 2 Lions Normandy flag on the roundabout at Condé, outside a brocante at Vassy and on the back of a milk lorry for Président cheese!

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  9. Love these historical tidbits! Normandy is such an incredible region, so full of diverse history and culture. I noticed the lions all over Bayeux when we visited last spring, but didn't realize it was a regional thing. Thanks for posting with #AllAboutFrance!

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    1. When I looked there were many Normandy towns using one or two lions (leopards) on their coats of arms - here's a link to Calvados, one of the departments of Normandy https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armorial_des_communes_du_Calvados

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  10. I knew about the three lions of course, but hadn't realised that about Normandy. I do love the fact that despite the history going back so far (almost 950 years now since the Conquest), there are still little memories which have persisted - even if William himself might not have recognised that flag. #allaboutfrance

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    1. Ha ha and here I am chuckling at William coming back to modern day Normandy and wondering what all these lions are doing here!

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  11. One more reason to visit Normany...the cheese and the lions!

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  12. Mont-Saint-Aignan also uses a lion on their flag blaison... Interesting!

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  13. No idea but I've loved reading this and all the comments...and on a diet so really mustn't be looking at delicious cheese! :)

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  14. Very intereting. It did look like England to me when I first glanced at it. Who knows how these things come about.

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    1. Not surprising with England and France having such a connected history.

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