THE ROYAL NAVY OF FRANCE

NAVAL ENSIGNS & FLAGS    1600-1792
 

Notes

Prior to the eighteenth century, the French King's ships flew a wide variety of flags, including the Banner of France (blue with three gold fleurs-de-lis) and flags with blue, red and white fields strewn with gold fleurs-de-lis. By 1700, however, a plain white flag was specified as the basic ensign of the Royal French Navy. Up to 1748, the galley fleet in the Mediterranean was separate from the sailing navy, and its ensigns were predominantly red.

The royal flag, white, strewn with gold fleurs-de-lis and displaying the full royal arms, was usually flown at sea only when the King or a member of his family was present on board ship, though individual ships and officers may also have been permitted to wear it as a special mark of royal favor. The plain white ensign also served as the admirals' rank flag. Full admirals displayed it at the mainmast, vice-admirals at the foremast and rear-admirals at the mizzenmast. There was also a white broad pennant for commodores. For large fleets divided into squadrons, the admirals of the van displayed a flag horizontally divided, white over blue, admirals of the center squadron displayed the white flag, and admirals of the rear squadron had plain blue flags.

In 1790, a canton of the colors of the Revolution was added to the white ensign and broad pennant. This canton, with equal horizontal stripes of red, white and blue, and a blue-red border, was the first version of the famous French Tricolor. A jack of the same design as this canton was also adopted. Though the monarchy was abolished in 1792, this ensign, jack and pennant remained in use until 1794, when the definitive blue-white-red Tricolor was made the national flag, ensign and jack of the French Republic.

The Bourbon Restoration of 1814-15 led to the abolition of the Tricolor and the reintroduction of white flags. The naval ensign was the white flag strewn with gold fleurs-de-lis, and the royal flag was also used at sea when the King or a member of his family was present. White flags were again abolished in favor of the Tricolor after the Revolution of 1830.
 

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SIXTEENTH-SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES
 

THE BANNER OF FRANCE
 

 


 

 


 

VARIANT ROYAL FLAGS & ENSIGNS


EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
 

WAR ENSIGN & ADMIRAL'S RANK FLAG 

KING'S WAR ENSIGN

 

ADMIRAL    VAN SQUADRON

 

ADMIRAL    REAR SQUADRON


COMMODORE'S BROAD PENNANT
 

STANDARD    ROYAL GALLEY OF FRANCE

ENSIGN OF THE GALLEY FLEET


FRENCH REVOLUTION, 1790-92
 

WAR ENSIGN 

NAVAL JACK


COMMODORE'S BROAD PENNANT

 

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