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15 Sep, 9 tweets

The Oriflamme was the sacred banner of the King of France, carried into battle by a chosen champion. So long as it was raised, the French warriors were to take no prisoners.


The legends tell different accounts of its origins. It is mentioned in the Song of Roland, carried by Geoffry d’Anjou as Charlemagne’s forces marched to avenge the slaughter of the rear guard and Count Roland.

Some say that the color the oriflamme came from banner being dipped in the blood of St. Denis. In some the emphasis is on the lance itself, rather than the banner.

It was the highest honor to be chosen to carry the oriflamme into battle. It was said that the keeper must be “the most worthy and the most adept warrior”--a knight “noble in intention and deed, unwavering, virtuous, loyal, adept, and chivalrous, one who fears and loves God.”

The bearer had to swear this oath:

Perhaps most famously, Geoffroi de Charny, ferocious knight and author of one of the great manuals on chivalry, was twice chosen as bearer, and he died with the banner at Poitiers in 1356.

Froissart describes Charny’s last moments with the Oriflamme:

The English captured the Oriflamme after Charny fell at Poitiers. They also captured it at Agincourt in 1415, which was the last time the banner was carried into battle.

Like so many other things, the Oriflamme was destroyed in the Revolution.

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