Fleurs-de-Lys

In the reign of Louis VII. (1137-1180) the national standard was thickly charged with flowers. In 1365 the number was reduced by Charles VI. to three (the mystical church number). Guillim, in his Display of Heraldrie, 1611, says the device is “Three toads erect, saltant;” in allusion to which Nostradamus, in the sixteenth century, calls Frenchmen crapauds (toads). Recently it has been thought that the device is really a “bee flying,” because certain ornaments resembling bees were found in the tomb of Childeric, father of Clovis, when it was opened in 1653. These bees are now generally believed to be the fleurons of horse-trappings, and quite independent of the emblem.

The fleur-de-lys
or lily-flower was chosen by Flavio Gioja to mark the north point of the compass, out of compliment to the King of Naples, who was of French descent (1302).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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