Nov 2, 2006

Rapid Rhetoric: ORIFLAMME

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

oriflamme \OR-ih-flahm\ n. a red or orange-red royal banner, or a generic term to describe a battle standard.

The oriflamme was the sacred banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, a monastery near Paris. The oriflamme later became the royal standard of the King of France, and it was borne on a lance by the king's forces whenever they met another army in combat.

Oriflamme of St. DenisOriflamme of St. Denis

At the battles of Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415) the oriflamme was captured by English soldiers. After the Hundred Years' War the oriflamme was no longer carried onto the battlefield.

The oriflamme was later replaced with the blue Chape ("cape") de St. Martin containing the golden fleurs-de-lis so recognizable as a symbol of France.

Oriflamme is derived from the Latin words aurea flamma, meaning "flame of gold."

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