French Flag

The history of the French flag is interesting to study as it illustrates how strong of a national symbol a nation’s flag really is and how that contributes to a sense of nationhood among its citizens. Hotly debated and protested against, the design of the French flag symbolizes a history of revolutions, and a search for national identity and equality among citizens.

The French flag is tricolor, with three broad vertical bands of blue, white and red. Originating at the time of the French revolution, the French flag contains a white stripe for the king while the red and blue stripes represent Paris. The blue stripe is closest to the flag pole as per the suggestion of famed painter David when the flag was first adopted in 1794.

However, the French flag was a point of contention and the tri colors were hotly contested for years to come. Many citizens objected to the white stripe for the king being represented on the heels of a revolution which had successfully eradicated the Old Regime. In fact, this opposition to the tri-color design lasted throughout the 19th century. During the revolution of 1848, many French citizens would fly red flags as a sign of revolt and non-acceptance of the tri-colored French flag.

It was not until amendments as recently as 1946 and 1958 that the tri-colored design was officially declared as the French flag, ending years of disagreement. Still, the official flag today, the tri-color design and all of the fervor that went with it is a testament to the will of the French people. Not satisfied by the power structures which afforded citizens little freedom, the French people demanded change and fought until they got it. Because of this struggle, the citizens of France were not content to build new national symbols on the very power structures which had been previously dismantled.