The French Flag is made of three vertical strips, one blue, one white, and one red, the blue one being the closer to the mast. A pretty boring flag indeed ; so common in style that you could mistake it for a dozen other flag, from the nearly-identical symbols of Luxembourg and Netherlands, to those that differ by one or two colours, such as the Italian or Irish flags. Red, white and blue are also used by many countries, such as the United Kingdom or the USA.

Yet the French Flag also has an history. It only became the definitive standard nearly an hundred years after its conception, representing the troubled history of France during the 19th century.

When the French revolted against their king, Louis XVI,they formed an armed militia, known as the National Guard, which, being formed in Paris, used the town's colours, blue and red. (Revolutions in France always happen in Paris. The rest of the country, the Province, is only told afterward who the new leader is, and how to call him.) The king, trying not to get overthrown too quickly, recognised the militia's legitimity by wearing the Parisian colours, adding his own, white, in the middle. The resulting sandwich, blue, white and red, could be interpreted as the king admitting his submission to the people of Paris.

These three colours came to be used as the National Flag during the French Revolution, and the wars that ensued. When the other European powers, tired of seeing the French armies invading a bit of Europe every other year, finally defeated Napoleon, they put in power a new king, Louis XVIII, a brother of the previously guillotined Louis XVI, who insisted on using the royal white flag. The next revolution, in 1830, put in power a king, Louis-Philippe who accepted the blue, white and red flag. From then on it would remain the official French Flag. Luckily people quickly got accustomed to it ; in 1870, two revolutions later, the Assemblée Nationale had a monarchist majority, eager to put a king in power again. But the pretender, the Count of Chambord, was old fashioned and insisted on reinstating the white flag ; that was too far even for the monarchist majority. It is possibly the only reason why monarchy was not reestablished in France. By the time Chambord had died, and a new Bourbon, who would accept the Tricolor, was the legitimate pretender, France had turned Republican (not in the US meaning, of course).

The fact that our national flag mixes the King's colours with those of Paris can go a long way in explaining the country's political system, with its jacobinist tendencies and overpowered President

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