The Fleur de lis is symbolic for many reasons. Most often translated as flower of the lily, this historic symbol has been associated with European royalty, in particular the French monarchies. Throughout history, the fleur de lis has become almost ubiquitous in its use as a symbol representing royalty, religion and military significance. It is no wonder that fleur de lis bookends and other elements of interior design have made use of this historic emblem.
Though there is a great deal of historic disagreement, the fleur de lis is believed to have originated during medieval times. Representations of the symbol have been throughout Europe. Relics from as far east as Mesopotamia, what is now modern day Iraq, featured some derivation of the fleur de lis. From Celtic coins to Asian clothing, the symbol has developed a worldwide significance. The symbol can be found in relics of several Middle Eastern works of art. Fleur de lis bookends are very collectible.
Heraldic and royal significance aside, the fleur de lis developed various other meanings. The Christian religions saw the symbol as representative of several things. Not the least of these was as a symbol of the cross and crucifixion. Another significant Christian interpretation involved the Holy Trinity. The prominent petals of the flower were said to be representative of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Chivalry, faith and wisdom were some of the more secular characteristics associated with this historic symbol.
The reinvention of medieval symbols by the growing Christian religions was not limited to the fleur de lis. The well known Celtic cross or Cross of Iona predates Christianity by hundreds of years, yet Christians immediately appropriated the symbol as their own. As with the fleur de lis, the Celtic cross was seen as symbol of the Latin cross or Crux immisa. The Holy Trinity and symbols of the crucifixion play an important role in what was to become the Roman Catholic Church.
Gothic symbols included the quatrefoil, a symmetrical four sided figure. The four sides of the quatrefoil were thought to have several meanings tied to the Matthew, Mark Luke and John other known as the four evangelists. The fleur de lis is yet another example of three and four sided figures appropriated by the Catholic Church. The flower of the lily has been interpreted to stand for female virtues such as purity and chastity. These same virtues have always been closely associated with the Virgin Mary, another very important icon of the Catholic faith.
King Louis VII was thought to be the first French monarch to adopt the fleur de lis, though this remains a matter of great debate among some historians. Though the symbol was never officially adopted by France, it has endured as being closely associated with the French. English kings, most notably King Edward, adopted the symbol in the thirteen hundreds. Scottish King James I included the fleur de lis in his coat of arms. Early Spanish and Italian royalty made of the symbol as well including the Spanish House of Bourbon.
Modern use of the symbol includes use in many logos, artwork and as a military designation. Many state flags in the United States feature some form of the fleur de lis. The provincial flag of Quebec, Canada, the Fleurdelise, makes prominent use of the symbol. Fleur de lis Bookends are also very popular.
There is a great variety of bookends that feature the fleur de li.The enormously historic significance of the simple has been replaced by an admiration for its simplicity of design. Fleur de lis bookends can be found in a wide variety of materials, from stone, marble and clay. Bronze, pewter and similar metals are widely used to create bookends that, though unknown to many people, have a deep and rich history.