Tradition soon attributed the origin of the fleur-de-lis to Clovis, the founder of the Frankish monarchy, and explained that it represented the lily given to him by an angel at his baptism.
The use of the fleur-de-lis in heraldry dates from the 12th century, soon after which period it became a very common charge in France, England and Germany, where every gentleman of coat-armour desired to adorn his shield Middle Ages.
The fleur-de-lis is a common device in ancient decoration, notably in India and in Egypt,where it was the symbol of life and resurrection, the attribute of the god Horus.
Whatever be the true origin of the fleur-de-lis as a conventional decoration, it is demonstrably far older than the Frankish monarchy, and history does not record the reason of its adoption by the royal house of France, from which it passed into common use as an heraldic charge in most European countries.
The fleur-de-lis was first definitely connected with the French monarchy in an ordonnance of Louis le Jeune (c. 1147), and was first figured on a seal of Philip Augustus in 1180.
Probably there was as much foundation for this legend as for the more rationalistic explanation of William Newton (Display of Heraldry, p. 145), that the fleur-de-lis was the figure of a reed or flag in blossom, used instead of a sceptre at the proclamation of the Frankish kings.
When, in 1154, Aquitaine passed to the English crown, this counterseal disappeared, and eventually in subsequent reigns a fleur-de-lis or the shield of arms of France took its place.
An order of the Lily, with a fleur-de-lis for badge, was established in the Roman states by Pope Paul III.
South of the central court were found parts of a relief in the same material, showing a personage with a fleur-de-lis crown and collar.