Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Or’iflamme (3 syl.).

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Or’iflamme (3 syl.).
First used in France as a national banner in 1119. It consisted of a crimson flag mounted on a gilt staff (un glaive tout doré où est attaché une bannière vermeille). The flag was cut into three “vandykes” to represent “tongues of fire,” and between each was a silken tassel. This celebrated standard was the banner of St. Denis; but when the Counts of Vexin became possessed of the abbey the banner passed into their hands. In 1082 Philippe I. united Vexin to the crown, and the sacred Oriflamme belonged to the king. It was carried to the field after. the battle of Agincourt, in 1415. The romance writers say that “mescreans” (infidels) were blinded by merely looking on it. In the Roman de Garin the Saracens are represented as saying, “If we only set eyes on it we are all dead men” (“Se’s attendons tuit sommes mors et pris”). Froissart says it was no sooner unfurled at Rosbecq than the fog cleared off, leaving the French in light, while their enemies remained in misty darkness still. (Or, gold, referring to the staff; flamme, flame, referring to the tongues of fire.)   1



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