Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Empire Bee

Napoleon I, Napoleon Bonaparte, has become a worldwide cultural icon who symbolises military genius and political power. The golden bee became the symbol of this iconic French Emperor.

There are several theories of how this came about. One interesting theory is when he overthrew the French government and took up residence in the Royal Palace at Tuileries he refused to spend money on new decor. However, he could not allow the curtains - with their embroidered fleur-de-lis (the French Royal emblem) - to continue to hang in the windows of the palace. His solution was to have the rich and elegant velvet drapes turned upside down. The inverted symbol of the overthrown monarchy looked like a bee.

Symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France. Bees have been featured in royal coats of arms in France since the Merovingian era. They were considered as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France.

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