Monday, July 14, 2014


Dennis had a collection of state and national flags. During the first Gulf War we flew three flags daily— the flags of the US, the UN and the ally of the day. Whenever we had house guests, we made a point of getting a flag from the state or country of the guests and fly it during their visit.

Dennis designed a Spizzwink(?) standard when we hosted a party back in 1989. It was a red ‘S’ with a superimposed ‘?’. (You may have wondered why I generally include a parenthetical question mark after the name Spizzwink(?) That’s because the name is so weird that most people question its accuracy.)

Dennis also designed a new French flag. It’s really splendid both from a design standpoint and an historical basis. Today’s French tricolore had its origin in the first French Revolution. Napoleon continued to use it with a superimposed ‘N’ and laurel wreath, or with Napoleonic bees, or various regimental insignia. The white Bourbon ensign with fleur-de-lis returned at the Restoration. Then the tricolore came back with the Second Republic and remained with the Second Empire. After 1870 and the fall of Napoleon III, there was a chance that France would become a monarchy again. The pretender, le Comte de Chambord, refused however to retain the tricolore and insisted on restoration of the Bourbon ensign with its fleur-de-lis. As a result, France then became a Republic again. Le Comte de Chambord would have been wiser to have followed the example of his ancestor Henry IV.
My nephew Sheridan was married in Nantes on July 6th, 2007. The Edict of Nantes was issued by Henry IV of France, who was willing to become Catholic in order to become King. “Paris is worth a Mass” was his famous alleged remark. The Edict granted religious toleration to Protestants (until revoked by Louis XIV.) Similarly, le Comte de Chambord could have said: “Paris is worth a flag,” but he didn’t. On the other hand, Dennis’ design would have been a suitable compromise.

Dennis was fond of saying that the French tricolore is a strong image, but reflects barely two hundred years of French history. Yet within its colors lies the entire spectrum of French history for a millennium and a half. The Red is symbolic of Charlemagne and the Capetian dynasty, the Blue of Valois, and the White of the Bourbon. As Napoleon had superimposed his ‘N’, so le Comte de Chambord could have accepted the tricolore with three superimposed fleur-de-lis in a chevron pattern as Dennis designed it – to make a French Unity flag.

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Titian in the Frari (Venezia)