French Navy Flags

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Prior to the 18th century the French Marine Royale used a wide variety of flags, including the Banner of France (blue with three gold fleurs-de-lis) and flags with blue, red and white fields strewn with gold fleurs-de-lis.

By 1700, all these flags had been replaced by the new standardized French white flag. Up to 1748, the Galley Fleet in the Mediterranean was separate from the sailing navy, and its ensigns were predominantly red.

War Ensign and Admiral Flag from 1700 - Copyright Kronoskaf

Naval Ensigns and Flags 1600 - 1790

The plain white ensign was also used by admirals. Full admirals hoisted this ensign at the mainmast, vice-admirals at the foremast, and rear-admirals at the mizzenmast.

King War Ensign 1700 – 1790

The King War Ensign had a white field strewn with gold fleurs-de-lis, its centre device consisted of the full royal arms. Its presence usually denoted that the king or a member of his family was present on board the ship. In some circumstances, this flag could be hoisted by a naval officer to denote a special mark of royal favour.

King War Ensign from 1700 - Copyright Kronoskaf

Admiral Ensigns

Large fleets were usually divided into squadrons: van, centre, rear. The admirals commanding these squadrons then hoisted specific ensigns.

Admiral of the Van

The Admiral of the Van hoisted a horizontally divided ensign: white over blue.

Ensign of the Admiral of the Van - Copyright Kronoskaf

Admiral of the Centre

The Admiral of the Centre hoisted the white War Ensign.

War Ensign and Admiral Flag from 1700 - Copyright Kronoskaf

Admiral of the Rear

The Admiral of the Rear hoisted a plain blue ensign.

Ensign of the Admiral of the Rear - Copyright Kronoskaf

Commodore Pennants

Commodores hoisted a white broad pennant.

Commodore Pennant - Copyright Kronoskaf


The Royal Navy of France


An anonymous author for the initial version of this