The Fleur de Lis, also known as the “Lily of France,” has one of the most controversial histories of any symbol. Standard heraldic histories claim it originated in the tenth century as a symbol of sovereignty, and was later adopted as the emblem of French King Louis the VII. It is believed to take the shape of a lily or Iris, and to symbolize Mary and the Holy Trinity.
In truth, the symbol is found much further back in history- as far back as Assyrian ornamental design, where it is most likely a representation of the tree of life. It is also seen on Greek, Roman, and Celtic coinage. In France, it’s use may date back to Merovingian King Clovis, who reportedly wore an Iris flower in his helmet as he rode to victory in battle. The symbol in Christian Europe is strongly linked to Mary, as the lily was a symbol of her purity.
Some trace the symbol as an emblem of a secret family line, a symbol of the blood of Christ carried by Merovingian Kings, but the emblem is too common to be indicative of any secret.