The first revolutionary flag of Valois, also known as the Merde-de-Poulet Flamme.

When the Royal Sénat purged itself of royalists and declared itself the Revolutionary Assembly, one of the first orders of business was to design a standard that could be distinguished from that of royalists who had risen in the Touraine and were also fighting with the Teutons in their campaign to return the monarchy to power.

Assemblyman Rémy Hauet, an enthusiastic amateur vexillologist who had been denied entry to the Academy of Arms since commoners were not permitted to be heralds, chaired the Flag Committee. Much to his disappointment, the committee voted almost immediately to retain the existing flag with changed colors. White replaced royal yellow for the sun, supposedly standing for a desire for universal peace, while blue replaced the green stripes. The latter was Hauet’s doing, having argued passionately that the “color of liberty” should be reflected in the new standard. Since many of the revolutionaries had worn blue ribbons, which had been produced in quantity but never delivered for an anticipated state visit from the Prince-Regent of Albion, this seemed to make sense, and the Flag Committee’s recommendations were enthusiastically taken up by the Revolutionary Assembly.

Second revolutionary flag of Valois, also known as Les Barres-Bleues.

One benefit of the decision was that the existing flagmakers could reuse their old patterns, and record show that the new flags were delivered to military units on the frontier less than two months later. However, it quickly became apparent that the new flag, nicknamed the Merde-de-poulet Flamme–roughly, the Chickenshit Flame from its white color–was too close to the old Oriflamme to be easily distinguished at a distance or through battlefield smoke. After a friendly fire incident in Artois, where two Revolutionary Guard units fired on each other while a battalion of Royalists and their Teuton allies slipped by, Hauet and the Flag Committee were recalled to service and told to modify the design.

Once again, Hauet was frustrated by the committee’s conservatism, as he had prepared dozens of unique drafts that can still be seen today in the Museé Vexillologie. Obsessed with creating a new flag as cheaply as possible, they instead voted to increase the width of Hauet’s liberty-blue stripes to the edges of the flag, leaving a much-diminished red field and the white Merde-de-poulet Flamme. “A chicken is a noble animal, the animal of the people, and we should be grateful to be associated with it,” one assemblyman said when confronted with the derogatory nickname.

This period coincided with the Constitutional Convention and the First Valoise Republic, and as a result the revised flag, which came to be known as Les Barres-Bleues or the Blue Bars, can be seen in many contemporary paintings. Given the instability of the period, and the number of presidents and prime ministers that came and went in short order, the official edict that each inauguration had to be painted left a dazzling array of examples of the flag.

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