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Accueil > VISITE DU PALAIS > Symboles de justice > Symbols of Royal Justice

04 juin 2008

Symbols of Royal Justice

symboles en français symboles en espagnol

The King of France, king by divine right through his coronation, meted out justice under divine inspiration. During the coronation, he was presented with the Regalia, including the "Hand of Justice". This attribute symbolized his absolute judicial power. There are numerous references to royal justice in the law courts building.


Symbols of Mythological Origin

Zeus: Divine justice. He is the God of light and thunder, consequently he upholds justice in the world. Here he is represented as an old man.

His consort is Thémis who ensures moral order and the law. A bust of the Goddess is found in the Council Chamber (the chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeal).

We also find a figure of a woman with serpents in her hair represented. Some believe this to be Medusa. In fact, as these representations are often found close to criminal courts, the figure is probably a representation of one of the Erinyes: "Megaera" , whose function is to protect the social order and to punish the guilty.



Representation of la Medusa



Symbols of Royal Power

For centuries, the Palace was the place where royal justice was carried out. Today there are still numerous symbols to remind us of this royal presence.

The royal crown is one of the most obvious symbols of royal power. It is found in particular on the entrance to the May Courtyard, and on the Pajou bas relief (entrance column).

The sword is also sometimes a symbol of royal power. Kings would give their swords names to personalize them, such as Charlemagne's "la Joyeuse" (the "joyous one") responsible for protecting the Empire and the Church. The sword associates the idea of power with that of protection of the social order.

However, the most obvious symbol of royal power is the Hand of Justice often accompanied by a scepter. These attributes were presented to the King at his coronation as an emblem of power. The Hand of Justice has three open fingers, and the King held it in his left hand. It symbolizes simultaneously the hand that strikes, caresses and blesses.



The King holding the Hand of Justice



Solar Symbols

The law is the source of light and life, and whether it radiates from the people or from the King, it is associated with the Sun. In several places in the palace, we can observe references to the Sun represented as cockerels. The clocks are decorated with motifs that evoke the sun.


The cockerel


Representation of the Kings of France

Philip IV, the Fair wanted to show the continuity of the exercise of royal justice by installing the statues of the Kings of France in the Great Hall of the Palace. This wish was fulfilled until the Great Hall was destroyed in 1617.

The memory of Louis IX, installed as the symbol of royal justice is particularly present in the Palace, especially in the Saint-Louis Gallery.

Finally, royal power was extended to include emperors with the presence of Napoleon and his emblem, the eagle.



The eagle : Napoleon's Emblem



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