The French Ensign and the White Colours
The article tries to clear the doubt as to what early official French naval ensigns looked like. In early 17th century, white was recognised as the official colour but various devices were superimposed. Plain white was first laid down in 1661. Also mentioned are a red fighting flag, the blue or blue and white command flags of the Van and Rear squadrons, the galley fleet flags and the flags and ensigns of merchant ships. In 1790 the first quarter was converted to a tricolour. In 1794 the tricolour proper was introduced, with a brief return to white in 1814.