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Reunion was discovered in 1513 and taken for Portugal by Pedro de Mascarhenas (*1470-†1555) who named the island after himself. In June-July 1638 the island was captured by captain Flaccourt from Dieppe with the ship Saint Alexis. It was renamed Ile de Bourbon in 1649.

In 1664 the Ile de Bourbon was handed over to the Compagnie des Indes Orientales also called the Compagnie françoise pour le commerce des Indes orientales founded by Louis XIV in that year. The arms of this company was a golden fleur de lis on a blue field, the shield surrounded by a crown of palm leaves. Its motto was FLOREBO QUOCUMQUE FERAR (I flower wherever I am brought).

In 1715 the neighbouring island of Mauritius was captured from the Dutch by the French and in 1719 both islands came into the possession of the Compagnie Perpétuelle des Indes of John Law. The arms of that company was the same as the arms of the Compagnie d’Occident founded in 1717 and merged into the Compagnie Perpétuelle  in 1719. Section 54 of the privilege of Louis XIV approving the foundation of the Compagnie d’Occident reads :


Pourra la dite compagnie prendre pour ses armes un écusson de sinople à la pointe ondée d'argent sur laquelle sera couché un fleuve au naturel, appuyé sur une corne d'abondance d'or; ayant deux sauvages pour supports et une couronne trefflée; lesquelles armes nous lui accordons pour s'en servir dans les sceaux et cachets et que nous lui permettons de faire mettre et apposer à des édifices, vaisseaux, canons et partout ailleurs où elle jugera à propos.


In 1764 the company bankrupted and its properties were transferred to the king. Until 1789 the island was administered by a Governor General seated in Mauritius. In 1790 a Colonial Assembly was founded and in the next years the authority of the Governor General was diminished bit by bit. In that era the name of the island was changed into Réunion. In 1803 things were set right and the island came under the authority of a newly appointed Captain General. In 1806 the name of the island was changed into Ile Bonaparte. In 1810 however, the island was captured by the British who delegated its administration to the British East India Company. On 16 April 1816 the island, contrary to Mauritius, was rendered to France. At this occasion the island was renamed Ile de Bourbon. In 1848 it received the name Réunion which it has held until present.

On 29 March 1946 the colony was made a Département dOutremer and in 1992 a European Region.






On the island several arms have been used. Until 1810 these were the same as those used on the neighbouring island of Mauritius (Ile de France). The very first arms were those of the Compagnie de Indes Orientales. These were succeded by the arms of the Compagnie Perpétuelle and these in its turn by the arms of Louis XIV. The succeeding emblems are on the seals also used on the Ile de France (Mauritius). These are documented until 1810. Afterwards the island was under the crown and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Republic.

On 7 January 1925 a coat of arms for Réunion was adopted which was different from the emblems used by the several French administrations.

It is :

Arms: Quarterly : The first of mountainridge rising from the ocean, with and erupting volcano and a mountaintop surrounded by clouds, all proper, and the letters MMM Or in chief for Mascarenhas. The second per pale Azure and Gules, a 17th century three masted ship representing the St. Alexis, sailing on a sea proper for Flaccourt. The third Azure, three fleurs de lis Or for France. The fourth Purpure, strewn with bees Or for [Ile de] Bonaparte. And an escutcheon per pale Azure, Argent and Gules the cypher RF Or for the Republique Française.

Motto: FLOREBO QUOCUMQUE FERAR (I flower wherever I am brought) in black lettering on a golden ribbon.

Garland: Flowering plants of vanilla (Vanilla planifolia – Orchidaceæ).   


For the Région Réunion a logo is known consisting of strokes of blue paint representing the Piton des Neiges (3069 m.), the highest mountain of the island, and a sun. Below is the name REGION REUNION and the motto VALORISONS NOS ATOUTS (Let’s play our Trumps).


St. Denis Réunion


From the beginning of the fifties of the 20th century a coat of arms is known for the city the St. Denis, the capital of Réunion. It is on coins struck from 1955-’73 and on stamps issued 1964.

It is:


Arms: Per pale, the first Azure the sailing vessel Sat. Alexis on waves of the sea Argent; the second Or, two palm trees Vert. And a chief Vert, the mountainridge of Réunion Argent and Vert with the Piton des Neiges volcano erupting Gules.

Crown: A mural crown of five merlons.

Garland: Palm leaves Argent

Supporter: An Anchor per pale Argent

Motto: PRAETER OMNES ANGULUS RIDET (It smiles to me more than anything else) on a golden ribbon with a red back.


The motto from Horace: Carminum Lib. 2 vs. 13-14:  Ille terrarum mihi praeter omnes angulus ridet (This corner of the earth smiles for me more than any other).






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© Hubert de Vries 2013-04-12