The origin of biot’s coat of arms
Biot’s coat of arms is a part of the town’s heritage, and its meaning is found in the history of the village. In 1308, at the height of the Middle Ages, Philippe le Bel ordered the mass arrest of the Knights Templar throughout Europe. The Templars of Biot fell under the command of the Knights Hospitaller, who later became the Knights of Malta.
The Order of Malta was lord of Biot until the French Revolution, which explains the large number of Maltese crosses around the village (embedded in a cobblestone street in front of the church, on the necks of vases…) and why the Maltese cross is prominently featured on our coat of arms. The Maltese cross represents more than four centuries of Biot’s history (1308-1789) and it is common to see emblems with only a silver Maltese cross on gules (a red background).
The original coat of arms was registered by France’s Armorial General in 1696, the date that King Louis XIV ordered all towns in France to declare a coat of arms for a fee. We know that the coat of arms was registered by the “Community of inhabitants of Biot”, contrary to other towns who never declared their coat of arms and were attributed one that had nothing to do with their history.
So where does the figure of the paschal lamb on Biot’s current coat of arms come from?
The history of Biot also tells us that the Order of Malta was not the only lord of Biot. The village was alternately controlled by the bishop of Grasse, who was co-lord of Biot beginning in 1308. The Knights of Malta would control Biot for 2 years and during the 3rd year, the bishop of Grasse had authority over the village. This pattern of leadership of our town remained in place until the French Revolution. This is why the paschal lamb, the main emblem of Grasse’s coat of arms, is also on Biot’s, but in a lesser extent. It’s a unique pictorial history of our village.
However, in his book Monographie de Biot, Joseph-Antoine Durbec explains that “the paschal lamb was sometimes placed side-by-side with the Maltese cross (an arrangement that can be seen on some weights that are kept at City Hall, for example). This was meant to show that the bishop was co-lord of Biot. But this juxtaposition was not legal”.
It should also be mentioned that an eloquent motto sometimes accompanied the coat of arms: “Faï o lesso faire”, meaning “Do or let it be done”.