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Nantes (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)


Last modified: 2004-01-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: nantes | naoned | loire-atlantique | ship | ermine (black) | cross (white) | cross (black) |
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[Flag of Nantes]by Arnaud Leroy

Source: Mairie de Nantes & Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours, by P. Rault [rau98].

See also:

Presentation of the city

Nantes is the prefecture of the department of Loire-Atlantique and regional prefecture of Region Pays de la Loire. The population of the city, including the outskirts, is ca. 500,000 inhabitants. Nantes is the administrative center of a bishopric, an académie (educational administrative division), and has a university.

Nantes (in Breton, Naoned) was founded by the Gaul tribe of Namnetes on the confluency of three rivers (Loire, Sèvre and Erdre), being therefore both a maritime and mainland city. The city was strongly disputed between the Frank kings and the Breton counts and dukes, and was eventually seized by the Normans.
In 939, Alan Barbe-Torte (litt. Alan with a crooked beard), the leader of the Breton lords sheltered in Britain, came back to Brittany and expelled the Normans from the country. He rebuilt the city of Nantes and established it as the capital of his duchy.
During the golden age of the duchy of Brittany, Nantes competed with Rennes for the title of capital city of Brittany. The Parliament was hosted in Rennes, but the ducal castle was in Nantes. The most famous duke, François II established in XVth century in the castle of Nantes a rich court, with five ministers, seventeen chamberlains, and very loose morals.

In 1499, king of France Louis XII married duchess Ann of Brittany, François II's daughter, in the castle of Nantes, thus preparing the annexation of Brittany to France (1532).
On 13 April 1598, king Henri IV prepared in the castle of Nantes the 92 articles of the Edit de Nantes (Edict of Nantes). The edict allowed theProtestants to practice freely their religion in any place where it had been previously authorized, and at least in two cities and villages in every bailiwick. Protestants were granted legal and political rights. Moreover, they were granted about a hundred of military 'safe places' inthe kingdom. On 18 October 1685, Louis XIV signed in Fontainebleau the Revocation of Edict of Nantes. All rights of the Protestants were abolished, their temples destroyed and their assemblies suppressed. Under the pressure of official repression by gendarmerie (dragonnades), 300,000 French Protestants emigrated, mostly to Switzerland and Germany.

Between the XVIth and XVIIIth centuries, Nantes became the main center of maritime trade of sugar and 'ebony wood', i.e. slaves. The port of Nantes was the most important in France, with more than 2,500 vessels and powerful dynasties of ship's managers.

In June 1793, Nantes sheltered several royalists. The National Convention sent its representative Carrier 'to cleanse' the area. In order to speed up the 'cleansing', Carrier ordered to cram the prisonners on barges and to scuttle the barges in the middle of the river Loire. The episode remained (in)famous as the noyades de (Nantes drownings). Carrier was rapidly called back by the Convention, sentenced to death and guillotinized.

In 1832, another royalist episod in Nantes ended into a prank. The duchess of Berry tried to uprise Brittany against king Louis-Philippe. The attempt failed and the duchess was given away. The soldiers called to watch a house where she was supposed to hide lighted a fire in the fireplace in order to warm themselves. The duchess and three of her fellows promptly went out of the chimney flue, where they had been hiding for more than sixteen hours.

The most important monuments of the city of Nantes are the cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul, with the funeral monument of François II (1507), the ducal castle, and the Museum of Fine-Arts. The Stadium of La Beaujoire, where Football-Club Nantes-Atlantique plays, deserves mention.

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Description of the flag

The flag of Nantes is divided by a black cross voided throughout. The canton shows a ship, from the arms of the city:

De gueules au navire d'or, aux voiles éployées d'hermine, voguant sur une mer de sinople, et au chef d'hermine (Gules, a vessel or with sails strewn with ermines, sailing on a sea vert, ermines in chief).

The other quarters of the flag are white with four ermine spots placed in a lozengy pattern.

The general design of the flag of Nantes appeared in the XVIIIth century.

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Variant used in the 1970s

[Variant of the flag]by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy

In the 1970s, a weird flag was used in Nantes: the vertical arms of the cross were wider than the horizontal ones and there was no black fimbriation around the canton.

Source: Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours, by P. Rault [rau98]

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Breton nationalist variants of the flag

Some Breton nationalists claim that the black voided cross is a symbol of the annexation of Brittany by France and would prefer a plain black cross on the flag of Nantes.

[Nationalist variant of the flag]by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy

Such a flag was seen in Landerneau in 1996, with five ermine spots placed 3 + 2 in the second, third and fourth quarters.

[Nationalist variant]by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy

An other variant of the flag of Nantes, dated 1976, shows the ermine chief of the blazon in canton but nothing in second, third and fourth quarters

[Proposal of flag]by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy

A more aesthetical flag would have a cross resarcelée, that is a black cross with a white fimbriation and another black fimbriation.

Source: Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours, by P. Rault [rau98]

This flag proposal was designed by Raphaël Vinet.

Ivan Sache, 8 March 2002