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Berry (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2004-07-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: berry | fleur-de-lys: 3 (yellow) |
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[Berry]by Pierre Gay

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History of Berry

Berry was the country of the Bituriges Curbi, whose capital city was Avaricum (now Bourges, the capital city of Berry). The inhabitants of Berry ar called Berrichons and the inhabitants of Bourges Berruyers.

In the Carolingian times, Berry was a county. Around 1100, count Eudes Herpin (or Arpin) went on Crusade and sold his duchy to King of France Philippe I. In 1200, John Lackland withdrew his claims on Berry to the benefit of king of France Philippe-Auguste. In 1234, King Louis XI purchased the last rights on Berry kept by the count of Champagne.

In 1360, Berry was granted by King Jean II le Bon to his third son Jean as his apanage, which also included Auvergne. Jean was kept as an hostage in England until 1367. Berry suffered from the Black Prince's army until 1370, and then from the duke of Berry, who was always lacking money and overburdened his states by taxation. The duke fought the English with constable Du Guesclin and his brother the duke of Anjou, and incorporated Poitou to his apanage in 1373.
When king Charles V died in 1380, his brothers shared the powers among themselves, claiming new king Charles VI was too young. Jean de Berry was appointed governor of Languedoc but dismissed in 1388. Four years later, Charles VI lost his reason, and the duke came back to the power. He negotiated with the English and promised them Guyenne (1412), causing the siege of Bourges by the royal army and the duke's capitulation. Although he was a mediocre and greedy warlord, the duke of Berry had refined tastes; he built a palace in each of his three capital cities, Bourges (Berry), Riom (Auvergne) and Poitiers (Poitou) and princely houses in other cities. Jean enjoyed art, music, hunting and good food. He also collected precious manuscripts, jewels, enamels, tapestries, birds and exotic animals. He sponsored the best artists and is mostly known for the wonderful illuminated book called Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, realized by Pol, Herman and Jan van Limburg (1413-1416) and now preserved in the Condé Museum in Chantilly.

Berry was eventually incorporated to the royal domain in 1601, under Henri IV.
The title of duke de Berry was then born by royal princes, but without any territorial power.

Charles-Ferdinand de Bourbon (1778-1820), duke of Berry, was the son of the count of Artois, later king Louis XVIII, and therefore crown prince. He was murdered on 13 February 1820 by Louvel at the exit of Opera in Paris. His wife Marie-Caroline-Ferdinande-Louise de Naples (1798-1870), duchess of Berry, attempted to organize in June-September a Bourbonic revolution in the west of France. She was arrested in Nantes and had a baby in the fortress of Blaye in 1833, this illegitimate birth eventually ruining her fame. Charles and Marie-Caroline's legitimate son was Henri, count of Chambord, who caused in 1871 the abortion of the monarchic restauration because he refused to accept the French tricolor flag.

Ivan Sache, 18 December 2002

Description of the flag of Berry

The banner of arms of Berry is:

D'azur aux trois fleurs de lys d'or, à la bordure engrêlée cousue de gueules (GASO)

In English:

Azure three fleurs de lys or within a bordure engrailed gules (Brian Timms)

These arms are the arms of France with the engrailed border as a mark of cadency.

Ivan Sache, 18 December 2002

Alternative flag used in Berry

[Berry, alternative flag]by António Martins

There is an other flag for the province of Berry, which is exactly like the flag of Mali, that is vertically divided green-yellow-red. These colours were adopted by the regionalists from Berry at the end of the XIXth century.
Green represents the meadows, yellow wheat and red the red wine. This flag is flying in the department of Indre, especially in Châteauroux, the préfecture of the department, but not in the department of Cher, which uses the banner of the arms of Berry.

Pascal Vagnat, 15 August 1998