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Touraine (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: touraine | fleur-de-lys (yellow) |
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[Touraine]by Pierre Gay

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History of Touraine

In his book on the colonisation of Gaul (De bello gallicum), Julius Caesar mentioned the territory of the Turones, limited by the territories of the Aulerci Cenomani (Maine), the Carnutes (region of Chartres), the Bituriges Cubi (Berry), the Pictones (Poitou) and the Andevaci (Anjou).
In the Gallo-Roman times, the capital city of the Turones was renamed Caesarodunum (Caesar's fortress). It was an important city, located on a crossroad of Roman ways to Cenabum (Orléans), Juliomagus (Angers), Autricum (Chartres), Limonum (Poitiers) and Avaricum (Bourges). Emperor Valentinian (364-375) made of Caesarodonum the capital city of the province of Third Lyonnaise, whose territory included the future provinces of Brittany, Maine, Anjou and Touraine.

At the end of the IVth century, St. Martin founded near Tours the abbey of Marmoutiers. St. Martin's grave became one of the most popular pilgrimage places in the Christian West. Therefore, when Clovis, the first Christian king of the Franks, expelled the Wisigoths from the area, he was welcomed as a liberator. During the Merovingian times, Touraine was disputed between the kingdoms of Neustria and Aquitaine.

Touraine was individualized during the Carolingian era. When Louis le Pieux, Charlemagne's son, divided Gaul into ten missatica, Tours was the capital city of the missaticum Turonicum. After the collapse of the Carolingian kingdom, Touraine became a feudal state. In 940, Thibaut le Tricheur (the Cheat) grouped into his domain the counties of Tours, Chartres and Blois and the cities of Chinon, Montaigu, Vierzon, Sancerre and Saumur. His son Eudes I succeded him and fought against his powerful neighbour, Count of Anjou Foulques Nerra, who attempted to conquer Touraine. The fight between the houses of Blois and Anjou carried on during the first half of the XIth century. Thibaut III de Blois irritated king of France Henri I (1031-1061) by refusing to take the homage to him. As a result, Henri offered Touraine to count of Anjou, Geoffrey II Martel, provided he was able to conquer it. The city of Tours capitulated in 1043 after a 18-month siege. In 1044, peace was signed by the two neighbours, but Thibaut had to cede Touraine to Geoffrey as a fief.

Touraine met the destiny of Anjou, and was incorporated into the Plantagenet Anglo-Norman kingdom. Henry II Plantegenet (1154-1189) developed Touraine by building levees along the river Loire and bridges, increasing Tours and setting up an administration. After Richard Lionheart's death (1199), king of France Philippe-Auguste (1180-1223) appointed duke of Brittany Arthur I as duke of Touraine. Arthur was captured by John Lackland, but Touraine was reconquered by Guillaume des Roches, lord of Rochecorbon, who was appointed hereditary senechal of Touraine by the king in 1204. John Lackland definitively withdrew from Touraine in 1214, by the treaty of Chinon.

In 1312, sénéchal Amaury de Craon ceded Touraine to the king and Touraine became a duchy, granted to royal princes as their apanage. In the XVth century, Touraine was the main center of the Capetian royal power. Charles VII (1422-1461), expelled from Paris by the English, was nicknamed 'the king of Bourges', but he spent most of his time in his castles in Touraine. He ordered the redaction of the coutumes de Touraine (customary), which were written in 1453-1461, predating the customary of the kingdom of France. Charles VII's son, Louis XI (1461-1483) also enjoyed Touraine. The castle of Martels (now Plessis-lez-Tours) was his prefered residence. Charles VIII (1483-1498) moved the royal residence to Amboise.

During the Renaissance, the castles of Chenonceaux, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Ussé, Amboise, Chaumont etc. were built. Touraine was the political, cultural and artistical center of the kingdom of France. At the end of the XVIth centuries, the kings moved back to Paris and the golden age of Touraine ended.

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2003

Description of the flag of Touraine

The banner of arms of Touraine is (GASO):

D'azur semé de fleurs de lys d'or à la bordure componée d'argent et de gueules

In English (Brian Timms):

Azure semy de lis or within a bordure gobonny argent and gules

These arms were the personal arms of Philippe le Hardi (1342-1404). Philippe, son of king of France Jean II le Bon (1350-1364), was granted Touraine as his apanage, and later Burgundy (1363-1404), where he founded the brilliant second ducal house of Burgundy. This explains why the arms of Touraine are used inthe first and fourth quarters of the banner of arms of Burgundy.

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2003