Tour de France 2019

The Heraldry of France
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Chris Green
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Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 03 Jul 2019, 15:01

The 2019 Tour de France starts on Saturday 6 July and I shall be following the race heraldically here on the IAAH Forum as I have on several occasions in the past. Join me for a feast of French municipal heraldry (and a bit of Belgian too as the race starts in Brussels).
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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 05 Jul 2019, 20:00

The TdeF often starts outside the borders of France, and this year the honour goes to Brussels/Bruxelles/Brussel/Bryssel (take your pick).

I doubt whether many spectators will be waving the flag of Brussels-Capital Region, which was clearly designed to be so bland that it could displease nether Walloons nor Flemings. The region has no arms.

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The stage will take the riders through both Vlaamse-Brabant (Flemish Brabant):

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and Brabant-Wallon (Walloon Brabant):

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(I haven't - yet - found an emblazonment of the Brabant-Wallon arms with supporters, but can't imagine that the Walloons would let the Flemings get away with something that they didn't have too.)

To be fair to the other regions that the peloton will swish through, I must not omit Oost Vlaanderen (East Flanders) which uses the ancient arms of Flanders:

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and Hainault:

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Philippa of Hainault was wife of King Edward III and came to her wedding wearing a gown with the Hainault arms:

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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 06 Jul 2019, 08:15

Stage 1 heads west out of Brussels, turning south-east through Geraardsburgen (Grammont in French). The Geraard in question was, as far as I can make out, St Gerard of Brogne (895-959), though it might have been Gerard of Clairvaux (d 1138), elder brother of the better known St Bernard of Clairvaux. The arms were originally a cross on a mountain (bergen = mountain) though they became what is known as a "Calvary Cross on three Steps/Degrees". The escutcheons are the imperial eagle and the Flanders lion.

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After travelling south-east into Hainault the route turns northwards at Courcelles, whose arms are supposed to have been originally those of the last Marquis de Chastelet, whose domains included the village.

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The Chastelet or Châtelet family originated in Lorraine and seems to have split into no less than 11 branches. The only Marquis I can find from the correct period was Louis Marie Florent de Chastelet, Marquis and later Duc, who was at one point French Ambassador to the Court of St James and subsequently executed during the French Revolution. Unfortunately for the story of Courcelles, his arms were rather different:

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Travelling northward the riders follow the route of the allied and French armies to Waterloo, whose arms are a representation of the Dutch memorial to the battle, the imposing, nay intrusive, lion on a mount.

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The monument is supposed to provide an excellent view of the battlefield (and presumably of the passing TdeF), but since the construction of the huge mound resulted in the destruction of much of the vital ridge behind which the allied army sheltered, that is something of a moot point.

The stage then makes its way back to Brussels where tomorrow (Sunday) there will be a team time-trial (and I shall try to find some heraldry connected with the the districts thought which the route passes).
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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 07 Jul 2019, 10:25

Stage 2 consists of a team time trial over just 28km/17 miles within Brussels. Like many other capitals "Brussels" can mean a large region (we saw the flag of Brussels-Capital Region a couple of days ago) or the original area before the 'burbs were sucked in. The City of Brussels, unlike the Region, does have a coat of arms: the Archangel Michael, the city's patron saint, defeating a dragon.

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St Michael bears an oval shield with a cross, but it is all gold, so apparently no herald angels were around to advise their Archangel.

The route passes through Woluwe-Saint-Lambert/Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, whose arms were those of the local Hinnisdaal family.

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The route then turns south through Oudergem/Audergem where there were once two important abbeys whose arms were incorporated in the arms of the commune, 's Hertoginnedal Abbey (dexter), Rood Klooster (sinister).

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The route then turns west through Uccle/Ukkel whose church of St Peter gave rise to the arms:

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The riders then turn north through the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos, where British soldiers played a game of cricket on the day before the Battle of Waterloo. Thereafter the route is north-eastward past the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (not to be confused with the Université Libre de Bruxelles which occupies the same site but is not so close to the race). The university has a logo that has heraldic pretensions:

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Heading towards the finish the route enters Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek (passing site of the former Tir National shooting range used by the German occupation authority as an execution site in both World Wars and where Nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a firing squad on 12 October 1915). The arms of the commune include two cherry blossoms, recalling the Morello cherry orchards that used to provide the cherries used in Kriek Lambic beer.

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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Arthur Radburn » 07 Jul 2019, 13:35

Thanks for posting these arms, Chris. There seems to be a fondness for saints as charges. The Schaarbeek arms are nice and simple and canting.
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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby JMcMillan » 07 Jul 2019, 16:28

Chris Green wrote:the Archangel Michael, the city's patron saint, defeating a dragon.


Not a dragon, I think, but the devil himself.
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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 07 Jul 2019, 17:22

Not a dragon, I think, but the devil himself.


The devil it is! :twisted:
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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 08 Jul 2019, 08:57

Monday's route takes the riders from southern Belgium into northern France, from Binche to Épernay.

Before leaving Belgium, I should not omit the arms of Wallonia, less well known and lacking the long history of the Flanders lion. Why the cock? It seems to be a popular symbol in France - cocks often seem to turn up at international rugby matches. But the connection to southern Belgium seems a bit tenuous. Neither the Dukes of Burgundy nor the Prince-Bishop of Liège had use for an heraldic cock.

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Binche's arms are a "good" example of what happens when a committee decides that a particular building should form the main charge of a coat of arms. The old arms of Binche were Argent a Lion Rampant Sable armed and langued Gules (originally the arms of the Lords of Binche). In 1857 these were abandoned in favour of arms depicting the local castle, which arms were confirmed in 1980 with a "more accurate" blazon than simply a château d'or.

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D'azur au château fort d'or, le mur d'enceinte crénelé percé de fenêtres et d'une porte à la herse levée et surmontée d'un pignon muni de quatre tours également crénelées à toit conique dont deux de part et d'autre de la porte, la troisième d'angle, le toit de la quatrième apparaissant derrière un donjon aux fenêtres de style gothique dont la cheminée est surmontée d'une cigogne. Le château fort est adextré d'un écu écatelé aux 1 et 4 d'or au lion de sable, armé et lampassé de gueules, aux 2 et 3 d'or au lion de gueules, armé et lampassé d'azur (Hainaut), et senestré d'un écu d'argent au lion de sable, armé et lampassé de gueules (Binche).


Pedalling due South, the riders pass through Reims (spelt Rheims in English). The cathedral was the traditional site for the coronation of the Kings of France, which probably explains the laurel wreath charge (less obvious than a crown). The achievement includes three war medals, a common augmentation for French cities and towns caught up in the two World Wars.

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Épernay lies a little to the South of Reims and has very simple arms:Azure three Roses Argent two and one.

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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby Chris Green » 09 Jul 2019, 11:05

The race restarts at Reims, heading initially South-East towards (but not quite reaching) Vitry-le-Francois, on 18 June 1961 site of the deadliest terrorist attack in France prior to the Paris attacks of 2015. A train was derailed by the OAS, with 28 killed. The town was built from scratch in 1545 on the orders of King Francis, hence the name. It was established to replace another Vitry (en-Perthois, or le-brulé) destroyed in 1544 by the Spanish. The salamander no doubt reflects the re-birth, though the new town was not built on the site of the old one.

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Turning East the route heads for Bar-le-Duc. Bar was a quasi-independent duchy from 1354 to 1480 owing fealty to both the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of France. From 1508 to 1737 the Duchy was combined with that of Lorraine. For a short time in the 18th century the Duke was the deposed King of Poland, Stanislaus Leszczynski. The arms consist (dexter) of the ancient canting arms of the Dukes and (sinister) of three pensées au naturel (pansies proper), the origin of which I have yet to discover.

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The problem with pansies "au naturel" is that - as every gardener knows - pansies come in all sorts of colours. This has foxed many an heraldic artist it seems, as I have discovered the arms with yellow, white and purple flowers, and there may well be more. The fish in the arms of Bar are known in France as "bars" (hence the cant), which in English would be "bass".

From Bar-le-Duc the route continues eastward, passing South of the Argonne and Saint-Mihiel, where the US army came to grips with the Germans in the Autumn/Fall of 1918.

The finishing line is at Nancy, historical capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, whose arms appear as the chief in the city's coat of arms. The thistle, as well as the motto Non Inultus Premor (I am not touched with impunity) relate to the many unsuccessful attempts by France and Burgundy to wrest control of Lorraine from its rulers. France eventually prevailed in 1766, losing parts to Germany in 1871 and regaining them after WW1. The chief consists of: 1) Kingdom of Hungary, 2) Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, 3) King of Jerusalem, 4) King of Aragon, 5) Duchy of Anjou, 6) Duchy of Guelders, 7) Duchy of Jülich, 8) Duchy of Bar; inescutcheon: Lorraine (ancient arms). All except the inescutcheon were in fact elements of the arms of King Ferdinand of Aragon, who seems to have managed to combine the rule of Lorraine with that of much of the rest of Europe.

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Re: Tour de France 2019

Postby JMcMillan » 09 Jul 2019, 17:07

Chris Green wrote:Vitry-le-Francois.... The salamander no doubt reflects the re-birth, though the new town was not built on the site of the old one.


I'd guess that it actually alludes to the town's founder. The salamander in flames was Francis I's personal device.
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