Tour de France 2020

The Heraldry of France
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 03 Sep 2020, 07:27

As in past years, interesting heraldry -
Thanks!
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Chris Green
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 04 Sep 2020, 07:42

Friday's stage commences at Millau whose arms were once simply those of Aragon, Or four Pallets Gules, but now with the "bonne ville" chief (which simply means that the town received certain privileges in return for the provision of soldiers to the royal army).

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonne_ville_(France)

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Blazon: D'or aux quatre pals de gueules, au chef d'azur chargé de trois fleurs de lys du champ.


The stage finishes at Lavaur, a commune on the River Agout East of Toulouse. The Tour passed through Lavaur last year on its way to Toulouse. On that occasion I wondered why the arms include an anchor, seeing that Lavaur is situated halfway between the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean. I could only imagine that it is perhaps the highest navigable point on the River Agout. I have come up with no better answer in the past year, and nor has anyone else.

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Blazon: De gueules au château à trois tours crénelées d'argent, maçonnées de sable, soutenu d'une onde d'azur et d'argent mouvant de la pointe et chargée d'une ancre d'or, le château surmonté d'une croix de Toulouse du même, au chef d'azur chargé de trois fleurs de lys d'or.


The race passes through several small communes, one of which is Montredon-Labessonnié with a population of just 2,000. The arms feature the tedious "bonne ville" chief and also a castle. Castles and fortified gates feature all too often in French civic heraldry. So why do I mention it? Simply to point out that French blazonry has got descriptions of castles down to a fine art. No-one is left wondering how this castle should look (having said that, the castle in the Lavaur arms is not so accurately blazoned).

Blazon: D'or à la tour crénelée de quatre pièces, posée devant une muraille crénelée de six pièces, le tout d'azur maçonné de sable, ouvert du même, au chef d'azur chargé de trois fleurs de lys d'or.


So the castle consists of a crenellated tower (4 crenellations mind, not 3 or 5) placed in front of a crenellated wall (6 crenellations) the tincture is azure, the masonry sable and it has open windows and doorway also sable. Woe betide the artist who gets the crenellation wrong (but we'll let him/her off if there are three windows instead of two!).

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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 04 Sep 2020, 08:06

Reading the French explanation of the "bonne ville" system, I was gratified to find that it originated with the English King Henry III. Perhaps we English should demand that the current "bonnes villes" replace the France Modern chief with Gules a Lion Passant Guardant Or armed and langued Azure. :mrgreen:
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 05 Sep 2020, 10:56

The weekend sees a major change of focus as the race moves to the Pyrenees. Riders whose forte is grinding up mountainous roads and hurling themselves down steep slopes with treacherous bends must now show their paces.

The race starts at Cazères-sur-Garonne in the Département of Haute-Garonne. The arms of Cazères have France Modern to dexter (which may or may not have some relationship to the "bonne ville" status, I know not), impaling Gules two Young Greyhounds passant Argent.

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Blazon: Parti : au premier d'azur à trois fleurs de lys d'or, au second de gueules à deux levrons passant d'argent.


Haute-Garonne's arms twin the Cross of Languedoc with four "otelles" in saltire.

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Blazon: De gueules à la croix cléchée, vidée et pommetée de douze pièces d’or, cantonnée de quatre otelles d’argent adossées et posées en sautoir.


In 2016 Arthur Radburn came up with this explanation of the "otelle" which struck me then and still does as leaving more questions:

http://www.blason-armoiries.org/heraldique/o/otelle.htm

My own research came up with a suggestion that the "otelles" derived from the arms of the Counts of Comminges:

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Blazon: De gueules aux quatre otelles d'argent adossées et posées en sautoir.


The ancient arms of the Counts of Comminges looked somewhat similar, but the four "otelles" was merely the field argent, the charge being a cross patty.

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Et voilà, four "otelles" having nought to do with almonds at all!

The winner of this stage will be the first to the line at Loudenvielle, not to be confused with the previous commune named Loudervielle (I had to check both the map and Wiki to be sure that this wasn't simply a spelling error).

Loudenvielle's arms feature two charges that Anglo-Saxons would call crescents. If you didn't know why the French bread is called a croissant you do now.

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Blazon: D’argent au loup de sable sur un mont de sinople, surmonté d’une étoile de six rais d’or accostée de deux croissants d’azur.
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 06 Sep 2020, 10:28

Sunday's stage starts from Pau, which is a little tedious from the point of view of the heraldic Tour, since this is the third time (I went into considerable detail about the arms of Pau in 2016, and copied the whole post in 2019).

Here we go again:

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Pau's CoA must rank among the most eccentric of all French civic arms. It includes a turtle shell, a couple of oxen, and a peacock, not to mention H and IV (for Henri IV).

Blazon:'D'azur à la barrière de trois pals aux pieds fichés d'argent, sommée d'un paon rouant d'or, accompagnée en pointe et intérieurement de deux vaches affrontées et couronnées du même ; au chef aussi d'or chargé d'une écaille de tortue au naturel surmontée d'une couronne royale fermée d'azur rehaussée d'or, accompagnée à dextre de la lettre H capitale et à senestre d'un quatre en chiffres romains aussi d'azur.


Pau, was formerly capital of Béarn. From 1512 it was the capital of the Kingdom of Navarre, and it was here that the future King Henry III of Navarre was born in 1553. King Henry became King Henry IV of France in 1589. Another founder of a royal dynasty was born in Pau, though in humbler circumstances. Jean Bernadotte was born in 1763, the son of a local lawyer. He went on to be in turn a Marshal of France and (as King Karl XIV Johan) King of Sweden, founder of the present Swedish royal line.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_IV_of_France

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_XIV_John_of_Sweden

Pau is in the Département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, whose arms bring together those of four ancient regions: Q1 Basse-Navarre, Q2 Béarn, Q3 Labourd, Q4 Soule.

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Blazon: Ecartelé : au premier de gueules aux chaînes d’or posées en orle, en croix et en sautoir, chargées en cœur d’une émeraude au naturel, au deuxième d’or aux deux vaches de gueules, accornées, colletées et clarinées d’azur, passant l’une sur l’autre, au troisième parti : au I d’or au lion de gueules tenant de sa dextre un dard du même posé en barre, au II d’azur à la fleur de lys d’or, au quatrième de gueules au lion d’or.


The race winds its way through the Pyrenees, almost, but not quite crossing into Spain, before reaching the finishing line at Laruns, whose arms endearingly feature a seated bear accompanied by a cow waving its tail. Sadly none of the three emblazonments I have found really do the blazon justice.

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Blazon: D'azur à un fouteau terrassé de sinople, adextré d'un ours assis contourné de sable et sénestré d'une vache de gueules, la queue tournée au-dessus du dos, l'extrémité vers senestre, l'arbre accosté en chef de deux fleurs de lys d'or.


Un fouteau is apparently a vulgar name for un hêtre - a beech tree. A talented heraldic artist could make something really eye-catching of the tree, the bear and the cow. I am not that person.

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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 08 Sep 2020, 16:59

The Tour restarted today (Tuesday) on the Atlantic coast of France - the Île d'Oléron, which is in the Département of Charente-Maritime. The arms of the Département are:

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Blazon: Parti, en 1 d’azur à la mitre d’argent accompagnée de trois fleurs de lys d’or, et en 2 de gueules à la perdrix couronnée d’or.


A "perdrix" is of course a partridge (Perdix Perdix). De gueules à la perdrix couronnée d’or were the arms of the province of Aunis. D’azur à la mitre d’argent accompagnée de trois fleurs de lys d’or were the arms of the province of Saintonge.

The race finished on the Ile de Ré at Saint-Martin de Ré whose arms are classical- no chief with fleurs-de-lis, no castle.

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Blazon: D'azur à la croix potencée d'argent.
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 09 Sep 2020, 13:55

The race starts today (Wednesday) at Châtelaillion-Plage, South of La Rochelle and heads North-East to Poitiers of glorious memory (for us English).

The arms of Châtelaillion- Plage are very imperial for what is no more than a beach and 6,000 inhabitants. There was supposedly a castle here which was besieged by William X, Duke of Aquitaine in 1130. He seems to have done a thorough job, as no-one now seems to know precisely where the castle was sited (I suppose that in 1130 it may have been no more than a motte and bailey constructed of earth and wood).

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Blazon: D’or à l’aigle bicéphale de sable, à la bordure de gueules.


The race skirts Niort whose arms feature a tower not unlike so many other heraldic towers, which is a shame as the city has a remarkable donjon built by King Henry II of England.

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Blazon: D'azur semé de fleurs de lys d'or, à une tour d'argent sommé d'une autre tour du même, brochant sur le tout, crénelée, maçonnée et ajourée de sable, posée sur une rivière aussi d'argent mouvant de la pointe.


After an extremely flat stage the riders reach Poitiers scene of two major historical battles. The first saw the defeat of a Moorish army by Charles Martel in AD 732. The second, in 1356, saw the defeat of a French army commanded by King Jean II by the Black Prince. The king was captured and spent several years imprisoned (luxuriously) in England. The exploits of the Captal de Buch at the second Battle of Poitiers feature in my little book "Lives and Times of the Garter Knights 1348-1600"

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lives-Times-Garter-Knights-1348-1600/dp/9163736055/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501439506&sr=1-1&keywords=Lives+and+Times+of+the+Garter+Knights+1348-1600

The arms of Poitiers are defaced by the "bonne ville" chief. I have a feeling I should recognise the arms (sans chief), but I can't place them at the moment.

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Blazon: D'argent au lion de gueules, à la bordure de sable besantée de 12 pièces d'or ; au chef d'azur chargé de trois fleurs de lis d'or.
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Iain Boyd
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Iain Boyd » 09 Sep 2020, 21:30

Would the arms (sans chief) have anything to do with the arms of the Earl of Cornwall?

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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 10 Sep 2020, 06:51

Iain Boyd wrote:Would the arms (sans chief) have anything to do with the arms of the Earl of Cornwall?


Give the man the cuddly toy! I knew I had seen those arms somewhere.

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Richard Earl of Cornwall (1209-72), second son of King John, was (nominally) Count of Poitou from 1225. Poitiers was capital of Poitou. King John managed to lose virtually all the English possessions in France, so Count Richard never visited Poitiers; he gave up his claim in 1243.
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Re: Tour de France 2020

Postby Chris Green » 10 Sep 2020, 14:47

Just to the east of Poitiers is Chauvigny, start of Thursday's stage. It has simple arms that still manage to contain three mysteries.

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Blazon: D'argent à la fasce fuselée de cinq pièces de gueules, surmontée d'un lambel de six pendants de sable.


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Blazon: D'argent à la fasce fuselée de cinq fuseaux et deux demis de gueules, au lambel de six pendants d'azur.


1st mystery: two sources, one gives the label as sable, the other as azure, neither quotes an authoritative blazon and the Commune's website neither uses the arms nor mentions them. 2nd mystery: why a label of six points? I know of labels of 3, 4 and 5 points, and seem to recall someone advocating a label of 2 points. But six? 3rd mystery: which is correct, a fess consisting of 5 fusils, or a fess fusily?

The stage proceeds in a south-easterly direction ending up at Sarran-Corrèze whose arms seem on the face of it to have been cobbled together from elements of the arms of the Département of Corrèze.

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Blazon: Écartelé, au 1 et 4 de gueules à la bande d'or, au 2 et 3 d'azur au lion d'or.


The reason why I think they may simply be elements "borrowed" from the arms of the Département is best explained by those arms themselves.

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Blazon: Écartelé, en 1 d’or aux deux lions léopardés de gueules, en 2 échiqueté de gueules et d’or de six tires, en 3 coticé d’or et de gueules de dix pièces, et en 4 d’or aux trois lionceaux d’azur armés et lampassés de gueules.


The four quarters of these arms derive from those of four medieval viscountcies: Comborn, Ventadour, Turenne et Ségur.

It would be nice to think that there is a real explanation, but I have my suspicions!
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