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Bellac (Municipality, Haute-Vienne, France)

Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-vienne | bellac | castle (yellow) | fleurs-de-lis: 3 (yellow) |
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[Flag of Bellac]

Flag of Bellac - Photo by Ivan Sache, 15 May 2010

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Presentation of Bellac

The municipality of Bellac (4,401 inhabitants in 2007; 2,442 ha) is located in Upper Limousin, 50 km north of Limoges.

Bellac developed in the 10th century around a fortress built by Boso the Old, the first Count of Marche, on a rocky spur dominating river Vincou. The fortress controlled the trading roads between the Atlantic Ocean, Limousin, Poitou and Berry. The town was granted a chart in the 12th century by Count Adelbert III, which boosted its economic development; Bellac was renowned as early as in the 13th century for its taneries.
The church of Bellac keeps a reliquary dated c. 1130, maybe made for the chapel of the Counts of Marche in the castle of Bellac, and considered as the oldest known piece from the famous Limoges enamel workshop.

Bellac is the birth town of the diplomat and writer Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944), one of the most famous French playwrights of the interbellum. Giraudoux explicitely portrayed Bellac ("the most beautiful town in the world") in his novel Suzanne et le Pacifique (1921) and in his play L'Apollon de Bellac (written in 1942 for Louis Jouvet).

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2010

Flag of Bellac

The flag of Bellac, hoisted in front of the town visitors' center, is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The arms of Bellac are, as registered in the Armorial Général:
D'argent à un château de sable couvert d'un toit en dos d'âne flanqué de deux tours et donjonné d'une autre tour pavillonnées et girouettées de même, le tout sur une rivière d'azur, à un chef chargé de trois fleurs de lis d'or mal ordonnées.
Translating the blazon as "Argent a castle double towered covered with banners and weather vanes sable a champagne wavy azure a chief azure three fleurs de lis or", Brian Timms adds the following comments:
- "I have not included en dos d'âne, in the form of a donkey's back, that is 'hump backed', in the English blazon;
- "The expression mal ordonnées is wrongly used here. It should usually refer to a distribution of charges 1,2 instead of 2,1".
GASO, giving a very similar blazon, omits mal ordonnées.

An old car sticker shows the fleurs-de-lis slightly mal ordonnées and the castle or; Timms notes that "the illustration on the letterhead of the municipal administration shows the castle or on a field argent".
On the flag, the castle is indeed or, masoned and roofed sable, and not "plain" sable as prescribed by the Armorial Général.

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2010