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Touraine (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: touraine | fleur-de-lis (yellow) |
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Flag of Touraine - Image by Pierre Gay, 14 December 2003

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History of Touraine

In his Commentaries on the Gallic War, Julius Caesar mentions the territory of the Turones (Touraine), bordered by the territories of the Aulerci Cenomani (Maine), Carnutes (region of Chartres), Bituriges Cubi (Berry), Pictones (Poitou) and Andecavi (Anjou).
In the Gallo-Roman times, the capital of the Turones was renamed Caesarodunum, Caesar's fortress), a significant town located on a crossroads of Roman ways to Cenabum (Orléans), Juliomagus (Angers), Autricum (Chartres), Limonum (Poitiers) and Avaricum (Bourges). Emperor Valentinian (364-375) made of Caesarodonum the capital of the province of Third Lyonnaise, whose territory included Brittany, Maine, Anjou and Touraine.

At the end of the 4th 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 Visigoths from the area, he was welcomed as a liberator. During the Merovingian times, Touraine was disputed between the Kingdoms of Neustria and Aquitaine.

Touraine emerged as a single entity during the Carolingian era. Tours was the capital of the missaticum Turonicum, one of the ten divisions of Gaul set up by Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's son. After the collapse of the Carolingian kingdom, Touraine became a feudal state. In 940, Theobald the Trickster merged the Counties of Tours, Chartres and Blois, and the towns of Chinon, Montaigu, Vierzon, Sancerre and Saumur. Succeeding him, his son Odo I resisted his powerful neighbour, Count of Anjou Fulk Nerra, who attempted to conquer Touraine. The struggle between the houses of Blois and Anjou carried on during the first half of the 11th century. Refusing to take the homage to him, Theobald III of Blois irritatedKking of France Henry I (1031-1061), who proposed Touraine to Count of Anjou Geoffrey II Martel, provided he was able to conquer it. Tours capitulated in 1043 after a 18-month siege and Theobald had to cede Touraine to Geoffrey, as a fief, the next year.

Meeting the destiny of Anjou, Touraine 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 Philip II Augustus (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 Seneschal of Touraine by the king in 1204. John Lackland definitively withdrew from Touraine in 1214, by the Treaty of Chinon.

Ceded to the king in 1312 by Seneschal Amaury of Craon, Touraine became a Duchy, granted to royal princes as their apanage. In the 15th century, Touraine became the executive 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 indeed 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 (Plessis-lez-Tours) being 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 16th centuries, the kings moved back to Paris and the Golden Age of Touraine ended.

Ivan Sache, 14 December 2003

Flag of Touraine

The flag of Touraine is the banner of the arms D'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or à la bordure componée d'argent et de gueules (Azure semy de lis or within a border gobonny argent and gules.

These arms were the personal arms of Philippe the Bald (1342-1404), son of King of France John II the Good. Philip was granted Touraine as his apanage, and, subsequently, Burgundy (1363-1404), where he founded the brilliant second ducal house of Burgundy. This explains why the arms of Touraine appear in the first and fourth quarters of the arms of Burgundy.

In his Notice historique sur les blasons des anciennes provinces de France (Historical note on the coats of arms of the ancient French provinces, 1941), Jacques Meurgey presents these arms as a "variant" ("The arms of Touraine were also: ...") of the arms of the province, De gueules au château d'argent crénelé, donjonné et maçonné de sable et à la bordure componnée d'Anjou-Sicile et de Jérusalem (Gules a castle argent crenelled and masoned sable a border compony Anjou-Sicily and Jerusalem).

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009