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Berry (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: berry | fleurs-de-lis: 3 (yellow) |
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[Berry]

Flag of Berry - Image by Pierre Gay, 18 December 2002


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History of Berry

Berry was the country of the Bituriges Curbi, whose capital was Avaricum (now Bourges, the capital of Berry). The inhabitants of Berry ar called Berrichons and the inhabitants of Bourges Berruyers.

In the Carolingian times, Berry was a county. Around 1100, Count Eudes Herpin (or Arpin) went on Crusade and sold his state to King of France Philip I. In 1200, John Lackland withdrew his claims on Berry to the benefit of King of France Philip II Augustus. In 1234, King Louis XI purchased the last rights on Berry kept by the Count of Champagne.

In 1360, Berry was granted by King John II the Good to his third son John as his apanage, which also included Auvergne. John was kept as an hostage in England until 1367. Berry suffered from the Black Prince's army until 1370, and then from the Duke of Berry, who was always lacking money and overburdened his states by taxation. The duke fought the English with Constable Du Guesclin and his brother the Duke of Anjou, and incorporated Poitou to his apanage in 1373.
When King Charles V died in 1380, his brothers shared the powers among themselves, claiming new King Charles VI was too young. John of Berry was appointed Governor of Languedoc but dismissed in 1388. Four years later, Charles VI lost his reason, and the duke came back to the power. He negotiated with the English and promised them Guyenne (1412), causing the siege of Bourges by the royal army and the duke's capitulation. Although he was a mediocre and greedy warlord, the Duke of Berry had refined tastes; he built a palace in each of his three capitals, Bourges (Berry), Riom (Auvergne) and Poitiers (Poitou) and princely houses in other towns as well. John enjoyed art, music, hunting and good food. He also collected precious manuscripts, jewels, enamels, tapestries, birds and exotic animals. He sponsored the best artists and is mostly known for the wonderful illuminated book called Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, realized by Pol, Herman and Jan van Limburg (1413-1416) and now preserved in the Condé Museum in Chantilly.

Berry was eventually incorporated to the royal domain in 1601, under Henri IV. The title of Duke de Berry was then born by royal princes, but without any territorial power.

Charles-Ferdinand of Bourbon (1778-1820), Duke of Berry, was the son of the Count of Artois, later King Louis XVIII, and therefore the Crown Prince. He was murdered on 13 February 1820 by Louvel at the exit of the Opera of Paris. His wife Marie-Caroline-Ferdinande-Louise of Naples (1798-1870), Duchess of Berry, attempted to organize in June-September a Bourbonic revolution in the west of France. She was arrested in Nantes and gave birth to a child in the fortress of Blaye in 1833, this illegitimate birth eventually ruining her fame. Charles and Marie-Caroline's legitimate son was Henry, Count of Chambord, who caused in 1871 the abortion of the monarchic restauration because he refused to accept the French tricolor flag.

Ivan Sache, 18 December 2002


Flag of Berry

The flag of Berry is the banner of the arms D'azur aux trois fleurs de lis d'or, à la bordure engrêlée cousue de gueules (Azure three fleurs-de-lys or within a border engrailed gules).

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 shows the arms known as Berry ancient, with a semy of fleurs-de-lis. He claims that Berry never bore other arms than those of the Dukes of Berry, even if the arms of the town of Bourges, D'azur à trois moutons d'argent, à la bordure engrêlée de gueules au chef de France (Azure three sheep argent a border engrailed gules a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis or) was sometimes ascribed to the province.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009


Alternative flag used in Berry

[Berry, alternative flag]

Other flag of Berry - Image by António Martins, 15 August 1998

There is an other flag for the province of Berry, which is exactly like the flag of Mali, that is vertically divided green-yellow-red. These colours were adopted by regionalists from Berry at the end of the 19th century.
Green represents the meadows, yellow wheat and red the red wine. This flag is used in the department of Indre, especially in Châteauroux, the préfecture of the department, but not in the department of Cher, which only uses the banner of the arms of Berry.

Pascal Vagnat, 15 August 1998