Last modified: 2003-07-12 by
Keywords: haute-garonne | toulouse | cross: toulouse | cross: clechee |
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by Pierre Gay
Toulouse is a city of 600,000 inhabitants (incl. the outskirts), préfecture of the department of Haute-Garonne, préfecture of the Region Midi-Pyrénées and capital city of the traditional province of Languedoc.
Languedoc was originally consituted by the domain of the Counts of Toulouse. Therefore, the history of Toulouse merges with the history of Languedoc.
Ivan Sache, 24 April 2003
The flag of Toulouse is the banner of arms of the Counts of Toulouse. It features the cross of Toulouse on a red field.
The first known cross of Toulouse is shown on Count Raimond VI's seal, dated from 1211. The cross was then widely used all over Languedoc, and appeared on the municipal arms of Toulouse and the provincial arms of Languedoc from the XIVth century onwards.
Pierre Salis (in Archistra, December 1994) claims that the cross of Toulouse is a modification of the Latin cross, attributed to Count Raimond VI. In 1099, Raimond VI took part to the reconquest of Jerusalem with the Crusaders. As a Crusaders' chief, Raimond would have adapted a cross slightly different from the Latin cross bore by the low-rank Crusaders. According to this theory, the edges of the arms of the cross were cut into two pieces and curved. To be fixed on a shield, such a cross required twelve rivets. The design would have progressively evolved towards the cross of Toulouse.
Roger Camboulives believes that the origin of the cross of Toulouse is pre-Christian. Its origin could have been a twelve-ray solar wheel. Such a cross has been found in Saint-Michel-de-Lanes, in Lauragais, not far from Toulouse. The twelve discs could symbolize the twelve zodiacal mansions. In the XIIIth century, they were rather associated with the twelve apostles. A remote origin of the cross is possible, and Camboulives mentions the Turfan cross, in Eastern Turkestan, as a possible archetype of the cross of Toulouse. According to this theory, the emblem would have traveled from East to West and materialized the migration of the Wisigoths from the Black Sea to Toulouse. Similar crosses have been found in northern Itlay (Pisa and Venice), Provence (Venasque and Forcalquier) and Spanish Catalonia (Santa Maria de l'Estany). The cross could have been brought to Count Guillaume Taillefer (951-1037) by his wife Emme de Venasque, marchionness of Provence.
Ivan Sache, 24 April 2003