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Nantes (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)


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Keywords: nantes | naoned | loire-atlantique | ship | ermine (black) | cross (white) | cross (black) | cross: saltire (red) | ermines: 4 (black) |
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[Flag of Nantes]

Flag of Nantes - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 7 January 2002

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Presentation of Nantes

Nantes is the prefecture of the department of Loire-Atlantique and regional prefecture of Region Pays de la Loire. The population of the town, including the outskirts, is ca. 500,000 inhabitants. Nantes is the administrative capital of a Bishopric, of an académie (educational administrative division), and has a university.

Nantes (in Breton, Naoned) was founded by the Gaul tribe of Namnetes on the confluency of three rivers (Loire, Sèvre and Erdre), being therefore both a maritime and mainland town. Strongly disputed between the Frankish Kings and the Breton Counts and Dukes, Nantes was eventually seized by the Normans.
In 939, Alan Barbe-Torte (lit., Alan "with a crooked beard"), the leader of the Breton lords exiled in Britain, came back to Brittany and expelled the Normans. He rebuilt the town of Nantes and established it as the capital of his Duchy.
During the golden age of the Duchy of Brittany, Nantes competed with Rennes for the title of capital of Brittany. The Parliament was hosted in Rennes, but the ducal castle was in Nantes. The most famous Duke, François II, established in the XVth century in the castle of Nantes a rich court, with five ministers, seventeen chamberlains, and very loose morals.
In 1499, King of France Louis XII married Duchess Ann of Brittany, François II's daughter, in the castle of Nantes, thus preparing the annexation of Brittany to France (1532).

On 13 April 1598, King Henri IV prepared in the castle of Nantes the 92 articles of the Edit de Nantes (Edict of Nantes). The Edict allowed the Protestants to practice freely their religion in any place where it had been previously authorized, and in at least two towns and villages in every bailiwick. Protestants were granted legal and political rights. Moreover, they were granted about a hundred of military "safe places" in the kingdom. On 18 October 1685, Louis XIV signed in Fontainebleau the Revocation of Edict of Nantes. All rights of the Protestants were abolished, their temples were destroyed and their assemblies were suppressed. Under the pressure of official repression by gendarmerie (dragonnades), 300,000 French Protestants emigrated, mostly to Switzerland and Germany.

Between the XVIth and XVIIIth centuries, Nantes became the main center of maritime trade of sugar and "ebony wood", that is slaves. The port of Nantes was the most important in France, with more than 2,500 vessels and powerful dynasties of shipowners.
In June 1793, Nantes was still controlled by Royalists. The National Convention commissioned Representative Carrier to "cleanse" the area. In order to speed up the "cleansing" process, Carrier ordered to cram the prisonners on barges and to scuttle the barges in the middle of the river Loire. The episode remained (in)famous as noyades de Nantes (Nantes drownings). Carrier was rapidly called back by the Convention, sentenced to death and guillotinized.
In 1832, a Royalist episod in Nantes ended into a prank. The Duchess of Berry tried to uprise Brittany against King Louis-Philippe. The attempt failed and the Duchess was given away. The soldiers called to watch the house where she was supposed to hide lighted a fire in the fireplace, in order to warm themselves. The Duchess and three of her fellows promptly went out of the chimney flue, where they had been hiding for more than sixteen hours.

The most important monuments of the town of Nantes are the Sts. Peter and Paul cathedral, with the funeral monument of François II (1507), the Ducal castle, and the Museum of Fine-Arts.

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Flag of Nantes

The flag of Nantes is divided by a black cross voided throughout. The canton shows a ship, from the arms of the town:
De gueules au navire d'or, aux voiles éployées d'hermine, voguant sur une mer de sinople, et au chef d'hermine (Gules, a vessel or with sails ermine, sailing on a sea vert, a chief ermine).
The other quarters of the flag are white with four ermine spots placed in a lozengy pattern. The general design of the flag of Nantes appeared in the XVIIIth century.

Source: P. Rault. Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours. [rau98]

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Flag used in the 1970s

[Variant of the flag]

flag of Nantes, 1970s - Image by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy, 7 January 2002

P. Rault (op. cit.) reports the use in the 1970s of a weird flag in Nantes: the vertical arms of the cross are wider than the horizontal ones and there is no black fimbriation around the canton.

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2002

Breton nationalist variants of the flag

[Nationalist variant of the flag]         [Nationalist variant]

Breton nationalist flags of Nantes - Images by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy, 7 January 2002

Some Breton nationalists claim that the black voided cross is a symbol of the annexation of Brittany by France and would prefer a plain black cross on the flag of Nantes.
Such a flag was seen in Landerneau in 1996, with five ermine spots placed 3 + 2 in the second, third and fourth quarters.
An other variant of the flag of Nantes, dated 1976, shows the ermine chief of the blazon in canton but the second, third and fourth quarters plain white.

[Proposal of flag]

Proposal for a Breton nationalist flags of Nantes - Image by Ivan Sache & Arnaud Leroy, 7 January 2002

A more aesthetical flag, proposed by Raphaël Vinet, would have a cross resarcelée, that is a black cross with a white fimbriation and another black fimbriation.

Source: P. Rault (op. cit.)

Ivan Sache, 8 March 2002

Sport Nautique de l'Ouest

[Flag of SNO]

Flag of SNO - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 October 2001

Sport Nautique de l'Ouest (SNO), founded in 1883, is the oldest yacht club in Nantes. The club was so famous that it was awarded in 1889 a gold medal by the Yacht Club de France. Only five yacht clubs in France have been awarded this medal until now.
Starting in 1900, regattas involving some 50 ships were organized every sunday from May to October in different ports of the river Loire (Trentemoult, Le Pellerin, Paimbœuf, Saint-Nazaire). In 1908, SNO and Société des Régates de Saint-Nazaire jointly organized the Grande Semaine Internationale; photographers discovered a new topic and made several pictures, now highly prized in the region. During the 1912 Olympic Games held in Stockholm, the Thubé brothers, members of SNO, won the gold medal on their 6-meter Mac Miche and won the Swedish Jubilee Cup a few days later. On 28 June 1914, 40 saiboats took part to the great summer regattas in Saint-Nazaire. This was the last main event in the history of SNO before the First World War.
In 1929, the naval architect Bertrand Talma designed the first Monotype de la Loire, the one-designed sailboat cherished by SNO until the Second World War. The price for a Monotype was then 9,000 francs, whereas the price for a 10 CV Citroën car was 16,000 francs. In the 1935s, Jacques Thubé brought back a Snipe from the USA, but this boat was not successful in SNO (whereas it was in Arcachon and Lorient, for instance). During the German occupation, young members of the SNO discovered the American Moth, a small boat which did not required to be transported by car.
After the Liberation, the SNO activity resumed. Roger Triau won three times the French championship in the Caneton series in the late 1940s. In 1954, John Westell designed the 505, which superseded the Caneton. Roger Tiriau and Daniel Gouffier won the 505 French championship in 1955; Gouffier won the title with Jean-Claude Cornu in 1957, 1958 and 1961, as well as the World championship in 1961. The naval engineer from Nantes André Cornu designed in 1962 the 470; there were 56 470s in SNO in 1965 and club member Marc Bouët was national champion in 1968 and European champion in 1968 and 1969. In 1977, SNO member Daniel Gilar won the first Mini-Transat on Petit Dauphin. For its 100th anniversary celebrated in 1983, SNO had 600 members including 465 registered competitors.

A photography of the racing team "SNO Nantes Atlantique" on the SNO website shows the club flag as a rectangular white flag quartered by a red saltire and with a black ermine spot in each quarter, with the black letters "SNO" all over and probably "Nantes Atlantique" in the lower part of the flag (only the top of Nantes can be seen on the picture). A graphic on the frontpage of the website shows the flag as rectangular and without the letters, which is probably the club flag, whereas the flag with lettering is the competition team's flag.

Source: SNO website

Ivan Sache, 28 April 2007

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