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Vannes (Municipality, Morbihan, France)

Gwened

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by
Keywords: morbihan | vannes | ermine (white) | ermine (black) | societe des regates de vannes |
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[Flag of Vannes]by Ivan Sache & Raphaël Vinet


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Presentation of Vannes

The ctiy of Vannes (in Breton, Gwened; 50,000 inhabitants) is the préfecture of the department of Morbihan.

Vannes got its name from the Gaul tribe of the Venetes, mighty seamen who challenged Julius Caesar until he eventually defeated them in 56 BP. Those Venetes were a branch of the Indo-European tribes who settled in Europe during the first millenium before BP, the other branch having settled in Veneto (Italy). During the Gallo-Roamn times, the city was known as Diaroritum, roritum being a ford on the river Marle, which flows into the Gulf of Morbihan in Vannes. Since Diaroritum was an important crossroad, it was fortified by Emperor Probus in the IIIrd century.

In the IXth century, Vannes was the capital city of the Kingdom of Brittany, ruled by Nominoé and his successors.

In 1532, the State General of Brittany gathered in Vannes and proclaimed "the perpetual union of the country and Duchy of Brittany with the Kingdom and Crown of France." Duchess Ann of Brittany became Queen of France by her successive marriages with Charles VIII and later Louis XII, but kept the crown of the Duchy of Brittany. She died in 1514, aged 37, without a male heir. Her daughter Claude married François, Duke of Angoulême, and became Queen of France in 1515 when the Duke bacame King of France as François I. Later, Claude gave up the Duchy of Brittany to the Dauphin. According to the 1532 proclamation, which officialized the transfer of Brittany to France, the rights and privileges of Brittany were preserved; taxes were decided by the General States; the Parliament of Brittany kept the legal sovereignty; and Brittany was allowed to have its own Army. The central square of the old city of Vannes is called Place des Lices (Lists Square) to recall the tourneys and Breton wrestling contests which took place in 1532 to celebrate the union of Brittany to France.
The rights of Brittany were often scorned by the Kingdom of France. For instance, the Admiralty of Brittany was suppressed in 1626 and reestablished in 1669, and the Parliament of Rennes was exiled to Vannes in 1675. The sessions took place in a building called the Cohue, dating from the XIIIth century. In Brittany, a Cohue (in Breton koc'hu, a covered market or a hall), was a building used as the market and justice court (upstairs). The world cohue is used in modern French to designate a crowd or a crush (for instance at the entrance of a cinema).

Vannes was the capital city of the Duchy of Vannes, also called Broërec and one of the seven religious capital cities of Brittany, the local saint being Saint Patern (a local St. Peter, whose real existence has been questioned). The St. Patern's cathedral was built from XIIIth to XIXth century. In 1537, a circular chapel was added to the nave of the church, being one of the only examples of Italian Rinascimento architecture in Brittany. The tomb of St. Vincent Ferrier, a Spanish Dominican (1350-1419) monk who died in Vannes and was canonized in 1455, can be seen in the St. Patern church.

The movie director Alain Resnais was born in Vannes in 1922. His movie Mon Oncle d'Amérique (1980) shows several landscapes of the Gulf of Morbihan.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002


Municipal flag of Vannes

According to P. Rault (Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98]), the flag of Vannes is a banner of the municipal arms (Gules, an ermine passant Silver with a scarf Ermine). Therefore, the flag has a red field with a white ermine with a white scarf charged with black ermine spots.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002

The scarf of the ermine is d'hermine doublée d'or. So gold or yellow is missing in the above picture.

Pascal Vagnat, 11 November 2002


Société des Régates de Vannes

[SR Vannes]by Ivan Sache

The Société des Régates de Vannes has a white flag with a blue border and a red lozenge charged with the municipal ermine.

Source: Guide Vert Michelin Bretagne, edition 2001, showing a colour plate originally released by the SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine), undated.

Ivan Sache, 11 November 2002

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