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Poitou (Traditional province, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: poitou | castles: 5 (yellow) | lion (red) | castile | proposal | societe vexillologique de l'ouest |
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Flag of Poitou - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 31 August 2003

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History of Poitou

Poitou is the former country of the Gaul tribe of Pictons or Pictaves. In 778, Charlemagne appointed Abbon Count of Poitou; in 990, Count Aldebert appointed himself Duke of Aquitaine. Poitou then followed the fate of Aquitaine, and was transferred as her dowry by Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine to her two successive husbands, King of France Louis VII (1137-1152) and King of England Henry II Plantegenet (1152-1189).

In 1203, King of France Philip II Augustus confiscated Poitou to John Lackland, along with all his other French possessions. For a short period (1249-1271), Poitou was granted to Alfonso of France, St. Louis' brother and husband of Countess Jeanne of Toulouse, as his apanage. Occupied by the English from 1356 to 1369, Poitou was then granted to Duke John of Berry as his apanage, and reincorporated to the royal domain in 1416. Charles VII was proclaimed King of France in Poitiers in 1422 before being crowned in Reims in 1429.

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003

Flag of Poitou

The flag of Poitou is a banner of the arms De gueules aux cinq châteaux donjonnés de trois tourelles d'or, ordonnés en sautoir (Gules five castles triple towered in saltire or), assigned to the province by Jacques Meurgey 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).

These arms refer to the arms of Alfonso of France (Parti au premier d'azur semé de fleurs-de-lis d'or [France], au second de gueules semé de châteaux d'or [Castille] - Per pale France and Castile), who used as a mark of cadency the arms of his mother, Blanche of Castile.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009

Flag of Poitou proposed by the SVO

[Alternative Poitou flag]

Flag proposed by the SVO - Image by Thierry Gilabert, 10 June 2003

An alternative flag of Poitou, designed by Thierry Gilabert, President of the Société Vexillologique de l'Ouest) in 1993, was released in 1994.
The flag is in proportions 1:2, horizontally divided white-black with a red lion overall. The white stripe stands for Upper-Poitou while the black stripe represents Lower-Poitou. The red lion was used in the Middle Ages as an emblem by the Poitevins.

This flag is manufactured and flies in different places (castles, towns, etc...) in the Region Poitou-Charentes and in the departement of Vendée, which belongs to the region Pays de la Loire but was part of the traditional province of Poitou.

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 10 June 2003

The first known seals from Poitou (1160) show a lion rampant, representing William Fitzempress, Count of Poitou. At that time, Poitou was transferred to King Henry II Plantagenet by his mariage with Eleonor of Aquitaine. Eleonor appointed Count of Poitou her son Richard (later King of England as Richard Lionheart), who then used, as the Count of Poitou, the rampant lion. When the County was transferred to Richard's nephew Otto IV of Brunswick, Otto used, as the Count of Poitou, the lion rampant, and for Brunswick the two lions passant guardant.
The next Count of Poitou was another Richard, son of John Lackland. Bearing the title of Earl of Poitou and Cornwall, King of the Romans, Richard used, as the Count of Poitou, the lion rampant. Glover's Roll (c. 1255) shows the arms as "Argent, a lion rampant gules crowned or within a bordure sable bezanty". These arms, representing the united titles of Poitou and Cornwall, as the red lion and the black border, are the arms of Poitou Modern (13th century).

The Marshals of Poitou used such a banner of arms to rally the knights. Viscount of Châtellerault used this banner as the chief of the Poitiers militia.

At that time, the County of Poitou was disputed between Richard (Plantegenet house) and Alfonso (Capetian house). During the Battle of Taillebourg (1242), the two competiting Counts used the same banner to bakc up their claim to the title. Richard used the banner with the red lion (personnal and as the Count of Poitou), while Alphonse used his personal banner (per pale France and Castile) and the banner with the red lion (banner of the fief of Poitou). Some soldiers were captured after having followed the wrong banner. followed the wrong banner and were captured. The story is reported by Vincent of Beauvais' Miroir Historial. After Richard's defeat, the Poitou knights carried on fighting under the banner with the red lion.

Hervé Rochard, 31 August 2003