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Dinan (Municipality, Côtes-d'Armor, France)

Last modified: 2019-01-06 by ivan sache
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Flag of Dinan - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 17 November 2002

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Presentation of Dinan

The new municipality of Dinan (14,075 inhabitants in 2015; 871) was established on 1 January 2016 as the merger of the former municipalities of Dinan and Léhon (3,072 inh.; 473 ha).
There are two possible origins for the name of Dinan, both of them reflecting the geographical location of the city. Divonantos has been related to the Gaulish words divos (holy) and nantos (valley). The other possible origin relates Din-An to the Celtic word din or dun, the short form of dunus, originally a hill dedicated to a god, later an oppidum and eventually, latinized as dunum, a city on a hill. An could be the short form of the name of goddess Anna, the mother of all the Gaul gods and protector of the wet places.
Dinan was an important crossroad during the Roman times. The lords of Dinan were mentioned for the first time in the 10th century. A century later, the Arab geographer Idrish described Dinan as "a holy city with a stone wall".

Dinan was seized by William the Conqueror in 1065, as shown on the Bayeux Tapestry: following the rebellion of Conan, Count of Brittany and vassal of Normandy, William invaded Brittany with his (then) friend Harold. The Tapestry shows Conant presenting the keys of the city to William and Harold on the point of his lance. A modern interpretation of that campaign is that William took the pretext of Conan's revolt to show Harold how powerful he was.
Dinan became a Breton Ducal city in 1283. During the War of Succession of Brittany, Dinan chose the Blois party, and the city was besieged and seized by Count of Montfort, who built there a donjon.
The city was attacked several times by the English, to no avail. A famous episode involved Constable Bertrand Du Guesclin (1320-1380), who was born in the castle of La Mothe-Broon, near Dinan. In 1357, Duke of Lancaster besieged the city, which was defended by Du Guesclin and his brother Olivier. During a 40-day truce, Oliver was captured out of the city by Thomas of Canterbury, who required a ransom of 1,000 florins. Since Olivier had left the city during a truce and without arms, his capture was an act of perfidy. Bertrand Du Guesclin asked to solve the dispute in a single combat between Canterbury and himself, placed under Lancaster's presidency. Du Guesclin won and Canterbury was sentenced to pay 1,000 florins to Olivier and was banned from the English army. Du Guesclin met during that episode Tiphaine Raguenel and they married.
Du Guesclin died in Auvergne near Châteauneuf-de-Randon on 13 July 1380 and had required to be buried in Dinan. His body was embalmed, the entrails being buried in the church St. Laurent in Le Puy. However, the embalmed body deteriorated on the way back to Brittany. In Montferrand, the flesh was boiled and separated from the bones, and buried in the church of Cordeliers, which was eventually destroyed in 1793. In Le Mans, close to Brittany, a Royal officer ordered to transfer the body to the Royal necropole of Saint-Denis, near Paris, and kept the bones. The heart was spirited away and sent to Dinan, where it was buried in the church St. Sauveur.

During the 15th century century, the city walls were strenghtened. The city was given municipal rights in 1418. The General States of Brittany gathered in Dinan 15 times from 1352 to 1718.
Weaving mills were built in Dinan in the 18th century, but Dinan was mostly known for being the most pleasant and aristocratic garrison City in France.
The city walls and the 15-16th century old city have been preserved until now and Dinan is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in France.

Dinan is the birth city of Auguste Pavie (1847-1925), a diplomat and explorer who incorporated most of Indochina to France when he was Commissioner in Laos (1893-1895); Théodore Botrel (1868-1925), a chansonnier famous for La Paimpolaise and other patriotic songs; and Yvonne Jean-Haffen (1895-1993), a painter of Mathurin Méheut's school, were also born in Dinan.

Ivan Sache, 6 January 2019

Flag of Dinan

The flag of Dinan is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules a castle or masoned sable a chief ermine".

he castle of Dinan was mentioned for the first time in 1040. The municipal arms are derived from a seal belonging to Charles of Dinan "Montafilant" (1370).
[P. Rault. Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98]]

Ivan Sache, 17 November 2002