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Saint-Brieuc (Municipality, Côtes-d'Armor, France)


Last modified: 2023-09-02 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Saint-Brieuc - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 6 November 2021

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Presentation of Saint-Brieuc

Saint-Brieuc (44,166 inhabitants in 2020; 2,188 ha) is the prefecture of the Côtes-d'Armor department.

The territory of the municipality has been occupied since the Neolithic era. The town takes its name from the monk Brioc (5th century), whose hagiography is based on the Vita Briocii, a story written around 1050 probably at the Saint-Serge abbey in Angers , where the saint's relics were transferred under the reign of the Breton king Erispoë. In 848, the Breton king Nominoë carried out a reorganization of the bishoprics under his control, after the departure of the Normans. It was on this date that the bishopric of Saint-Brieuc was founded. The relics of Saint Brieuc, which had been put in safety at the time of the invasion of the Normans, returned to the city in 1210. A procession was organized, followed by a great popular festival.

In 1220 Guillaume Pinchon, one of the greatest architects of the construction of the cathedral, became bishop of Saint-Brieuc. He died in 1234 and was canonized in 1247 (Saint-Guillaume) by Pope Innocent IV without seeing the completion of his work by his successor, Philippe, in 1248. He was the first saint of Armorica canonized in Rome. The cathedral was built from the 13th century to the 18th century. In 1355, destroyed in a fire, the choir of the cathedral was rebuilt in two years under the episcopates of Guy de Montfort and Hugues de Montrelais. In 1375, Saint-Brieuc was besieged during fifteen days by the Duke of Brittany Jean de Montfort and the barons and knights of England, the miners ended up entering the city after having knocked down a section of the ramparts. The tower of Cesson was built in 1395 by order of the Duke of John IV of Brittany. It overlooks the Gouët estuary and the bay of Saint-Brieuc. In 1592, the Saint-Michel plain to the north of the city became the site of the first pitched battle of the League wars in Brittany (the battle of Craon in the spring of 1592 took place in Mayenne). It opposed a League army commanded by Saint-Laurent d'Avaugour to the troops of René de Rieux, lord of Sourdéac. The leaguers who besieged the tower of Cesson were defeated there. Some of them, entrenched in the cathedral, destroyed the archives then held there. In 1598, following the Wars of Religion, it was decided to destroy the stronghold of the tower of Cesson. Its ruins still dominate the bay of Saint-Brieuc.

In 1790, under the French Revolution, Saint-Brieuc became the capital of the Côtes-du-Nord department (renamed Côtes-d'Armor on March 8, 1990). During the Revolution, the town provisionally bore the name of Port-Brieuc. In 1793, during the Terror, the civil war between the Chouans and the French Revolutionary Army raged. On the night of 5 Brumaire Year VIII (25 October 1799), a troop of Chouans delivered royalist prisoners sentenced to death from the city prison. The prosecutor Poulain de Corbion, former mayor of the city (1779-1789), was killed during the night of the battle of Saint-Brieuc. In 1819 was developed the port of Légué and its quays with a new bridge and new warehouses. In 1863 the railway (Paris-Brest line) reached Saint-Brieuc.

During WWII, on June 19, 1940, the Army of the Third Reich entered the city of Saint-Brieuc. The Liberation of Saint-Brieuc by the American troops of General George Patton occurred on August 6, 1944.

Olivier Touzeau, 6 November 2021

Coat of arms and logo of Saint-Brieuc

The coat of arms of Saint-Brieuc is blazonned Azure a griffin Or, armed, beaked and langued Gules.

The griffin of Saint-Brieuc can be seen on the flag of the traditional province of Goëllo-Penthièvre (main parts of the Pays de Saint-Brieuc).

A stylized griffin, yellow on a blue field, facing the hoist was adopted as the city logo in 1985 (source, municipal website).

The logo was modified in 2007, with the addition of a motto, "Notre qualité de ville" and the use of the stylized griffin in white on yellow and contourned. It was modified again in 2012, the griffin, still contourned, went back to yellow, next to the name of the city, all on a white field. A very different logo was adopted as territorial brand at the same time, the griffin logo being intended for administrative use only.

Olivier Touzeau, 6 November 2021

Flag of Saint-Brieuc

The current version of the flag of Saint-Brieuc has the text "ville de Saint-Brieuc" in the fonts of the logo, below the sytlized griffin, and the griffin looking to the hoist (as in the 2012 logo). It has been observde in July 2023 (photo).

Olivier Touzeau, 26 August 2023

Former flags of Saint-Brieuc

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Former flags of Saint-Brieuc: banner of arms, two versions: left, plain blue field; right, with yellow border - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 26 August 2023

A banner of arms was reported by Philippe Rault in Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98]. A golden griffin on a blue field can also be seen on the reverse of the banner of the celtic circle of Saint-Brieuc (photo). In this example, the griffin is erroneously contourned.

This blue banner of arms, with a yellow border, can be seen on a postcard from at least 1967 on Du Guesclin square, (photo), next to a white flag, red border, with the arms of Penthièvre.

Olivier Touzeau, 26 August 2023


[Flag]         [Flag]         [Flag]

Former flags of Saint-Brieuc: logo flag, three versions: left, in use since 1985; center, observed in 2013/2018; right, observed in 2011
Images by Olivier Touzeau, 4 September 2023

A blue flag with the stylized griffin, derivated from the 1985 logo, has been observed at different occasions. It was reported by Philippe Rault in Les drapeaux bretons de 1188 à nos jours [rau98] and spotted in saint-Brieuc in 1999 by Divi Kervalla (source). This blue flag with stylized logo was flown for example in 2010 (photo). Although the logo has been modified in 2007 an 2012, the same flag has been spotted recently, inside the city hall, with golden fringes (photo, 2021; photo, 2020; photo, 2022). This is currently the ceremonial flag in the mayor's office.

In april 2018, the flag observed on the city hall had a white field with the 2012 logo in the center, between a yellow stripe and a blue stripe, each interrupted (the yellow stripe does not reach the upper fly, the blue stripe does not reach the lower hoist) by an arched white block (photo, photo). This flag could be seen in 2013 too on Du Guesclin square (photo).

A blue flag with the 2007-2012 logo could be spotted before 2012 (photo).

Olivier Touzeau, 4 September 2023