Last modified: 2018-01-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: occitania |
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Left, traditional design - Image by António Martins, 24 December 2017
Right, modern design - Image by Hervé Rochard, 12 November 2003
Occitania is the name given to the area where Langue d'Oc
was (and sometimes is still) spoken:
- France: A region globally known as "Midi" (excluding Corsica, Basque Country and Roussillon, where the local languages are Corsican, Basque and Catalan, respectively);
- Spain: Aran valley (Val d'Aran), the only territory where Occitan has an official status, along with Spanish and Catalan;
- Italy: The Occitan Valleys (Valadas occitanas) in Regions Piedmont and Liguria, and the town of Guardia Piemontese (La Gàrdia) in Calabria, where some 400 inhabitants still speak gardiòl.
According to the medievist P. Bec (Langues et
littératures occitanes, Encyclopaedia
Universalis, 1998), Langue d'Oc can be divided into three main
- North Occitan, itself divided into Limousin (spoken in the traditional provinces of Limousin and Marche, Auvergnat (Auvergne and Bourbonnais), and Provençal Alpin (Dauphiné);
- Median Occitan, the dialect the most closely related to classical Langue d'Oc, itself divided into Languedocien (Languedoc, Guyenne, County of Foix and Roussillon), Provençal (Provence, Comtat Venaissin and County of Nice);
- Gascon, the dialect the less related to classical Langue d'Oc (Gascony and Béarn).
Ivan Sache, 2 December 2003
Félibrige is a cultural movement promoting the rebirth of the Occitan language and culture. The forerunners of the movement are Millot
(Histoire littéraire des troubadours, 1774), Fabre d'Olivet and Raynouard (Choix de poésies originales des troubadours, 1816-1821). Anthologies (Bouquet provençaou, 1823) and the review Lou Tambourinaire et le Ménestrel, published in Marseilles in 1841, also
In 1851, Joseph Roumanille (1818-1891), who had published in Avignon Li Margarideto (1847), founded the review Li Prouvençalo. He organized in 1853 in Aix-en-Provence poetical contests based on the troubadours' tradition.
Félibrige was founded on 21 May 1854 in the castle of Font-Ségugne, near Avignon, by the seven young poets Joseph Roumanille, Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914), Théodore Aubanel (1829-1886), Anselme Mathieu (1828-1895), Alphonse Tavan (1833-1905), Paul Giéra (1816-1861) and Jean Brunet (1823-1894). The name Félibrige was proposed by Mistral, based on an old cantilena portraying the Blessed Virgin saying she found a son émé li sét félibres de la lei (among the seven Doctors of the Law, according to Mistral's interpretation).
The aims of Félibrige were the restoration of Occitan, its use in original literature works and its recognition as a common Southern language. The first publication by Félibrige was Armana Prouvençaou (Provencal Almanach, 1855). The first statutes of the movements were written in 1876 by Roumanille, as well as the orthographic rules of Occitan by Mistral. Félibrige was led by Provencals but each of the other Occitan domains (Languedoc, Auvergne-Limousin, Gascony-Béarn, Guyenne-Périgord, Velay and Roussillon) should have its own maintenance led by a syndic.
Today, Félibrige is led by the capoulié, elected by a consistoire of 50 majoraux. The election is held each year in a different town on St. Estella's Day (21 May).
Dissident organizations seceded from Félibrige. In 1876, a
federalist branch seceded in Languedoc around Pastor Napoléon Peyrat, an historian of the Albigensian Crusade and the poets Auguste Fourès and Xavier de Ricard. They published La Lauseta (The Lark) as the armanac dal patrioto langadoucian (Almanach of the Languedocian Patriot). In 1877, L'Escolo del Mar (The School of the Sea), another dissident branch, was founded in Marseilles by Auguste Marin and Valère Bernard. In Paris, the two associations La Cigale (The Cicada, 1876) and The Félibrige de Paris (1879) followed the original traditions of Félibrige.
Félibrige produced before the Second World War several famous writers and dramatically influenced the French literature (for instance, by the way of Alphonse Daudet and Paul Arène).
Occitanism appeared in 1923 with the review Oc as a reaction against the traditionalism of Félibrige. The Societat d'Estudis Occitans (Society for Occitan Studies, 1931) became later the Institute for Occitan Studies. The Occitanists rejected Mistral's ritualism ("Mistralism") and its excessive, specific orientation to promote a global strategy of defense of Occitan and the graphic unification of written Occitan. The review Occitania (1934-1939), founded by Charles Camproux, Ernest Vieu, Léon Cordes, Jean Lesaffre, Max Rouquette and Roger Barthe, considered Occitanism as a
In 1967, Robert Lafond founded the Comité Occitan d'Études et d'Actions (Occitan Committee for Study and Action) and wrote La Révolution régionaliste. Since 1968, Occitanism has been gaining more and more audience, and several political parties were founded, such as Lutte Occitane (Occitan Fight), Partit de la Nation Occitana (Parti of the Occitan Nation) and Volem Viure an Pais (We want to live in our country).
[Dictionnaire historique, thématique et technique des littératures française et étrangères, anciennes et modernes (Larousse, 1989)]
Ivan Sache, 28 April 2003
The original Occitan flag is the flag of the traditional province
of Languedoc and of its historical capital, Toulouse, red with the yellow Cross of Toulouse.
This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #65, with the following caption:
OCCITANIA (Langue d'Oc)
The modern Occitan flag has the Félibrige seven-pointed star added in the upper right corner.
Daniel Estieu (Un rapide aperçu du Félibrige) reports the official explanation of the seven-pointed star as a reference
to the seven poets who founded Félibrige movement
on 21 May 1854, St. Estella's Day (Estella means "star").
This foundation was described by Frédéric Mistral as follows:
"[...] all of that having been done, it was noticed, well, that the 21st of May, the day of our meeting, was St. Estella's Day; and, like the Three Kings, acknowledging the mysterious influence of some high circumstances, we saluted the Star who presided the cradle of our Redemption."
However, Mistral's report invoking a piece of luck is not backed up by the facts: on 21 May 1854, only five of the seven founders of Félibrige attended the meeting. Estieu recalls the "mesmerism" exerted by the number seven and that the Floral Games (Floralies) of Toulouse were reestablished by seven troubadours in 1323.
In fact, the seven-pointed star was added to the flag by the Partit
Nationalista Occitan (PNO, Occitan Nationalist Party), stressing that Occitania was not restricted to the traditional province of Languedoc but encompassed also Auvergne, Gascony, Guyenne, Limousin, Provence and a part of Dauphiné.
In a debate held in the French Senate on 8 April 1975, Senator Jean Nayrou (Ariège, 1959-1980; Socialist Party) said:
"Félibrige spread step by step to Languedoc, Catalonia, Gascony, Périgord, etc., that is its seven constituting regions, symbolized by the seven branches of Félibrige star."
Although Félibrige was organized in seven regional branches (Provence, Languedoc,Auvergne-Limousin, Gascony-Béarn, Guyenne-Périgord, Velay and Roussillon),there is no evidence that the seven points of the star originally referred to these branches. Number seven has a strong, mystical value among >Félibrige, therefore several symbolic explanations can be presented.
In a leaflet promoting the flag, PNO gives a straightforward political meaning to
the star, said to represent "the unity of the seven provinces of
Occitania (Provence, Languedoc, Gascony, Limousin, Auvergne, Dauphiné
This flag would be for sure the flag of an Occitan Republic; it is widely used during the events involving the "Provisory Government" of the Republic. The flag with a white dove superimposed to the Cross of Toulouse and the yellow letters "G", "P" and "O" placed in the upper left, lower left and lower right corners of the flag, respectively, supposed to represent to Provisory Government, does not seem to exist in the cloth.
While PNO has limited success in elections, the flag with the seven-pointed star is now widely used to represent Occitania, an use not restricted to independentist movements.
Ivan Sache and Joan-Francè Blanc, 30 October 2009
Flag of PNO - Image by Ivan Sache, 30 October 2009
PNO was founded, as Partit Nationalista Occitana (Occitan Nationalist
Party), in Nice by Francès Fontan (1929-1979) in 1959. Fontan published in 1961 Ethnisme, vers un nationalisme humaniste (Ethnism,
towards a humanist nationalism); jailed in 1962 for his support to the
Algerian independendists, he exiled for a few years in the Occitan
Valleys of Italian Piedmont, where he founded the Movimento
Autonomista Occitano (Occitan Autonomist Movement) in 1968.
In 1979, Jaume Ressaire succeeded Fontan as the leader of PNO, which rejected the use of violence in Occitania. In 1995, Joan Peire Giraud was elected at the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Originally anti-European, PNO dramatically changed its orientation in 1997, as reflected in its amended statutes and program, published in summer 1998, calling for "independence within Europe".
In October 2004, the party changed its name to Partit de la Nacion Occitana/Partit de lo Nociou Ouccitono (Occitan Nation Party), using the two written forms of Occitan, codified by Frédéric Mistral and Lois Alibert, respectively (and a bone of contention among Occitanists). The party called for a "yes, but..." to the draft of European Constitution.
Calling for a Federal Occitan Republic, PNO has supported the set up
of the Respublica Federala e Democratica dels Païses d'Óc (Federal
and Democratic Republic of Oc Countries), proclaimed in Toulouse on 24
March 2007; the second "Provisory Government" of the Republic was
elected in Nice on 20 September 2009.
The flag of PNO, as used for instance during a street demonstration organized in
Béziers on 17 March 2007, is vertically divided blue with the logo of
the party over red with the name of the party in yellow letters.
The logo of PNO is a blue rectangle charged with a map of the Occitan Republic nearly vertically divided red-yellow and charged with the black letters "PNO", and the ring of the 12 European stars in the upper right part. The map encompasses the French Occitan-speaking areas, Aran Valley (Spain) and the Occitan Valleys of Piedmont (Italy).
Ivan Sache and Joan-Francè Blanc, 30 October 2009
Franco-Occitan flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 October 2003
Thierry Gilabert reported a Franco-Occitan flag used in the town
of Lézignan-Corbières (Department of
Languedoc-Roussillon, traditional province of
Languedoc). The flag is the French national
tricolore with the cross of Toulouse placed in the lower fly.
Lézignan is known for its wines (Corbières) and its Rugby League (jeu à XIII) team. The town is located in the middle of the area where the Albigensian Crusade took place in the 13th century.
Ivan Sache, 3 October 2003
Provencal flag - Image reconstructed by Ivan Sache, 9 May 2003
The municipal archives of Marseilles keep a book mentioning a flag used by the Félibres in the 19th century as the Provencal flag. The flag is said to be azure blue with the Félibrige star in the middle.
Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 May 2003